13A North Front Street: Beyond The Bakery

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13A North Front Street, New Paltz, NY

Built in 1883 for Samuel Judkins, this building currently is the home to The Bakery, a restaurant staple to the New Paltz community. Formerly a barn, this annex to 13 North Front Street (currently The Bicycle Rack) has since undergone renovations to near double in size. Its history since being a barn includes being a laundromat and most notably, the headquarters for the New Paltz Food Coop.

Physical Description:

The Bakery as it is today is a synthesis of two buildings. In the back is the original building being an 875 square foot barn with a lofted second floor. This building is where the kitchen is currently, and the second floor contains offices, storage, and a bathroom. The kitchen has high ceilings with horizontal beams, referencing the barn-like construction.

The newer part of the building is the 800 square foot addition, which is currently the storefront for The Bakery. The storefront consists of a display case spanning most of the length of the room, a deli case, a toaster oven, espresso machine, and a counterspace. The back wall of the storefront has a door connecting to the kitchen (the original building component) and a large glass-doored refrigerator containing refrigerated drinks. There is a smaller version of this refrigerator on the adjacent wall, as well. In between the two refrigerators is a bathroom, and on the other side of the smaller refrigerator are the stars to the upstairs, a door to the basement, and then the door to the outside seating area. The second floor is also lofted here and houses additional seating, both booths and tables, for patrons to eat at.

Provenance:

The ownership of the 13A North Front Street began in 1883 when it was built for Samuel Judkins. By 1886, it was sold to William Delamater for $1,600. I am still investigating the ownership in the next few decades. The next known property owner was Virginia Decker who used the barn as Ginny Decker’s Center Laundromat in 1970. By 1975, Alan Stout bought the property (both 13 and 13A) and turned 13 into The Bicycle Rack while renting out 13A to the New Paltz Food Coop. In 1981 Stout leased the barn to David Santner who turned the space into what is now The Bakery. In 1994, Santner doubled the size of the space to what it is today.

Narrative:

The former barn at 13A North Front Street has mostly been used as a center for New Paltz social life. It was built in 1883 for Samuel Judkins by Daniel Kniffio. By January 1886, Andrew Dubois occupied the space, yet it seems Judkins was still the landlord. Later that year, William Delamater bought the property from Judkins for $1,600. At that time, there is reference to Delamater having “three barns” on the property and expects “to have one for a bake house and one to sell bread.” This information leads one to believe that perhaps the current 13A might be a barn built at that time, however there is not too much evidence supporting this, and it seems more likely that 13A is the original barn built in 1883.

When Virginia Decker owned the space in 1970, she used the barn as Ginny Decker’s Center Laundromat, which supposedly was more of a laundry service rather than a typical laundromat with self-serve machines. It was noted that by the end of her time there, there was an extra large waterline to the barn, which would make for an ideal kitchen in the future.

Mural on the side of the New Paltz Food Coop. Designed by Arthur Kusher.

Mural on the side of the New Paltz Food Coop. Designed by Arthur Kusher.

In 1975, Alan Stout bought both 13 and 13A, turning 13 into a bicycle shop known as The Bicycle Rack, while renting out 13A, a then vacant space, to the New Paltz Food Coop, an organization started on the SUNY New Paltz campus that supplied bulk beans and grains to its customers, when those items were not commonly found in stores at the time (i.e. brown rice.) The second floor of the Coop was used for community classes such as Tai Chi. The Coop lasted for a few years, but closed around 1979.

In 1981, a former student from SUNY New Paltz and member of the Coop, David Santner, rented 13A from Stout, turning it into The Bakery. The space was filled to the brim, the kitchen occupying most of the space, while customers would have very little room to stand.

Santner said his goal in starting The Bakery was to have a place where people from all parts of the New Paltz social life could visit. So in 1994, Santner and Stout arranged for renovation of the space, adding the 800 square feet for seating and additional customer space. This renovation also coincided with an expansion to the menu from just baked goods to include sandwiches as well. Santner said they were one of the first places to have an espresso machine in New Paltz which made The Bakery known for this hot commodity.

Illustration of the proposed renovation from 1994.

Illustration of the proposed renovation from 1994.

One of the most important contributions Santner and Stout were able to make to the community came from their desiring of outdoor seating. Santner said his ideal restaurant would have been built somewhere next to a park so people could enjoy the outdoor eating experience. However, since this was not what was available to them, Santner and Stout got a permit from the Village of New Paltz in 1996, granting them permission to maintain a landscaped outdoor seating area, a novelty at the time. This permit set the stage for future New Paltz establishments to have outdoor seating permits as well.

