“Our light is on” – Visitors are welcome to the Société historique de Lafayette

Posted on August 4, 2021
“Our light is on” – Visitors are welcome to the Société historique de Lafayette
The Fayette Historical Society is open to businesses to provide insight into the community’s past. Photo Grace Gonzalves

Go down Mt. On Boulevard Diablo, there were people on the sidewalk, an encouraging sign that the library was open. After the library, down a few stairs, under some soaring books and left onto Golden Gate Way, the sidewalk was empty except for a sign shouting: “The story room is OPEN.”

Three people were seated a few seats in a small, clean room with wardrobes and tables along its perimeter. The Tuesday morning crew. They greeted me warmly.

At first glance, the room seemed a bit small and empty. The volunteer Patrick Kikkert offered me a tour of their offers. In drawers, artifacts ranging from umbrellas to pistols have been revealed.

Unlike a museum, clean and organized space doesn’t seem sterile. The writing on the binders is personal, the stories passed from the mouth of the donor to the mouth of the volunteer.

We walked around the room, from right to left, and the immediate nature of the story was available at our fingertips. As Kikkert spoke, an old brown barrel turned into a young boy’s guilty mistake. The scars on an anvil started out as nasty tears in the metal and turned into a little too much ammo one night on July 4th.

“The story goes that during the Fourth of July celebrations or whenever a particularly festive event took place, he would turn his anvil into an impromptu cannon, fill it with gunpowder and turn it on. Supposedly, in 1865, when news of Lee’s surrender to Appomattox arrived., He [the blacksmith] got carried away and put a particularly heavy load in it and broke the anvil in two. “

The company has occupied this room on the ground floor of the library for 10 years, according to Nancy Flood, volunteer and editorial secretary. “We didn’t have a lot of space before that.… The image files were in the old library,” Kikkert said. “Otherwise, most of the gear would be in people’s garages and attics. There was no central space where we could put them and where people could see them.” ??

The Société historique Lafayette is definitely a place of interactive learning; the people who walk around its doors interact closely with the volunteers. It is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization that has been in operation since 1973. “Originally there was a historical committee that was linked to the library,” Flood said.

This description on its website perfectly describes the goals of the company: “We believe in the power of history to ignite the imagination, stimulate thought and provide pleasure. Through our collections and programs, we strive to connect the history of Lafayette to the lives of people. “?

“We’re sort of a hidden gem; we don’t have a lot of traffic,” said Kikkert, who showed this reporter his visitor log, which included a few names over the past few months – then a discrepancy of a year.

Volunteer Sande Hubbs explained to me how the pandemic affected their volunteer staff: “We were all here at the same time but of course with… COVID we shut down completely and then when we reopened it was just in small groups.”

In most cases, visitors to the center are curious about the history of their own property, and are shown aerial photographs of their land in years past, city maps over the years, and so on. .

Less trodden are the oral histories, transcriptions of interviews in society with characters from the city. Many of these oral histories are now available on the company’s website, but the content is more special when read where volunteers can add anecdotes and pointers.

The archives and materials kept in this space are animated by its loyal volunteers who wish to share their discoveries with others.

“It’s wonderful to be a part of Lafayette and its history,” Kikkert said, “and it’s fun helping people who share the same interest.”

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