Preserving New Hampshire’s Past for the Future

One of America’s earliest and most successful operetta composers, George W. Stratton (1830-1901), was one of the few to compose and self-publish operettas entirely for children. He and his wife never had children, but instead brought joy to youth through their widely performed showpieces with chimerical plots and advanced choruses, solos, duets, and even recitative. Mrs. Stratton worked with her husband to write lyrics and draw cover artwork. In 1885, they sought a final resting place for their legacy, and gave to their native town of West Swanzey, New Hampshire, the “Stratton Free Library and Art Gallery.”

Stratton provided the library some 2,000 of the best books in the English language, over 200 pictures selected in Europe to be educational in the lines of art, history, or architecture, and music volumes by the finest classical composers to that date. His family trust maintained the library until 1914, when it was given to the town. Alas, much of the artwork was sold in the 1920s to raise funds for the library. At the moment, library has 5 of Lucy Stratton’s oil paintings, and as it happens, they have just heard from someone, whose parents bought one of the paintings by Lucy and he is going to return it to the library.

Upon visiting the Stratton Free Library, one would find only two rooms with minimal belongings. A marble bust of Stratton stands in the main hallway along with neat rows of brown leather-bound books arranged in glass cases. The once-filled gallery is now left with only two landscape paintings. An old trunk contains various operettas and sheet music with exquisite detail. Every booklet includes specific stage directions, costume descriptions, and previews of new operetta releases. One of Stratton’s most notable works, Fairy Grotto, written in 1872, has a plot reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream with a whimsical musical overtone.

Anne Meyer, a “generalist” conservator with a wealth of knowledge, works in the library taking care of the remaining artifacts of the library’s benefactor and his wife. She began as a curious child with an interest in antiques and personal history, and now focuses mostly on restoring textiles, costumes, and period pieces. Her work at the library includes removing over a century worth of dust, finger oils, improper storage damage, and mold with Groom-Sticks, Hydrophilic Sponges, and Wishab Dry Cleaning Sponges. She also spends a lot of time advising visitors on how to preserve their own historical treasures.

Along with the collection of operettas found in the library, many works have also been donated or purchased by the town or Stratton trust. The music that once brought joy to countless children and adults is now being restored in hopes of continuing Stratton’s legacy of great American children’s music.

For more information on the life and works of G.W. Stratton please call (603) 352-9391 or visit the Stratton Free Library, 9 Main St, Swanzey, NH

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photographs on display at Currier Museum of Art

Backstage Pass: Rock & Roll Photography at Currier Art MuseumAre you ready to see some photos that…rock?

If you fancy yourself a rock and roll aficionado and are making your way to Manchester, N.H., don’t miss Backstage Pass, an exhibit that started earlier this year at Manchester, N.H.’s Currier Museum, showcasing some of the most iconic photographs in rock and roll history.

The artists captured in these famous photographs include Rock and Roll luminaries Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, and The Sex Pistols. Legendary rock photographer, Bob Gruen, snapped a portion of these famous photos in the exhibit.

Arguably, Gruen’s most iconic photograph is one of John Lennon in a sleeveless New York City T-shirt standing arms folded with the Manhattan skyline as his backdrop. The photo, taken while the ex-Beatle was recording “Walls and Bridges” in the summer of 1974, became a famous one some six years later in the wake of Lennon’s death according to Gruen in a New York Times piece that appeared earlier this year.Backstage Pass: Rock & Roll Photography at Currier Museum of Art

Gruen had selected the photo amongst his Lennon collection to be displayed at Central Park’s band shell for the public memorial for Lennon in 1980. Gruen’s work is just a small sampling of the photographs on display at the Currier from more than 50 photographers.

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