The Liberty Museum & Arts Center Building was first constructed as a |
hotel in 1894. The Poellman House, as the hotel was known, contained
30 rooms with baths, steam heat, all "sanitary arrangements" and a first
class Café and Bowling Alley. The hotel closed in 1936.
After the closing of the hotel, the property was acquired by Sidney
Pierson who, with his brother, conducted a large hardware store in the
This hardware store was to be owned, operated and enlarged by three
owners. The last owners stayed there until moving to a large stand-alone
building on Route 52, the present site of the Trading Post hardware
Katz's Bake shop was the next business to take over the building which
was converted into a first class bakery. The bakery also had stores in
Monticello and was to become a "destination" for many a resident -
especially the summer residents who flocked to the Catskills to escape
the "NY heat". Katz's had their grand opening on April 11, 1969 and
remained in business until 1989.
The building was acquired by The Liberty Chamber of Commerce in 1995
as part of the redevelopment plan for Main Street, Liberty and as a home
for a museum and arts center.
Please stop in and visit the beautifully renovated historic building.
The Center has been collecting and exhibiting items of historical
interest, as well aspromoting educational activities such as art classes,
lectures, cultural programs, and programs designed for children.
Memberships are encouraged. - Delbert Van Etten
A Brief History of the Liberty Museum & Arts Center
as told by former museum President Lee Parks [02/06]
In the nick-of-time, before demolition was to begin, a plan was worked
out to sell the historic Poellman Hotel building to the Greater Liberty
Chamber of Commerce for $1 dollar and to turn it over to a visionary
group for renovation. As a part of a larger redevelopment plan for Main
Street, the building would become The Liberty Museum and Arts Center.
The Building, built in 1894 as the modern Poellman Hotel, had seen
periods of occupation by plumbing and heating retailers, a furniture
store and last by Katz Bakery, a famous local institution. Long
abandoned, the building was nearly irreparable with a collapsed roof
and leaks everywhere. Into this dire challenge came this group of
community minded citizens lead by Robert Dadras, Gene Barbanti and Ron
Gozza. They organized volunteers to remove tons of debris, repair the
roof and begin renovation. With a few grants as seed money and
construction help from a Sullivan County BOCES building class, a
miracle was underway. With dedication and much hard work a major
portion of the building was completed. On Friday, June 25th, 1997 a
Grand Opening ribbon cutting was celebrated at 46 South Main Street,
which was temporarily closed for the occasion.
From the tentative beginnings, the Museum has anchored community
efforts to restore and renovate Main Street. In 1997 Delbert VanEtten
formed the Village Main Street Historic District with the encouragement
of then mayor, Ida "Skippy" Frankel. With this recognition the village
has continued to emerge as an example of downtown, Main Street
redevelopment. New businesses have opened, clean-up is continuing,
facades refurbished and plantings flourishing. At LaPolt Park a music
and arts Pavilion was constructed which hosts a summer concert series,
Shakespeare in the Park, as well as other attractions.
The Liberty Museum, as it is commonly called, has a dual mission of
presenting creative arts as well as programs of local and regional
history. Each year a members art show is held, attracting works of
painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography and fabrics from over forty
area artists.A second gallery has been opened which showcases one and
two person shows on a rotating basis.
The museum has been honored statewide for some of its outstanding
productions of local and state historic themes. Examples of these are
resorts of the Catskills, Main Street and the History of Route 17.
Also featured were the Firemen's Show, Red Cross History and the work
of Paul Gerry, a local photographer and music promoter.
The large front exhibition space is frequently used for concerts, such
as the Bronx Opera Company, lectures, conferences such as the
Preservation Conference and social gatherings and celebrations. A
unique celebration is the lowering of the Liberty Bell from the roof of
the three story building at midnight on New Years Eve.
The historic building that houses the museum is a fitting site for this
organization. Other than a few state and county grants, the museum is
supported by its membership. Fundraising is a constant challenge to the
Board of Directors and friends of the museum. Whether you are
interested in art or history, or perhaps just want to be part of
Liberty's revitalization, your help is welcome. The Liberty Museum &
Arts Center is open Wednesday through Saturday, from noon until 4 PM
and admission is free. For additional information about membership and
volunteering, call Director Jayne Jawitz at (845) 292-2394.