We are excited to announce the Grand Re-Opening of the Arden Craft Shop Museum! Please join us, October 16th from 1-3 pm as we reopen our main gallery space with a new exhibition: Ardentown Celebrates One Hundred! We are so excited to share our renovated gallery with our friends and guests! Please join us for light refreshments and self-guided tours of the gallery. If you are not able to join us on the 16th, we are returning to normal open house, Wednesday 7:30 pm to 9 pm and Sundays 1 pm to 3 pm. You are welcome hither!
After being partially open for an extended period the museum is closed to complete repairs to the gallery space and install our new exhibition. Look for our Grand Reopening in later October 2022 with our new exhibition celebrating the Ardentown Centennial!
During this period of closure, please enjoy the pop up art museum on the fence outside the gallery. The artwork was created by young artists of the Ardens during the ACRA summer camp! These wonderful works will be on display until September 4th!
In the Ardens one can find different types of public art from the Mural on the Buzz Ware Village Center to open green spaces that were carefully planned by each of the villages founders.
The Village of Ardentown is getting ready to celebrate its Centennial and the ACSM is working on an exhibition to mark the occasion. Several years ago, the Trustees of Ardentown loaned the Museum the book of original Ardentown leasehold records. The book was part of the exhibition Finding A Homes in the Ardens. The plan was to have the records digitized, so that the information would be available and the book, which is in poor condition, could be preserved in its original state. We are happy that our curator, Abby Harting, found a former colleague who was willing to take on this special project.
As the project has developed a number of interesting facts have been found. The book contains over 330 pages, most of which are actual leases or copies. Fortunately, the leases themselves were prepared on high quality paper, as they were glued to the cheap, newsprint type paper in the book. Included in the book is a three-page document titled “Assessment of Land Rents for 1924,” which is probably the oldest record of its kind for Ardentown. The earliest date is May 19, 1923 – 23 leases issued on that day. The last lease in the book was issued September 16, 1940, which was for Leasehold 263.
The leases have all been signed by the various trustees through the years, but two other names appear regularly. One is Elizabeth B. Ritter whose name was found on 26 pages. It would be interesting to learn more about her and her connections with the village. Not surprisingly, the other most commonly found name was Fiske Warren.
Warren was a single-taxer from Boston who was part of the financing of the purchase of the Hanby and Harvey farms when Ardentown was founded in 1922. Warren accepted a number of leaseholds as part of the financial arrangements. His name appears on 79 pages in the book. Warren would rent these and eventually many of those renter/residents acquired the leaseholds for themselves.
We look forward to celebrating the Ardentown Centennial and learning more from this valuable record of the early days of the village.
In preparation for the opening of our Ardentown Centennial Celebration Exhibition the museum will be temporarily closing on August 1st. so your last chance to see “Images from the Ardens: 1900-1960” will be Sunday July 31st from 1-3 pm.
RESCUE THE RED HOUSE!
Over the past few months many friends of the Museum have asked, “What’s happening at the Museum” and “When will it reopen?” During the renovation of the building we discovered a number of structural issues in the gallery space of the Museum. The Gallery, after all, is the original Red House, a converted out-building that was on the property when Frank Stephens purchased the Derrickson farm in 1900. Our building is showing its age – all 120+ years.
After major termite damage was discovered and repaired, we found additional problems under the floor of the Red House (which is the front structure that is a single story on the Museum). A structural engineer was brought in to examine the building. Based on the engineer’s report, new plans have been drawn. The amount of work that will need to be done is extensive, involving the flooring, the ceiling, and the roof.
The plans are now in the hands of New Castle County for their review and the permit process. Our contractor is ready and we are looking forward to beginning this next step. The work is significant and the cost will substantial.
We have opened a GoFundMe Page to bring this 19th century building into the 21st century- it will be quite a journey.
Your contributions will help make it possible for the Museum to continue to collect, preserve, and exhibit the history of the Ardens in a building that is safe and secure. We are also exploring other financial sources and fund-raising plans, which we will be announcing in the coming months. Meanwhile, this GoFundMe effort will kick-start the process. We thank you in advance for your support.
Please come and see our current exhibition Images from the Ardens 1900-1960. The show is in the Bernie Schwab Community Room – just follow the signs along Cherry Lane to the “back” door. Our museum hours are the same: Sunday afternoons from 1 PM to 3 PM and Wednesday evenings from 7:30 PM to 9 PM. We will also be open from 1PM-4 PM for the ACRA Spring House & Garden Tour on Sunday, May 22nd.
The Past has a Future in the Ardens.
The Village of Arden was recently featured on WHYY’s Mover’s and Makers program. A number of museum volunteers were featured and we extend our thanks to them for representing the museum and Arden so wonderfully! You can view the episode here.
The Ardens have also been shown on other public programs. These include:
A remembrance of Sally Hamburger from the Museum and Archives Committee of the Arden Craft Shop Museum.
