Alan Chaffee, Newfield Town Historian, points out some interesting aspects of a 1828 Newfield land contract, blown up far larger than its original size. Documents like these will be available for viewing at a new Newfield History Center on Main Street.

Alan Chaffee, Newfield Town Historian, points out some interesting aspects of a 1828 Newfield land contract, blown up far larger than its original size. Documents like these will be available for viewing at a new Newfield History Center on Main Street.

 

“The Newfield Public Library has some exciting news!” a press release by the library announced Jan. 29. “We have partnered with the Newfield Historical Society to open a ‘History and Activity Center’ on Main Street!”

Both groups have been looking for ways to expand the services we provide and improve access to community resources, the press release states.

“We have been tight on space for years,” Tammy Kubinec-Smith, Newfield Library Board President, said. “The Historical Society uses space on the library’s second floor, which limits the number of patrons we can host, especially given current requirements to maintain a social distance. When we learned about an opportunity to rent space next door to the library, we immediately began seriously considering it.”

The Historical Society also embraced the idea. Their president and Newfield Town Historian Alan Chaffee said, “when the library shared their idea of how we could use the rental space, our group thought it was a great opportunity. At this new location, the Historical Society will be able to open our doors to the community. The location is perfect and we love the idea of bringing a historical building to life on Main Street.” 

The space is about 1,000 square feet and was previously part of the Red and White grocery store. It later served as the post office. 

There is a large living room in the front, which will be used as meeting space, and a large kitchen in the back. Both groups will offer programming and have meetings in those spaces along with other community groups. The kitchen will be used for cooking classes and demonstrations and will serve as a video and audio recording studio to enable virtual and recorded programs like podcasts and interviews. 

The Historical Society will have exclusive use of two large offices, which will double its current space. The walls throughout the common areas will display Newfield’s history. 

Once the archives are moved to the new location, the second floor of the library will be reconfigured and offer a much larger space for library programming and meetings.

Newfield Public Library Director Sue Chaffee said the project has received overwhelming support. “Once we established a budget, our first objective was to raise enough funds to pay the rent and utilities for the first year, she said. “Within a few weeks we had verbal commitments to cover our expenses for 18 months.” 

The entire two-year project will be paid for with donations and grant funding. 

“Thanks to several generous families and organizations and the vision of the library and historical society board members, the community will be getting a history center and an expanded library without spending library funds,” Chaffee explained. “That is an amazing show of support, especially since we have not formally announced the project until now.” 

The building owners also showed their support by discounting the rent over five years. Even though the project is initially planned for two years, both groups expect it to be successful and to continue into the future.

The center is scheduled to open in March when visitors will see the first of many Newfield history exhibits. 

There are several opportunities for community members to get involved. Monetary donations can be given to the library and designated toward “project funds.” There is a wish list at the library for household items that can be donated. You can also volunteer your time and skills to help with small projects and future events. 

The library and historical society would like to extend a special thank you to:

•The Brown Family

•The Lawrence E. and Lillian C. Payne Memorial Fund at the Community Foundation of Tompkins County

•The Newfield Masons

•Tioga State Bank

•The American Library Association - Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries national grant

•Finger Lakes Library System

•The Town of Newfield

•Michael Perehinec at Coughlin and Gerhart LLP

•Gabe Dean

•Jerry Mickelson and Debbi Payne

•Jeremy Tenwolde

•The McCarty Feirman Family

“Your generosity and support have made the Newfield History and Activity Center possible,” the press release states. “We look forward to seeing you soon!”

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