Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Trees Come Marching In...

Ring in the holiday season this year at the John Wells Pratt House Museum in Fulton! Friends of Fulton History presents its annual Parade of Trees, a two-week event that features a dozen Christmas trees trimmed with festive handmade decorations by members of local schools, businesses and community organizations.

The trees display a variety of themes such as “The Christmas Story” by the Fulton Public Library, “Puzzle Pieces Big and Small, a Very Merry Christmas to One and All” by ARC of Oswego County, “A Sweet Christmas” by Lanigan Elementary in Fulton, and “The Wizard of Oz” by Kathy’s Cakes in Fulton.

Lanigan Elementary students Joey Blair, Isabella Jodway and Khloe Bergman
proudly display their Christmas tree decorated with sweet treats!

Melissa Wells of Kathy's Cakes decorates the Christmas tree
with clever handcrafted ornaments to showcase the world of Oz.

Sandy DeSantis and Kathy King trim the tree with handmade decorations by the
Fulton Public Library's Tuesday After School Crafters, Tuesday-Wednesday Story Hour,
and Thursday LEGO Club.

ARC of Oswego County presents,
"Puzzle Pieces, Big and Small, A Very Merry Christmas to One and All!"
Other groups participating in the event include: First Step Universal Pre-K (UPK) in Fulton, G. Ray Bodley High School in Fulton, Girl Scouts in Fulton, Noah’s Christian Nursery School in Oswego, Oswego Industries Day Hab Program in Fulton, Towpath Towers in Fulton, Uniforms, Etc. in Fulton, and the Woman’s Club of Fulton.

The parade begins with an open house from 1:30 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, December 1. Wander among the colorful trees and historical displays as you enjoy holiday music and refreshments. Bring the kids for the show as Imaginations Unlimited presents the Marionettes Magic Theatre between 2 and 3 p.m.

The parade continues Monday, December 2 to Friday, December 13. Visit the Pratt House Museum, 177 S. First St., Fulton, and choose your favorite Christmas tree display. Throughout the event, the museum is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, December 7.

John Wells Pratt House Museum in Fulton

A little history about the museum…

Timothy and Hannah, parents of John Wells Pratt, were among the earliest settlers of Fulton. Their son had an extensive boat-building business and transported goods between Oswego and Albany. A successful farmer, businessman and civic leader, Pratt was a leading donor to Fulton’s Falley Seminary and served as its superintendent for six years. He was also a director of the Citizens National Bank of Fulton for more than twenty years.

This historic home was built in 1861 for Pratt and his wife Harriet, and remained in their family for more than 100 years. In 1975, the property was acquired from the Pratt family and the carriage house was razed to make way for a restaurant. Through the efforts of several community leaders, the house was saved from demolition and the Historical Society of Fulton was formed, naming the Pratt House as its museum and headquarters.

The museum contains a beautifully carved staircase, two marble fireplaces, antique musical instruments, early framed maps and an original telephone switchboard. There is also a detailed period kitchen from the early 1900s with Mrs. Pratt’s combination coal and gas stove. Other exhibits highlight local history including agriculture, industry, the Oswego canal and residents’ daily life.

Pratt House Museum’s exquisite marble fireplace

Pratt House Museum’s exquisite marble fireplace

The John Wells Pratt House Museum is open year-round, either by appointment or with seasonal hours. Regular admission is $2 for adults and free for children under age 18. For more information about the museum or the Parade of Trees, call 315/598-4616. To learn more about Oswego County’s history, go to


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Uncovering the past...

Home to the most Underground Railroad sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places in New York State, Oswego County and its people have long stood for freedom and equality for all. Our newest museum, the Starr Clark Tin Shop and Underground Railroad Museum, commemorates our connection to this significant chapter in our nation’s history.

In 1827, Colonel William Fitch erected this mercantile shop in the village of Mexico, N.Y. Later, it would become an important part of the story due to the actions of one of the many abolitionists in the area, Starr Clark.

Clark was born on August 2, 1793 in Lee, Massachusetts and later spent time as a youth in Utica, New York. He married Harriet Loomis from Verona when he was 22 years old and, a year later, the couple moved to Danby, just south of Ithaca. During this time, they experienced a religious conversion that had a profound effect on the rest of their lives. Of their eight children, a son born in 1831 was named after Theodore Weld, who was at that time one of the best-known abolitionist orators in the country.