If you read the minutes of Town Assembly meetings of the Village of Arden in the mid-1980s, you will find regular reports from an Ad Hoc committee – the Archives Committee. Finally in September, 1989, this self-motivated and determined group became an official standing committee of the Village. There had long been an interest in the history of our village and the 75th anniversary in 1975 and the 80th celebration in 1980 helped crystalize that interest into action. And Sally Hamburger was always in the forefront of the effort.
There is much to remember about Sally and her interest in the community of Arden and its unique history. She was instrumental in leading the effort to preserve our history for all of us to enjoy and to share with future generations. Sally was part of that very special group of women we have come to call the Founding Mothers of the Arden Craft Shop Museum.
Those of you who knew Sally remember that she would be the best person to tell the story. And the best way to tell what Sally did for the archives is to quote her own words. We are fortunate to have a copy of the remarks she gave at the opening of the Museum in October, 2004.
Sally told the audience, “What an exciting moment this is for the Ardens, for all of us, and especially me. The dream began 15 years ago with the official formation of the Arden Archives Committee in 1989. In the beginning it wasn’t so much a dream as a panic. Oh, some of us had been conscious of the need to preserve the story of Arden, the 1980 celebration committee had gotten a grant from the Delaware Humanities Forum and created the first edition of the Arden Oral History; but it was the death of Virginia Shaw - Arden’s professional historian and archivist- that brought on the panic attack. Virginia could answer any question about who did or said what when in town; we counted on her official memory.
When Virginia died, 5 of us looked around and realized it was time to get serious about Arden’s history. So, the first committee was formed - Jean Brachman, Joan Colgan, Pat Liberman, Ethel Montfort and I began gathering art, sculpture, iron work, and files from attics and basements around town. For several years, the bust of Frank Stephens lived in my living room- my children draped him in tinsel for Christmas and gave him a mask for Halloween.
A quote from the Archives minutes of January 14, 1990; “we are feeling very frustrated because we have no place to work, no storage space, no permanent exhibit space. We discovered that the Frank Stephens studio in the Craft Shop is for rent- the space is historically and geographically ideal. After much agony; pondering our finances, discussions with town officials, we decided this was too good an opportunity to pass up. On January 23, 1990, we signed a one-year lease for $ 375 per month.” With that move we became an entity. We were amazed to see how much we had collected. The space allowed us to apply for an intern from the University of Delaware Museum Studies Program and we were lucky enough to get Tess Riesmeyer for that 1991 summer. Tess lived with us, worked with us and taught us what a real museum was all about; she introduced us to white gloves for handling artifacts and oh so gently forbad smoking and eating on the site.
But all was not easy. Folks began to grumble about using town funds for a rental. Talk of a private little club for old ladies was heard around the byways. So, we had to give up the Red House (At the Craft Shop). Now, where do we go? We couldn’t just pack it into Rae’s basement. A space was carved out for the collection on the Buzz Ware (Village Center) stage- Pete Renzetti built a temporary wall to secure our temporary home.
You know the rest of the story- the amazing fund raising and purchase of the building, the formation of the Arden Craft Shop Museum, Inc. the creation of the super committee to include Ardentown and Ardencroft and their histories. So, it is just amazing to stand here and see it all come true. I wish that Jean, Joan, Pat and Ethel were still alive to share this moment they would be so proud. I’m so glad that Tess could travel from Pittsburgh to be here with us and see how her handiwork has grown. It’s wonderful to see the dream of 5 old ladies, be picked up and carried into reality by the next generation. Most of all, I commend the good people of the Ardens for valuing their history for realizing that the privilege of living in the oldest intentional community in America cares with it the responsibility of sharing the details of that experience with others who would like to do the same.”
All of us on the Archives committee appreciate Sally’s dedication and value her hard work. What was once an idea, became a vison, and is now a reality. We have a museum which exhibits the early history of the Ardens, houses a huge photographic collection, hires professional curators, gives group tours, works with researchers, and enjoys a growing group of active and willing volunteers. Sally – all we can say is thank you so very much.
Museum & Archives Committee
When you visit our Images from the Ardens exhibition and take a good look at all the pieces of sculpture, you may notice that an old friend is missing. Look closely at the assembled busts and you will find that Henry George is not in the group. The bust of Henry George has been part of the collection since the beginning – well before the Museum was opened in 2004. In fact, the piece was listed in the inventory done by the original Archives Committee in 1991. This inventory was done by of University of Delaware intern and was paid for by a grant from the Delaware Heritage Commission. Having this piece in our collection is an important link to our founders, Frank Stephens and Will Price, advocates of the Georgist concept of Land Value Tax.
The bust was done by one of George’s sons, Richard, a well-known sculptor. The piece, however, has never been in the best condition. There are numerous scratches and scrapes on the surface. And most visibly, the top half of the left ear has always been missing. The Museum and Archives Committee has long wanted to have this piece repaired.
