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The Webster Museum asks: What IS that thing?

24 Jan

One of the things I really love about our Webster Museum is how hard the volunteers work to keep their exhibits interesting and topical. They’re always changing things out for the season, or simply to highlight something new and different, always with the express purpose to educate and inform.

The Museum’s current exhibit is a good example.

They’ve very appropriately called the exhibit “What is it?” and what they’ve done is pulled together many of the especially unusual … things … they’ve discovered in the museum’s nooks and crannies and grandma’s-house-like attic spaces.

Most of the strange items have been identified, like a bread crumber, a niddy noddy, a glove stretcher and a lard press. But several still remain a mystery, and they’d love to have help identifying them.

So if that challenge has whet your interest, check out these photos of several of the items. See if you can figure out what they are, and then make sure to stop by the Webster Museum to see more of these odd — but once regularly used — items.

And while you’re there, check out the new musical instrument exhibit, especially if you’ve never seen a ukelin or a melodica.

The Webster Museum is located at 18 Lapham Park in the Village of Webster. It’s open every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 2 to 4:30 p.m.

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(posted 1/24/2023)

Burkhardt Family Creche a holiday highlight at the museum

10 Dec

In this month’s Webster History Bit, I introduce you to the shining star of the Webster Museum’s holiday decorations, the Burkhardt Family Creche.

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We can always count on the Webster Museum to be especially beautiful and sparkly this time of year, with holiday decorations and miniature Christmas trees sprinkled throughout the displays.  But for more than 40 years, the real star of the show has been the Burkhardt Family Creche.  

This beautiful, hand-carved creche, on display near the museum’s entrance, has a beautiful history all its own. This creche was made in Germany by C. Jess, a church architect. He made one piece a year between 1918 and 1944, each year giving the newly carved piece to his sister Freda in Frankfurt, Germany. 

Freda and her husband Henrick kept the creche hidden during World War II so that it wouldn’t be destroyed in the frequent bombings. It would have been passed on to their only son, but he was killed during the war, so they sent it to Freda’s brother, Rudolph Burkhardt Sr., who lived with his family on Salt Rd. in Webster. 

The Burkhardts displayed the creche in their home for decades before donating it to the museum in the late 1970s, where it’s been a treasured centerpiece of the museum’s holiday decorations ever since. 

The scene has roughly two dozen pieces, all hand carved out of linden wood. In addition to Baby Jesus, Joseph and Mary and the Three Kings, it also includes a shepherd boy, angels, sheep, camels, oxen, and even an elephant.

The Burkhardt Family Creche will be on display at the Webster Museum until January, when museum volunteers will painstakingly wipe each piece with oil and pack them away until next year. So come see it while you can, and while you’re there, make sure to vote for your favorite community-decorated Christmas tree during the museum’s Festival of Trees. Votes will be accepted through Dec. 31.     

The Webster Museum is located at 18 Lapham Park in the Village of Webster. It’s open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Visit the website at to learn more. 

Here are few closer-up shots from the creche:

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(posted 12/10/2022)

Webster community mailbag

27 Nov

Just in time for gift-giving, the Friends of the Webster Public Library will be holding their Winter Book Sale beginning Tuesday Nov. 29.

The Friends sold the event in their press release better than I could:

Don’t let the hustle and bustle of the holiday season wear you down! The Friends of the Webster Public Library have the perfect solution to your holiday stress. The Friends are holding a Winter Holiday Book Sale at the library. Gently used books, DVDs, CDs and puzzles for adults and children will be available for purchase.

The sale begins Tuesday, Nov. 29 at 9 a.m. and runs during regular library hours for the next several weeks . . . or until sold out! Children’s items are in limited supply so shop early for the best selection and help support the library! All monies raised will go to support library programs and initiatives.

Free Breakfast With Santa

The Lions Club will hold their annual Breakfast With Santa on Sunday Dec. 4 from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Webster Golf Club, 440 Salt Rd.

Breakfast will include pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs, english muffins, juice and coffee. Raffles and gift certificates will also be available.

There’s no charge, but donations will be accepted (and encouraged) to benefit the Webster Community Chest and other Webster Lions Club charities.

St. Martin Evening With Santa

Here’s another opportunity to get a free photo with Santa, plus cookies and pizza (if you prefer that over breakfast).

St. Martin Lutheran Church on Bay Road will hold its annual “Evening with Santa” holiday event from 6 to 8 p.m. on Fri. Dec. 2, Have your family holiday picture taken in a professional photo setting at St. Martin with Webster’s own Professional Santa, the same Santa as seen in Webster’s White Christmas & famous Firemen’s Parade of Lights. Pictures will be available on the spot and they’re absolutely free. (No need to wait in long lines at the mall or pay for a photo.)