The Bakery also introduced an important tradition to the New Paltz culture when it began hosting The Night of 100 Pumpkins in 1990. Santner said his wife came up with the idea to host a pumpkin carving contest open to the community around Halloween time. The event, which has occurred annually since its inception, features carved pumpkin displays, as well as free hot chocolate, cider, and pumpkin bread. The Bakery’s location on North Front Street, being a one-way, wide street near the end of the traditional Halloween parade route, makes it a convenient place for people to gather and take part in the festivities. It is truly a haven of the New Paltz social life.

References:

Kwiatoski, Debbie. “Planners encourage property owners to find solution for garden spillover.” The Daily Freeman 10 July 1996. Print.

Ryan, Jeanne. “The Bakery builds on 800-square-foot addition.” Huguenot Herald 22 Dec 1994. Print.

Santner, David, and Alan Stout. Personal interview. 13 Mar 2013.

“The Bakery, in New Paltz, NY.” Photograph. Baking Fix, 7 May 2011. Web. 15 Mar 2013.

Clips of articles also referenced (from the Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection):

New Paltz Times: 11 Apr 1883, 12 Jan 1886, 5 Nov 1886

17th Century Dutch Button

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Caption

This tiny 17th century brass button found in excavations in Amsterdam and Historic Huguenot Street can be very telling of the history and culture of the Netherlands and early Dutch settlers.  This button most likely belonged to a man’s jacket or coat as the buttons in men’s jackets and coats in the 17th century Dutch fashion were very small, numerous, decorative, and functional (“History of Buttons”).

Physical Description of the Object 

****I need to go back and fill in the blank measurements*****

This brass button measures about 1.2 cm or 12mm in diameter. The button front is rounded and juts slightly outward. The face of the button has a center basket weave/ braided thread/ checkerboard pattern design that takes up about ____ cm/ ____ mm of button. Around the basket weave pattern is a circular border that measures _____mm thick. Next, around the first border is another weave pattern, ______mm thick, going around the circumference of the button. After this weave pattern is another solid border measuring ___mm thick. The edge of this border is the end of the button, which is slightly worn away. This wear prevents the button from being a perfect circle. The back of the button is smooth and flat, except for a circular piece that juts out perpendicular of the button. This piece measures ___mm wide and ____mm thick. In the middle of this piece is a hole _____mm wide, meant for a needle and thread to pass through.

Provenance

The exact ownership of this button is unknown. The only concrete fact known about where this artifact came from is that this button was excavated in Historic Huguenot Street, New Paltz NY in the year 2009. The button was excavated by Professor Joe Diamond, an anthropology professor of SUNY New Paltz. Although there is not much information on the exact origins of the button and how it came to pass in New Paltz, a very similar, practically identical button was found in the excavations in Amsterdam, along with a few other 17th century small brass buttons (“Knopen”).

Date(s) of Creation 

17th Century/ First half of the 17th Century (“Knopen”)

Narrative 

Time period of 17th century in the Netherlands

The 17th century proved to be a very successful explosion of overseas expansion for the Dutch. Also known as the Dutch Renaissance, this was when overseas commerce was making the Netherlands one of the most prosperous nation in Europe. At this time, the Dutch trading posts extended from Portuguese Brazil to the islands of the Caribbean, the “Wild Coast” of Guyana, and trading stations of West Africa (Bailyn 192).

The Netherlands was also a melting pot of people from all over Europe. By the 1600s, about a hundred thousand refugees flooded the coastal cities. Some refugees (from Flanders, Antwerp, Brabant, and Hainault) came to escape the harsh administration of the Catholic Church Spain. They were later joined by Jews, crypto-Jews, Polish Socinians, Czech Comenians, Swiss and Prussian Baptists, and English radical separatists (Bailyn 192).

Dutch East and West India Company (Leads to the discovery of the Hudson area and thus the colonization of New Netherland and New Amsterdam)

In 1602, the Dutch East India Company was founded. In 1609 it was sent out to locate a northern passage through the Far East, but landed in the Hudson area instead where trading posts were created and the New Netherland Company was created (1615). The company was given three years to monopolize the region’s Indian trade. After the charter expired, individual barter with Native Americans resumed. Moving on, the Netherland’s east India Company competed for wealth of the Moluccas, Malaya, Ceylon, and India. In the meantime, in 1621, the Dutch West India Company was created to strike aggressively against the Iberian powers of the Atlantic world. In 1630, the company took the northeastern Brazilian captaincies of Pernambuco, Itamaraca, and Paraiba from the Portuguese(Bailyn 195). The far eastern portion of Portuguese America named New Holland, but after two years, the area was retaken by Portugal. Thus “New Netherland” was created instead. On both sides of the Delaware River and on the lower shores of the lower Hudson, Dutch, Swedes, Finns, Walloons, Flemings, Frisians, Holsteiners, Danes, Germans, and French Huguenots settled in the isolated trading posts (Bailyn 191).

