Hard to believe it was 50 years ago, but in the annals of Riverside 50 years is not such a long time. In this chapter of the village’s history, it is the story of the Riverside Museum.
Situated in Centennial Park, the small building takes its place next to the historic water tower. When first bequeathed to the Riverside Historical Commission, it was a cold stone building, with nothing in it but with many possibilities.
At the time, Herb Bassman was the commission’s first chairman. But the commission existed in name only, although it had a full list of commissioners. When Bassman and his wife moved out of town, they took with them many articles and photos which belonged to the village.
However, the artifacts were retrieved and Village President Louis Komorous named Harriet Kweton — the granddaughter of A.F. Ames (yes, the school) – chairwoman of the commission.
One of the commissioners was architect Mike Wimmer, who gave his time to design the interior of the building, establishing storage spaces and a display area and making it functional.
Meanwhile, commission members took home the museum’s artifacts to begin the arduous task of cataloging and identifying photos, articles and papers. Acid-free boxes were purchased to preserve papers and photos. Securing a light fixture from the demolished Babson Estate was not easy, but it was accomplished and is now one of the collection’s most beloved artifacts.
So as people assembled at Centennial Park on June 2 to celebrate the museum’s 50th anniversary, commission Chairwoman Connie Guardi unveiled a new sign, designed by architect and former commissioner Serge Ambrose, for the museum.
In addition to giving those assembled a brief history lesson about the museum, the commission also recognized Deputy Fire Chief Bill Sherman for his contributions and research on Riverside history.
Margaret Unger, daughter of Dorothy Unger who had been an early hard-working commissioner, was also present. Missing were former commissioners Harriet Kweton and Jim Zidlicky, but Mike Wimmer was present and smiling as he remembered the early days of the commission and the museum. I had also been one of the commissioners at that time.