TUPPER LAKE — Volunteers with the Tupper Lake Heritage Gallery are assembling their already vast collection of historic items for display, receiving occasional donations of new artifacts and preparing to open up for the summer on Tuesday.
The gallery, housed at the Junction train depot, is the latest iteration of the collection Art Richer started 16 years ago, which has been displayed at several locations around the town.
The gallery volunteers, most of whom are older, moved the entire collection from the former Junction fire hall to the depot last fall. They have spent the spring organizing items, labeling and explaining them, and putting them on display, according to gallery President Kathleen Lefebvre.
A bookcase features shiny typewriters and cash registers, looking as clean as the day they were purchased.
Above hangs a massive two-man chain saw, intimidating to walk under, as well as a sign for the Tip Top Sports Shop lit up brightly. And all around are photos and memorabilia from decades of the Holy Ghost Academy, Sunmount, Oval Wood Dish factory and logging, the basis of the town’s economy for much of its history.
The volunteers have been doing weekly “work bees,” climbing ladders to hang skis up high on the wall, separating the relics that will be put into storage and rotated through the display area over time, and reminiscing on the history they are poring over.
“It’s hard to get a lot of work done because so many people in this group have long histories,” Joe Kimpflen said. “You’ll start to look at something, and then we’re off to a discussion of the family history related to an object.”
The gallery has also been accepting interesting items from town residents. A heavy milk separator, a foot-warming device that stores hot coals for cold feet and a hand-drawn map of Saranac Lake from 1906 were delivered on Saturday.
The gallery will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
The gallery, which had to leave the Junction Fire Hall after a slew of insurance liabilities displaced the collection last year, was picked up by Next Stop Tupper Lake, which built and runs the train depot. Volunteers said they are not sure how long they’ll be in that location — it could be two years or more — but said they are making the best of it.
Next Stop Tupper Lake has been receiving grants for the gallery, too, after the organization lost its 501(c)(3) charter several years ago.
Recently, it received a $1,843 grant for improved lighting from the Adirondack Foundation’s Generous Acts fund.