Archive for January, 2011

Measuring the ice, 1/25/11

Today we prepared for our first school group of the winter season.  The students of Andes Central School cut about 15 blocks today and put them in the ice house.  Don’t worry, there’s still plenty of room in there for all the ice we’ll cut on Feb. 5th!

The Icebox

A little video showing the icebox in our John Hanford farmhouse.  The ice you see in the film was harvested from our pond on about four days ago.  Considering the extremely cold weather we’ve had over the weekend, we can only assume the ice is even thicker now.

“The Hanford Photographs” Exhibit – In Progress

Anna Wightman's Sunday School Class, taken by Horace Hanford near millpond in East Meredith, c.1895. Fred Hanford is in the back row on the left.

Some information in this post is taken from the Hanford Mills Museum-produced book, The Hanford Photographs, with essays by Timothy Weidner.  The book is available for sale in our Museum Shop.

2011 is shaping up to be the Year of Photography for Hanford Mills Museum.  Along with the exhibition of photos taken by school students in CROP programs across Otsego & Delaware Counties, we are also working diligently on a new photography show for our long-neglected Feed Mill exhibit space.  The Hanford Photographs will highlight approximately 50 historic photographs from our collection, spanning 40 years of East Meredith and Hanford family history as recorded by Horace Hanford and his son Ralph.  It will also include a selection of other objects from our collection, including an antique 8×10 view camera that closely matches the kind that Horace used to take some of his photos during the late 19th century.

Horace Hanford didn’t just take a passing interest in the technological advancements of the Industrial Revolution; he embraced and reveled in them.  He (and his father D.J. before him) subscribed to Scientific American magazine, the seminal publication for all things engineering and science-related, from 1860 to the 1920s.  As time went on Horace’s interests included electricity, photography, bicycles, automobiles, and of course, mill machinery.  In 1894 Horace and his brother Willis joined the sawmill and gristmill business that their father D.J. started nearly 35 years earlier.  They oversaw the mill’s business during the period that brought the most growth and lasting change to the town of East Meredith. 

The Ulster & Delaware Railroad finally completed an extension of their Kingston-Oneonta line to East Meredith in 1900.  The train literally stopped behind the mill, greatly increasing the amount of trade the Hanfords and other townspeople could do, and allowing for an important change in the way dairy farmers could ship their product.  Horace’s photography hobby allowed him to record the evolution that was occurring at the mill and in his town during this radical time.

Currently, the plan is to separate The Hanford Photographs exhibit into three main themes:

  • Mill and town change over time
  • Life and work
  • People & property

These themes best represent the types of photographs Horace and Ralph took with their cameras.  Horace was especially interested in capturing the changes that occurred at the mill, including the delivery of the new steam boiler and the erecting of the boiler stack in 1895.  A wonderful series of photographs, taken between 1890 and 1910, shows the mill from the vantage point of the surrounding hillsides as new buildings were constructed and old ones were removed.  Horace also donated his photography skills to the town by taking class photos for the local Sunday School and documenting the construction of the new Presbyterian church, among other things.  He even captured fun local events, including a presentation of dancing bears at the Rexmere Hotel in Stamford in 1915.

Many of the photographs in the exhibit will be presented in a larger format than they’ve ever been presented before (they have rarely been shown larger than 5 x 7” or 6 ½ x 8 ½”, the sizes of the original glass plate negatives Horace used), some of them up to 13 x 19” or larger.  This will reveal details in the pictures that might have been missed in their smaller formats.  The Hanford Photographs exhibit is scheduled to be finished on May 15th, the first day of the Museum’s regular season, with a special Member Preview before that date.  Stay tuned to our blog, Facebook and Twitter pages, and our website for more info as we continue to work on the exhibit.