CONSTABLEVILLE — When people say “they don’t make them like they used to,” they could easily have Constable Hall in mind, standing solid, regal in its bicentennial year, a testament to one family’s connection to and impact on the north country.
From noon to 5 p.m. on July 14, the Constable Hall Association will throw open the shutters and turn up the sashes of the former Constable family home in a celebration of history and longevity.
State Senator Joe Griffo, R-Rome, and Assemblyman Kenneth Blankenbush, R-Black River, will participate in the ribbon-cutting ceremony with an address by F. Anthony Keating, civilian special assistant to the Secretary of the Army.
The ceremony will be punctuated by 1812 cannon fire, said event chairperson Peter Hayes, and a group of War of 1812 re-enactors will do cannon drills throughout the day.
Visitors to the interactive 200th anniversary celebration can take tours and hear hourly historical “talks” about the Constable family, their adventures exploring the Adirondacks, the extensive grounds or the unique garden that has been around as long as the manor itself.
“I think my Dad said it best, that it’s not really any particular period,” said association president and family member John P. Constable III, “It’s the six generations of family that lived there.”
Forging and looming demonstrations will be given all day and Victorian dancers will be demonstrating and teaching the popular moves of the time.
Pianist Ewa Lawrence, Utica, will perform “drawing room” music along with American pop songs through the ages.
Antique guns, period dresses and a “ladies’ etiquette corner” complete with the instruments of “flirtation” of the Victorian era, like parasols and fans, will be on display in addition to the Hall’s normal museum array of the Constable family’s life and times in bygone eras.
Mr. Hayes said the front lawn will be dedicated to children’s games, weather permitting, including blind man’s bluff, three-legged races, sack races and croquet, among others.
According to Constable family lore, Clement Clarke Moore, cousin to family matriarch Mary McVickar Constable, wrote “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” otherwise known as “The Night Before Christmas,” based upon his visit to the Hall in 1821 or 1822.
The Butler Did It Players will be in costume, doing dramatic readings of the iconic story in the drawing room which will be decorated for Christmas, complete with a Christmas tree and antique ornaments. The readings will continue every 15 minutes during the festivities.
“Everything that we’re doing with this event is something we don’t normally do,” Mr. Hayes said, “It’s unique, one-time-only events that are free with the intent of celebrating that we’ve been here 200 years as a cultural and educational institution.”
Built by William Constable Jr., the third generation of the family in the U.S., Constable Hall was completed in 1819 and housed the family for two more generations before being sold by John P. Constable Jr. in 1947 to be renewed, preserved and opened to the public.
The Hall was opened by the Constable Hall Association in 1949.
Squishy’s Barbecue, Tug Hill Lunchbox, Fireman Tom’s Ice Cream and baked goods from three local bakers will be vending all day at the free festivity.
For more information go to www.constablehall.org or call 315-397-2323.