SHERMAN - Sherman may not be a world-renowned tourist attraction, however it features a diamond in the rough that every history buff in the area should consider visiting this summer.
The Yorker Museum, which is situated at the corner of Park and Church streets in Sherman, is reopening for the season this Memorial Day and welcomes one and all to stop by for a visit after the village's Memorial Day parade.
Though the Yorker Museum's foundations date back to 1946, the museum just recently received a handful of substantial donations which allowed the museum to address some structural problems and refocus its vision on how to best serve the community in which it exists.
Pictured is the chapel and at right is a log dwelling, which make up one-third of the Yorker Museum’s structures.
P-J photos by Remington Whitcomb
"We just needed some help," said John R. Patterson, mayor of Sherman. "We asked for help this year and boy did we get it. $41,700 in total donations - it's absolutely remarkable."
The philanthropic individuals and organizations who donated to the Yorker Museum are as follows: the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, $7,000; Ken and Barb Neckers of Maplevale Foods, $3,000; the Hultquist Foundation, $10,000; Rob and Lynn Russell Hayes, $1,700; the Lenna Foundation, $10,000; and the Sheldon Foundation, $10,000.
With the donations collected, the museum has had the opportunity to repair leaking and rotted structures in the museum and help preserve the over 50,000-artifact collection which is housed in the museum's six buildings.
However, part of the charm of the Yorker Museum are the buildings themselves. The six buildings which comprise the museum all have a great deal of local significance and have been painstakingly moved from their original locations to where they stand today. According to Patterson, though, the formation of the museum happened organically.
"It is so important to understand that this (museum) is not contrived," said Patterson. "Kids went out door-to-door asking residents what they wanted to do. (They would say) 'we want to restore these buildings we want to put them back to period.' People would respond and say, 'I don't need this, or, you can have this.' Nothing was purchased, every single artifact we have in the Yorker was donated by the good people of the area."
Though Patterson cannot confirm it, he believes the Yorker Museum is the only museum in the country which was founded and organized entirely by school-age children.
And though he did not know her at the time, he wife, Sally Patterson was one of the youths who helped create the museum in 1946.
"The (Peter Ripley House) is the first building that we acquired and we moved it here in 1951," said Ms. Patterson. "It sat behind the Catholic church in Sherman and they told us, 'if you'd like to save it then move it somewhere else.' It is the oldest wood-framed building in the village of Sherman and even back then we acknowledged the importance of it."
In addition to the Peter Ripley House, the museum also contains Ray Larson's General Store, a turn of the century chapel, an 1860s-style schoolhouse, the first church buggy shed built in the Sherman area and a French fort dating back to 1750.
The museum can be visited free of charge and is open Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. as well as by appointment. Additional information and appointments can be made by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone to 761-7767, 761-6503 and 761-6659. Donations are greatly appreciated.