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Giving the Past a Future

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By Colleen Mahoney

The Concord Historical Society is asking residents to “help give the past a future,” by donating to its latest project: the Heritage Building. The Society’s plan is to take people back in time by replicating the Main Street storefronts that existed from 1920 to 1960. The new museum space will be housed in a building that will be behind the Concord Mercantile, which currently showcases Springville from 1890 to 1920.

According to Joel Maul, vice president of the Historical Society and chairman of the Heritage Building project, the Society has a lot of memorabilia that isn’t being displayed, including some from the Great New York to Paris Auto Race. Instead of letting the artifacts sit unseen, the Society decided to showcase them in an interactive museum, giving visitors the feeling they’re walking down Main Street.

Work began in September 2015, and the replica buildings have recently taken shape. Visitors can expect to see the “storefronts” of the old Leland House, the Joylan Theatre and Dr. Waite’s Dental Office, among others. Each storefront will display artifacts that coincide with the business; memorabilia from the auto race will be housed at a Schuster Motor Car Company façade and a Spaulding Photography Studio display will include historic photos of Springville.

Some items will be permanent fixtures in the Heritage Building, while others will be displayed on a rotating basis in order to accommodate all the items in the Historical Society’s possession. Eventually, Maul hopes the building will be a meeting place for small groups and a venue for live music.

The Society has estimated the cost of the project to be roughly $200,000 and is asking for the community’s help to bring the project to life. The Society has raised $82,000 in both monetary and material donations. Lumber, lamp posts and curtains have been donated, and two brothers have offered to help lay brick for the project.

“They said if we can get them clean, they’d lay them,” Maul said. “So now we need people to come and chip the concrete off the bricks.”

Since beginning the project, Maul said there have been community members who have offered to help, but they’ve also benefited from people outside the Springville area. Recently, a couple from Arcade stopped by to see the progress, and donated money before leaving.

“It’s been amazing … the people who have stepped up to help,” Maul said. “We need it.”

The next step, Maul said, is to raise $10,000 for spray insulation for the ceilings and walls. Electrical work is being completed now, then Maul hopes to be able to get the insulation done, before moving to hanging dry wall.

To learn more about the Heritage Building, visit the Concord Historical Society on Facebook.com or at ConcordNYHisotricalSoceity.org. To make a donation to the Heritage Building project, visit GoFundMe.com and search Concord Historical Society.

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