Eames House - 20 Comeau Drive, PO Box 841 
                        Woodstock, NY 12498
                             845 679-2256

The Historical Society of Woodstock was founded in 1929 by a group of artists, writers, academics, and local citizens. In addition to the exhibition space, which is located at the historic Eames House on Comeau Drive in the center of Woodstock, the Historical Society has an extensive archive consisting of paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture, textiles, photographs, books, manuscripts, correspondence, documents, film/sound recordings, and antique tools. The archive serves as a resource for a wide range of exhibitions, public programming, and research.
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HSW Building Fund
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Ars Choralis - Merry Madrigals in May
May 23-24 & 30-31,1-5 pm
Ars Choralis 50th anniversary exhibition
Saturday, May 23, 2 pm
Concert - Renaissance Music
Celebrating an earlier era in Ars Choralis' history 
with roving minstrels, refreshments and exhibit opening.
Sunday, May 31, 2 pm
Museum talk "From the Podium: In Person"
with Ars Choralis artistic director Barbara Pickhardt
map/directions below

Living Large: Wilna Hervey & Nan Mason

June 12 - September 6, Saturdays & Sundays, 1-5 pm
Opening reception: Friday, June 12, 7 pm
Gallery talk and book signing: Saturday, June 13, 2 pm
Joseph P. Eckhardt, author - press release
more below

Summer 2015:

Ars Choralis - Merry Madrigals in May

Living Large: Wilna Hervey & Nan Mason
Saturdays & Sundays, June 12 – September 6, 2015, 1-5 pm

This exhibition features works by Wilna Hervey (1894-1979) and Nan Mason (1896-1982), an artist couple who lived, worked, and socialized in Woodstock in the heyday of the Woodstock art colony. The exhibition includes paintings, prints, drawings, and a continuous screening of one of Wilna Hervey’s silent Toonerville Trolley comedies: “The Skipper’s Narrow Escape” (1921)

Opening reception: Friday, June 12, 7 pm
refreshments will be served

Gallery talk and book signing: Saturday, June 13, 2 pm
Joseph P. Eckhardt, author of Living Large: Wilna Hervey and Nan Mason

It was the movies that brought Wilna and Nan together. Nan’s actor father, Dan Mason, was Wilna’s co-star in a series of 1920s silent comedies that showcased Wilna’s astonishing size—six foot three and three hundred pounds. Nan was nearly six foot tall herself, and the two artists were affectionately known around Woodstock as the “Big Girls.” Wilna and Nan got along instantly—both were free spirits, artistically creative and musically talented. From 1924 on they were rarely apart and together they enthusiastically explored every opportunity for expressing their boundless creative energies, enjoying life for all it was worth. Press Release  Living Large: Wilna Hervey and Nan Mason

Image: Bushnell Studio, San Francisco, "Wilna Hervey in a comedy role,". PR photograph, 8x10 inches, c. 1922. HSW Collection. Gift of Doris and Edouard Blatter.  

Art & Design
May 1, 2015
From the 1920s to the ’70s, Wilna Hervey and Nan Mason, an artist couple who spent much of their time in Woodstock, N.Y., not only hosted numerous fund-raising parties but also painted landscapes and portraits, acted in plays and silent films, photographed each other, bought real estate, designed gardens, and made enameled plaques and candles. 

“They got an astonishing amount done,” the historian Joseph P. Eckhardt said. “Their reaction to the sun coming up was, ‘What do we want to do today?’ ” Their love story is detailed in Mr. Eckhardt’s new book, “Living Large: Wilna Hervey and Nan Mason,” published by WoodstockArts.

Mr. Eckhardt is also affiliated with the Betzwood Film Festival at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, Pa., which will screen a selection of Hervey’s films on May 9. 

Nan Mason took this photo of herself and her partner Wilna Hervey in 1971.
Credit: Historical Society of Woodstock; Joseph P. Eckhardt

Hervey, like Mason, was about six feet tall, and was typecast in slapstick movies, playing a befuddled strongwoman who could hoist trolleys, train tracks, telephone poles and clotheslines, “breaking everything but a sweat,” Mr. Eckhardt writes. 

The couple remained devoted to each other through their many career phases, in an artists’ colony not known for stable relationships.

