Peru Gazette - 6/12/10
Babbie Museum Officially Opens this Weekend
By John T. Ryan
Leeward Babbie will always remember two days in 2010. On January 12ththe Babbie Rural and Farm Learning Museum received a provisional museum charter from the New York State Department of Education. On Saturday, June 12th at 11 a.m. the ribbon will be cut officially opening the museum. Although Babbie was a farmer for 40 years opening a rural and farm museum is a almost natural for him. He’s enjoyed collecting farm tractors and machinery throughout his life. Establishing a museum gives Babbie the opportunity to share his collection with the general public and to offer others the opportunity to donate or loan items to the museum’s collection. About twenty percent of the items on display have been donated by various North County residents.
The entire Babbie family has been working feverishly for the past several weeks in preparation for Saturday’s grand opening. (See more photos)Leeward’s daughters Le and Sheila traveled east from their Colorado homes to assist their dad. Leeward’s sisters, sons, daughters-in-law, other family members and friends have all contributed their time and talents.Conceiving and organizing the many displays in the main building and several nearby buildings has entailed endless hours of work.
Rick Laurin, Leeward Babbie’s nephew, is a museum director. He’s been helping Leeward to get the museum up and running and he plans on working side-by-side with Leeward in the future. Laurin has big plans for the museum. He sees it being a valuable learning vehicle for area schools. He also hopes to bring museum programs into area schools.
The title “Rural Farm and Learning Museum” describes Leeward and Rick’s goals. Leeward says, “It will be nice to appeal to both younger and older generations.” The museum has displays of equipment and household items dating from the 1850’s. Most of the items are in operating condition. Leeward has personally rebuilt several pieces of equipment. Leeward’s son David, one of the region’s most capable mechanics, has also lent his assistance. The museum will feature working demonstrations. This weekend a corn sheller, a wood shingle machine, a hit-and-miss engine and a hay fork will be in operation. A stagecoach will be transporting people around the property. Three miniature donkeys and a beautiful team of Haflinger horses should also fascinate the kids.
The variety of exhibits in the museum’s main building will surprise many visitors. Its attractions include an artwork collection, a model rural kitchen, model tractors, an impressive antique washing machine collection and many other interesting items. One washing machine is turned by dog/goat power and another is powered by a gasoline engine. Retired SUNY Plattsburgh President Dr. Joseph Burke will be on hand Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to autograph his book, “William H. Miner, The Man and The Myth.” The museum store features local produce and reasonably priced embroidered shirts and caps.
When visitors leave the main building and walk to the west they will find a milk house, a horse/cow stable, a chicken coop and a barn filled with two floors of functioning equipment such as hit or miss engines, a wood shingle machine and a two-man chain saw. Visitors will also enjoy the museum’s setting in the middle of beautiful rolling Adirondack hills.
Admission to the museum at 275 River Rd. is free of charge, but donations are welcome. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. this weekend. Regular days/hours will be Wednesday – Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Babbie has applied for a 501c(3) designation which would make any gift tax deductible. Individual and business memberships are available. (See museum website)
Peru’s history dates back to settlement by farmers and the Babbie Farm and Rural Learning Museum provides a wonderful opportunity for all generations to learn about the area’s farming history. Public support will keep the museum operating and growing in importance to the Peru and North Country community.