What makes the repairs possible at this time is a grant from New Castle County Council. Through Councilman Cartier and his office, we received a grant which will pay for over half of the cost of the repair and restoration of the bust. So, Mr. George is in the capable hands of an art conservator and we know he will soon be back in the Museum and will look better then he has in years. Thank you, Councilman Cartier!
Please visit our exhibition Images from the Ardens. The show is in the Bernie Schwab Community Room – just follow the signs along Cherry Lane to the “back” door. Our museum hours are the same: Sunday afternoons from 1 PM to 3 PM and Wednesday evenings from 7:30 PM to 9 PM. Your Are Welcome Hither.
The ACSM will open a modified version of our exhibition, Images from the Ardens 1900-1960, on Sunday, February 6th, from 1 to 3 pm, in the Bernie Schwab Community Room. Although our main gallery space is still under renovation, we are enthusiastic about re-opening and sharing these wonderful pieces from our collection with the community. Our open hours will be the same: Sundays from 1 PM – 3 PM and Wednesday evenings from 7:30 PM – 9 PM. The important difference is that entrance to the building will be only through the Bernie Schwab Community Room door on Cherry Lane opposite Patro’s Path, at the back of the building. The main door on Millers Road will not be open, but there will be signs to direct visitors to the BSCR door. The space is, of course, much smaller so the number of visitors is limited to 5 at a time, masks must be worn inside the Museum, and we will try to observe as much social distancing as possible.
The exhibition itself will feature Portraits, Landscapes, Places and Spaces in the Ardens, and an interesting group of paintings in the Fantasy-Abstract category. All in all, it is a special show with some artworks that are new to the collection. We will also display the many busts which typically resided in the small porch off the Gallery. You will now have a chance to see them in a more open space. Many of these pieces are by Frank Stephens, but other artists are represented and they are an impressive group. Be sure to look for two different images of the same person, done by two different sculptors.
We look forward to welcoming you back – please remember your mask – and enter via the BSCR door.
The Past Has a Future in the Ardens.
As we all know, renovations or remodeling in the older buildings in the Ardens can take many unexpected turns. This has happened at the Craft Shop. It is not really too surprising when you remember how old our building actually is. When Frank Stephens purchased the Derrickson Farm in 1900, our building was one of the structures already on the property. It became know as The Red House and was the center of much of the social activity in the village before the Gild Hall was renovated in 1910 as a home for the Arden Club.
The Red House also housed the Arden Forge, Frank Stephens’ studio and Don Stephens’ wood working shop. The two-story addition was added in 1913, under the supervision of Will Price. Many other changes were made through the years, as the building was remodeled to house artist studios, apartments, and a shop which sold furniture and other crafts made in the village. There was even a bakery in the building.
And then the big renovation in 2004 which created the Museum and the apartments we have in the building today. All this means we have some work to do before we can fully reopen.
We are planning to open a condensed version of out exhibition, Images from the Ardens 1900-1960, hopefully, in early February in the Bernie Schwab Community Room. Watch this space for special announcements and many thanks to everyone for your continued interest and support. We look forward to welcoming you back to the Craft Shop soon!
The Past Has a Future in the Ardens.
The Arden Craft Shop Museum community celebrates and honors the life of our dear friend and supporter, Linda Eaton. Linda passed away on August 18th, after a courageous battle against a long-term illness. Linda came to Arden in 1993 after getting a position as a textile conservator at Winterthur Museum and Gardens. She went on to have a long and distinguished career at Winterthur, retiring as the John T. and Marjorie McGraw Director of Collections and was a recognized authority in her chosen field of textiles.
Linda wholeheartedly embraced life in the Ardens and became a founding member of the Arden Craft Shop Museum, Inc. Board in the 2002. She served as one of the board's presidents, helping to preserve the unique history of the three Ardens.
Her professional museum expertise helped to make the Craft Shop Museum an important center for the history of the three villages. Not withstanding her demanding schedule at Winterthur, she never missed an event at the Museum. Linda was generous with her time and her talents, whether it was navigating a tricky board meeting, writing a perfectly worded grant request, or guiding our fledging museum into the future. She was also known for offering sage advice and giving support to friends and neighbors during difficult times.
She had a playful side to her as well, playing baseball on the village green in games of Winterthur vs. Arden, sharing her love of single malt scotch in tastings at her home, and always being there to cheer on the participants in the ACRA games on the green at the fourth of July celebrations or at an art show in the Ardens; as well as arriving at a dinner party with a batch of homemade shortbread – fresh from the oven.
She will be missed by so many as a good neighbor and an even better friend.
"...if we do meet again, why, we shall smile"
What's Happening at the ACSM
To view blog entries from 2013 and previous years, click here.