Peabody Singing Tower

 NORTH MANCHESTER HISTORICAL SOCIETY
 North Manchester, Indiana

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Source: NMHS Newsletter, August 2012

“Year of the Opera Curtain” at the Center for History
By Mary Chrastil, President

 When the North Manchester Center for History decided to explore whether we could restore a rare c. 1910 opera curtain in its collection, little did we suspect that the project would turn into a year-long celebration involving lectures, programs, community groups and commissioning an original artwork.  We are grateful for the many groups, businesses and organizations that made the “Year of the Opera Curtain” possible.  Special thank-yous go to major sponsors Beacon Credit Union, Manchester University, Poet Biorefining and Shepherd Chevrolet, as well as JP and Michelle Freeman and the Community Foundation of Wabash County.

 Restoring the 1910 Curtain. The curtain in question was given to the NM Historical Society in 1985 by J. P. Freeman and his mother Minnie Freeman.  It was found in the attic of their business, the Main View Tavern, and featured advertising from businesses active in North Manchester around 1910.  It is large – approximately 16 feet by 13 feet.  Some areas of the curtain were severely damaged.  As we contacted professional conservators in the state, we found that opera curtains such as ours are quite rare.  They did not survive fires, being rolled up, and being subject to mold and mildew.  There are only two opera curtains that we know of in Indiana.  Curtains often depict a romantic landscape; those with advertising on them are even rarer. 

 Conservator Jennifer Hein of Indianapolis was hired for the project.  We arranged for her to pick up the curtain and do a preliminary assessment.  Remember when the Smithsonian restored the Star Spangled Banner originally created in 1813?  The public was able to watch the painstaking process.  We wanted to allow community members to see and understand our project, which is similar.  For two days, we invited the public, as well as college and high school art and history classes, to see the curtain and hear the conservator talk about how she planned to approach the project.  Ms. Hein has extensive experience in textile restoration, and she provided a wealth of information about dyes, fabrics, cleaning procedures and solvents.  At this time we asked that the curtain not only be stabilized, but that it be brought back to its original “look” to the extent possible.  This decision was made because, while the curtain might be less valuable because the provenance was altered, we felt it was of primary value mainly to North Manchester and the restoration would be more appropriate for us than a stabilization.

Restored ca 1910 Opera Curtain with Advertising, North Manchester

 The final results were spectacular.  The restored curtain was unveiled in April and now hangs at the Center for History.  By the way, as rare as this curtain is, we have a second opera curtain from the same era in our collection!

Programs Inspired by the Restoration.
  Restoring the 1910 opera curtain lent itself to a number of interesting programs.  Two of our monthly dinner programs were dedicated to the opera curtain project.  In March, conservator Jennifer Hein explained the conservation process for our curtain.  In April, Manchester College professor Katherine Tinsley presented a program on the importance of opera houses in small towns in America.  She used research provided (thank you, Allan White) about actual programs and events held in our opera house, and broadened the context to include the general experience in America. 

 On May 13, we unveiled the restored curtain.  Manchester College opera workshop students under the supervision of Dr. Debra Lynn presented a one-act comic opera in English to the guests who came for the unveiling.  On June 6, we unveiled the contemporary opera curtain we commissioned  and held a thank you reception for the businesses that supported the project and the Manchester High School students who produced the contemporary curtain.  A short program compared the businesses on the 1910 curtain to their equivalents in 2012.

 The February issue of this newsletter included a reprinted interview with local historian Dr. L. Z Bunker from 1982 concerning the opera house and its curtain.   The rest of the issue was dedicated to excerpts from the North Manchester Journal of October 15, 1885, which described a devastating fire that destroyed the opera house and several other downtown businesses.  The opera house was rebuilt and opened the next year.

 Contemporary Opera Curtain Commissioned.  As we restored the curtain, we realized that it had originally served as an advertising piece, but now, 100 years later, it serves more as an historic record of the businesses that were active in North Manchester at the time.  None are operating today, but the curtain provides a unique record of the products and services that defined the town long ago. 

 We decided to commission a contemporary opera curtain and invite current businesses and organizations to be part of it.  The NMHS provided the materials and approached businesses for sponsorship and advertising.  We pointed out that the contemporary curtain will hang for many years in the Center for History, next to the restored curtain.  It will document current businesses and organizations 100 years from now, just as the 1910 curtain does. 

 We approached local businesses which had a business or function similar to the ones on the 1910 curtain.  Major sponsors for the “Year of the Opera Curtain” Beacon Credit Union, Manchester University, Poet Biorefining and Shepherd Chevrolet are featured prominently on the contemporary curtain.  Also appearing are the Fine Arts Club, Peabody Retirement Community, Timbercrest Senior Living Community, McKee Mortuary, Harting Furniture, and Riverbridge Electric.  Rounding out the advertisers are KenapocoMocha Coffee House, Fahs Brown Plumbing (representing the Manchester Early Learning Center on the curtain), First Financial Bank, Newmarket, Creative Stitch Quilt Shop, One World Handcrafts, the Main View Restaurant and the Firehouse Theater.

 Debra Kern, art teacher at Manchester High School, agreed to take on the project.  The curtain is big and heavy, a canvas square 14 feet by 14 feet, which made it a challenge to design and paint.  The colorful curtain reflects the modern use of logos and brighter colors, while still retaining the feel of the 1910 curtain.  Logos were projected on the curtain and transferred and painted by students.  The central medallion shows a scene of early 20th century people arriving at the opera house, with a casually dressed contemporary couple just outside the frame, watching the action but “with their feet in the future.” 

 Students who helped paint the curtain are Katie Durden, Hannah Lochner, Tawni Kincaid, Paige Blocher, Krisy Mize, Evan Wilcox, Treya Paquera, Katie Floor, Madison Isbell, Brittani Weimann, Marret Metzger, Bradley Miller, Mariah Mobley, Claire McLaughlin, Mick Avery, D.J. Norwood, Allissa Isley, Myra Long and Samantha Hall.

 The Firehouse Follies.  On June 17, the NMHS and the Firehouse Theater presented the Firehouse Follies.  The NMHS approached this civic theater group about presenting a review of local talent performing acts that are similar to those that once appeared at the North Manchester Opera House.  The contemporary opera curtain served as a backdrop in the performance space. The Firehouse Theater folks invited community members to perform in the spirit of 1910. 

 Allan White provided extensive information about opera house events based on the local newspapers of the era.  For example, a Mandolin Chorus met at the Opera House once; we had a ukulele chorus.  We know that Uncle Tom’s Cabin was a very popular touring play that performed several times at the Opera House.  These troupes had elaborate scenery and even brought in live bloodhounds to help chase the character Eliza when she tries to escape.  Our offering was to have a dog act—four service dogs performed simple tricks and stole the hearts of the audience. 

 David Lawrenz served as emcee, introducing the acts and providing jokes and information to keep the show moving.  He worked in information about how important the opera houses were before the days of telephone, radio, movies, television or the internet.  The opera house was the biggest room in town, and provided a space for entertainment, educational lectures, graduation ceremonies, and even roller skating and basketball games.

 The evening started with an hour-long concert by the Manchester Community Band.  Jim Smith followed with a stirring rendition of Casey at the Bat, followed by the Canine Companion Tricksters:  Annabelle the Scottish Terrier under the command of Marilyn Mason, Dkyler the Boarder Collie with Deana Davis, Breeze the Labradoodle with Susan Sharp and Chloe the French Bulldog with Debbie Bryant.  David Moan performed songs from the Civil War, Marching through Georgia and Just Before the Battle, Mother, followed by Toby Tobias as Victorian wrestler Ed “Strangler” Lewis (you had to see it to believe it).  The Kruschwitz Ukulele Choir performed several numbers, highlighted by LuAnn Harley leading the audience in a simple hula to Aloha Oe’. 

 After a brief intermission, the Eel River Choral Society sang My Life Flows on in Endless Song and A Wonderful Savior is Jesus.  Local storyteller Mac McKinley read two James Whitcomb Riley poems (Riley appeared at the NM Opera House several times), followed by fiddle tunes from the Fiddling Kruschwitzes, Brian and sons Harley and Owen.

 The evening closed with the performance of an original melodrama written for the NMHS by Charles and Dagny Boebel, Dolly’s Dilemma, or Who Will Pay the Money for the Mortgage on the Farm?  Sarah Hawkins Moan, David Moan and Andrew Chinworth played the sobbing heroine, dastardly villain and hero (in all white costume) in this drama with contemporary twists.  Kathy Hawkins cued the audience to participate with posters urging them to boo, hiss, cheer and applaud.