Textiles and Buttons in Colonial Trade

In colonial trade, textiles were always considered very important. However, wasn’t until the 1620s where the direct and regular trade of European textiles and furs was created, resulting in a rapid increase of the manufacturing and distribution of these goods (Blackburn 6). This rapid increase can be seen through the evidence of textile material from the Seneca Steele Site and Power House Site in western New York (1640-1655). Artifacts found in this area included 185 glass buttons, 38 brass buttons, a few pewter buttons, 18 textile fragments, and 17 bale seals. It is believed that most of the items were from the Dutch cities of Kampen, Leiden, and Amsterdam (Blackburn 6). The Marsh and Dann sites (1655-1675) also produced items including 35 textile fragments, 32 bale seals, 32 glass buttons, and other buttons made of brass and pewter. The button found in Huguenot Street can come from any one of these sites! The button can be aged back to the first half of the 17th century because the Dutch material found later on in the time period (Seneca sites of Rochester Junction and Boughton Hill 1675- 1687) revealed relatively few buttons, only 11 compared to the 185 plus found for the 1640-1655 time period. This can be because European fashion started moving away wearing long rows of small brass or pewter buttons. The only buttons that were left for fashion were large disc shaped buttons on costumes (Blackburn 7). However, the use of glass, brass, and pewter buttons did not completely disappear. These buttons and other textiles were used by means of trade with the Native Americans. These buttons were often used as ornaments and fastenings for clothing by the Native Americans (Blackburn 7).

Costume/ Fashion Featuring Buttons

In the beginning of the 17th century, the court and society tended to dress more high fashion, which had French influence. However, the regents preferred a more conservative but still rich costume. With the split of Catholicism and the Protestant religion in Spain, the fundamental principles for all the sects of the Protestant religion emphasized modesties and looked down on fashionable frivolities. Interestingly enough, the Netherlands costume at the time period was very similar to the old rigid Spanish fashion, except for the women’s caps (Jacques plate 14).

All the details in the Netherlands costumes were functional as well as loose and decorative. The appearance of dress moved towards natural proportions and the whole appearance, as opposed to lace frills from the knees and breeches that were wide as skirts. The most characteristic change the man’s costume was the hat. The hats represented elegance and humor and usually had a wide sweep of gar brim and feathers that were very distinctive of the time period (Jacques plate 14).

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The picture on the left is a portrait of an Amsterdam ebony worker (1640) by Rembrandt  a Dutch painter (Rembrandt Herman Doomer). The portrait on the right is a painting of a standard bearer (1659) also by Rembrandt (Rembrandt The Standard Bearer). Both of these pictures depict the possibility of how the button may have been worn.

 

Works Cited

Bailyn, Bernard. The Barbarous Years: The Conflict of Civilizations 1600-1675. New York: Knopf, 2012. Print.

Blackburn, Roderic H. and Nancy A. Kelly. New Dutch World Studies: Dutch Arts and Culture in Colonial America, 1609-1776. Albany: Albany Inst. Of History and Art, 1987. Print.

“History of Buttons.” Antique Buttons.nl. Webring, n.d.  Web. 14 March 2013.

Jacques, Faith and Margaret Stavridi. The Hugh Evelyn History of Costume: 1500-1660. Boston: Plays Inc., 1969. Print

“Knopen.” De West-Frisiae 4.nl. n.p, n.d. Web. 13 March 2013.

Morse, H.K. Elizabethan Pageantry: A Pictorial Survey of Costume and its Commentators from c. 1560- 1620. New York: Benjamin Bloom, 1969. Print.

Rembrandt. Herman Doomer. 1640. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Metmuseum. Web. 13 March 2013.

Rembrandt. The Standard Bearer. 1640. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Metmuseum. Web. 13 March 2013.

Home Economics Workbook by Miss Jennie Lee Dann (Class of 1909)

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[There are a total of 41 images for the final submission of this object.]