“They were kind of conventional in an unconventional community,” he said.

On June 12, an exhibition featuring the women’s artwork, Valentines, candles and home movies opens at the Historical Society of Woodstock.

A version of this article appears in print on May 1, 2015, on page C26 of the New York edition.

 Spring 2015: 

Woodstock Times

Woodstock Historical Society seeks expansion

by VIOLET SNOW on Apr 2, 2015 • 5:00 pm(Photo by Dion Ogust)
(Photo by Dion Ogust)
When the Historical Society of Woodstock (HSW) was founded in 1929, its goal was to preserve the stories of the town. Members wrote essays and gathered in people’s homes on Sundays to read their stories aloud over tea and cookies. Over time, townspeople started giving historical items to the Society. “Because of Woodstock’s history, our collection is unusual,” commented Richard Heppner, the current town historian. “It’s about a little mountain town and an artists’ colony and how they blend.”

The collection of artifacts and writings has lived in a series of local buildings, settling in the Eames House on the Comeau Property in the 1980s. The HSW is seeking to raise $60,000 to upgrade the historic building by putting in a much-needed ground-floor bathroom, a small kitchen, and other improvements. An outreach letter to members and local businesses has already gleaned a third of the required monies. The fundraising drive will continue over the next few months with a series of events, including a wine-tasting at Oriole9 on May 2.

“We’d like to break ground in the spring,” said Heppner. Approvals are already in place from the town board, planning board, Comeau Stewardship Advisory Committee, and Woodstock Land Conservancy, but more money is needed.

“The overarching problem is the bathroom,” said Janine Mower, chair of the fundraising committee. Visitors must climb 18 steps to get to the facilities, walking through the archive storage areas. “It’s a barrier to people to come and learn about Woodstock history,” she noted. “It’s inhospitable to someone in a wheelchair or a person who has arthritis and can’t climb the stairs. You’re also coming into the archive space, so it requires an escort to make sure the archives stay where they are. And we don’t want water near the archives, in case there’s a leak.”

A 12-foot by 16-foot one-story addition will include a handicapped-accessible bathroom and a small kitchen for preparing snacks to be served during openings and other events. The exterior of the addition will be clad in the same style as the rest of the building. Other improvements will include updating the electrical system, installing better lighting in the exhibition room, and shoring up the foundation, which has had water issues.

The last building upgrade was done ten years ago, when insulation, new windows, and a heating system made the structure usable year-round for research and events. The new changes will enable the Society to expand programming, particularly for children. “We had a children’s club at one point,” noted HSW president Deborah Heppner. “We did a building project where each child picked a building in Woodstock and made a model of it and researched its history. We also did a garden project with them, and one on roads. But kids need to have a proper bathroom.”

The all-volunteer board and members have already conducted grassroots funding efforts, including cemetery walks, bake sales, handmade items sold for the holidays, and the production of a picture book entitled Legendary Locals. The next round of fundraising events will begin on Saturday, April 4, as wilderness guide Dave Holden leads a hike at California Quarry. Hikers will meet at the Andy Lee Field parking lot, by the Community Center on Rock City Road, at 10 a.m. The $10 donation will go to the building fund.

The May 2 wine-tasting will be conducted by two experts, Dr. David Baggett and Tina Grill, who met in 1972 while working at a summer camp on Sawkill Road. Baggett taught wine evaluation at Modesto College in California, produced and judged commercial wines, and established and managed the college’s 14-acre vineyard. Grill, a retired art teacher, was a sensory analyst at E & J Gallo Winery in Modesto. The couple currently live in Woodstock.

“Dr. Baggett is in a wheelchair, so he’s excited about helping to make our building handicapped-accessible,” said Deborah. Baggett will lecture on the wines offered for tasting, and hors d’oeuvres will be prepared to go with the selected wines. The event will be sponsored by New York City attorney Kathy Crost, who grew up in Woodstock and has become involved in the HSW. Attendees will receive a wine glass with the Society’s logo. The wine-tasting will be held from 6:30 p.m.-9 p.m. on Saturday, May 2, at Oriole 9, 17 Tinker Street, and will cost $30.