 A wonderful time was had by all.  Audience members asked if we could do this again next year! Please watch the newspaper for more programs this fall that are associated with the NMHS Year of the Opera Curtain. 

 Traveling Exhibits.  This year the Center for History has continued to take advantage of a wonderful program offered by the Indiana Historical Society, traveling historical exhibits.  In May and June, 2012, we hosted Who Do You Think You Are? an excellent exhibit on immigration in Indiana.  The North Manchester area is fairly homogeneous in the origins of its population, but Indiana as a whole has a very diverse population.  The exhibit was accompanied by photos, documents and maps outlining this complexity.

 During the late summer, coinciding with FunFest, we are presenting Indiana Cartoons and Cartoonists, a subject that should be appealing to all ages.  It is available for viewing July 31 through September 4.   Our final traveling exhibit of the year is October 11 through November 14.  Endangered Heritage is an unusual exhibit because its display will be scattered throughout the Center for History.  The exhibit highlights challenges faced by museums about how to preserve for future generations the objects and documents that are part of our heritage.  The common dangers to collected materials are critical issues right here, right now.  Examples from our own holdings will complement the exhibit.

 Last year the Center for History brought to North Manchester exhibits on The Care and Identification of Family Photographs, Indiana Through the Map-Maker’s Eyes and a collection of World War II photographs, enhanced by NMCH window displays saluting local veterans.   In the past we have also hosted exhibits on Post Office Murals and on The Auto in Indiana.  Next year watch for exhibits on Lincoln and the Civil War as we commemorate the 150th anniversary of that conflict.

 The IHS gives not-for-profits the opportunity to display exhibits on topics of interest in Indiana History.  Their list of exhibits includes over 20 different choices which can be booked for approximately one month.  Three exhibits can be displayed every year for free, and the Center for History is scheduling the maximum.  We would like the community to recognize the Center for History as the place where these excellent exhibits are available to them on a regular basis.  You don’t have to travel to Indianapolis to see them. 

 Center for History Awarded National CAP Grant.  This winter, the North Manchester Historical Society applied for and received a national grant that will provide us with a wealth of information about how to better care for the artifacts entrusted to us, and how to utilize our building better.  The Conservation Assessment Program (CAP) Grant is a competitive program that is run by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and Heritage Preservation, The National Institute for Conservation.

 Heritage Preservation will provide funds to bring professional conservation and building preservation specialists to the Center for History, who will identify the conservation needs of our collection and buildings and recommend ways to correctly improve collection and building conditions.  Their report will help us evaluate our current collections care policies, procedures and environmental conditions.  It will help us make immediate, mid-range and long-range plans for improvement.  Some granting agencies require a CAP assessment before an organization can be considered for funding.  The reports findings will be suggestions for planning purposes, and will not be requirements.

 We are thrilled that our conservation assessor will be Ramona Duncan-Huse, Senior Director of Conservation and Preservation Imaging for the Indiana Historical Society, and our building assessor will be Mary Ellen Rudisel-Jordan, Warsaw architect with the firm Scearce-Rudisel.  Both have considerable CAP assessment experience and extensive experience in historic preservation issues.  The assessments will take place in October, with a final report early next year.

 Since 1990, 2,700 museums have participated in CAP, including museums in all 50 states.  In 2012, the Center for History is one of two organizations in Indiana receiving CAP grants.


 More News from the Center
Submitted August 2012 by Nancy Reed, Director of the Center for History:

 New Office.  While the Center was closed over the winter months, we set up a permanent office downstairs so that the CFH could be open more.  With the addition of two desks, a computer, printer and high-speed internet, at the front door, we are now able to be open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sunday afternoons 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.  We increased our open hours from 8 per week to 33 per week, an increase of over 400%.  Now that docents have computer and internet access, including access to our museum records, they can help with a variety of projects that help the Center for History manage its collection better.  The response from visitors has been phenomenal.

Gift Shop.  Our American Gift Shoppe has grown.  We now have a larger dedicated space at the front of the Center for History with new items for sale.  Many more historic books are available including Gladys Airgood’s popular book of Servia’s history. New items include a model DeWitt automobile (just $15), and wooden toys crafted locally at Silver Lake, Indiana, and reminiscent of the toys from yesterday.  A variety of new postcards are available, sold only at this museum gift shop.  Most of the souvenirs with which you have become familiar, are still available.  Our past Newsletters are also on display for sale.

 There is a fee to tour the Center for History at $3.00 per person (free for NMHS members) since we believe that we have a quality product to show you which is ever changing, and we need to try to cover some of our expenses.  However, visiting the Americana Shoppe is free, so stop by anytime to find that special gift you might like to give to your visitors, past N. Manchester alumni, or for weddings, at Christmas time, etc.

  Christmas Windows and Cookie Exchange.  Plans are under way to make this holiday season special on Main Street.  Your local merchants, the Chamber of Commerce and N. Manchester Main Street are already hard at work planning our holiday activities for your enjoyment.

 The North Manchester Historical Society and Center for History have a new plan for making our windows look just right for the Christmas season.  And instead of holding our annual bake sale during Fun Fest, we are switching things just a bit and plan to hold a cookie exchange and bake sale some time around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.  Plan to participate in the cookie exchange to increase the variety of sweets to offer your holiday guests.

 Antiques Appraisal. We look forward to offering an annual antiques appraisal here at the Center for History.  Professional appraisers are now being contacted so that arrangements can be finalized for this program to be held during the Harvest Festival.  If this is something you might be interested in attending, please give us some feedback.  Suggestions for appraisers are also welcome.

 Volunteer Recognition.  The month of April was National Volunteer Recognition month and the Center for History was delighted to honor volunteers of 2010 and 2011.  Sixty volunteers were invited to a beautiful reception in their honor to thank them for the over 7,637 volunteer hours they gave us in 2010 and 2011.  This year we recognized service to both the N. Manchester Center for History and the Historical Society in general.  Individuals with more than 100 hours accumulated were given monogrammed polo shirts with the Center for History logo in appreciation for their dedication and service.  The NMHS also recognized Volunteers of the Year 2010—JoAnn Schall and John & Bea Knarr, and—for 2011 Volunteer of the Year, Ralph Naragon.

 We wish to thank the reception committee, Darlene Bucher, Eloise Eberly, Jeanette Lahman and Dorothy Weldy, for their help in making the evening especially lovely and tasty. 

 We at the Center are especially proud of the fine work all of our volunteers do. If you think you’d like to become a volunteer, please contact us immediately.  We welcome and need more people to become involved.  You don’t need to know anything about N. Manchester’s history in order to be helpful to us.  Call today!  260-982-0672.

 Former Peabody Residence, 7th St., North ManchesterPeabody Mansion DVD Available.  A film titled “Journey’s End:  The Building of the Peabody Mansion” has just been released by the N. Manchester Historical Society and is sold only in our gift shop.  This film was shot in the 1930’s by Tom Peabody himself, as the home we fondly call the Peabody Mansion was being built.  This 60 minutes movie shows the craftsmen of that time period doing what they were so skilled at.

 While Mr. Peabody was initially concerned about going ahead with the building of his home during the Depression era, townspeople urged him to proceed because it would provide jobs for local tradesmen.  You won’t want to miss seeing the framers, brick layers, road paving machines, landscapers, and many more as they helped to build this outstanding home.

 The cost of this DVD is $15 and may be ordered by calling 260-982-0672, by emailing us at nmhistory@cinergymetro.net , or by stopping by the Center for History at 124 E. Main Street during office hours. 

NOTE:  Another DVD, “See Yourself in the Movies”, made in 1938 of the entire town and its citizens, is also for sale at the same price.


Oppenheim Exhibit at Center for History

By Mary Chrastil, President
Submitted August 2011

 A major exhibition on the Oppenheim family and store opened at the Center for History on August 12 as part of the Center’s Fun Fest offerings.  The Oppenheim Legacy:  A Perfect Fit for North Manchester for 125 Years is based on over 600 artifacts and photographs provided in 2010 by Rick Eisenstein, nephew of Phil and Pat Oppenheim, the last owners of the Oppenheim Department Store in North Manchester.  When the store closed in 2000, it was the oldest family-owned department store in Indiana.  For the exhibit, additional items were added from the North Manchester Historical Society collection.   

 Mounting this exhibit was a growth experience for the Center for History staff and other volunteers.  We tried to do more than just put stuff on display, but instead to tell the story of this influential family and their long time involvement in the community.  Scores of photographs were mounted and hung; hundreds of labels were researched, prepared and placed.  “Infrastructure” items like display cubicles and screens were built.  Three-dimensional items were cleaned and attractively arranged, and over two dozen narratives were researched and written.  The following narrative gives a sampling of the variety and amount of work that went into this exhibit. 