CAPTION: This “Home Economics Workbook” was created by Miss Jennie Lee Dann as a student at the New Paltz Normal School. The piece includes samples of sewing techniques, along with instructions for executing each technique. It serves as a record of course work, as well as a manual for teaching sewing skills to future students.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: The workbook was created with 8 1/2″ x 11″ unruled paper, which has become very fragile over time. The cover page contains a pencil inscription: “J. L. Dann, N. P. N. Class of ’09.” As the pages are turned, on the left, a fabric sample of a specific sewing technique is glued to the paper. On the right is a description of the materials used, the size, and step by step instructions for executing the technique. The book includes eighteen stitching samples, called ‘models.’ Each sample contains a small label with Jennie Lee’s name and the grade received for that item. Flannel skirt Model XV includes a fold-out tracing paper pattern which could be used to duplicate the sample.

PROVENANCE: This object is located in Special Collections of the Sojourner Truth Library, SUNY New Paltz, New Paltz, New York. Presumably the workbook was donated by Jennie Lee Dann to the New Paltz Normal School during her period of employment there (1917-1946.) [I have an appointment with Morgan Gwenwald to check further on this Tuesday afternoon.]

DATE OR CREATION: During Jennie Lee Dann’s student term at the New Paltz Normal School, 1905-1909.

NARRATIVE: Toward the end of the nineteenth century, sewing, cooking and other related domestic topics were taught as part of a new field known as ‘home economics’ or ‘domestic science.’ Girls were expected to become proficient in domestic skills even if they excelled at classical academics. Jennie Lee Dann demonstrated her expertise in hand sewing in her workbook, yet she continued her education and professional development beyond the level sought by most of her female peers.

Jennie Lee Dann was born in Monticello, Sullivan County, New York on November 16, 1886, daughter of George Dann and Minerva Cook Nelson Dann. She attended the New Paltz Normal School, class of 1909. The normal school system of education began in Massachusetts in 1837 and quickly spread to other states. Its purpose was to teach norms, or standards, of education in order to train professional teachers. Prior to this time, the training of teachers was not standardized and requirements were left up to local schools. Normal schools included actual classrooms in which to practice teaching at elementary and secondary school levels.

The New Paltz Academy was a classical college established in 1828 by descendants of founding French Huguenot families. In 1885, the New Paltz Academy became the New Paltz Normal School. In contracting with the state of New York, the school trustees insisted that a classical academic program be offered in addition to the teaching curriculum, unlike most normal schools, resulting in the availability of three distinct degrees at New Paltz requiring two, three or four years for completion. At that time, many universities did not admit women as students. A normal school education provided women with the opportunity to enter the field of teaching, or continue their education, as Jennie Lee did.

After graduation, Jennie Lee taught music in Monticello and Yonkers, and went on to receive her bachelor’s degree in music from Cornell University. In 1917, she joined the faculty at New Paltz Normal school where she taught vocal music and acted as advisor to the Senior Glee Club. She advanced to become head of the music department, and remained at the college until retiring in June 1946.

Jennie Lee became the librarian for the Elting Library in 1948, serving there for nine years. The New Paltz newspaper reported her retirement in November 1957, mentioning that she was also an accomplished painter who had served as president of the local art association. In the article, it states that the Elting Library “Board feels sure the members of the community will want to join in thanking Miss Dann for her outstanding contribution to the betterment of our Town.” A resident of New Paltz for most of her life, Jennie Lee Dann died at the age of 97 on February 11, 1983.

SOURCES:
Cheek, Karen. University of Notre Dame. “The Normal School.” Web 15 Mar. 2013.

Eltinglibrary.org. “About Elting: History of Elting Memorial Library.” Web 15 Mar. 2013.

Familysearch.org. Federal and New York State census records, 1910 through 1940. Web 27 Feb. 2013.

Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection at Elting Memorial Library, 93 Main Street, New Paltz, New York. (1) Obituary collection: Huguenot Herald, February 17, 1983. (2) Elting Library collection: Huguenot Herald, November 27, 1957.

Madigan, Jennifer C. “The Education of Girls and Women in the United States: A Historical Perspective.” Advances in Gender and Education, Vol. 1 (2009). Web 9 Mar. 2013.

Newpaltz.edu. “History: 175 Years.” Web 15 Mar. 2013.

Repulican Watchman, Vol. 120, No. 9219, June 7, 1946. Web 27 Feb. 2013.

The Paltzonian, New Paltz Normal School yearbook, 1918 through 1946. Special Collections, Sojourner Truth Library, New Paltz, New York.

Survivor of Lantern Nite

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This crinkled paper lantern is a surviving symbol of one of New Paltz’s richest traditions; Lantern Nite. In 1934 this lantern was carried across a night coated New Paltz along with hundreds of others as part of the annual end of the year ritual. Lantern Nite was disappeared since then, but this lantern can still tell the stories of the magical night.

