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Museum plans unique auction; donations welcome

Carol Martin, President of the Westfield Museum, stands on the steps of the historic Westfield Whip Manufacturing building. (Photo by Peter Currier)

WESTFIELD-A unique fundraiser – featuring services from area businesses – will be on the auction block Oct. 25 to benefit Westfield Museum Inc.

The third annual event, slated at Tekoa Country Club, is one of the major fundraisers for the nonprofit, according to Carol Martin, president of Westfield Museum Inc. (WMI). Martin is also assisting co-chairs Dawn Thomas and Darlene Klaubert as project coordinator for the auction.

“In past years we have received auction items ranging from YMCA memberships and lunch with Westfield Mayor Brian Sullivan, to a Friday night at Santiago’s, salon services at Puffer’s Salon & Day Spa, auto detailing, window cleaning services, and a member share at Yellow Stonehouse Farm,” said Martin.

Business owners wishing to donate their services as an auction item to benefit the museum are encouraged to contact Martin via email at [email protected]

A “preliminary” viewing of auction items, in conjunction with a social time, begins at 5:30 p.m. The auction is planned from 6 – 7 p.m. 

Tickets to the event are free, however, seating is limited to 150 attendees. For ticket reservations, Martin requests that individuals send a message to the email account.

Martin noted that tickets will be available now through Oct. 18.

“Rock and Carol Palmer will be our auctioneers,” said Martin, adding, “they are always entertaining.”

Martin noted that a new auction feature will be a Wine Wall.

“The Wine Wall is a new idea for us,” said Martin. “We will have a number of wine bottles wrapped so bidders cannot see what they are bidding on. Wine choices could range from a nice $10 bottle to as high as $150 in value.”

Martin said the Friday night affair is ideal for everyone to stop by after work, check out the auction items, and still have time to enjoy their evening.

“The event is a wonderful way to meet people in the community, have a good time, and still go out with friends after the auction,” said Martin.

During the social time and auction, a variety of hot and cold hors d’oeuvres including a cheese display will be offered, as well as an assortment of desserts and coffee. A cash bar will also be available.

“We also have a secret signature cookie we will offer,” said Martin.

In addition to the auction items, Martin plans to feature a small display of museum items that were made in Westfield for attendees to view. The museum on Elm Street houses a permanent working display telling the process of making whips “the Westfield way.”

“We just sponsored a ‘Tuesdays on the Trail’ with the Friends of the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail,” said Martin. “We plan to do many more of these kinds of collaborations, and, when we are open, we will be sponsoring programming for both adults and children at our facility.”

Martin added that museum board members Bruce Cortis and Walter Fogg are spearheading an effort to host a facilitated discussion series on various aspects of the U.S. Industrial Revolution, particularly but not exclusively related to Westfield’s contribution.

“We value community input,” said Martin. “Ideas and participation from the community are always invited. In addition, volunteering, gifts of artifacts and memorabilia related to whip making in Westfield, and donations of cash or in-kind services would all be welcome.”

The building at 360 Elm St. is owned by WMI which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is home to the vintage machinery invented and perfected in Westfield in the 1800’s that still exists. In addition, 125 years of business records and other artifacts and memorabilia are housed at the site.

Klaubert noted she is volunteering for Westfield Museum Inc. because “everything is disposable in this day and age.”

“To me, this is Westfield’s history and whips are still made in the factory using the same machines,” said Klaubert. “It is quite impressive. The thought of losing our last remaining whip manufacturer is very sad.”

Klaubert added the museum is an important asset for the city and for generations to come.

“Students tour the factory each year and many have relatives that worked in a whip factory,” said Klaubert. “Westfield Whip is a project worth working for and I’m proud to be a volunteer.”

Thomas echoed those sentiments.

“Having been a part of the project since the beginning, I would like to see this project to fruition,” said Thomas.

Thomas noted that the working museum showcasing whip making will also feature other industries that made Westfield a vibrant community.

“Having just celebrated the city’s 350th anniversary, we plan to highlight one of the main industries that helped the economy of the area,” said Thomas, adding, “and provided a source of income for women when there was not a lot of employment available to women.”

Thomas said with rotating displays of Westfield’s history, “the legacy of the community will be preserved for future generations.”


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