 One section of the exhibit presents the Oppenheim Store and its employees, including photographs of the various times the store was remodeled over its lifetime.  This part also includes photos of a 1905 baby contest, and ladies lined up around the block waiting to purchase nylon stockings after World War II shortages ended.  Biographies of the owners Jacob, Ben, Isaac, Jean, Phil and Pat Oppenheim are incorporated, as well as artifacts from the store when it closed. 

 Another section displays family artifacts and photographs, including children’s furniture, clothing and toys, dining room settings and linens, travel trunks and clothing, family entertainment, and family community service, including military service.  On view are items from Phil’s run for Congress in 1978 (including radio campaign jingles you can play!) and photographs of the various homes where the family lived in North Manchester, courtesy of Dave Randall and Werking Studios and Kyle and Stacy Trick.

 Throughout the exhibit are narratives about the family and their interests and community involvement, as well as reminiscences about working and shopping at Oppenheims. 

 A grant from the Community Foundation of Wabash County enabled us to build large display cubicles that created “rooms” within the larger exhibit space.  The cubicles can be moved and used for future exhibits, for example building a display “room” within one of the larger Center for History exhibition areas.  Jim Garman, Owen Sommers, and Richard and Althea Miller designed, built and painted the cubicles.  Assistance from Terri Michaelis and the Eel River Watershed Project helped us produce the oversize photo prints that add so much to the exhibit.  Carole Miller-Patrick helped pick the items to be displayed, and plan and construct the display areas. 

The photography exhibit previously in the display area was moved and remounted by Chaz Bellman, Alex Day, Dalton Day, Hannah Thomas and Sabine Thomas.  Hannah and Sabine also painted display walls and researched and produced exhibit labels.  Alex, Dalton and Levi Richardson helped move artifacts from the collection area to the exhibit area   Jeri Kornegay helped us name the exhibit, and Beth Anderson helped prepare displays and, with Owen Sommers, design and build mannequins to display clothing.  Steve Lambert assembled the pedal car used by Phil Oppenheim as a child; it’s something special, and is currently displayed in our front windows.

 Also making contributions were James R.C. Adams, Steve Batzka, John Knarr and Allan White.  Mary Chrastil headed the project.  Mary, Joyce Joy and Nancy Reed were involved in every aspect of mounting the exhibit and were the key authors of its success.

 The Oppenheim Exhibit will be on display through 2012.  After that, a major portion of it will become part of the Center for History’s permanent displays. 

  

10th Anniversary and Mortgage Burning

 On March 26, the North Manchester Historical Society celebrated two happy events.  First, we celebrated our ten-year anniversary at the former Oppenheim Department Store building.  The Oppenheim store closed in October, 2000.  The building was purchased by the Historical Society in December, 2000.  The Society had been exploring various options for relocating its collection from the Town Life Center (former Thomas Marshall School) when the building became available.  The collection was moved to this site in the spring of 2001.

 The new location was of great benefit to the Society and to the community.  Rather than having three empty store fronts downtown, interesting and attractive window displays appear three or four times an year.  The community has used the building for receptions, reunions, and special events, and the Historical Society happily participates in community events such as Fun Fest, Harvest Festival, and the Bunny Hop. 

 It was a leap of faith to purchase the structure.  Many wondered if the building was too large, thinking that we would never fill it.  At that time, the Historical Society had approximately 2,200 items in its collection.  Today, the collection boasts of over 23,000 items!  During Fun Fest this summer, we were hard pressed to find space for our special exhibits, traveling exhibit, movie screening, entertainers and bake sale on the main floor.  Collection storage and administrative space take up the upstairs, and we are starting to explore the lower level for additional gallery space.  We have had no problems filling the building!  And we are very pleased that the community trusts us to conserve, interpret and exhibit their treasures from the past.  Special thank you to the Harold and Eleanor Miller family for their donation of 1,200 farm-related artifacts in 2009, and the family of Phil and Pat Oppenheim for the donation of over 600 artifacts from the family and store in 2010.

 The second thing we celebrated was burning our mortgage on the Oppenheim Building.  Our final mortgage payment was made in January, 2011.  President Mary Chrastil noted that she had often heard of mortgage burnings, but had not experienced such a ceremony personally.  She then lit up a copy of the paid up mortgage for all to enjoy.  The NM Historical Society now owns the building free and clear, in only ten years and one month.  Thank you to all who have contributed to our efforts, with a special thank you to the Paul Speicher Foundation.

 Opera Curtain to Be Restored

 The North Manchester Historical Society is very pleased to announce that we have received a grant of $2,000 from the Community Foundation of Wabash County to help with the restoration of a rare Painted Theatrical Backdrop in our collection.  We commonly refer to such backdrops as opera curtains. 

 The curtain was donated by J. P. Freeman.  We contacted the Indiana Historical Society for information, and they referred us to textile conservator Jennifer Hein to get an estimate for the restoration.  She told us something very interesting.  Painted theatrical backdrops are very rare!  Because they are painted on fabric and because they were often folded up or rolled up, they were prone to cracking, rot, mildew and mold.  She told us she knew of only one other organization in Indiana that had a backdrop; we have since learned of two others.  Based on photographs, she thought ours was an excellent example based on the quality of its artwork and the brightness of its colors.

 The grant will cover a portion of the $6,500 cost to stabilize and restore the backdrop.  We have also received a private donation of $1,000 toward the project.  We hope to bring Jennifer Hein to North Manchester this fall to begin the project.

 Since we have this unexpected treasure in our museum, we decided to make it the centerpiece of our programming for the coming months.  Ms. Hein has agreed to allow the general public and high school and college art and history students to observe her work on a limited basis.  Watch for announcements on when the observations are scheduled.

 Next spring, when the opera curtain restoration is completed, we plan on a series of programs centered around it.  Sample programs may include performances by historical interpreters and opera students, lectures on the businesses listed on the opera curtain, and lectures on the North Manchester Opera House and performances held there, and a lecture on the Chautauqua Movement in the 19th and 20th century. 

 By the way, as rare as the opera curtain is, we have the good fortune to have TWO of them in our collection!  You have no doubt seen the one on display, which could use some conservation work, but which is in good condition overall.  Charles Boebel wrote an informative article on this curtain published in local newspapers last fall.  Who knew that the opera curtains were so rare, and who would have believed that we have not one, but two, of them!

 Traveling Exhibits

 The Center for History is taking advantage of a wonderful program offered by the Indiana Historical Society.  The IHS gives not-for-profits the opportunity to display exhibits on topics of interest in Indiana History.  Their list of exhibits includes over 20 different choices.  Three exhibits can be displayed every year for free, and the Center for History is scheduling the maximum.  The exhibits can be booked for approximately one month.

 Our first exhibit was displayed in March, and featured The Care and Identification of Family Photographs.  Because the exhibit was a two-dimensional display, we decided to enhance it with items we have in our own collection.  We found 160 photographs, cameras, stereopticons, and other items!  We have tintypes, daguerreotypes, and a rare ambrotype.  We didn’t know what cartes de visite and cabinet cards were until we hosted the exhibit; but we found we had some in our collection!  In fact, we had an example of every item mentioned in the exhibit.  The exhibit that we added worked so well that we decided to keep it on display.  You can see The Care and Identification of Family Photographs at the Center for History through the end of the year.

 We just finished our second traveling exhibit of the year, Indiana Through the Map-Maker’s Eyes.  To enhance the 20-panel display, we exhibited maps and globes from the NM Historical Society collection.  Although the traveling exhibit is gone, the maps and globes are on display in our front windows through October.  They include some interesting Sanborn maps of North Manchester, originally made for insurance purposes but now a treasure trove of information for historical research.

 This year’s final traveling exhibit will be on display from October 17 through November 18, and will feature the World War II photographs of Indianapolis resident John Bushemi.  Our windows will display a salute to local veterans.

 The Center for History has brought IHS traveling exhibits to the community before.  Some years ago we hosted exhibits on Post Office Murals and on The Auto in Indiana. 

 We would like the community to recognize the Center for History as the place where these excellent exhibits are available to them on a regular basis.  You don’t have to travel to Indianapolis to see them.  Expect more traveling exhibits next year.


  Spruce Up, Clean Up
  By Nancy Reed, Director

  Submitted August 2011

 The opening on March 19, 2011, was preceded and followed by many volunteer hours of cleaning, painting, carpenter work to get new areas ready, moving of showcases and just good old elbow grease.  A group of Manchester College students helped us to remove wallpaper and paint the north room.  They also assisted in removing the displays in the front windows and removing the tape adhered to those windows.

