Vol­un­teers needed to help at Rodgers Tav­ern mu­seum

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By JANE BELLMYER

jbellmyer@ce­cil­whig.com

— The new cu­ra­tor of the Rodgers Tav­ern mu­seum hopes to have the colo­nial-era build­ing ready for public tours in time for the Dec. 10 tree light­ing party in town.

But to get there, Eileen Rice needs help.

“There’s much work to be done,” she said. “I re­ally don’t know what I have. I need things to be cat­a­logued.”

Al­though she has only called Per­ryville home for five years, Rice is fa­mil­iar with the lo­cal area and with its his­tory. She has de­grees in his­tory and teach­ing and ex­pe­ri­ence in li­brary sci­ences. She joined the Rodgers Tav­ern com­mit­tee and sud­denly found her­self named its cu­ra­tor.

Walk­ing among boxes full of clip­pings, mem­o­ra­bilia, framed pho­to­graphs and as­sorted small items, Rice has a plan for how the mu­seum will be laid out, with each room hav­ing its own pur­pose.

“This is not just about the colo­nial pe­riod,” she said of the build­ing that in­cludes among its claims to fame that it hosted Ge­orge Washington on nu­mer­ous occa-

PER­RYVILLE

This his­toric por­trait of John Rodgers is one of the hun­dreds of ar­ti­facts Eileen Rice, cu­ra­tor of Rodgers Tav­ern in Per­ryville, needs to get ready in time to open the mu­seum next month. Rice is look­ing for vol­un­teers to help.

sions.

Per­ryville’s rail­road his­tory will also be fea­tured.

“I re­mem­ber when this was a vi­able town,” she said.

The tav­ern too has had an un­even his­tory over the years.

In 1956, the So­ci­ety for the Preser­va­tion of Mary­land An­tiq­ui­ties bought the build­ing in an at­tempt to save the his­toric struc­ture. In 1972, the build­ing was added to the Na­tional Regis­ter of His­toric Places due to the ef­forts of the Friends of Rodgers Tav­ern. While

restora­tion ef­forts be­gan in this pe­riod, they were never fully fin­ished. In 1993, the town pur­chased the build­ing from the so­ci­ety, and the Friends of Rodgers Tav­ern dis­solved.

“My hat’s off to (the Friends). They got this started,” Rice said. “God bless them for stick­ing with it un­til the town took over.”

As re­cently as a decade ago, the tav­ern served as a small mu­seum and of­fices to the town cham­ber of com­merce. From 2002 to 2010, how­ever, the Mary­land Her­itage Ar­eas Au­thor­ity awarded the Lower Susque­hanna Her­itage Green­way nearly $300,000 in grants to fin­ish the build­ing’s lon­grun­ning restora­tion. Other con­trib­u­tors, in­clud­ing the town, also helped make the restora­tion pos­si­ble.

Bar­bara Brown, for­mer town com­mis­sioner, once en­vi­sioned the site as a mu­seum of town his­tory and an ed­u­ca­tion cen­ter but also a cafe and gift shop for tourism.

For now Rice — who is a con­tract em­ployee of the town — is fo­cus­ing on the mu­seum as­pect.

“I need peo­ple with sewing skills to re­pair the replica cloth­ing,” she said. “I need some­one to work on the web­site and some­one with fram­ing and mat­ting skills.”

With a de­sire to make the mu­seum in­ter­ac­tive, she is also in search of peo­ple with craft­ing skills, such as cal­lig­ra­phers and tex­tile artists. Re­pair and restora­tion is also needed on such items as a spin­ning wheel and a rock­ing chair re­port­edly used by Wil­liam Penn ev­ery time he vis­ited the tav­ern.

“Any­one that’s got a skill, I bet I could find a way to use it,” Rice said.

She has a lot of the meet­ing min­utes and pa­per­work from the friends group, which brings Rice to an­other project. From those records she’s dis­cov­ered a num­ber of his­tor­i­cal items that — for what­ever rea­son — were taken from the tav­ern and are be­ing held by in­di­vid­u­als.

“These items were be­ing stored in homes for safe­keep­ing,” she said.

Among them is a bed­spread, a trun­dle bed and a cast iron sil­hou­ette of Ge­orge and Martha Washington.

“Now is the time to bring them back,” she said.

The build­ing has a new roof, mod­ern heat­ing and air con­di­tion­ing and elec­tric for bet­ter stor­age on site.

Any­one in­ter­ested in help­ing set up the mu­seum, of­fer­ing a skill set or who may be hold­ing onto mu­seum prop­erty can con­tact Rice through Per­ryville town hall at 410-642-6066.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JANE BELLMYER

Eileen Rice, cu­ra­tor of Rodgers Tav­ern in Per­ryville, is look­ing for vol­un­teers to help her get the mu­seum ready in time to open when the town lights its Christ­mas tree on Dec. 10

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JANE BELLMYER

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