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In its current flattened state, this lantern might not look like much. But in its prime its now faded paper and rusted wire frame would expand to become to beautiful traditional Maru paper lantern. The spherical skeleton is held between a thin circular wooden base and a wooden ring at the top, both painted black. There is a now mutilated wire handle attached to the top wooden ring and some splintering where the handle pierces the wood. A delicate teal paper covers the lanterns bones, erupting with a vibrant red floral pattern along its sides. But like they say, its the inside, not the out that counts. This philosophy rings true for the lantern. On the interior side of the base there is a metal holster for a candle, the light source that brings the lantern to life. There is still remnants of candle wax hardened to the wood, letting us know that this lantern served its purpose. Written neatly in pencil near the candle holder is “Lantern Nite 1934.” And beneath that in rougher scrawled text is the name E. Kniffen. The writing looks as if our lanterns owner signed the bottom when the lantern had already been opened. You can see them extending their hand down into the lantern, struggling to leave their mark, you can feel the presence.

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Her name was Elaine Kniffen, and this lantern belonged to her. My question of who is the “E.Kniffen” that scrawled their name on the lanterns base had been answered. I found her because of an invitation made to look like a paint palette that was in the archive box along with the lantern. The invitation had the name Elaine Kniffen on the front. It is an invitation to join the Arts and Crafts club at the New Paltz Normal School, dated February 11, 1935. Elaine carried the lantern on Lantern Nite in 1934. She was a lantern bearer, a prestigious honor, and hers in the lantern that was kept. Hers was the lantern that was saved all these years in the archives of The New Paltz Library, hers is the name I will remember. Elaine left her mark here at New Paltz, I discovered that the schools still awards a merit scholarship in her name to students the show strong academic performance and contribute to the college community. I want to know the women that carried this lantern and changed her school for the better. I want her to know that she is remembered.

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“Lantern Services, one of the mot impressive of all New Paltz customs.” This is a quote from the June 3rd 1937 issue of The Nepano; the school news paper of The New Paltz Normal School. I read through years of articles that begin the same way, praising the rich tradition that is Lantern Nite. As a student here at New Paltz today it surprised me that none of my classmates nor myself had ever even heard of Lantern Nite. I had to know more about this lost tradition, I had to bring it back to life.

Lantern Nite was dreamt up in 1929 by Susan Sposato, Winifred Barry, and Muriel Gregory, who were the presidents of the freshmen, junior and senior classes. Lantern Nite was a ceremony held at the end of each year that honored of all three classes (New Paltz didn’t have a four year program until 1938) promotion to the next grade and their academic progress over the past year. Lantern Nite was a campus wide event, honoring everyone from the seniors becoming alumni to the high schoolers entering their freshman year.

Lantern Nite services would begin with each class entering campus while singing their marching song. Then the Lantern Bearers would form the initials of their class and the students would sing their classes song. In 1930 the ceremony was improved with the addition of the students singing the Alma Mater and the Senior Serenade, and in 1931 faculty began participating in Lantern Nite. The Seniors would march in their caps and gowns, and the remaining students would wear the colors of their respective classes. In later years all participants would wear white as they carried their lanterns across the dark campus, illuminating they night with the celebratory voices and glowing lanterns.

All students were allowed to participate in Lantern Nite, but leading your class as a Lantern Bearer was an honor that had to be earned. Lantern Bearers were chosen by faculty members and class officers and then subject to approval by Dr. van den Berg. Each class is led by a specific number of students that represent the current ratio of men to women at the college. In 1937 twenty-five girls and eight boys from each class received the honor of being named a lantern bearer, but only the girls actually carried a lantern at the ceremony. Joining the selected lantern bearers were the officers of each class who were automatically included. Lantern Nite was a refined, highly practiced event that was part of an elaborate series of commencement week rituals. Each class would have rehearsals leading up to the event, and Lantern Bearers had to attend addition practice sessions.

The tradition of Lantern Nite was a “colorful exercise [that left] a lasting impression on all those who observe(d) it” (The Nepano). For decades Lantern Nite was a beautiful part of life here at New Paltz. Each year in mid June as the sun set over campus, students were preparing for Lantern Nite. I can imagine the scene in all of its grander. The classes excitedly huddled together wearing their designated attire. Whispering and practicing the Alma Mater, recounting their year here at school and getting ready to honor all that they had accomplished. They would hold their lanterns tightly in their hands, waiting to light the candle within and begin their procession around campus. Commemorating the lives that they have led in their time here.