Mary and Joyce carried most of the load on organizing and supervising this one and several that followed.  I was in and out of the hospital with tests and broken wrists (one in November and one in May).  [Just so you’ll know, I’m all well again and back to work.]

Next came a town-wide clean up day when many of the churches volunteer during Sunday morning services to go about town cleaning up.  In our case, a group from the First Brethren Church picked us to help and we divided them among our 3 floors and got a lot done to organize and clean things out.  Some washed our display windows, inside and out.  Some helped us clean out the garage, and there was much carrying of heavy items to the basement.  Another group swept cobwebs, replaced light bulbs and handled the dirty work of sprucing up the basement storage area.  A couple of brave ladies attacked the archival storage shelves on the second floor with dusters and a shop vac.  We didn’t get everything done (as we hoped might be accomplished), but enough that we felt it was a grand success.  It might be compared to the olden days when your aunts, uncles, and grandparents did spring and fall house cleaning.  Do any of you still do this?  As for the rest of it, it will have to wait for another day.  Any volunteers?

Activities continue and we’re busy planning so much for the rest of the year and for 2012.  You would be amazed at what our small staff accomplishes.  Stop by to see for yourself.  [And bring some friends or family with you!]

  Big Bake Sale

 2011 was our third year for holding a bake sale as a fund-raiser for the North Manchester Center for History.  With so much to do in preparing the Oppenheim exhibits, we found just the team of volunteers to take over the organizational part of putting on a bake sale.  Judy Glasgow, Nancy Schuler, Carolyn Reed, Loree Pritchard, Jeanette Lahman, and Bonnie Merritt capably did the phone calling for baked items,  getting workers for the sale, and working at the sale itself.

As for the baked items, and I say this every year, they were better than ever!  Seriously, the talent for baking has not been lost over the years.  The pies were numerous and scrumptious.  The cookies, fudge and brownies were hits with the children.  Lots of people purchased the snack mixes in individual baggies as they walked by our outdoor table during the Friday night “Cruise-In”.  Breads, yeast rolls, Danish pastry, muffins and cakes were grabbed up in no time at all. 

We started out overflowing three long tables and the top of a long showcase with baked items.  By the end of day one, we were down to two tables and by closing time on Saturday, everything was sold.  Total profit for the Center for History was nearly $725.   All of it will go into our annual fund budget to offset costs of running the Center for History. 

            Thank you workers:  Bea Knarr, Mary Miller, Phyllis Pettit, B.J. Grube, JoAnn Schall, Sally Welborn, Betty Hamlin, Peggy Gilbert, Cass Amiss, Loree Pritchard, Julia Hoover, Arlene Deardorf, Karen Hewitt.  Thank you bake sale committee, thank you Barb Amiss, Nancy Tiger and Nancy Schuler for putting in extra hours, and thank you Fun Fest attendees for buying from us.  We’ll be back next year.

 “See Yourself in the Movies” Project

             Many of you have seen the 1938 Tri-Kappa movie “See Yourself in the Movies”.  In case you haven’t heard of it, it was film shot by a professional photographer in 1938.  The Tri-Kappa group in cooperation with the Business and Professional Women, arranged for movies to be shot on specific days in North Manchester.  It was advertised in the local newspaper and the community was urged to turn out and be ready for the photographer to come to their workplace, church, school or business locations. 

A few years ago, Jim Adams and Charles Boebel did a voice-over to the originally silent film, by identifying as many of the people as they could.  The Historical Society is now undertaking a project to identify even more people in the film and then Jim and Charles will revise the script and add many more individuals. 

We held the first of those screenings at the Center during Fun Fest and many turned out to watch the movie and help us with identification.  A hundred or more names have already been added.

            We plan to meet at Peabody and Timbercrest and with other individuals so some long-time North Manchester residents can help us identify even more folks.  If you believe that you could help us, or if you’ve seen the film and recognized anyone, won’t you please call the Center for History at 982-0672 or Nancy Reed at 982-2858 and we will be grateful for your input.

            The revised 1938 movie will be sold on DVD, but probably not until next year.  Meanwhile, if you haven’t seen the movie, but would like to, copies are available for $15.00 by contacting the Center for History.  Group showings might be scheduled if you call to arrange it.  Do so quickly, because our deadline to cut off the identification process is November 1.

 A VERY SPECIAL THANK YOU to Owen Sommers who volunteers his extremely gifted talent of carpentry for so many numerous projects for the North Manchester Center for History.  He always comes when we need him.  He always has a solution to our dilemmas.  He frequently saves us money by making it work with what we have.  He is dedicated and gets the tasks done immediately.  He wants to help others in

his retirement years and he is always happy and gracious. We couldn’t do the projects without you, Owen.  Thanks! 

 YOU CAN HELP.  HERE ARE SOME OF OUR NEEDS.

 Someone to clean and wax our tile floors with a professional machine.  This is heavy duty work.  We will supply the products if you will supply the manpower.

Used overhead cabinets (3 or 4) for our small kitchenette.

Volunteer docents for one Wednesday or Saturday each month, between the hours of 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for the Center for History.  We will teach you what you need to know.  If we had more docents, we could open more days and hours.  We like for docents to work in pairs, so bring a friend or we will match you up with another volunteer.

Volunteer docents and interpreters for the Thomas Marshall house.  We will need to teach you about the Marshalls and the times around 1850.  You will need to be available at least once a month to give guided tours and tell the stories of Thomas Marshall and North Manchester. 

Add your name to a list of people we might call to help us:  painters, carpenters, those willing to move heavy objects, cleaners, decorators for window and museum displays. We also need someone with excellent computer skills to assist with accessioning artifacts, keeping track of income and expense items on spreadsheets, working with a membership data base, fundraising mailings, and much more.  Just call the Center for History to have your name added to our list.  This is part-time, irregular work at your convenience.

Volunteer to set up a facebook page for us and maintain it.

We are searching for anyone interested in serving on a committee regarding historic house signs.  The current signs are in disrepair and we want to update and replace them.  Many more homes deserve to receive a sign and this will need to be researched.  Also, the covenants for receiving and keeping a history house sign need to be revised.  To volunteer, call the Center.       

To volunteer call the Center for History at 260-982-0672 or Nancy Reed at 260-982-2858.

 N. Manchester Historical Society to Participate in Pilot Program

 The staff and board of directors will be participating in a piloting assessment for the Indiana Historical Society this fall.  We were one of a few museums to be matched up with one other similar museum around the state to assess one another.  North Manchester has been matched with the Madison County Museum at Anderson, IN.  They will be critiquing and learning from us and vice versa.  If all goes well, this is a project that will be offered around the state.  We feel lucky to have been selected.

 News Notes  

 December – See our special Christmas windows, always grand and colorful.  We hope to do a display of dolls from various eras.  If you have a collection that you would be willing to loan, please contact Nancy Reed at 982-2858 or the Center at 982-0672.

 Tours – we have group tours being booked throughout the year.  Would your church group, graduating class, social club, family reunion, anniversary party, or friends and relatives like to see and hear about our exhibits?  Ask us about our special rates for group parties.  Then call to book a tour with us.  We’ll be glad to tailor your tour for whatever your time limit allows.  It takes a minimum of one-half hour to see everything—fast.  An hour is better and 1-1/2 hours will be filled with historic facts and stories that we’re certain you will enjoy.  Touring the Center for History is a very nostalgic trip.  Another part of your tour can be to visit the second floor to see how we archive and store our over 23,000 items and know where they are when we need to retrieve them.

 At the request of Manchester College we have added their African Art collection to our storage area.  We anticipate getting a grant that will help us restore and stabilize this collection and hope to build a special humidity controlled area in our basement to display these valuable items.  We expect the process to take more than a year to complete, so stand by for more details of our progress.

 Watch for the release of a new hand-made, DeWitt model car.  It is made of wood, is very durable and just right for giving to a child.  They may be available for Christmas.

 New projects pop up daily.  We never know what opportunity is going to present itself, but we look forward to them.  They make our museum ever-changing and always interesting.


  CENTER FOR HISTORY CELEBRATING 10-YEAR ANNIVERSARY

This month (March 2011) the North Manchester Center for History will be celebrating its 10th year in the former Oppenheim building. We are proud to announce that during this 10-year period our collection has increased from 2,200 items to nearly 23,000 documents, artifacts and local historical treasures. This article highlights the humble beginnings of the collection and some of the people that made it possible.

