Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Annual Report of the Franklin Historical Commission - FY 2021

Note: FY 2021 is last year (July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021). The report was prepared to cover the business for the FY 2021 period. This year’s report FY 2022 (July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022) is in preparation now and is normally available for distribution at the polls for the November election.

Current Members:
Mary Olsson – Chair
Phyllis Malcolm – Treasurer
Colette Ferguson, Paul Pisani, Richard Remillard, Brock Leindecker, Randy LaRosa
Associate members: Alan Earls, Kai Olsson 
FHM Archivist – Rebecca Finnigan

Like everyone else, the Historic Commission and the Franklin Historical Museum weathered the storm known as COVID-19. After our March 2020 meeting we followed state and local health orders to temporarily close the museum and hold all of our meetings remotely. We opened the new year still having all of our meetings via Zoom, and continued with our limited operating hours of just once a week on Sunday afternoons. Our occupation numbers were limited and safety regulations including masks, temperature checks and social distancing were in place. The museum also had 3 air purifiers installed to assist in the effort to make the museum a safe place to visit in these trying times.

But the year was not a loss by any stretch. In January we saw the installation of The Clara J. Foss Johnston Memorial Federal Parlor, a donation of beautiful period furnishings from Jim Johnston in honor of his mother.

The room is a tasteful addition to the museum. With the installation of the Federal Parlor at the front of the museum, the FFHM relocated and updated their museum gift shop, and have added many new Franklin related items. The gift shop is worth a visit.

The townspeople had approved the Community Preservation Act (CPA) in the November election. In a special meeting, Phyllis Malcolm was nominated to represent the commission on the CPA committee.

A collection was taken up by commission members and a donation was made to the Franklin Food Pantry in memory of long time former Historical Commission member, Alice Vendetti, who had recently passed away. February saw a new exhibit open called Prominent Women in Franklin History. The display included short biographies of Lydia Ray Pierce, Annie Ray Thayer, Alice Wiggin, Palmer Johnson, Loraine Metcalf, Barbara Smith and Stella Kehayas Jeon, among others.

Demolition Delay - In January we had our only demolition request: Steven Narducci, 484 Union Street applied for a demolition permit. The commission saw no reason to delay the request.

The Commission arranged to have a historical marker installed at the former sight of the Thomson Press Building on Dean Avenue. The marker acknowledges the building’s historical influence in town from its original use as the Snow Basset Straw Mill to its final use as a printing and manufacturing business.
In June we were finally able to resume our in-person meetings and lift all covid restrictions for hosts and visitors alike. The first opportunity to host an event since March of 2020 occurred when Cultural District broke free of the COVID cloud and sponsored a summer kickoff event entitled ARTWALK. The museum participated by hosting 3 piano performances.

July saw the grand re-opening of the museum and a return to our normal operating hours. Invitations were sent and the public was invited to join the commission on the steps of the museum for a ceremonial ribbon cutting. Welcome speakers included State Representative Jeffrey Roy, Town Administrator Jamie Hellen, James Johnson, Debra Pellegri and music was provided by Jamie Barrett.

Everyone was invited in to enjoy refreshments and see the new exhibit, Davis Thayer, a Retrospective. An exhibit that looked back on the nearly 100-year history of the building which opened as Franklin High School in 1925 and sadly this year closed its doors after service as the Davis Thayer Elementary School for many years.
In August we were able to resume our popular Second Sunday Speaker Series. The first program focused on the home of Charles Whiting of the Whiting and Davis Company. Darrin Cutler, the current owner of Whiting and Davis also gave a history of the 145-year-old company. 

Additional speakers in the coming months will include Retired NYPD Sargent and Franklin native Paul Faenza discussing his experience at Ground Zero during 9/11, in September; Author Steven Puleo, A Voyage of Mercy in October, sponsored by FFHM; Franklin Vintage Homes in November; Author and Franklin native Charles Harrington, A Contemplative Life in December; and Dennis Sardella presenting Byzantine and Russian Icons in January. The public is invited to attend these free and informative presentations on the Second Sunday of each month.

The museum is a town gem in the heart of downtown Franklin, open to the community and the public at large to experience and appreciate the history of our town. We hope you will visit soon.

The full Annual Report for 2021 can be found

The collection of Annual Reports can be found online

Annual Town Report Of The Town Clerk’s Office - FY 2021
Annual Report Of The Town of Franklin - FY 2021

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