Allen Potter Museum
Four years ago my interest was perked as I was thumbing through a 1976 centennial edition of a local newspaper and happened to find an article containing letters from Levi Potter to his daughter Rosa. The article was accompanied by a drawing of this house dating from the turn of the century. I had always known that this house had considerable history behind it, but it wasn't until this chance find that I was inspired to research this history. My work has culminated in the creation of this museum, which tells the story of this house and those who have passed through its doors over the past 150 years.
As I began my research, I discovered that each question answered led to several new questions. The project quickly became more involved and my research more in-depth than I had anticipated. To uncover the true spirit of the individuals that have lived here, not only did I sift through endless piles of old documents, letters, and articles, but also interviewed the desendents of the Potter/Clark family. In addition to learning this history, I also sought family photographs and drawings, to give faces to the names I knew so well. At this point, armed with a history too interesting to keep to myself, I was faced with a new challenge: what to do with all of this. My discovery of the elegant walnut picture frames was the impetus to construct this museum. The stories I found were so powerful, and the coincidences in my research so uncanny, it almost seems as if this museum chose me, rather than vice versa. Indeed, I have devoted so much energy and enthusiasm to this project that I have elected to forgo the use of this room as a reposing room, no small commodity in the Funeral Home business, and instead dedicate it to the permanent display of the artifacts and histories related to this house and the families that have called it home. It is in this very room, in fact, that almost every member of the family was waked at the time of their deaths; it seems most appropriate that this be the room where their stories are now shared.
This project, though challenging, has been exciting and utterly astounding at times. It is my hope that the Allen Potter story, that of a man of unrivalled accomplishments and respect, will inspire those who read it to the impeccable ideals that this fine town was built upon. The knowledge of these families, which now have few survivors, adds a certain depth and richness to our community that I hope to be available to all its citizens, and all interested. Thank you very much for visiting, and enjoying, this house.
-Tim Gardner, January 2001