As early as the late 1960s, articles of historic worth were stored on the third floor of the city hall building. Though not organized in a formal display, these items were available for public viewing on a limited basis. At some point the items needed to be moved and were stored above the Wible Shoe Store (Burge Building) on Main Street, site of the current AT&T wireless store. By 1972, the North Manchester Historical Society organized under the able leadership of Max and Sally Allen. Items of historical interest continued to be collected by this group and by the sesquicentennial year collections were very active and publicly solicited. In 1984, with the growing number of items, an organized method of logging accessions was adopted. In 1990, two former classrooms in the Town Life Center (formerly Thomas Marshall School) were rented by the Historical Society to once again display and store the artifacts. Max and Grace Kester supervised the creation of attractive educational displays. Rosemary Manifold and Catherin Smith were in charge of accessions for many years, and the collection continued to grow with the addition of donations from the general public. This are of the Town Life Center was given the name, North Manchester Historical Society Museum. Phil Orpurt became quite active as curator of this museum and spent many long hours collecting, recording, displaying an preserving items for future generations to enjoy.

With a need to vacate to Town Life Center classrooms and the growing pains of available space, an advisory committee of the historical society was formed consisting of David Grandstaff, Emerson Niswander, Jim Adams, Steve Batzka, Shirley Mishler, Dick Miller, Mary Chrastil, Steve Hammer, Ferne Baldwin and Ralph Naragon. This committee focused on finding a new home for the museum. While their meetings and fact-finding progressed, the Oppenheim Store came up for sale. The Oppenheim Store, a staple in North Manchester for 125 years, began in 1875 with Jacob Oppenheim opening the Oppenheim New York Cheap Store.

In 2000, negotiations began and progressed to the purchase of the site in December 2000; the collection was moved in 2001. Emerson Niswander helped secure Oppenheim store artifacts for the collection during the auction when the store was liquidated. Countless volunteer hours and hired contractors began to prepare the Oppenheim building for housing the 2200 items that had been collected. A specially chosen Museum Committee consisting of former advisory committee members, Mary Chrastil, Steve Hammer, David Grandstaff, Ralph Naragon, and with the addition of Arthur Gilbert, Phil Orpurt, Bonnie Ingraham, Tim Taylor and Robin Lahman began to steer the museum into the 21st century.

Jeanne Andersen served as Director as collection information was transferred to professional museum software and labeled using standard museum techniques. Key volunteers were Bernice Ford, Eunice Butterbaugh, Joyce Joy, Debbie Chinworth, Carolyn Leffel, Ann Curtis, Evelyn Niswander and Ferne Baldwin. Window displays were established, several special temporary exhibits were presented, and planning was done for permanent exhibits. Under the leadership of Bill Eberly, in 2007 the Center for History established regular hours when the public could view exhibits. At that time, Nancy Reed became Director. The full circle had been made, as Nancy had been instrumental in storing and exhibiting the small collection housed in the City Hall building so many years before.

Several "mini" collections have been key additions to the overall collection. Ferne Baldwin and Bill Eberly were influential in obtaining items that had been stored at Manchester College or were in the College Museum. The Harold and Eleanor Miller family donated over 1,200 farm related artifacts collected over four generations. And the family of Pat and Phil Oppenheim recently donated over 600 items from that family.

Today, in 2011 we celebrate the goal of paying off the mortgage on the museum. On March 26, the Historical Society will host a reception, behind-the-scenes tours of our building and extensive collection, and a mortgage burning. The Board of Directors of the North Manchester Historical Society feel the museum is an attractive new asset for Main Street and an important step for the society and the town of North Manchester. We are pleased that the community trusts that the Historical Society will take good care of its memories and artifacts, as demonstrated in the rapid growth of our collection.

To donate items for consideration, contact Joyce Joy, curator, at 982-0672. You can also visit us at 120 E. Main St., North Manchester; or at www.nmanchesterhistory.org.

Submitted by Mary Chrastil, President, North Manchester Historical Society.
Source: The Paper, March 9, 2011


 

2010 ANNUAL REPORT OF DIRECTOR 
Nancy J. Reed, January 2011

TOURS                                                                       EVENTS

 

Red Hat Society                                                         Bunny Hop

Girl Scouts                                                                  Miller Room Dedication

College Board of Trustees’ Wives                              65th Anniversary of Bill/Kay Bellinger

Church Ladies                                                             A.I.B. Judges’ Gala

Cruisin’ Just for Fun                                                   Bake Sale, Book Signing, Antique Appraisal

Korean Group                                                             Fun Fest

Timbercrest                                                                 First Friday

Janene Dawes & Tom Airgood                                   Harvest Festival

        (before MHS Alumni Banquet)

After-Alumni Banquet group

Heckman Bindery (HF Group)

Class of 1960                                                              GRANTS

Garber-Simmons

Class of 1957                                                              Community Foundation

MES Second Grade                                                                Brochures                  $ 2,490

MES Third Grade                                                                   Fire Extinguishers       $ 1,275

MES Fourth Grade

Private Tour – Briner family

 

 

MEETINGS                                                                STAFF EXCURSIONS

 

D.A.R.                                                                         South Bend Center for History, Copshaholm &

MES 3rd & 4th Grade Teachers (monthly)                   Studebaker Museum Budget                                                                                                                         Tourism Roundtable

Genealogical Society of Wabash County                    Townsends, Pierceton

H.S. Board Retreat                                                    Oppenheim Auction

Watershed Initiative Steering Committee                      Oppenheim Home to pick out accessions

Art Guild                                                                                for collection

Rotary at Thomas Marshall House                             Shipshewana to purchase vest materials

Docent Meetings (2)                                                   Chamber Awards Banquet

Community Foundation Board                                   Indiana Historical Society, Local History Organi-

Fire Dept. Meeting & Tour                                                     zation Meeting

Met with J.T. DuBois re. fire extinguishers                Indiana State Historical Society, Indy

Met with Nowak re. fire alarm systems                      Wabash County Convention & Visitor’s Bureau

Lunch with CFH Staff                                                                             Meet the new Director & Brainstorming

Met w/M.C. Art Class to Design Brochures               Wabash County Museum                               

Met w/Carol Patrick-Miller re. student                       Grant County Museum

 Volunteer programs                                                   Fulton County Museum

                                                                                                                                                                                                   

WORK COMPLETED

 Lantz letters transcribed a                                                       Established Annual & 5 Year Goals

Accessioned Miller collection                                                 Re-established Annual Fund

Painting of Barn Room                                                           Established admission policies

Faux Painting of Barn Room                                                  Held 2 Board Retreats

New Flooring in Barn Room                                                 Expanded clothing storage (doubled)

Shelving in Barn Room                                                           Building improvements

Barn Room Decorated                                                            First time preparing unified budget

Bob Sled Rebuilt                                                                    Installed fire extinguishers at CFH

Brochures (Center for History, Historical                               Fire inspection completed by local

     Society,  & Miller Barn) 500 copies each                                      fire departments

2010 Budget                                                                                      

Phil Orpurt completed Dendrochronology

     (identification of tree rings on lg log)

Reinstituted Nominating Committee

Membership & Fund Raising Outreach

Set up Calendar to follow monthly

  

WORK IN PROGRESS

 Accession of Oppenheim collection

Identification of pictures thru News Journal

History Kits (3rd & 4th Grades)

Established Data Base for membership & 

        fund raising mailings

Get Docents more involved

Arrange for special exhibits from Indiana Hist. Soc.

