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History of the Museum
Do You Have Photos of the Homestead?
To the right is the only interior image of the Homestead prior to the big move that we have in our collection. This view is of the front hall and was taken at the time when the Miller family lived in the house. We are looking for more images of the interior of the house. If you have an interior shot of the Homestead, please contact the museum. We would like to scan a copy for our archives.
History of the Museum
The museum first opened its doors to the public on September 25, 1966. However, the story of the museum does not start there. It actually starts in 1964, when a large group of historically minded citizens from Waterford banded together to save the historic Hugh White Homestead from demolition. The building was scheduled to be razed to make way for a new Grand Union supermarket. The citizens petitioned the Grand Union Corporation to stop the scheduled demolition, but Grand Union was not willing to change their plans to build on the site. However, they did offer to give the homestead to the group, provided the group move it. They even donated the first $1,000 toward the expensive move!
This determined group of citizens took up the challenge and set out to find a new location, raise funds, and arrange for the move. With little time to spare, the group, by now incorporated into the Waterford Historical Museum and Cultural Center, succeeded in its goals and the homestead was moved on June 29, 1964. However, it took two long years of fund raising and hard work to ready the building for the dedication ceremonies on September 25, 1966. Since the museum’s opening, its members have followed the original intentions of its founders. To preserve the former Hugh White Homestead, to hold and care for the collections pertaining to the history of Waterford and the surrounding area, and to host events of educational and cultural significance. The museum has held numerous lecture series, bus trips, music programs, exhibitions for local artists, walking tours, and school programs. Programs sponsored by the Waterford Museum are not the only activities its membership is involved in.
In 1966, the museum advocated successfully for the acquisition by the Town of Waterford for the site of the ruined Shawtemack Mill to be used as park land, assuring access to the Champlain Canal. The historically minded group continued to be active in preservation. In the 1970s the museum’s committee on historic sites undertook a major effort to nominate significant districts for listing on the National Register of historic places. According to former Board of Trustees President, Dr. William Grattan, the first area that the committee helped save was Peebles Island. Not only did they help secure the listing of Peebles on the National Register but they also mounted a successful campaign to get the state to buy the island and turn it into a park. Within the next couple of years the committee was successful in getting 3 other areas of Waterford listed on the National Register of Historic places, including the Village of Waterford, Saratoga Avenue and the Old Champlain Canal. During the last few years, the museum has demonstrated its continuing commitment to preserving the history and cultural activities of our Town by hiring a professional museum director to help preserve our collections and provide guidance in programming our educational activities. The Museum participates in community events and is striving to increase awareness of Waterford’s rich history throughout the region. The Waterford Historical Museum and Cultural Center, while preserving and teaching the past, is moving forward towards a bright future! If you are not already a member, we welcome you to join.