Hey folks, we are back in business and have a couple of fun projects in the works!
The mission of the Archives and Museum is to collect and preserve important historical documents, photographs, and ephemera relating to the cultural, educational and municipal history of the Village of Altamont (incorporated in 1890), its citizens and founders.
Hey folks, we are back in business and have a couple of fun projects in the works!
Friends of Albany History
The History of the Albany County (Altamont) Fair: Not Just Deep-Fried Twinkies
There’s almost nothing as All-American as a County Fair and Albany County had one of the first in the nation; 205 years later it’s still going strong.
The first County Fair is said to have been organized in Pittsfield by Elkanah Watson* in 1807 when he took his two prized Merino sheep to Park Square; the display quickly drew a sizable crowd of admirers and, just like that, the seeds of the modern agricultural fair were sown. He then organized the Berkshire Agricultural Society, which held its first fair in 1811.
Word traveled rapidly; Albany quickly followed suit and the first Fair in Albany was sponsored by the Albany (County) Agricultural Society two years later in 1813. The initial fairs (primarily animal shows) were held in Washington Square. Subsequent fairs were held in the Parade Grounds, just beyond the Square. (Both areas are now within Washington Park.) By the 1840s the exhibits moved beyond cattle, horses and chickens to include all sorts of local crops and agricultural products.
Around 1850 the New York State Agricultural Society constructed a semi-permanent fairground in Menands. For about 20 years the site was also used for the Albany County Fair. (There are some wonderful prints of this Fair in that location- make sure you take a look at the images attached to this post.) It was during this time the Fair came into its own. There were horse races, floral exhibits, pie making and cake competitions, quilts and other textiles; almost everything you would come to expect from a county fair.
By 1855 the Industrial Revolution had made its way into the Fair. Exhibition Halls were too small to accommodate the vast array of agricultural implements (plows and seed planters), stoves, sewing machines, pianofortes, looking glasses and other “diverse domestic manufactures”. By the 1860s the Fair locations moved around Albany County – back to the Washington Parade Grounds, Babcock Corners in the Town of Bethlehem, near Cohoes in the northern part of the County and even Slingerlands – including what is now Albany - the location of Mater Christi (St. Catherine’s) Church and grounds in Hurstville.
Finally the Fair moved to Altamont in Guilderland (a central location). The Altamont Driving Park and Fair Association was incorporated on May 20, 1893. Within a month the Board of Directors also approved the purchase 24.5 acres of land in Altamont for the “Altamont Fair Grounds.”
The first fair was held from September 12 through 15, 1893. Admission was 25 cents for adults, and the net receipts for the four days was $884.13. A racetrack was built in front of the Grandstand. One of the first buildings, the Flower & Fine Arts a Building, is on the State and National Registers of Historic Sites. A year later the name was changed to the Albany County Agricultural Society and Exposition.
The Modern County Fair is Born
In addition to the agricultural, animal and domestic arts competitions and exhibitions, the Fair has, through the years, incorporated other attractions. Carnival rides and a Midway were added. Auto racing was started in 1915 and continued through the 1990s.** The first airplane rides were also started in 1915.- alas the propeller of the plane hit a wall and it never got off the ground. A flea circus was a popular attraction in the early 1900s. There have been singing dogs, dancing bears, wrestling, concerts, boxing, vaudeville shows, rodeo and dramatic readings. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) booth was a mainstay before Prohibition. Politicians and political candidates made obligatory appearances. Electric lights were added in the 1920s and it became a favorite place for canoodling Flappers and their swains at night.
Here are a couple of my favorites during the height of the Cold War in the 1950s and 1960s – a guided missile display by GE, real Marines re-enacted a famous battle, a Fall-out shelter exhibit and an Atlas Missile was displayed. The 60s saw demonstrations by NY Telephone of cable slicing, a fife and drum competition and a Battle of the Bands. Cars have been won and in 1964 a new house supplied by the Albany County Realtor’s Assoc. was raffled.
The exhibits and demonstrations have changed with the times, but it’s still a summer tradition. The current Fair runs through Sunday, 8/19. If you do go, take a look at the various museums: the Carriage (with a huge array of horse drawn carriages) and Village, Farmhouse, Auto, Schoolhouse, Circus, Blacksmith and Farm Machinery Museums.
Note: today the Fair is a Tri-County Fair, including Albany, Greene and Schenectady Counties.
*Watson, a wealthy man, previously lived in Albany – it’s been said he was too progressive and creative for our city, and retired to Massachusetts to raise sheep.
**The Fair wasn’t cancelled in World War II. It was considered part of the War effort – with canning, preserving and Victory Garden exhibits and demonstrations to show women how to make do and make over old clothing during rationing. However, since gasoline was rationed, the car raced using propane tanks.