Revamp Gift Shop

Closer contact / involvement with other area museums

More and better publicity

10th Anniversary Celebration

Reorganize committees

Complete Inventory of Collection

Continue planning for façade renovations

Pay off buildings (last payment)

Energy audit

Docent manual & guided tours

DeWitt model for gift shop

Activity for Historic Preservation month (May)

Improve exhibit labeling


2010 GUEST BOOK SUMMARY

 

1,200 guests signed our guest book in 2010               Doesn’t include Miller Barn Dedication, Bunny Hop, Fun Fest, Bake Sale or Harvest Fest

 Our Guests -    Indiana, Servia                                    Vermont

Came from                    Brook                                    Virginia, Harrisonburg

                                      Terre Haute                           Illinois, Chicago

                                      Fort Wayne                           Illinois, Springfield

                                      Liberty Mills                         Illinois, Georgetown 

                                      Goodland                              Illinois, Rock Island              

                                      Indianapolis                          Ohio, Smithville

                                      Huntington                            Ohio, Worthington

                                      Elkhart                                  Ohio, Dayton

                                      Roann                                    Ohio, Medina

                                      Akron                                    Ohio, Defiance

                                      Pierceton                               Ohio, Union City

                                      Avon                                     Ohio, Eaton

                                      Liberty                                  Ohio, N. Benton

                                      LaFontaine                            Ohio, Mentor

                                      Batesville                              Ohio, Pavell

                                      Upland                                  Ohio, Belle Center

                                      Hamilton                               North Carolina, Winston-Salem

                                      Waterloo                               North Carolina, Elk Park

                                      Warsaw                                 North Carolina, Hendersonville

                                      Portland                                North Carolina, Hillsborough

                                     Mishawaka                            South Carolina, Greer

                                     Valparaiso                             New York, Rochester

                                      Silver Lake                            New York, Rhirebeth

                                      Rockfield                              New York, Buffalo

                                     Bristol                                   Washington, Seattle

                                      Albion                                   Maryland, Frederick

                                      Alexandria                            Maryland, Hagerstown

                                      Lafayette                               Maryland, Sykesville

                                      Roanoke                                South Dakota, Sturgis

                                      Wabash                                 Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh

                                      Rochester                              Pennsylvania, McKees Rocks

                                     Carmel                                   Pennsylvania, Palmyra

                                     Muncie                                  Pennsylvania, Lansdale

                                    Remington                             Pennsylvania, Quarryville

                                   Garrett                                    Pennsylvania, Peach Bottom

                                   Marion                                    Pennsylvania, Perkasle

                                  Claypool                                  Arizona, Tucson

                                   Bloomington                           Arizona, Phoenix

                                     Tipton                                    Michigan, Plainwell

                                     Andrews                               Michigan, Hillsdale

                                     Rossville                                Michigan, Kalamazoo

                                     Urbana                                  Michigan, Battle Creek

                                     Argos                                     Michigan, Northport

                                      Milford                                  Michigan, Grand Haven

                                      South Bend                           Michigan, Sun Field

                                      Noblesville                            Michigan, Midland

                                      Newburgh                             Michigan, Mason

                                      South Whitley                       Michigan, Holt

                                      Columbia City                       Michigan, Portage

                                                                                     Florida, Highland Beach

                                      North Manchester                 Florida, Winter Park

                                                                                     Florida, New Port Richey

                                                                                     Oklahoma, Edmond

                                                                                     Oklahoma, Tahlequah

                                                                                     California, Redlands

                                                                                     California, Rancho Santa Fe

                                                                                     California, Encino

                                                                                    California, Voreno Valley

                                                                                    Massachusetts, Cape Cod

                                                                                   Wisconsin, Madison

                                                                                   Massachusetts, Leverett

                                                                                    Tennessee, Knoxville

                                                                                   Georgia, Atlanta

                                                                                    Georgia, Faytteville

                                                                                    Kansas, Olathe

                                                                                   Iowa, Lamoni            

                                                                                  Texas, Austin

                                                                                 Texas, San Antonio

                                                                                Minnesota, Minneapolis

                                                                                Minnesota, Burnsville

                                                                               Oklahoma, Alters

                                                                              Kentucky, Lexington

                                                                              New Jersey, Edison

                                                                              Switzerland, Bern

                                                                              Korea, Seoul

                                                                             Canada, Canmore, Alberta

                                                                              Mexico, Oaxaca

                                     


LOTS TO SEE IN THE CENTER

 By Nancy J. Reed, Director of Displays
April, 2010

Can it be nearly a year now since I updated this page?  Wow, I really have been busy!  Since last May when I last wrote my article, we have had a number of events to prepare for and many displays changed or added.  In the summer months our four large storefront windows featured displays with a circus theme.  The collection was loaned by Doug Konkle of Wabash and was very extensive.  Mr. Konkle primarily collects posters and photographs from the big circuses that traveled our nation at their most popular times.  With Peru, Indiana, being one of the circus capitols of the world, there is no lack of items to be traded and purchased around this area of the state.  I also traveled to the Circus Hall of Fame in Peru and borrowed several costumes which were featured.  One of them was worn by Lloyd Bridges from one of his movies and another was a trapeze costume belonging to one of the flying Wallenda daughters.  A clown costume, circus trunk, elephant headdresses and even a dog harness with feathers were featured.  Mr. Konkle has another hobby of carving objects out of wood.  We proudly showed off his carved circus wagons and animals and his midway complete with ticket booth, balloon stand, and stages with curtains showing off the various side-show events that one could purchase a ticket to see.  The theme of our annual Fun Fest in N. Manchester was the circus, so our huge window displays helped to set the mood for the community.  Our windows are becoming an attraction that everyone waits to see as they get changed four times a year.

 During Fun Fest, we had over 600 visitors and a part of what attracted them was the huge bake sale.  Volunteers baked homemade pies, cakes, breads, cookies, etc. that we sold whole or by the piece.  We also served sarsaparilla, ginger beer, limeade, sweet tea, iced tea and ice cream.  It produced a good profit for the Center and we plan to do it again this year during Fun Fest, August 12-14.  If you can make it to N. Manchester at that time, please stop by to sample the baked goodies and enjoy a cool drink.

 For winter, the windows were decorated as follows:  1) A huge collection of teddy bears and a teddy bear Christmas tree.  These bears were from the collections of Dave Tranter, Joanne Michels, Theron Rupley, Diane Eberly, Nancy Reed, Bette Reed, and Joyce Joy.  A childhood photograph of each of the collectors was displayed next to their bears. 2) A kitchen scene from the 1940’s, complete with a dining room table with tableware from that era and a Seller’s kitchen cabinet that belonged to Eleanor & Harold Miller when they were first married.  A Christmas tree was decorated with bubble lights and cookie cutters.  A little boy (wearing a romper belonging to Ted Hill) and his Momma were in the kitchen in their period clothing.  3) A quilting frame displaying a hand-made quilt provided by the Manchester Retail Merchants to be raffled off at Christmas was featured.  Paintings by Gladys Scheumann decorated the walls and a melodeon belonging to Caroline & Henry Lantz, builders or the Lantz (later Sheller) Hotel, completed the window.  4)  Radios from the 1920’s through the 1950’s were displayed along with posters on the wall listing most of the old-time radio programs that we loved to listen to. Those were the days when listening to the radio was our main source of news and enjoyment in the evenings, before television and computers.  

 Inside of the museum the second Dewitt automobile is now on loan and on display along side the first one, given to the Historical Society by Russell (Pudge) Egolf.  This second car was built and used for stage plays in New York city.  It is run on battery power and ran quietly across the stage so that the actors voices could still be heard.  Pudge bought the car back, when they were done with it, and now you can see it for yourself.  It’s a four-seater, “convertible”, painted bright red.

 The high school class pictures that hung in the hallways at Central and Chester are now featured in another area.  There are only about 24 pictures in our collection at this point.  Those of you who may know of someone who has your class photograph might wish to consider donating it to the Center for History for everyone to enjoy and for safekeeping.

 The skilled work of The Bonnet Factory is also displayed, complete with brochure, catalog, materials and a complete history of how the bonnets were made.  Several examples in various stages of completion show us just how they were manufactured.  The bonnets were primarily made for the Brethren and Dunkard ladies of this community, but were shipped to other communities and states because of their design and quality.

 The BIGGEST change since last I wrote, is that the Miller Barn Museum is now complete.  This display features the hundreds of items collected by Harold Miller over his lifetime, some of which belonged to his father, Ellis Miller.  The barn room is painted with red walls that have been faux finished by Steve Batzka to look like real barn siding.  Construction of the barn room was directed by Owen Sommers who is a retired home builder whom we are fortunate to have living here at Timbercrest Senior Living Community.  Owen was assisted by Bob Amiss, Sam Leckrone,  Russ Reahard, Robin Lahman and Richard Miller at various times, to complete the building phases.  Wood-like flooring was installed, new lighting fixtures, and shelving was hung clear to the beamed ceiling.  Featured in the collection is a haymow, six horse-drawn plows, a high wheeled Turnbull farm wagon, bobsled, grain shaker, bear skin coat, and a large number of farm implements.  The collection is simply unique and is a must-see if you are ever in this part of Indiana. 

 Across the room from the farm collection are the items collected from the Miller house, including Eleanor and Harold’s Sellers kitchen cabinet that they went to housekeeping with in the late 1930’s.  Dishes, the children’s toys, an ironer, and many more items complete this display. 

 The barn display isn’t quite complete, however.  Numerous photographs of farm life are yet to be enlarged and hung on the walls outside of the barn room.  It is a collection of pictures that most can identify with as they recall life on the farm in the days when manual labor and hard work were all in a day’s work.  It won’t matter to you that these pictures feature the three generations of Millers, because they are so reminiscent of anyone who grew up on a farm.  Come on in and see for yourself the beauty and memories of a bygone era.

