Around Town

Piece of Westfield history finds a new home

Submitted by Carol Martin, Westfield Museum Inc.

Westfield Museum Board member Justin Cobb and Westfield Athenaeum Archivist Kate Deviny are seen standing behind and discussing the history of the Reference Desk. (Photo courtesy Westfield Museum Inc.)

WESTFIELD – A well respected and fondly remembered part of Westfield’s collective memory has just found a new home.

The Reference Desk, a massive solid wood fixture, measuring 20” wide and 12’ long, was moved on Thursday, January 10 from the Westfield Athenaeum at Court Square to Westfield Museum Inc. at 360 Elm Street.

“We appreciate the history and years of service this desk has given the Westfield community,” said Dan Paquette, Athenaeum Director, “but it just didn’t fit in with our newly updated floor plan.  We didn’t want to see it moved out of Westfield, so naturally we thought of giving it to the Museum.”

The team from Empire Movers are seen negotiating the Museum’s front steps and entryway while moving the Athenaum’s old reference desk to the Westfield Museum.
(Photo courtesy Westfield Museum Inc.)

The Westfield Museum Board of Directors is delighted with the donation.  “When I was growing up in Westfield, before computers and tech devices, every home had a dictionary, and many had a set of encyclopedias, but that was about it.  Homework and school projects mostly got done at the Athenaeum – the library – and the Reference Desk was where you started,” commented Carol Martin, Project Coordinator for the Museum.  “I think it was Miss Wolcott who was Librarian at that time, and on any afternoon, dozens of young people would be in line at the Reference Desk waiting for her assistance or reading and writing at library tables.”

Westfield Museum whipmakers Suzzanne Lemarier and Bonnie Holcomb discuss placement of the Reference Desk with the Empire Movers team. (Photo courtesy Westfield Museum Inc.)

Although the exact date the Reference Desk was acquired is not known, the consensus seems to be, judging from its style and design, that it must have been some time in the late 1920’s or early 30’s.

“Almost 100 years – a long time, and so much history,” said Walter K. Fogg, Jr., a Museum Boardmember.  “We’ll make sure it has a prominent place in our display space.”

The moving of such a large and heavy piece of furniture, which does not “break down” for convenience the way most modern institutional furniture does, was not as difficult as expected.  Said Paquette, “Our moving company, Empire Movers, has years of experience.  They really knows what they are doing.”

If you missed the Desk in its last days at the Athenaeum, or as it was transported down Elm Street and moved into its new home, you will be able to see it at Westfield Museum when it opens to the public later this year.

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