The Altamont Archives and Museum mourns the loss of Marijo Dougherty. Her passion for sharing Altamont’s history, inspired so many in our community.
Marijo Dougherty passed away in Albany, New York. The obituary was featured in Albany Times Union on February 27, 2018.
Altamont Free Library
The veil is off! Thanks to all of our friends who came out yesterday for the unveiling of the Altamont Museum in the Streets project! It was a wonderful celebration of all that makes our village such a special place. Thanks especially to Supervisor Peter Barber, Assemblymember Patricia A. Fahy and Senator George Amedore for sharing the occasion with us and to Mayor Dineen and former Mayor Gaughan for all of the work they put into this project. Museum in the Streets brochures are now available at the library. Come take a look. You might be surprised by what you learn!
Project Patrons: The Museum in the Streets© installation in Altamont was made possible by grants from the Hudson River Valley Greenway and from Assemblymember Patricia Fahy.
Generous donations were also received from: Jeff Thomas, Stewart’s Shops, CM Fox/ Remedies, the Cure Family, Sundown Lawn and Landscape, Altamont Community Tradition (ACT), the Village of Altamont’s Roger Keenholts Fund and anonymous sources.
Special Thanks: The Village of Altamont wishes to thank our property owners for their support and cooperation during the installation process. The Village also thanks photo specialist Ron Ginsburg, researcher Keith C. Lee, archives curator Marijo Dougherty, Altamont Free Library director Joseph Burke and Spanish consultant Teresa Wood-Irvin for their contributions to the success of this project. Appreciation is also expressed to the members of the Advisory Committee who worked diligently to identify the locations for the lectern signage utilized throughout the village. Also thanks to the Altamont Enterprise, for 130 years of chronicling the growth and vibrancy of our Village which contributed to our research.
We are especially proud of and thankful for the fine work completed by the members of the Village of Altamont Department of Public Works for the design, construction and installation of the signage stanchions which enabled the village wide installation.
Museum in the Streets Exhibition
July 26 through December 3rd
115 Main Street
Open daily during Village Hall business hours:
(9-4 Pm (closed for lunch Noon-1pm.)
The exhibition will highlight the installation which is currently installed throughout the village streets. The installation is drawn from the many collections within the Archives and Museum which include:
• Crounse Family Archives
• Altamont Fair Archives
• Edwin Bradt: The Altamont Dirt Track Racing Collection
• Altamont Hose Company Collection
• Altamont High School Archives and Collections
• Early Knowersville/Altamont Business Records and Collections
• Altamont Families Portrait Collection
• Village of Altamont Early Records
• Arthur Gregg Archives
• Houses of Altamont Collection
• Dairy/ Soda Glass Bottle Collection
• Early Families of Knowersville/Altamont Archives
• Stephen A. Venear Archives
• Maps/Deeds and Documents Collection
• Early Altamont Business Ephemera Collection
Whatever the reason for travel, Altamont has always welcomed our visitors. We are proud of our history and proud to have the opportunity to welcome you to The Museum in the Streets© in Altamont.
Have you seen the signs? History is an integral part of the fabric of our community. With the installation of Museum in the Streets©, we invite you to stroll our village streets, patronize our business community, and learn about our past. Dedication ceremony July 26th at 4PM in Orsini Park.
Stop by to see our Hallway Exhibit..."For the People: 100 Years of Community Enrichment from the Altamont Free Library" On display through December 16, 2016.
We are honored to have received this gift to the Archives from Bernard Brown. A Bouck White unfired pottery vase. Charles Browning “Bouck” White (1874-1951) was born in Middleburgh, NY and a graduate of Harvard (1896). Mr. White was a writer and clergyman, before making his living as a artist. He perfected a new ceramic process for making glazed pottery without heat while living in France, and returned to Albany County in the 1930's. Bouck White purchased property in the Helderbergs, hand-built a “castle”, and became well-known for his pottery.
The Archives recently received a gift to its collection from Stewart Wagner. This mint condition Dietz Soda Bottle is called a "thief" bottle by collectors for the raised text on side of bottle warning person(s) of monetary fine for reusing bottles for other liquids. Alanson F. Dietz (1849-1932) established his soda bottling plant in 1885 on Maple Avenue.
The Altamont Archives and Museum, located in the Village Hall, contains many historical documents and photographs which illuminate the story of our village, including the history of our business community, its locations and previous proprietors. We have an exciting new project to bring residents and visitors alike onto our streets through a “Museum in the Streets” heritage walking tour. Specially designed and professionally fabricated bi-lingual (English-Spanish) signage containing our historical information and photographs, will be installed permanently throughout the village in strategic locations. https://www.facebook.com/notes/altamont-archives-and-museum/selected-sites-for-museum-in-the-streets-walking-tour/1464302250251591
To learn more about “Museum in the Streets” and see examples of some of their installations, you can visit http://www.themuseuminthestreets.com.
