WAYLAND — There are some who are called to be the keepers of our past, and they are known as historians.
It takes a true labor of love to seek out a place worthy to hold onto all the things that make your community special. Furthermore it takes a lot of work to turn that place into a reality.
On July 23 the Wayland Historical Society celebrated 25 years with a special program filled with donations, proclamations, plaques, tours, cake, ribbon cuttings, and a look back at the progress with original member Guy Bennett Jr.
WHS Former President Helen Sick has retired after 15 years of dedicated service, and the job has been handed to WHS Vice-President and original member John Landino. WHS treasurer Theodore Lee Applin presented Sick with a plaque of appreciation for all of her hard work.
Landino started off the celebration talking about how Wayland is and always was a society of churches, and how that strong belief has kept the community going.
“We didn’t just survive,” he said. “We flourished.”
Landino reflected on all of the heartfelt events that keep the museum thriving. Pioneer Days being one of the favorites.
Applin said that Sick did the newsletter for about 18 years, and she always did such a wonderful job.
“Every three months it comes out, and it is always good,” he said. “When we put on the new addition it was Helen (Sick) who took it upon herself to do about 99 percent of the fundraising. She sent out letters to our members and others to donate. We had about 150 donors.”
Assemblyman Joe Errigo Legislative Aide Carol McManus said that it is always a pleasure to be at the museum.
“I hope that together we can get preservation grants so that the stewards of our past can be funded as they should be,” she said. “People know about this area. Gunlocke name is known all over, the community thrives on farms, businesses, and restaurants.”
There was a large college level gift from the Wallace Wagner estate left to the museum from James Flynn. The WHS board members chose to keep the amount off the record.
“We will invest it into the museum to help it grow,” Landino said. “Wallace was a young fella about seven years old when he would stop on his way to school to watch cement being poured. He would use that to make most of his money in the future. He loved Wayland. This is where he grew up. We are really in debt to James (Flynn).”
Bennett began his presentation about how this one building changed the hearts and minds of all who would come to know it.
The society was organized in 1992, building purchased in 1994, and became a full-on museum in 1998.
The hunt for the right building took the original members to Barbara Boardman, Zimmerman Family, St. James Hotel, DL&W Railroad at Gunlocke, Kimmel Homestead, Carnival Grounds across from the legion, and finally to the place it has called home Fleet Street Services.
The owner wanted $75,000 from the society for the building, so a lot of donations were requested. The Drum family made very generous donations throughout the years, including the first $10,000.
Bennett said that his grandfather had looked into the lot in 1877 to be used as a jail.
“The Bennett’s wanted to build a jail of sorts,” he said. “I think that is interesting that the Bennett’s have always been interested in that property.”
There was a Snyder Blacksmith Shop put on that property, and it became a car service shop later on.
“It was amazing how many people contributed to this project,” Bennett said. “The money just kept coming in.”
By 1996 the society had raised over $99,000 to get the museum up and going. Marty Kimmel had donated his time to helping with the electric. Bob White helped with the construction. The society took a broken down car repair shop, and with some help of many local contractors they turned it into the beautiful place it is today.
“That is the history of the society over 25 years. I am proud to still be a part of it,” Bennett said. “I thank all of you.”
Many have contributed over the lifetime of the museum to keep the history of the community alive, and the society will forever be thankful.
The Wayland Historical Society located at the corner of Washington and South Main Street is open Sunday’s 2 to 4 p.m. and Monday’s 10 a.m. to noon.