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Aberdeen: Aberdeen Room's 25th anniversary continues

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We continue with the story of the Aberdeen Room Archives and Museum's 25 years:

The nine years at the 58 N. Parke St. location were very rewarding ones. The volunteers received more and more donations of historical items, and conducted more and more tours for school children and other groups. After visits room museum representatives, the interrogative historical displays of newspapers, railroads, canning industry, churches, schools, government, businesses, sports and the building of Aberdeen Proving Ground, were described as "right on track." In February 1992 the Small Museum Association presented the Aberdeen Room with an award for its contribution to the small museum community.

In January 1991, Mrs. Victor Fowler, widow of an avid railroad buff, donated to the museum the old 1835 watchman's box from the first railroad in Aberdeen. It stood on the lawn of her home on Bush River, and the Aberdeen Public Works transported it to 58 Parke St. to stand beside the ramp to the museum. After Bob Testerman's refurbishing, volunteer Charles Baker kept it in good repair. This historical gem was the museum's outstanding float entry in the Aberdeen Centennial Parade in spring 1992.

The Aberdeen Room was part of many community activities. Because it shared the building with the Centennial Committee, it was able to contribute so many photos and information in the publication of the "Centennial Almanac" in 1992. It provided space and information for the filming of the "First 100 Years." As curator and member of the Board of Directors of the Historical Society of Harford County, I was asked to compile the Quarterly Bulletin No. 54 "Aberdeen's Centennial." The articles included histories of the railroads, canning, pharmacies, the First National Bank of Aberdeen and early sports figure Lester German.

In 1995, one of the most valuable historical parts of Aberdeen's history was saved by the Aberdeen Room. The original, and only known, 1852 plat of the Village of Aberdeen by Edmund Law Rogers was donated by Aberdeen Room volunteer George H. Baker Jr. to hang on the walls of the museum in memory of his father. It was in very bad repair, and an application was made for a grant from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Maryland Historical Trust to have a conservator repair it. The grant was received. It took the paper conservator 19 months, and a photographer was finally found to make a negative of it so that an impressive copy would be available for all to see and touch.

In 1996 and 1997, the City of Aberdeen entered the "All-America City" competition. Volunteers at the Aberdeen Room were members of the committee who helped write the application and were part of the presentations in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1996 and a winning entry in the Kansas City All America City in 1997.

Many of these successes promoted numerous awards from Harford County in preservation awards, the Aberdeen Fire Department for community service, the 1999 Aberdeen Rotary Club Citizenship Award and letters of congratulation from Govs. Parris Glendenning and William Donald Schaeffer.

With the move to 18 Howard St. in November 1999, there was more space to exhibit all that had been collected in the past 13 years. Volunteers struggled to ready the rooms for the big opening ceremony and open house for almost 500 visitors in December 1999.

With more room for glass display cases, columns were written asking for any donations and within weeks more were on their way from individuals, businesses and organizations. The first antique case was donated soon after the founding of the museum by the Aberdeen High School Alumni Association. Others include cases from Flowers by Lucy, former Aberdeen Stationery Store, Aberdeen Parks and Recreation, Ladies Auxiliary of Harford Memorial Hospital, Maryland National Bank (predecessor of Bank of America), Josephine Carroll and Barbara Rauch and the Cranberry Methodist Church that was originally presented in 1977 by Mr. and Mrs. George Shillman in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Leslie Ricketts.

When the Aberdeen Room moved from 58 N. Parke St., the witness box from District Court 9 was part of the move. Also, the wooden bench in the reception area came from the police department when it was on the corner of West Bel Air Avenue and North Parke Street. The wooden book stand in the library was donated by Thomas Baine, the pressman's bench from the "Harford Democrat and Aberdeen Enterprise" was refinished and donated by Mary Cronin Wolfe. A desk from the law offices of Jon Livezey was donated.

All 25 file cabinets came from the newspaper and law offices of J.W. Cronin and William Cronin. Two high security file cabinets were donated by the Appearance and Preservation Committee. Four computers have been donated and upgraded periodically.

The Aberdeen Room has published six newsletters a year since 2001. Window displays in the two exterior windows reflect all areas of Aberdeen History and are changed periodically. Grants for these projects have been received from the Cultural Arts Board of Harford County.

Volunteers who have served at the Aberdeen Room since its founding include: Catherine Adams, Barbara Baker, Charles Baker, George Baker, Tom Baker, Maxine Boyle, Genevieve Brubaker, Ronald Carty, Paul Ciesla, Mary Clary, Doc and I, Trudy DeForest, Anna Duguia, Ruth Elliott, Catherine Gilbert, Anne Glover, Lima Huntley, Ed Illick, Vera Ivins, Ann Kelly, Jim Lindsey, Jon Livezey, Mary-Lynne Livezey, Cara Manley (intern), Peggy Malson, Romaine Morris, Ruth Peters, Mary Lee Plummer, Linda Ivins Weeks and Kenny Wilson.

Aberdeen's relationship with Aberdeen, Scotland, and publications will be a part of an upcoming column. Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer, or be a part of the 25th anniversary event, should contact 410-273-6325 or sayhello@aberdeenroom.org.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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