In 1832, Clark was hired to run Colonel Fitch’s store in Mexico. He was paid $350 per annum, which included use of the neighboring house and garden. In the store, he sold dry goods and groceries and later added a tin and stove shop, which became a community gathering place. People collected their mail, read the daily paper and discussed politics and social issues of the day, including the abolitionist movement.
Oswego County was a hotbed of abolitionist activity and the tin shop and many houses in the surrounding area were “stations” on the Underground Railroad. This was not an actual “railroad,” but rather, a network of people and places that provided aid to slaves who had escaped their masters and sought a life of freedom.

Clark himself was an organizer of the Oswego County Anti-Slavery Society, and wrote the first anti-slavery petition sent to the U.S. Congress from Oswego County. Like many of his neighbors, Clark opened up his home to these “freedom seekers” and they were welcomed, hidden from authorities, and provided with fresh clothing and hot meals while arrangements were made to transport them to Canada.

One famous case in our history was “The Jerry Rescue.” A group of abolitionists, including Clark, planned to rescue William “Jerry” Henry (McHenry), an escaped slave charged under the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. After his rescue, “Jerry” was secretly transported and hidden along the Underground Railroad in Oswego County before finally making safe passage to Kingston, Ontario, Canada where he remained the rest of his days.

Posted here are a few images of the museum:

This building is just one of many well-documented and recognized Underground Railroad locations in Oswego County, and one of only a few sites open to the public. Stop in to learn more about this brave heritage and the restoration of the original tin shop.
The Starr Clark Tin Shop and Underground Railroad Museum, 3250 Main St., Mexico, N.Y. is open from 4 to 7 p.m. on Fridays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays, or by appointment. Admission is free. To schedule a tour, call 315/963-7898.

The Mexico Historical Society presents...
During our visit to the museum, we caught up with our friends Marge and Dave Thomas from the Children's Glassworks Theater in Cleveland, N.Y. As guest speaker, Marge shared a bit of history about the children's theater and its namesake, Cleveland Glass Works.  

This year, the troupe’s annual Christmas production is a trilogy of short plays featuring children of various age groups. The stories include “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” “The False Sir Santa Claus,” and “The Christmas Gift.” As in the past, the scripts are adapted for the stage by Marge herself to be sure that every child has a role to play. The show is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, December 13 and Saturday, December 14 at the former St. James Episcopal Church on North Road in Cleveland. Tickets are $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and $3 for children. For event details, call 315/675-8517.

For more information about the Starr Clark Tin Shop and Underground Railroad Museum, visit or find the “Mexico Historical Society Museum” on Facebook. To learn more about Oswego County’s history, go to


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Bringing Art to Life

ARTSwego welcomes students and the community back to the SUNY Oswego campus as it launches its 2013-2014 Performing Arts Series with The Cashore Marionettes!

Master puppeteer Joseph Cashore leads this widely-acclaimed company, enthralling audiences across the globe with his life-like creations and graceful movements. His remarkable collection of enchanting pieces demonstrates his unparalleled artistry. For more than 30 years, Cashore has designed and given life to these unique works of art.

The marionette first caught his eye when he was a boy on a family vacation. Upon seeing the suspended puppet, his imagination took flight. Cashore went on to earn his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of Notre Dame and later studied portrait and figure painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. His many accomplishments include the Henson Foundation Grant and the Pew Fellowship for Performance Art. He was also named a PennPAT Roster Artist and awarded the UNIMA Citation of Excellence, the highest honor a U.S. puppeteer can receive.

Here are samples of his brilliant talent, courtesy of the Cashore Marionettes:

Cashore shares his craft with audiences through an extended four-day residency program which will include visits to three local communities in addition to his performances on campus.

The first “meet-and-greet” takes place on Thursday, September 5 at 7 p.m. at the H. Lee White Marine Museum  in Oswego and the second is scheduled for Friday, September 6 at 7 p.m. at the CNY Arts Center in Fulton. Adults and children ages 8 and above will enjoy meeting the artist as he discusses and demonstrates his inspiration and passion for puppetry. For both of these events, admission is free for children accompanied by an adult, and adults are asked to make a $3 donation to the host organization.