 The Brethren and Old Order “Dunkard” display has been moved and enlarged.  As people come in to see the Barn Room, they also enjoy this display and frequently have pictures they are willing to share with us of other “annual meetings”, the churches and people involved.  In re-establishing this display, I realized how important it would be to also feature our other churches that started out at the same time (and before) here in N. Manchester.  The history of the Lutheran Church is now in process and will soon be ready.  Yet to follow will be the history of the Methodist Church and the Congregational Christian Church.  All four of these churches were established early-on in this community.  Anyone with photographs or memorabilia from these or any other churches may contact me to discuss copying or using your materials as a loan or permanent donation to the Center.  We don’t want to leave anyone out and would like to expand this exhibit to feature all of our churches.  We will need your help to do so.

 With this latest expansion, we are now facing the problem of running out of display space.  We have just two small rooms yet to be refurbished and then we will need to consider going either upstairs or downstairs for more exhibit space.  That is currently being discussed by our Board of Directors. 

 I’m also working with several Manchester College classes and with Manchester Elementary School to develop more educational programs for our students.  Fourth graders, in particular, study Indiana history and we desire to expand the programs we offer at the Center to help make their studies come to life and be more meaningful.  We will be working with the student teaching class at Manchester College to develop tours and learning tools that address the curriculum mandated for each class, not just fourth grade.  The college students will work directly with the elementary classes to provide crafts and hands-on learning techniques to help them understand North Manchester and Indiana history better. 

 Another of our Historical Society members, Mary Chrastil, is in the process of developing sets of storage boxes that will contain more learning materials.  These boxes may be checked out by the teacher to their classroom so that the children can learn by experiencing the contents of the boxes.  For instance, a box could contain items that a family might have brought with them as they emigrated from Europe to the United States.  Or a box might contain what they would pack to travel west by wagon train or canal boat.  Period clothing could fill another box.  If you have any ideas for filling these educational boxes, please feel free to contact us with your thoughts or contributions.

 Dr. Ejenoba Oke’s Art/Graphic Design class is working this semester to design and produce new brochures for the Historical Society and for the Center for History.  You may expect lots of colored photographs and innovative ideas to be the center of attention as we tell what we are all about through the brochures.  They’ll be ready soon.  We’ll post them on our web site when they are ready.  If you need a copy(ies), just phone, email or write to us and we’ll be glad to forward a supply.

 Fundraising and lots of building improvements are topics we continually discuss.  We will soon have a new budget approved and then the financial assistance must come next.  We are growing and improving and expanding in so many ways and everyone who sees us exclaims, “Wow, I didn’t know this was here.  It’s so great and I love the ever-changing displays and remembering my childhood.”  “I’ve learned so much about North Manchester’s history and the people who pioneered the community.  Everyone should see this!”  We hear these comments and so much more every week.  We are a success and we are ready to grow and expand, but we need money and we need you to donate items for our collection.  Our staff of volunteers is growing, the numbers of tours and meetings we host are increasing, more and more events are being planned for the Center, and we desire to make it the place to meet, a hub of activity, and a setting where all ages come together to enjoy one another.   What can you do to participate and help?

 I look forward to what the next six months will bring.  Hopefully, it will not be another year before I write to you again.  In the meantime, appreciate your past and look with anticipation to the future.  Contribute to the Center for History if you can.  Thanks!

 

 


 

 

LOTS TO SEE IN THE CENTER

By Nancy J. Reed, Director of Displays
May 5, 2009

It was a very busy winter for the volunteers at the Center for History.  Although the doors were closed to the public (except for pre-arranged tours) the building didn’t sit idle nor did the staff.  It took many days to arrange the glittering holiday windows with backdrops of sparkling material covering the walls of four storefront windows.  Green was the backdrop for evergreen trees, leaves and branches for a woodland scene featuring Luke Hunt’s gifted talent of taxidermy.  A deer, skunk, coyote, porcupine, bobcat, duck and a variety of birds looked right at home and we were sorry to see them go when the windows were dismantled to make way for spring displays.

Another window featured a silver background for the two silver, aluminum trees with a colored wheel revolving and changing colors just like they did in the 60’s when they were produced and very popular.  The ground was covered with snow and there was a pond complete with snowman just waiting for anyone to come ice skating.  This serene scene also featured snowflakes coming down from above and a crystal, lighted stag enjoying his reflection in the pond.  For nostalgic purposes we included a dozen or so photographs of N. Manchester scenery from bygone days; each one showing off our beautiful snows of past winter seasons.

The third window reminded us of our Christmases in the past.  The Oppenheim’s Santa Claus made another appearance to a living room complete with lighted tree, cozy carpets on the floor, an easy chair & ottoman.  (Santa needs some electrical work because he doesn’t move any more.  Anyone want to volunteer?)  Close by was a new acquisition for the Center; a Peabody-Majestic fireplace.  Santa had just placed many gifts under the tree, including a collection of tractors loaned by Joyce & Dale Joy.  The packages had some special decorations on them this year.  Pictures of the Kitson children from the 50’s showing off their Christmas morning presents were attached to the packages.  Of course we didn’t forget a glass of milk and a plate of cookies for Santa to enjoy, but the family’s puppy was sitting up and begging for a share.

The fourth window was all in royal blue sparkling through the night.  This window could not have held another nativity scene as we featured Bernice Ford’s large collection.  The holiday trees were tree branches wrapped with blue lights and all of the shelving and boxes holding the nativities were covered in dark blue velvet.  It was a very beautiful display.  Some from outside the window tried to spoil it by spitting and throwing eggs on this window, but it didn’t deter other visitors from appreciating “the reason for the season.”  We just cleaned off the windows frequently.

Our final window (the one with our logo and lettering on the walls), was kept simple with some of the toys and games that have been acquired by the Center for History over the years.  (We don’t have very many, so please don’t throw yours away or sell them in an auction.  We could certainly use them.)

These were beautiful windows and we were sorry to see them go away, but then there is always next year.

Here is a list of some of the other displays that were improved or added just in time for our opening on April 4, 2009.

New items and photos were added to the bank display.  Union Trust Bank, Lawrence National Bank, and the Indiana Bank are all identified and explained.  Several new pieces have been added to the Indiana Lawrence Bank collection as well. 

If these notes cause you to think about items that you have stuck away in your attic, garage or storage shed, remember that our collections are never complete.  We sometimes struggle to find enough items to complete a display.  Please think about donating to the museum the next time you are sorting through “stuff”, don’t know what to do with the old items, or no one in the family wants them.  We want them!

The dresser gifted to a Dunkard girl and built in North Manchester now displays some dresser decorations of the period with some Currier & Ives prints on the walls.  The history of Currier & Ives is nearby for anyone to read about.

A closet hanging full of a wide variety of period clothing is featured in a new display just added.  The closet invites visitors to look at the clothing by handling them by the hangar rather than touching the fabric of each piece.  Also in the closet are many high button shoes, both for adults and children.  Across the aisle we show off several interesting hats in our collection.  There is space provided for one to sit down (on a 50’s style hair dryer chair) and try on the hats.  Mirrors reflect the beautiful image as you ponder what you might have looked like in your grandmother’s or great grandmother’s hats.  We plan to expand this exhibit with gloves, handkerchiefs, and jewelry. 

Nearby we still have the textile section, displaying our collection of sewing, weaving, tapestry, quilting, and other hand crafted items.  Five quilts are featured; one of them made by Helen Garner’s elementary school class.  Spinning wheels, a treadle sewing machine, ironing board & iron, quilting frame, a loom, and tapestry frame are also part of this section of the museum.  We had a collection of sewing notions and thimbles, loaned by Evelyn & Emerson Niswander, featured during the holidays.  But, alas, they needed to return them to Theron Rupley’s Antique Store where they are for sale.  Theron frequently loans us items to complete our displays when we don’t have enough.  Thank you, Theron.  He’s just a couple of doors down from the Center to the east, so when in town, plan to stop by his store as well.

Nancy Reed has added two of her personal collections of art glass for your pleasure.  The blue collection features a blue milk glass plate that was from her grandmother.  Other items were also collected from her two great aunts.  Most of the Reed side of the family collected antiques or had antique stores.  Nancy said there were annual vacation trips made to Wisconsin, antique hunting and fishing.  The second collection is cranberry glass and was acquired the same way.  Some items, however, she purchased herself while working for auctioneer, Eldon Metzger, as his cashier for a number of years.

