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Letters to the Editor

Woodstock Times
Letters to the Editor - June 30, 2011


Last Saturday the Woodstock History Kids Club, an ongoing program of the Historical Society of Woodstock, presented a wonderful program titled Talking Houses. As part of the program local school children selected and researched the history and the stories of a number of buildings in town. As I listened to their presentations, I was reminded that our buildings have their own tales to tell and that they are integral part of what makes Woodstock, well...Woodstock. I want to thank the members of the club for all the hard work they put in researching and uncovering the history behind our structural landscape. I also want to thank Jill Olesker for her work leading the program. Her continued efforts towards instilling in young Woodstockers a sense of history and a respect for our past is a reminder that the responsibility for our local history is one that falls to all of us.

As Woodstock debates the fate of Town Hall (don’t sell); as what remains of Meads Mountain House is soon to become a memory, the messages of the children last Saturday seemed to hit home even harder. When buildings are no more or are altered beyond what they once were, our town is also altered. Imagine the additional stories club members might have uncovered if the old Longyear House, or the once proud Woodstock Hotel still stood. It matters not whether they meet the strict criteria for inclusion on the state or federal list of historic structures, rather, it concerns what each building brings, in its own unique way, to that which we call Woodstock. To some, they may be nothing more than an assortment of lumber and/or bricks, but, as the members of the Woodstock Kids History Club reminded us last Saturday, each building has a story to tell, stories that, when woven together, help form the foundation that is our shared history.

Richard Heppner,

Town Historian



This past weekend the Historical Society of Woodstock presented the “Talking Houses” project. Local kids in the recently formed Kids History club chose buildings in town that fascinated them. They researched the history, wrote narratives and created large cardboard replicas of the buildings. Many of the buildings were from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s!

On Saturday, it all came together in a performance for the public at the Eames House on the Comeau property. I would like thank the children Adam, Carmen, Helen, James, Raphael and Kelly for their tireless work on this project! I would also like to thank the many adults that helped us bring this project to fruition.

Those are Linda Schultz for art instruction, Amy Raff, director of the Woodstock Library for helping us explore the Woodstock Collection, Mark Plate the town assessor and his office for helping find information, the Ulster County records and tax records staff, Janine and John Mower, Tim at Tinker Toys Too, Maria at Maria’s Bazaar and Gladys Plate for interviews, Catskill Art Supply, and Russell Richardson for videotaping. A huge thanks goes to JoAnn Margolis, archivist at the Historical Society for her help finding facts and her constant collaboration on the project.

And as always, thanks to the parents of the kids in the History Club for their enthusiasm and flexibility and the Historical Society for their support and encouragement.

Talking Houses is part of the recently formed ongoing series of programming for children which includes a Victory Garden and our exciting new summer program both of which are at the Eames House on the Comeau property: Three days of workshops called “Our Local History’s Story” July 25, 26, and 27th. The three days are themed Embracing The Land: What Indigenous cultures can teach us; Hearing Woodstock’s Story: Oral History and Science; and Artists and Nature: Artists who lived here, nature and art. Children will be going out into the community as part of these workshops.

Thanks again for the community participation in Talking Houses, both those that helped make this happen and to the many people that came out to see and hear what we found.

Jill Olesker, Coordinator of children’s programs