Santa will arrive by fire truck, and will be handing out candy canes to all of his visitors. Bring your own camera for selfies with the elves, watch the children tell Santa their most secret wishes, help the children decorate their own Christmas cookies and write a letter to Santa, and listen to Santa read “The Night Before Christmas.”

There will be lots of games for the children, free pizza, and later, hear Pastor Korey read the Christmas Story as written in the Gospel of Luke.

Families who attend are asked to bring a nonperishable food item for the church’s Food Cupboard, to help another family enjoy their holiday season just a bit more.

Christmas Cookie Sale

The Women’s Club of Webster will hold their 28th annual Christmas Cookie Sale on Saturday Dec. 10 in the Webster Public Library community room. The sale will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. or until they’re sold out.

Proceeds from the sale will benefit the club’s scholarship funds and other Webster community programs. The Webster Public Library is located at 980 Ridge Rd., at the rear of Webster Plaza.

Webster’s Winter Wonderland Details

Well, you’re going to have to wait another day or two for these, but rest assured you’ll get the full line-up here shortly. But I do want to make sure you remember to 1) wear your ugly sweaters all day, 2) bring a nonperishable food item to drop off at Village Hall to benefit Webster Hope, and 3) stop by the Webster Museum to vote for your favorite decorated mini-Christmas tree.

More to come. Stay tuned!

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(posted 11/26/2022)

When is a house just half a house?

22 Oct

You might have noticed the recent “Bit of Webster History” feature I wrote for the Webster Museum when it was published in the Webster Herald and the weekly Town newsletter. It told the story of two houses, which now sit across from one another on Corning Park in the Village of Webster, and how they used to be one house.

I heard the story from my friend Karen a few years ago and it has fascinated me ever since. I knew it was going to be one of my first History Bit features when I took over the reins a few months ago.

The story reads:

Anyone who’s ever walked or driven down Corning Park in the Village of Webster probably hasn’t noticed anything unusual about the houses on that peaceful little street. However, two of those houses, which stand across the street from one another, do have a curious history: in the early 1900s, they used to be one house. 

Around 1859, a spacious boarding house was built at 71 Corning Park, to serve students from the adjacent Webster Academy. The Academy and boarding house were discontinued in 1876 when the Union Free School was established, and for the next 50 years, 71 Corning Park remained a two-family dwelling. In 1928 it was purchased by Gordon Witmer and Amos Taylor, who divided it into two units. The larger portion remained at 71 Corning Park, and the smaller north wing was moved across the street to 76 Corning Park. 

Unfortunately, no photos of the original boarding house have ever been found, but the two, now separate residences, still stand across the street from each other on Corning Park. Additions and renovations have changed their appearance significantly from when they were one house in the early 1900s. But if you look carefully and use your imagination, maybe you can picture what they looked like together. 

For the sake of newsprint space, I try to keep these bits fairly short. But it was story that so intrigued me that I wanted to dive deeper into it for my blog. So several days ago sat down for coffee with Dave and Kathy Whitlock, longtime owners of 76 Corning Park, the smaller, former north wing of the house. They provided some interesting details I hadn’t come across in my earlier research.

Kathy first gave me a quick tour, explaining the many renovations and additions completed since they bought the home in 1965. I learned about the huge, 7-inch beam holding up the living room which still has bark on it, and how some of the original beams are charred, perhaps from a fire at the adjacent boarding house before the wing was moved. A few hand-wrought nails, found during a renovation, are displayed in a small shadowbox.

Dave and Kathy think they know why it was divided. When the two-family home was bought in 1928 by Gordon Witmer and Amos Taylor, Witmer — who was getting married — wanted a separate house for himself and his bride. So he divided it, moving the north wing directly across the street, so that the back of the house became the front, and the front the back. (Too bad no photos of that move have been found.) Witmer was going to move into that half, but as it turned out, the new, smaller, house sold first, so they moved into the larger half.

There’s a woman buried in the back yard of 76 Corning. The Williams family, who lived there decades ago, had a relative who would visit from England. At the time, the land was a huge apple orchard (The Corning Farm). The woman used to love sitting under an apple tree in the back yard and drinking beer, and asked to be buried there. The apple tree is gone, but her ashes are still there.

Dave also tells the story about how the man from whom they bought the house in 1965, a Mr. Jenkins, emphatically denied that it had once been connected to the house across the street. I would have thought that’d be a unique selling point for the property, but apparently he didn’t think so.

On a side note, I mentioned earlier that I heard about this story from my friend Karen. She remembers learning about the houses during a village tour her fourth grade class took decades ago. That tour has long been dropped from the elementary school curriculum, but maybe that decision should be reconsidered. After all, look at how much that little piece of Webster history interested that young person, and then me, and now you.

