IN THE NEWS

Preserving a proud past

by The Freeman's Journal / Richfield Springs Newspaper
September 25, 2009
Preserving a proud past

Jay Bernhardt, center, who received a Rehabilitation Award for the Park Hotel, Richfield Springs chats with Pete Bussman, Cooperstown, a broker with JGB Properties.

Jay Bernhardt, center, who received a Rehabilitation Award for the Park Hotel, Richfield Springs chats with Pete Bussman, Cooperstown, a broker with JGB Properties.

Marjorie W. Walters, who received a Career Achievement Award from Otsego 2000, was joined by son, Rick, New Hartford, his wife, Cathy, and their children, Blake and Avery, at the reception.

Marjorie W. Walters, who received a Career Achievement Award from Otsego 2000, was joined by son, Rick, New Hartford, his wife, Cathy, and their children, Blake and Avery, at the reception. Mrs. Walters, president of Richfield Springs Historical Society, is credited with the renovation of the landmark village clock and other historic-preservation ventures.

We’re Creating Tomorrow’s History Today

Editor’s Note: Marjorie W. Walters, Town of Richfield, recipient of a Career Achievement Award, delivered these remarks at Otsego 2000’s Historic Preservation Awards Ceremony Friday, Sept. 18, at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Richfield Springs.

Living in a community or a small village was originally a life-support system and every resident was expected to participate in its well being. Understanding the history of a community is essential to promote its progress.

Time creates history.

When the Indians discovered the value of the spring waters in Richfield, it led to a resort center with 24 large hotels, several which held as many as 600 residents. Seven trains a day brought summer vacationers from New York for those health giving sulphur waters.

You could buy a steamship return ticket to Europe at the local bank.

Electricity came in 1888 and the trolley system was born. Folks were able to travel further and more comfortably than on horseback – and then came the auto, bringing more changes.

That is history, but it proved this was a special place.

Today we are pleased with our progress in restoring some of the architecturally beautiful buildings. They have adapted to present-day uses.

JGB Enterprises now has a restaurant where a horse tack shop and a jewelry store originated.
A monument sales shop is now a tea room. Our only remaining hotel structure is an antique store.
The old hardware store now houses a beauty shop. A former dormitory for hotel help now holds an auto supply shop and a consignment shop.

We have special activities with our Zone for young people. A farmers market. A memorial to our veterans. Beach facilities again becoming available. And a Head Start program for young ones.
Our own school teams in a beautiful school. And a library updated with the newest computers.
Houses along the Main Street are being restored by a whole new generation who see the value of these buildings. An old railroad bed is becoming a walking trail.

We all know how important our own medical history is to our present health. So is the community’s history important to its future.

But we all must take part in what is here and now, to be part of it all, to participate and promote it for even better living – and a history for future residents to build on.