Imagining a scene like this takes my breath away. So then why did the rich tradition of Lantern Nite get extinguished like a used candle? Along with Elaine’s lantern there was another lantern from 1987. I searched through issues of The Oracle, which became the school news paper in 1938, and I couldn’t find a single thing about Lantern Nite after that date. It seems that 1987 was the year that Lantern Night was laid to rest. I can’t understand how such a beautiful tradition that was so ingrained in the history of New Paltz was allowed to vanish. I for one want my chance to be a Lantern Bearer, and my research about Lantern Night has inspired me to revive the tradition. New Paltz students should know of this amazing ritual, and Elaine’s lantern should shine again.

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Sources: The Nepano, established May 1933, published weekly by the students of the New Paltz Normal School

NYC Object Adventure!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hello fellow object enthusiasts! This is Eirinn and Maggie and we wanted to share with you some of the objects that we encountered yesterday at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (if you haven’t been, we highly recommend going!). After talking about objects so much in class, we were able to “see” so much more about the objects and we ended up being intrigued by “stuff” that probably wouldn’t have caught our attention in the past.

The first object that we would like to share is this golden clock (maybe about two feet tall). It’s very sad that the art of clock making is almost extinct now that we have turned digital. In a few generations, it’s possible that the whole idea of a clock will just be something to look at in museums. It just wouldn’t be the same to have a fancy, golden digital clock! Every section of the clock is detailed- covered in tiny designs. It’s hard for us to even imagine someone spending hours and hours each day for weeks just to make one clock. And try to imagine having this clock sitting on your desk! It’s just so elegant.

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This picture is a close-up of a guitar. We were both amazed by the tiny details not just on the outside of the guitar, but on the inside as well. You can just barely see the carvings inside the hole— it’s funny to think that so much time and effort was spent on a part of the guitar that can barely be seen. This shows that the design of the guitar was very important. We wonder if it was even played, or if it was purely for aesthetic pleasure.

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This beautiful chest reminds us of a wunderkammer. It is fun to imagine what might have been in all of those drawers. If only we could go back in time and snoop through this chest when it was being used! Every single drawer has a detailed image in gold— it’s absolutely incredible. Even the keyholes are intricately detailed.

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And last but not least, (inspired by Charles Ephrussi) a ridiculously extravagant bed! We both love this bed (possibly because we both wanted canopy beds when we were ten years old and unfortunately never got to have them). The Victorian rooms at the museum were our favorite. You could stand so that you could pretend to be a part of the room. If only we still had beds like this today!!

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So next time you’re in the city, check out the Met. It really is fantastic!

The Goal: A Balance Between Preservation and Annihilation

The introduction to A History of the World in 1000 Objects got me thinking about a lot of different things: how much of history will never be discovered? How much of history have we wrongly interpreted? Does it matter that it was incorrectly interpreted?

One aspect of the introduction that caught my eye (and my brain) was the notion of whose story gets told. Now, I’ve certainly heard before the the victor writes history. Yet, when MacGregor writes, “Those who are on the losing side, those whose societies are conquered or destroyed, often have only their things to tell their stories,” he encouraged me to think about the destruction of the Native American culture in the United States and what objects of theirs we have left.

Certainly we’re aware of remnants of Native American culture. I remember learning about longhouses and teepees in sixth grade Global History; I’ve never forgotten the “papoose,” what certain Native American women used to carry around their babies, and I’ve seen photos of their pottery. I’m sure you can still purchase pottery, dream catchers, and moccasins made by descendants of the Native American tribes.

But you can also purchase them at chain stores such as Urban Outfitters or Forever 21. You can buy Native American print clothing at the mall, dream catchers as a kitchy souvenir from a cowboys and Indians ride, or a Native American costume to wear on Halloween. Our modern culture has not so much preserved their objects as appropriated them for modern use without a single nod in the direction of the culture from which they once hailed.

For those interested, you can read this article in Time Magazine about the current law suit between the Navajo Indians and Urban Outfitters: http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/10/12/urban-outfitters-taken-to-task-for-faux-navajo-products/

Being tasked with the preservation and the promotion of a historical object of New Paltz, I am determined to keep this in mind as I write my report: it is important that we treat each culture in which our objects were born as equally important as our own culture today. I think it is easy to look back on historical objects and observe them in comparison to our culture, and I believe very valid ideas can be drawn from this kind of reflection. But it is also necessary to put our culture aside to fully understand each object and its origins, to truly appreciate where, when, why, and how each object was created. We must always strive for a balance between preservation and promotion, and annihilation through appropriation.

Response to A History of the World in 100 Objects

Upon reading the introduction to A History of the World in 100 Objects a few things in particular caught my attention.  I immediately noticed and admired how the colleges of the British Museum map out their challenges in attempting to get a completely unbiased perspective on the history of the world (and almost a disclaimer that such a feat is impossible to attain in its entirety).  To be knowledgeable to think beyond the context of our own cultures and aware that there are other cultures who have voiced themselves differently, or have not been able to voice themselves at all, is imperative when trying to get an unbiased account of history.  Analyzing objects as a way to receive and decipher history is a great and innovative way to attempt this.

Paying more attention to writings than objects is a significant problem that they faced when trying to account for an accurate history.  I thought this was very interesting, as a lot of civilizations and time periods did not use the written word.  Using objects as a way to detail the past sheds a new light on this time periods that equally deserve of a rich history as the written nations.  It also gives a chance to give defeated nations back a voice.

However, using objects to retrieve history is much more difficult than writings, and a great deal of imagination is necessary to put the pieces together.  Fortunately though, the story of New Paltz is not quite so ancient, I believe, that we will have entire gaps of our history completely unaccounted for.  I suppose that we will have the help of both the written word and old objects to construct our history, but we must always keep in mind that our account of history will never be fully complete or accurate, and sometimes we need to remind ourselves that it is possible an interpretation we have is completely inaccurate.  The poem of the jade ring inaccurately being a bowl holder is a good example and reminder of that.  Regardless, there is a poetic element involved in creating a history of things.

The authors of this book’s consideration in trying to get a full history through all the lenses of the world is an ambitious feat, and some of there tasks and problems could be good pointers for our own project.  Such as the fact that which objects survived (typically stone and hardier ones) can add their own personal bias to the history, and the consistent ever-changing meaning of objects throughout time.

Poetry of Objects and the Quintessential Museum

There are two major parts to this introduction that really resonate with me.

The first being the practice of writing on or altering objects to document its history. Apparently this has been done before and I find it incredibly fascinating. The example of the Qianlong emperor who had an interest in history and would actually engrave his own poetry about the bi ring onto the object itself speaks a lot about the documentation of history in the past.

Although the concept of physically marking up an artifact nowadays seems sacrilegious, back then it was likely thought of as a useful tool. Simply writing about an object (on a piece of parchment, for example) does not ensure the object and parchment will stay together for the rest of the object’s “immortal” life, so marking the object itself is the only infallible technique. In the true spirit of this book, what is so telling of the culture and the time through the emperor’s practice is his uncontested ability to do so. This implies that at the time, the emperor’s word was truth, even if he himself acknowledges a lack of complete knowledge about the bi by expressing his thoughts through a poem.

MacGregor writes, “thinking about the past or about a distant world through things is always about poetic re-creation.” This is something that I have seen as a theme for our class. Just as DeWaal does in The Hare With Amber Eyes and as we have been doing with our own personal objects, there is always this hint of speculation that comes with creating an object’s history, no matter what extent of scholarly (or nonscholarly) research is put into discovering the timeline of an object.

The second notion that really stuck with me from this text is the idea of a museum as a tool for creating a better understanding of the world. It is something so basic, yet I have never thought of it that way before. Essentially, a museum is a glorified collection, allowing its patrons to expand their knowledge via objects and accompanied texts. This is the best example of what MacGregor’s “ideal history” should be. Through this project centered around the objects at the British Museum, there is the ultimate exchange of knowledge: the museum acts as the central base showcasing their collection to the public while the experts that would best understand the object meanings can flock from all over to help create a more complete history for these objects.

As we start to piece together New Paltz’s history through objects, I think we should consider ourselves curators. We want our collection of objects to be relevant and come from a variety of contexts. It should also be accessible to not only people in the community, but perhaps others who might be familiar with an object’s original history, before it became part of New Paltz’s history. Then, once the collection and its meanings are assembled, we can hopefully help ourselves and others have a better understanding of New Paltz and its history.

New Paltz village and Suny New Paltz history

First, I really enjoyed reading these wiki pages.

For the New Paltz Village page, while reading the history I wanted to physically walk down the streets while learning about the history. I could almost envision it all in my head.The only thing is the history is so short! I want to know more about the Lenape tribe called Esopus! And I wished they just went more in depth with details of the history of New Paltz and how it came to be. Instead there was a lot of other details on the Newspaper and Transportation. However, when I think about it, New Paltz is a very small town and you could easily walk the length of it. Therefore I guess it does make sense that the history is dwarfed by the sections on New Paltz culture and transportation.

I found the history of Suny New Paltz much more interesting! It was crazy reading about the protests during the Vietnam war that took place in front of the Student Union! And also learning about how the school started off as a education school and then the art programs were added on. Education and Arts is still what SUNY New Paltz seems to be known for .  One of my favorite parts of reading this wiki page is when it talks about all the classes that people could take like video art, dance therapy, clowning, camping, and ecodesign. And these classes were offered by students who were hired and compensated through the student activity fees. I know as students we definitely pay a lot of fees for student activities but cool classes like these are never offered. This was really cool too “A four-acre environmental studies site operated by students and community members under the aegis of the program at the southern periphery of the campus included geodesic domes, windmills,kilns, a solar-powered house funded by the Department of Energy, and more inchoate variants of sustainable architecture.” Unfortunately these interesting projects were taken down in the 1980s when the school took a turn for a more scienc-y turn with professional degree programs in nursing, engineering, journalism, and accounting. For the page of Suny New Paltz itself, I think the page could have gone into other majors that the school offers as everything was really based on the arts and theatre. I feel like even now there’s strange tug-a-war where New Paltz is trying to become more science and medical based, but it has so much art and educational history behind it that these changes would take time.

Mediocre New Paltz

 I cannot say I am too surprised at the short amount of information on Wikipedia written on the town of New Paltz. In my opinion, the town is not too known by residents of New York City and although the town is greatly unique in its own way, it is quite small and usually reserved compared to the busy city that I come from. I always found it odd that the “village” of New Paltz and the “town” of New Paltz are considered two distinct areas and the Wikipedia page does mention this fact. Another unsurprising statistic was that the racial makeup of the town was 73% white. Clearly the town is not too diverse in that sense but at the same time it differs from a segregated white town because the community embraces diversity in so many ways. Probably the most excited piece of information on the New Paltz Wikipedia page was: “New Paltz was the place in which the character Penny Johnson (Cynthia Rhodes) got an abortion in the 1987 movie Dirty Dancing, which was set in the early 1960s”. That blew my mind and now I must re-watch the movie to see if it’s true. The section on “culture” in the page listed several celebrations but had very brief descriptions on them so those could have been elaborated on in a bit more detail. I feel New Paltz does have a vast amount of transportation; being an upstate town. For example, Trailways bus station is incredibly convenient, there’s the New Paltz loop which is not listed but exists and the bus that goes to Poughkeepsie located in town is also great for those wanting to get to the Metronorth. Overall, however, the content in this page was not too impressive.

Now on to SUNY New Paltz’s wikipedia page which was lengthier and somewhat more informative with content that did surprise me. This page informed me on events that seemed quite bizarre to me, such as: “In the fall of 1968, students rallied in support of Craig Pastor (now Craig DeYong) who had been arrested by New Paltz Village Police for desecration of the American flag which he was wearing as a superhero cape in a student film directed by Edward Falco.” Even though the paragraph focused on “student lead demonstrations” in the 60s and 70s, it disgusted and appalled me to read a sentence describing such an event that took place on my campus.­­ Another section that negatively stood out to me were the events that occurred in 1997 that attracted media attention. The first one was a Feminist conference on sex and sexuality that included a workshop on sex toys. I’m all for sexual freedom but I feel a workshop on sex toys does not set the greatest example. The second was a seminar in which New Paltz resident Carolee Schneemann introduces viewers to Interior Scroll in which she takes a scroll from her vagina and reads it to her audience. Although the greater picture of this event was to address: “Lacanian semiotics, gender issues, Marxism, the male art establishment, religious and cultural taboos”, I am not sure if many people would consider this the most educational approach. I do not believe these events promoted educational or positive nationwide attention but rather controversial media attention. I suppose attention is attention but, again, these demonstrations did not stir up proud feelings within me. On the other hand, the statistics and rankings were quite refreshing so that was a plus to see. The page was also fairly detailed in the many buildings SUNY New Paltz has on campus and had photographs of some of the buildings as well. Finally, the Alma Mater was a pleasant surprise and a cute little poem to wrap up the rollercoaster ride that was reading this Wikipedia page. To me, alumni were nothing fancy (besides Joe Turturro of course!).  However I feel there are more positives to the town and SUNY New Paltz that could have been discussed in detail such as the restaurants, town-life, rail trail, MANY clubs on campus and the religious places of worship in town. Unfortunately I do not feel these pages did enough justice to my college.