Then, on Saturday, September 7, the Cashore Marionettes present two performances in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre on the SUNY Oswego campus.

At 2 p.m., “Simple Gifts,” a short matinee for families begins. This performance entertains children through a series of acts that highlight characters and actions from everyday life. Families will delight in the theatrical illusion of Cashore’s masterful puppetry, set to a backdrop of classical music. This program is best suited to children age 8 and older. Admission is $5 for both children and adults with open general seating.

At 7:30 p.m., the troupe offers older audiences their full-length feature, “Life in Motion.” This show welcomes adults and young adults as the artists demonstrate the very essence of humanity, from the comedic to the tragic, through a series of short but powerfully entertaining portrayals with engaging characters and evocative music. Admission is $18 for adults and $5 for students.

Cashore wraps up his residency with a marionette master class for adults and art students who are interested in learning more about his technique. The session takes place on Sunday, September 8 at 2 p.m. at the Salmon River Fine Arts Center in Pulaski. For admission details, call the center at (315) 298-7007.

The Cashore Marionettes’ community residency program is made possible by grant funding from the Richard S. Shineman Foundation, the Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour, and the Decentralization Program of the New York State Council on the Arts, administered by CNY Arts. It is also made possible by the partnering host organizations.

Committed to artistic excellence, ARTSwego presents diverse cultural programming to enrich and entertain students and the surrounding community. For more events, visit Advance tickets for SUNY Oswego performances can be purchased at any SUNY Oswego Box Office. Parking for these shows is included in the cost of the ticket and is available in lots E-6 (in front of Culkin Hall) and E-18 (behind Hart and Funnelle halls).

Join ARTSwego for this truly one-of-a-kind experience and enjoy the show!


Monday, August 5, 2013

Colorful History Unveiled!

Welcome back!
It has been far too long since our last adventure together, so let us begin anew… and take a fresh look at an old haunt. Join us as we revisit Casey’s Cottage where the Friends of Mexico Point Park will unveil their inaugural art show featuring German artist Severin Bischof this weekend.
You might remember this charming museum at Mexico Point Park on the scenic shores of Lake Ontario. It was in the 1930s when two friends, Dr. William C. Casey and Severin Bischof, joined their resources and talent to restore the former carriage house of the Mexico Point Clubhouse. To help with the transformation, they invited their friends to make decorative wood carvings from Bischof’s exquisite designs. According to Bischof’s son John, “The cottage was a work of love; a place of beauty, friends, companionship and good conversation only.”

Severin Bischof was born in Wenden, Germany on September 9, 1893. He began his career as an apprentice to his father, a master mason, where he worked in various grand cathedrals throughout Europe. He acquired many skills throughout his career, such as restoring religious paintings and glass-cutting, and eventually became a master painter.
The artist arrived in New York on May 4, 1924 and his wife Clara followed five years later. It was in 1928, when Bischof was an art student at Syracuse University, that he made the acquaintance of Dr. Casey through mutual friends. Together, they began renovating the carriage house that would be called “Casey’s Cottage.”
Bischof went on to work for Syracuse Ornamental Company (Syroco), a decorative woodworking company founded in 1890 by immigrant Adolph Holstein. He and his wife Clara had two sons: John, who currently lives in Maine, and Norville, who died in 1982. Bischof himself died just one year later, in May 1983, in Syracuse.
The Friends of Mexico Point Park honors this talented artist with an exhibition of his work, which includes abstracts, florals and landscapes. Step back in time to see his vision for the transformation of the cottage through his watercolors, woodcuts and pastels. Mary Lou and Allen Bjorkman, owners of The Picture Connection in Oswego, graciously helped with the framing of several pieces.
Here is a sample of Bischof's vision:

The exhibit opens with a wine and dessert gala reception at 7 p.m. on Friday, August 9. Admission is $20. The art show continues from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, August 10 and Sunday, August 11. Admission is $5. With several major restoration projects at hand, the proceeds from this event will go toward maintenance and repairs at Casey’s Cottage. For more information, call 315/963-7657.
If you would like more information about attractions and events in Oswego County, please be sure to visit our Web site at