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Madrid exhibits capture history

TIMES STAFF WRITER
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MADRID — Construction projects will be springing up like dandelions this summer as the St. Lawrence Power and Equipment Museum works to make its 115-acre farm into a home for permanent exhibitions.


Six buildings will be built on the site and all but one will be historically accurate for their period, according to museum President Roger S. Austin.


"We hope to have it all done by winter," he said. "It'll be busy. There will always be something going on."


The museum, which is staffed entirely by volunteers, is planning to add a World War II-era granary and milk house, an early 20th century sugar shack, and a gas station and sawmill, both from the 1920s.


The final building, for the museum's general collection of engines and farm equipment, will be a pre-engineered steel building designed to look like a barn. There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open it during the museum's 27th annual spring exhibition, June 13 and 14 at the Goolden-Mann farm on Route 345 in Madrid.


The groundbreaking for the 40-by-60-foot barn will be early this week, according to museum Trustee Charles F. Goolden.


Since the museum purchased the farm — the organization's first permanent home since it was founded in 1976 as the St. Lawrence Gas and Steam Engine Association — its volunteers have been busy brainstorming projects and raising money.


"Everything we've done has been in the last couple of years," Mr. Austin said. "There was that much buildup of enthusiasm."


Nor does the museum's board intend to take a break once this year's projects are complete. It is drafting plans for the future, including building three homesteads and a village green complete with a school, church, blacksmith's shop and pharmacy. Each building will be from a different era.


Though the museum will expand beyond antique farm tools, the old engines and equipment will always be the group's main focus, according to Mr. Austin.


"Hopefully, we'll be able to show the progression of farming equipment that increased farmers' output and finally let them gain even a little bit of leisure time," he said.


A lot of the group's antique tools are still in storage in members' barns. Only what could be crammed into a pavilion on the farm, which was completed last year, for winter storage is on site. The museum displays its farming implements only twice a year, at the spring and fall exhibitions. After all the construction projects, supporters hope that will change and the museum will become a destination for tourists, school groups and history enthusiasts.


The museum board is working with other historical sites, such as Fort La Presentation and the Remington Art Museum in Ogdensburg, to draw people to the area.


"We hope to promote as a group, not only to promote the history but become an organization with economic viability," Mr. Austin said. The museum "is just one of the features that makes the area interesting."

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