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(posted 10/22/2022)

Across the bay on Indigenous People’s Day

15 Oct

A very meaningful event took place on Monday at the Bay Outlet Bridge, honoring the indigenous people who have lived on and cared for this area since long before Webster’s earliest settlers arrived.

The ceremony definitely flew under my radar, but thankfully my friend Kathy Taddeo was there, and submitted this report and photos:

It wasn’t exactly Webster, but it could be… someday.

Last Monday, October 10, some 50 bleary-eyed people of all ages gathered at sunrise on the bridge that soon will again span the Irondequoit Bay Outlet between Webster and Irondequoit. They came from far and near to celebrate the first Indigenous Peoples Day in the United States and to honor in particular the Haudenosaunee who have long been loyal stewards of this land.

The organizers of this celebration introduced native language speakers, storytellers and musicians, calling the area surrounding the bay a sacred space, the likely landing for the Peacemaker who came here to heal and unite the warring hearts of the Five Nations. A local wampum belt artist marked this historic day by creating a belt symbolizing the peaceful alliance of all people, native and non-native.

The audience respectfully listened and learned, perhaps absorbing the peace of the dawning day and the presenters themselves. After refreshments, the group headed to the lake for a beach clean-up, symbolically continuing the work of the Haudenosaunee.

I had come representing my 25 fourth/graders at Iroquois School who in 2001 had persuaded the Irondequoit Town Board to erect the marker that has stood near the west side of the bridge for 21 years. Designed by the children, the marker honors the Haudenosaunee and their stewardship of the land and water we call home. (Yes, you guys, I brought your banner, so you were there in spirit!)

Irondequoit Town board Councilwoman Patrina Freeman had spoken during the ceremony of her determination that our indigenous peoples continue to be honored with historic markers in Irondequoit. We later talked of our mutual interest in making that happen in our respective towns and a collaboration was born on the spot.

It’s our hope that through “Hands Across the Waters,” Irondequoit and Webster will have more to celebrate come Indigenous Peoples Day 2023.

(submitted by Kathy Taddeo)

Here’s a closer look at the text and illustrations on that historical marker, from the original artist’s rendering. I’ve never seen this marker, despite the many times I have been up at the bridge. I’m definitely going to seek it out next time I’m in the area.

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(posted 10/15/2022)

The Joe Obbie Farm Market hasn’t packed up yet

29 Sep

Fall-like weather is upon us once again, which means the Joe Obbie Farmer’s Market will be packing up for the winter soon. But all is not lost; you’ll still find the locally-produced fresh meats, vegetables, fruits, syrups, honeys and more you’ve come to love for a few more weeks.

The market is open every Saturday morning from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Webster Towne Center (Target/Kohl’s Plaza) on Holt Road, near the gazebo.

Now would be a great time to check out the market if you haven’t already. You’ll not only find many of your favorite summertime produce, crafts, cheeses, spice blends, and baked goods, but now the market is really leaning into the autumn season. Need maple syrup and cider? How about pumpkins for your porch? Stop by the market and you’ll be delighted at the selection.

The market will be open every Saturday morning through October 29, rain or shine. Check out the Joe Obbie Farmer’s Market Facebook page for details.

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(posted 9/29/2022)

Waterfront Art Festival returns this weekend

26 Jul

Are you familiar with the history of the annual Waterfront Art Festival?

It feels like the festival has been regular Webster summer event for like, forever. But actually, Webster’s only hosted the Waterfront Art Festival since 2015, when organizers had a falling out with their original hosts at the Canandaigua City Pier. When they chose to move it to North Ponds Park in Webster, our community warmly welcomed the event, and it quickly became a summer favorite.

This coming weekend, Saturday and Sunday July 30 and 31, the Waterfront Art Festival returns for its 49th year, to North Ponds Park — now known as Charles Sexton Memorial Park. The festival is a must-see for those who appreciate fine art and quality crafts.

Dozens of artisan booths line the park’s scenic and shaded walkways, displaying an incredible variety of hand-made items in all price ranges. What’s really nice about this particular festival is that all of the artisans’ work is juried beforehand, which is why it’s all so different and high-quality. Plus there are food trucks, live entertainment, demonstrations, a wine, beer and cider-tasting tent, plenty of free parking right on the grounds, and a handicapped parking area. (Click here to see a gallery of photos from last year’s event.)

The festival runs from 10 am to 5 pm Saturday and Sunday July 30 and 31 at Charles Sexton Memorial Park (formerly North Ponds Park), off of Rt. 104 between Rt. 250 and Holt Road (take the Rt. 250 exit off Rt. 104). 

Admission is $5, no charge for kids 12 and under. For more information, including a list of artisans and entertainers, click here for the Waterfront Art Festival website.