The “Authors from North Manchester” section is nearly complete now.  A reading corner has been provided for visitors to sit and enjoy the books, pamphlets and photographs of our local writers.  Some of those featured include Lloyd C. Douglas, Thomas R. Marshall, Chief Clarence Godfroy, Dr. Ladoska Z. Bunker, Vernon Schwalm, William Eberly, Patricia Ringenberg, Otho Winger, Ida Winger, and William Billings.  Some of their books were available from the Center’s collection; however, there are many more we would like to have donated.  A list of those books still needed will be included on this web site at a later time.  We will gladly receive any works by local authors that we may not yet know of or have in our collection.

We have opened another section in this display for visitors to come in to look at the collection of N. Manchester yearbooks.  We reserve copies of each yearbook in our archives that we don’t allow the general public to handle.  We already have two copies of every Aurora, Ravelings, En Em, Crest, and Laktonian stored in the library archives.  The third copy of any of these books will be placed on the book shelves of our “Author” area for anyone to peruse.

In case you haven’t been to our museum, here is a list of some other displays currently being featured. To view a particular exhibit click on the link. You will want to return to this page by then clicking on the browser's back arrow.

Americana Shoppe (souvenir items of N. Manchester for sale)

Cigar Factory

Dewitt automobile

Early Brethren Conferences held in Harter’s Grove

Hamilton Opera House

The lumber companies

Livery stables & horse shoeing establishments

Giek Tile & Brick Manufacturing

House building styles of this area

Manchester Bonnet Factory

Manchester College

Martha Winesburg’s classroom

Mastodon bones found in this area

One of the last remaining eels found in Eel River

N. Manchester Covered Bridge

N. Manchester Fire Dept. Then & Now

Oppenheim’s Department Store

Peabody Furniture Factory

Radios, record players, Victrolas, Player Piano – our music of the past

Rex Windmill

Rufle’s Jewelry Store

Shively Dairy

Hamilton / Strauss Mill

The art of Gladys Scheumann

Thomas R. Marshall, Governor of Indiana & Vice President of the U.S.

 The North Manchester Historical Society wishes to thank the Public Library for the loan of an original oil painting of the Strauss Mill by Earl Egolf.  The painting will be on display at the Center for History through the spring and summer months.

 A new and exciting project is under way at the Center for History right now.  The four children of Eleanor & Harold Miller (Rosemary, Richard, Carol & Joann), have given his farm museum collection of implements and other items from four generations of Millers to the Historical Society.  Nearly all of the items have been moved to the Center and are now being cleaned and accessioned.  Volunteers are badly needed to help us clean the many items that have been donated.  Mr. Miller had them displayed in his own museum room within his large barn on the 100-plus-year-old farm where he lived north of town.  The same homestead was lived in and farmed by his father, Ellis Miller, and by at least one generation prior to that.  Along with these farm items, the volunteers at the Center have already put in many hours cataloging and researching 2,000 paper items including farm records, receipts, ledgers, diaries, photographs, post cards, personal letters, calling cards, grade cards, school photos, ration coupons and much more.

 At present the collection is being temporarily stored in two very large rooms that are not open to the public.  It is hoped that the Historical Society will be able to remodel one of those rooms to look like the inside of a barn.  Some structural and leaking problems must be resolved before this project can be completed.  The Board of Directors is currently planning to work with a local contractor to complete estimates for the cost of this endeavor and then many volunteers and donations will be needed to see it happen.  This project has been put on the front burner, so to speak, because we will need the room ready to display the artifacts once they are cleaned and accessioned.  This is a collection so outstanding that we feel certain it will attract the men and farmers from near and far to inspect these tools from generations past.  Just to whet your appetite, there is a bob sled, parts of a smaller Conestoga-type wagon, and what we believe to be a Studebaker wagon bed.  Much work will be done to restore these items as funds will permit.  Just as a reminder to readers, the North Manchester Center for History is run solely on donations and grants.  Dues from the Historical Society members go to offset the cost of publishing our quarterly Newsletter and other expenses of the organization.  There is no paid staff; only volunteers.

 At present our windows are featuring themes for spring.  Our Manchester College art student, Cat Davis, who is interning this semester, has painted a wall-sized watercolor of the gazebo in Warvel Park.  The window, titled “Playing in Warvel Park with Daddy” features a small child playing in the sand with old-style tin buckets and shovels.  Their dog keeps watch over the baby nearby.  Daddy, meanwhile, is reclining in the grass while flying two kites (made by Manchester Elementary School students).  The mannequin of daddy is really a paper machete project completed by Manchester High School art students a few years ago.  They plastered themselves and other models with paper machete and gave the Center many different posed mannequins to use for our various projects.

 In the next window its “April Showers Bring May Flowers” as umbrellas are featured.  Another paper machete mannequin of a young man who has fallen into a rain puddle is the center of attention.  His umbrella is open upside-down, his MP3 player is saved from falling into the water by a wrist band, but the earphones are a bit askew on his head.  Under another umbrella in the window, a mother rabbit and her baby take shelter.

 The third window shows off a collection of doctor’s office items (from the collection of Beth Davis).  This collection includes nursing books, bedpans, medicine bottles, scissors, salves, and features a wicker wheelchair.  From the Center’s collection we added doctor’s white jackets, scrubs, a nurse’s uniform & cape, all of the doctor’s bag in our possession (10) and the story of the building of Manchester Clinic.  The photographs of Doctors Lloyd Smith, Paul Eiler, Michael Silvers, Wilbur McFadden, Parks Adams and Rex Wieland are displayed.  Another photograph shows the whole staff on the 20th anniversary of Manchester Clinic.  The business was established in 1961 by Dr. Smith & Eiler, along with Don Spitler, pharmacist, and Dr. William Gordon, dentist.   Two other partners were William Sayer, who had already established his insurance business on the property where the Clinic was built, and Rev. Jim Overholt.

 We would like to enlarge our collection of medical instruments and memorabilia if readers have items to donate.  Items pertaining to N. Manchester physicians, dentists, eye doctors, and veterinarians, are particularly desired.

 The fourth window salutes the Boy Scouts.  The collection of Dennie Unger is displayed along with a few items from Dave Hippensteel.  Boy Scout and Cub Scout uniforms, ties, camping equipment, backpacks, books, badges, etc. are shown.

 One of the most exciting new transitions that has taken place at the Center is that Manchester College’s Art Department under the direction of Dr. Thelma Rohrer and supervised by Prof. Ejenoba Oke, is now working in conjunction with us to furnish an intern each semester to study all aspects of museum management.  Our first intern was Catherine “Cate” Brelji, from Fort Wayne.  She studied at the Center for History from September through December, 2008.  Her grade for the semester was based solely on what she learned and completed at the museum.  Among the assignments and training given, Cate helped to complete the holiday windows, painted the replica of the Rex Windmill, set up the Textile display, and learned how to accession, store, and care for the items donated.  She worked with the editor of our Newsletter and discussed with him the upcoming completion of this web site.  Cate traveled with Nancy Reed to the Kendallville Windmill Museum doing research for her model, and gave a presentation to the Historical Society membership of her experiences during the internship semester.  Teachers, student and Center for History staff all judged this to be an extremely beneficial concept for all involved.

 The second intern, Catherine “Cat” Davis, from Argos, started in March and will complete her internship in May.  These students have talents and skills that are much needed for our displays and we teach them to appreciate the workmanship and skills of the past and how to preserve them.  Cat says she is interested in art conservation for her future career.  Cat and Jena are currently working on the restoration of our mannequins.  We were lucky enough to inherit them from the Oppenheim’s store, but they are aging and needed a lot of work.  This is a very large project to undertake, but is very much appreciated.

 Many volunteers and items are needed at the Center for History.  Volunteers may serve as docents, custodians or carpenters.  They may help to arrange displays, assist with accessioning and cataloging items into the computer.  They may help with the Newsletter, do research, publicity, fundraising, or work with school children and tours to demonstrate skills and present programs of interest.

 In future updates, I will continue to add items to the list of needs at the Center for History and mark off those that we receive and no longer need.  Currently we are looking for the following: 

                Uniforms from Viet Nam, Persian Gulf and Iran era.

                A refrigerator for our kitchenette.

                A good sweeper and/or shop vac.

                Picture frames in good condition and all sizes.

                Dunkard bonnets.

                Saddle shoes and poodle skirts.

                Color TV, VCR, DVD player (may be used)

                Jewelry

                Working color wheel for aluminum tree (could use 2)

                Old telephones

                Copies of yearbooks from N. Manchester area

                Old postcards or pictures showing scenery and businesses in N. Manchester

                Same for communities nearby such as Laketon, Sidney, Servia, Silver Lake, Urbana, etc.

                Barn lumber and siding.