Ars Choralis, the highly praised Woodstock choir, will celebrate its fiftieth anniversary with a concert at the Eames House on Saturday, May 23, at 2 p.m. “Merry Madrigals in May,” honoring the choir’s past as a madrigal society, will feature roving minstrels and a display of Ars Choralis memorabilia.

On Friday, June 12, at 7 p.m., HSW will open its summer exhibit, “Living Large,” about Woodstock artists Nan Mason and Wilna Hervey. Over six feet tall, Hervey was a silent film star who appeared in shorts based on the Toonerville Trolley comic strips. She had studied at the Art Students League in Manhattan and in Woodstock. After meeting Mason, a painter and the daughter of her co-star, Hervey gave up her screen career to live with Mason in Woodstock. On Saturday, June 13, at 2 p.m., there will be a book-signing by Joseph P. Eckhardt, author of a book about Mason and Hervey, also entitledLiving Large.

The fall exhibit will present seldom-seen photos of old Woodstock from slides and glass negatives. HSW members are restoring the pictures, now that technology is available to print them easily. Other events in the works include Sunday afternoon lectures at the Eames House and concerts at the former Art Students League building, now the Christian Science church.

“Every year we grow a little bit,” said Deborah. “Last year, we had 600 visitors. The Comeau Property has beautiful new signs that will make it easier to find us. We’re hoping that through these renovations, we’ll be able to serve even more people.”

By the way, many of the essays written by those early HSW members were published as booklets and have been kept in print by the present Society. Mower and the Heppners are among the members who continue to research and write volumes on Woodstock history, all of them available for purchase at the Eames House.

The Historical Society of Woodstock museum, located at 20 Comeau Drive, is open to the public on weekends in summer and fall and during scheduled events year-round. The archives are open to researchers by appointment. For information, or to make a donation to the building fund, seehttp://www.historicalsocietyofwoodstock.org or contact Richard and Deborah Heppner at 845-679-2143. Checks may be mailed to PO Box 841, Woodstock, NY 12498.
Click here to donate
Wine Tasting Benefit, May 2
Wine Tasting Benefit for the Historical Society Building Fund Saturday May 2, 6:30-9:00 pm

Oriole9, Woodstock

Tickets: $30, available at the door

Featuring wine specialists: Dr. David Bagget and Tina Grill
Hors D'oeuvres and Silent Auction
For further information e-mail: woodstockhistory@hvc.rr.com
or call 845 679-2143 - press release
Painting by Lily Geltman, oil on canvas (HSW Collection)

"Hike to Woodstock's California Quarry",   Saturday, April 4, 10 a.m.

David Holden, NYSCEC licensed hiking guide, trail-maker, and backwoods explorer. 

Join hiking guide Dave Holden for a hike into Woodstock's bluestone history. This is a benefit-walk for the Historical Society of Woodstock's Building Fund.  We will explore the beautiful old California Quarry, workplace of the local "Quarry Irish" and origin of some of Manhattan's largest sidewalk, or "platform", stones.   

"To walk in the woods with Dave Holden is one of the treasures of Woodstock. For decades he has explored our local landscape to become more knowledgeable about our wild areas than anyone else. His Native American ancestry, his love of local history, his knowledge of nature, his good humor, and his delight in being outdoors all combine to make a walk with Dave Holden an experience as special as hearing the song of a thrush or smelling the mountain laurels in bloom. He is Woodstock’s best guide." Will Nixon, the author, with Michael Perkins, of Walking Woodstock and Pocket Guide to Woodstock

Meet at 10 am at the Andy Lee Field parking lot. Please wear appropriate footwear for walking on stone, dress for the weather and bring water. Approx. 2 hrs. Suggested donation of $10. Only heavy rain will cancel. For more information, please call (845) 594-4863

 Winter 2015: 

Archival Collection Shelving:

Carl Mellin's longtime friends, Michael Stock and Harley Avery hang plaque that memorializes contributions made by Carl’s family and friends to the Historical Society of Woodstock. Carl's wife Sandra established the bequest to HSW in his honor to purchase shelving for the Society's growing archives. Carl grew up in Woodstock, where he channeled his innovative, creative energy as a general contractor. He passed away on December 1, 2013

"Wisteria at Alf's House", circa 1950        
"Overlook Mountain", 1914
"Portrait of Hervey White", 1910

 Note cards from the collection of the Historical Society of Woodstock