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Beautiful music has returned to Harmony Park

16 Jul

After almost two years of not being able to play together at their regular summer gigs at Harmony Park, the Webster Village Band is back together and performing beautiful music again.

Like pretty much everything else, in the last two years the pandemic put a damper on the Village Band’s ability to perform publicly, or even rehearse. Not only were their Thursday evening concerts at the Harmony Park bandshell cancelled entirely, they weren’t even allowed into the schools to hold rehearsals.

Last summer, as the pandemic began to wane, the band was able to rehearse again at the Harmony Park bandshell on Phillips Rd., and towards the end of last year actually had two performances, one at the park and another at the Village of Webster’s 9/11 memorial ceremony.

“When we got together the first time last year, you could tell the people were hungry to play,” said conductor Tom Indiano. “It was an awesome, awesome experience.” 

When they weren’t able to meet, especially over the winter months when they couldn’t hold outdoor rehearsals, “it was difficult,” Indiano said. “People want to play music.” So they did their best to stay busy in other ways, rehearsing at home, having social hours on Zoom, and finding creative ways to continue doing what they love doing most — making music.

Last December, for example, they pulled together a virtual, multi-instrumental performance of Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson, which you can see below.

“We sent out parts,” Indiano remembered, and “everyone did a recording of it.” Then the individual parts were collected and expertly compiled into one seamless performance by one of the band’s members.

The piece was extremely well received, even attracting the attention of Anderson’s family, who thanked the band for the beautiful rendition.

Only a few months ago was the band finally allowed to hold their rehearsals in the schools again. So the season got off to a late start, but the Village Band is definitely back, albeit with a few changes.

Right now, “We’re just trying to get our feet wet,” Indiano said. “There’re some new tunes we’re working on.”

“We lost some people in that two-year span,” he added. “We’re a little smaller, but we’re pretty strong and there’s new blood coming in.”

“The future looks very good.”

The Webster Village Band plays on Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. at Harmony Park, on Phillips Rd., south of Ridge. The next two concerts are Aug. 11 and Aug. 25. They’re free and open to the community. Bring a lawn chair and blanket and your own refreshments, then sit back and enjoy some beautiful music.

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(posted 7/16/2022)

The Carnival is back!

7 Jul

Without a doubt, the highlights of the Webster summer event schedule are the Firemen’s Carnival and the parade that heralds its arrival. And after two very boring, Carnival-less summers, I’m pleased to see that this very popular event is back this year, Wednesday July 13 through Saturday July 16.

The excitement is already beginning. The rides are being set up at Firemen’s Field, and the water barrels staged for the parking lots.

You can check out all the details about what will be happening, and when, at the NEJFD website, but here are some of the highlights:

Wednesday July 13:

  • Craft beer expo
  • The Breakfast Club plays in the Beer Tent
  • games, food, rides

Thursday July 14:

  • Fireman’s Parade begins at 6:30 p.m.
  • North of Forty plays in the Beer Tent
  • Games, food, rides

Friday July 15:

  • State Line plays in the Beer Tent
  • Games, food, rides

Saturday July 16:

  • Kiddie Parade at noon, beginning at Spry Middle School
  • The Magic Guy entertains at the fairgrounds
  • Free kids’ bike and grill drawing
  • Knight Patrol playing in the Beer Tent
  • Fireworks at midnight

Lots more details and regular updates can be found on the Carnival Facebook page.

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(posted 7/7/2022)

Two signs of summer are back

7 Jun

Webster’s two spray parks are now open for the season, at Ridgecrest Park (off of Ebner Drive) and the beautiful, relatively new, First Responders Spray Park near the Webster Recreation Center on Chiyoda Dr.

The First Responders Park (pictured here) is especially fun for kids and families. It’s a firefighter-themed playground and splash pad, with a nearby pavilion. The splash pad has all sorts of water-fun features including a fire hydrant, a dalmatian fountain and fire truck slide.  

The SECOND sign of summer to which I referred is the Joe Obbie Farmers’ Market, which returns to Wewbster Towne Plaza (Target Plaza) this Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m.

If you’ve never been to this market you should start making it a regular Saturday morning stop. Varying with the season, you’ll find baked goods, pies, meats, poultry, goat cheese and goat cheese products, flavored nuts, herbs, spice blends, honey, maple syrup, cider, soap and body care products, plants and cut flowers, jewelry, crafts and of course a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

The market runs from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. every Saturday through October, rain or shine. Check out the Joe Obbie Farmer’s Market website and Facebook page for details.

This year the market is introducing something new as well, “An Evening in the Park.” Every Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m. in July and August the market will also set up at Charles Sexton Memorial Park (formerly North Ponds), between Rt. 250 and Holt Rd. The evenings will feature live music and food trucks as well as the vendors you’ve come to know and love.

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(posted 6/7/2022)