I have been on the Board of Directors for about 8 years. Currently, I’m on the Museum’s Benefit Planning Committee, this year is our second annual dinner . The benefit is next month, October 17th. There will be a gala dinner at Windham Mountain Club during which we nominate 8 individual residents whose work has contributed significantly in preserving country and history while also keeping connections alive.
Where would you like to see the museum in three years?
I would like to see all the archives and furniture returned back to the museum. I would also like to see all the walls, and heating and cooling system fixed and working. Pratt would have been really proud to see all the people treasure his belongings. The museum is a very fine place of history for the town.
Are you still collecting Pratt and Prattsville-related items, all the archives, or were some of them destroy in Hurricane Irene?
Some of them, of course, were destroyed and cannot be retrieved. But many have been frozen since they can bring them all to special cooling units, otherwise they would’ve all crumpled or shriveled away. Some of them started to be restored and some of them we actually need money to take them out and bring them to the museum but we don’t have money for that. I would like the museum to be more “on the map,” I would like more people to come to the museum to learn about the heritage of this are. They don’t realize how much that is important for everyone to contribute. It’s right around our corner, around our door; “right in their own backyard,” as the saying goes.
What’s your favorite piece, aspect of the museum currently?
During Mudfest I went over there. I found myself reminiscing of how it looked when you walked into that museum because I love old homes. When you walk in there, on the left side is a parlor now, there used to be a fireplace but it’s not there anymore. I’m reminiscing on how Pratt was living there, what was there, how he looked being tall with his big top hat on. I’m thinking of his wife, his kids, whatever! Back when we had brunch and dinner at the museum, we would all bring the food into the kitchen. We would open up the dining room and people would come and eat. They have cubbies in the walls, and I’ve always loved those cubbies. I don’t know why, back then they didn’t have closets to store the clothes so they had all these cubbies. The cubbies where they put in stuff for the kitchen, that was there. That’s exactly the same thing as in the Bronx Museum. I LOVE looking at that, and thinking that’s what they really needed at that point, not the clothes in the closet. I love the piano in the parlor. I love Pratt’s desk. I wish his desk could be restored because that was very important. That was the desk where he signed all the papers and everything that was so important. If you look at any president, it was so important for the president to have a picture of him taken at his desk. He worked there. Significant things happened at that desk.
So when you walk into the museum, you transport back into time?
I put myself back there, even to how they looked, how they dressed up.
Did your fascination with history lead you to wanting to be part of the board or did someone reach out to you?
That’s definitely part of it. I’ve express my love of restoration with what I have done at the Washington Irving Inn. Basically, after my tragedy I went on my own and decided I will do whatever it takes to finish what I start. And here I am. They obviously thought that my experience with this would serve them well on the Board of the Pratt Museum to help with preservation. I express myself in many places, like the Mountaintop Historical Society. I help as much as I can with giving through the Washington Irving Inn. We had an afternoon tea here to honor a Secretary who was retiring, so I donated all that to them because I thought that’s my desire to help organization to help grow or to preserve. So then they approached me to be a member for the ZPM and I accepted.
What does the ZPM need to grow?
We need more membership and more people to be interested in the museum. It’s a small museum but nothing is big enough if you don’t make it to be bigger. The Museum needs a lot of work, lots of volunteering, especially after the flood. We need help on the board. And, of course, when we have this annual benefit we need people to come. We have created a comfortable and desirable place to have fun during the benefit. It is not necessary to love history to come! Their donation will be rewarded with this beautiful dinner and nice company and all that. That’s all good for the cause of what we try to preserve.
Anything you’d like to add?
Every museum is not only important for the residents of the town or the county, it’s important for tourist because we are a tourist destination. We don’t have big buildings to show them like NYC but we have our history to show of the area, town and mountain. So when tourists come, you have them asking what to do, where to go and what to see. I take map and make a drawing for them. You can go to Pratt Rock, Museum, the Historical Society. It’s very important that people have things to do when they come up here so I am very thankful that I know more about it than some people and I’ve given them so many tools of what to do. When they return and say, “We went there and there, everything you suggested”, I think to myself that I must sound like a mommy, they listened to me! But they are very thankful! So that’s all really helping out the region, for all the businesses around. Keeping the connection alive, that’s my really big goal; for the tourist industry to grow and for my business to be shared with other businesses, other things in town or the mountaintop.