The Museum in the Streets© creates heritage discovery trails for the benefit of a community's inhabitants and tourists.
Selected sites for “Museum in the Streets” walking tour.
Welcome to all our visitors! We hope you enjoy reading about our current and past exhibitions. Watch for more news on our upcoming fall exhibit "For the Public: 100 Years of Information from the Altamont Free Library".
The Archives and Museum mourns the loss of Joe Merli...
Joe Merli loved his work and also loved his fun. He was an accomplished drummer and member of a local band for many years.
The Pangburn Building at the corner of Main Street and Maple Avenue, served the business interest of multiple generations of the the Pangburn family. In 1908, after the untimely death of their uncle, Emmett Mynderse, Earl (1884-1944) and Millard (1886-1959) Pangburn, sons of John H. Pangburn, took over the grocery and dry goods business. Once again, the brisk business of the neighborhood store located at the heart of town, became a favorite in the hearts of the community. Pangburn Brothers operated until 1927, handing over the business to Millard Serverson due to Earl’s ill health. Millard Pangburn moved on to other business ventures, but with Earl’s improving health and a new partnership with his son Harold, Pangburns ran the family business once again, from 1932 until 1947.
At 96, beloved Altamont farmer Everett Rau teams up with local history buff Laura Shore to write his memoir. (photo by Ron Ginsburg) http://ow.ly/Xn1F6
Millard F. Hallenbeck (1858-1916) originally from Berne, conducted an undertaking business there. In 1886, he came to Altamont (Knowersville) and purchased the furniture and undertaking business we know today as Fredendall Funeral home. As we have seen in many Altamont business owners, he was actively in involved in local fraternal organizations such as the Masonic Lodge in Altamont and the Odd Fellows lodge in Voorheesville. He served as a director of the First National Bank of Altamont and the Albany County Fair Association, and as a Village trustee. Mr. Hellenbeck’s passion for horses was well known throughout the state as he regularly attended horse shows and sales at Madison Square Garden.
The Archives and Museum were honored with a visit from representatives of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. http://www.suvcw.org. Members of SUVCW local Col. George L. Willard Camp #154 from Albany, NY came in support local efforts to save the Dr. Frederick Crounse property, including a resolution presented to the Village at the January 5th Village Board meeting.
Emmett Mynderse (1859-1908), was one of 10 children of Frederick and Catherine Mynderse. The large family was based in Princetown, Schenectady County, but Emmett followed several siblings who established themselves in Altamont. His brother Jacob Franklin (J.F.) Mynderse, and John H. Pangburn, husband of his sister Mary, were merchants in Altamont, and Emmett worked as a clerk. Eventually, he established his own successful business in the “Pangburn Building”. Emmett served as treasurer on the board of directors of the Altamont Illuminating Company, and was a treasurer for the Altamont Hose Company, also. He life was cut short in 1908 at age 49, due to a train accident in Albany.
Father Girzone mourned | The Altamont Enterprise
John H. Pangburn (1851-1904), originally from Dunnsville, settled in Altamont in the early 1880’s as a merchant, in business with his brother-in-law J.F. Mynderse. The partnership dissolved, but Pangburn improved the buildings along Main Street, and the “Pangburn Building” is still a beautiful, active testament to the independent business spirit that thrives in our Village…today as home of The Spinning Room. https://www.facebook.com/The-Spinning-Room-of-Altamont-251092064946836/?fref=ts
The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was an organization of Union veterans organized post-Civil War with 3 objectives. Fraternity: created over 7,000 posts across the country for members to attend regularly scheduled meetings and dinners, including "camp-fires" and encampments, to share their experiences. Charity: established a fund for the relief of needy veterans, widows, and orphans. Loyalty: promote the significance of the GAR in reuniting a divided nation with reminders such as statues and memorials, preservation of Civil War sites, and historic documents.
Thank you to those you served...
The VFW has been in existence since the Spanish-American War, as veterans organized themselves to secure rights and benefits in return for their service. The Veterans Administration, the GI Bill, a National Cemetery system, Memorials in Washington DC, all developed with the help of VFW posts, like our local Post 7062 here in Altamont. We know it by name, Boyd Hilton Post, but there is a young man behind that name, who, at the age of 20, lost his life during an attack on his ship in the South Pacific in 1943.
The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month…Originally known as Armistice Day as proclaimed by President Wilson in 1919 to recognize November 11, 1918, as the end of “the war to end all wars”. Recognizing the sacrifices of World War II and in Korea, President Eisenhower issued the first Veterans Day proclamation on November 11, 1954, as a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
115 Main Street, PO Box 643
Be the first to know and let us send you an email when Altamont Archives and Museum posts news and promotions. Your email address will not be used for any other purpose, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Send a message to Altamont Archives and Museum: