BRISTOL - The Bristol Historical Society will unveil its new reference library and general store during Museum Day this Saturday.
The grand opening of both the reference library and general store will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Bristol Historical Society at 98 Summer St. Those who visit local museums that Saturday will be able to participate in a variety of activities at each museum and will receive a stamp card with a box for each museum. Those who stamp off each museum will be eligible for a drawing to win free membership at all local museums.
The reference library, a room that once was home to stack of cabinets piled up to the walls, contains an archive of the Bristol Press on microfilm and bound volumes from 1871 to 2015, as well as scrapbooks containing photos dating back to the 19th century and covering a variety of people and places. There are also shelves with yearbooks from local schools, books written by local authors, cookbooks written by town organizations and a conference table that once belonged to Albert Rockwell, one of the founders of New Departure.
Ray Saucier, a local contractor, built adjustable shelves that organized the room.
“We started organizing it in January, and we were down here every Saturday,” said Bob Adamczyk.
In addition to The Bristol Press articles, the library will also have articles from the Bristol Herald, Valley Press and Thomaston Express.
“We had done an exchange program with the library,” said Tom LaPorte. “If the library has any volumes that we don’t have or vice versa we will trade them off with each other to help complete our collections.”
The general store at the Bristol Historical Society is currently set up to resemble a general store that would be found in the 1880s through 1920s, showcasing items from that time period.
“I think that people will look around at this stuff and remember it - then be astounded by how old it is,” said Mike Saman, president of the Bristol Historical Society.
Adamczyk said that the general store has been a project three years in the making. Tom Dickau found a photograph that showed that the Bristol Historical Society once had a general store. He proposed the idea to create one to the Board who agreed to the idea.
A general store committee was then formed, which included Dickau, Laporte, Adamczyk, Carol Denehy, Emily Taillon, Ruth Ann Graime and Claudette DeKoe.
The project was spearheaded by Tom LaPorte and Ellie Wilson.
Students from the United Way’s Day of Caring helped to clear the room of tables and chairs, and Shaffer Company cleared out a fungus that had built up in the room.
Thomas Damon Smith, a BHS member, volunteered his time to remove the previous wallpaper. LaPorte then secured the help of Elliot Nelson, the former owner of a painting company, to re-paint it. Windows were replaced by The Window Shop of Plainville using grant money, and Tom LaPorte then purchased globe-style lighting fixtures from The Bristol Electric Company.
Tom and Jerry Thompson worked together to create shelving, and the tile floor was also stripped to give the general store a wooden floor.
Funding from the general store came from a combination of grant money, general funding by BHS, donations from individuals and the Thomaston Savings Bank Foundation.