Historical society growing in Whitehall

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The Whitehall Historical Society has seen a 30 to 35% increase in membership over the past year and welcomed four new members this week. The organization is working on bringing new ideas to Skenesborough Museum and maintaining the outdoor museum collection. (Photo by Caton Deuso)

As the summer fades and the autumn breeze starts to stir, Whitehall Historical Society president Bob Mowatt reflects on the progress made by the organization throughout the summer. At the July town board meeting, Mowatt brought an update to board members on some projects being worked on. Since then, the group has had the pleasure of welcoming new members aboard.

“In the past year, we have increased the number of members by 30 to 35% and at the annual meeting the other day we gained four brand-new members,” Mowatt said.

Mowatt took over as president after the passing of well-known community member Jim Aiken in January. The group increased its social media presence and met every Tuesday at Skenesborough Museum throughout the summer. Mowatt said meeting at the museum has been great.

“We have never met in the museum previous to this and that has given us a lot of discussion about where things are and how they are displayed,” he said.

One project that has been on the minds of the members is making the hulk of the Fort Ticonderoga ship outside of the museum a historic site.

“When the structure was transferred to the Historical Society and became part of the museum collection, it was just done. A group of people got together and convinced the Gaelic brothers to help them haul it out of the canal, put it on the property and there you go,” he said.

“Making it a historical site is going to be difficult because we have right of ownership, but we don’t have any change of ownership. We don’t know who owned it before we did and because of that, we’re being handed around from one agency to another. Nobody wants to make it a historic site because we can’t technically prove ownership.”

On the bright side, the small trapper’s cabin on the side of the museum was built by Marvin Brooks and Joe Arquette on their own dime and added to the museum collection about 20 years ago. With the natural aging of the wooden roof, the group is looking to replace it. It will also become a memorial for Aiken. The renovations will be done when there are a couple of days of good weather.

“Wooden roofs deteriorate, and we have received donations after the passing of our past president (Aiken) who died in January and we concluded since the roof on the cabin needs to be replaced, we will make that the Jim Aiken Memorial roof on the Marvin Brooks and Joe Arquette cabin,” he said.

Inside of the museum, Mowatt said they are working on rearranging the fire display, refurbishing and rearranging the flood photos from 1977 and 1984, and more.

“We’re hanging some jackets of fire company members like Jim Aiken with his photo and his biographical information,” he said.

For community members looking to help with the Whitehall Historical Society or become a member, Mowatt said that $10 can be mailed with a name, mailing address, email address, and phone number to PO Box 238 in Whitehall. The $10 covers all historical society events with admission fees.

“We will also be open the day of the Sasquatch Festival and we welcome anyone who wants to drop by and say hello,” he said.