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Memories of Midsummer Nights and Pergola Garden Dreams

August 6, 2015
By Marybelle Beigh - Westfield Historian , Westfield Republican

A recent photo-postcard of the Pergola from the rear of the Patterson Library, posted on Greater Things About Westfield NY Facebook site, prompted a flurry of memories from viewers about scout meetings, sledding down the slopes, and more.

The photo and most of the shared thoughts dated back to the 1950s, '60s, and '70s. But seeing that beautiful structure reminded your Westfield Historian of another special photo of the Pergola from June 11, 1924, when the Guild of St. Peter's Episcopal Church staged "an elaborate scenic and musical production" of Mendelssohn's arrangement of "Mid-Summer Night's Dream." The May 21, 1924 Westfield Republican describes "the spot selected for the outdoor production is the rear of the beautiful Patterson Library which is so built and terraced that it will make an ideal stage. The vine-clad retaining wall makes a natural sounding board. The terrace below will serve as a stage and the ground beneath the arbor will be used to place the orchestra."

A cast of 64 people - men, women and children - took part in the play according to the Westfield Republican of May 28th, which published a list of the main characters including The Rev. Godry Wilson, Mr. Mathew Wallace, Mr. Rick, H. C. Williamson, Charles Watson, Henry Lockwood, G. Patterson Crandall, Ed Skinner, Ray Hunter, Arthur Kunkle, Curtis Gager, Mrs. Harry Williamson, Mrs. G. P. Crandall, Mrs. Paul Welch, Miss Marjorie Minton, Mrs. Thomas Usborne, Mrs. William Welch, Miss Sue Philips, Master Henry Williamson, Miss Hazel Wallace and Miss Prudence Crandall. The supporting cast of musicians, dancers, elves, fairies, pages, and messengers were also listed by name including Donald, Marjorie, and Virginia Peacock; Paul, Thomas, and Martha Welch; Jack Prendergast, Faith and Prudence Crandall; Fred Northrup; and Mr. Ben Boult. In addition to the large cast, a symphony orchestra of 18 players was formed and directed by William T Welch, organist at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, assisted by Mrs. Clesson Peck, as well as a chorus directed by Roy Stearns.

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The next week, the performance was headlined as "A Wonderful Success - A Perfect Night and A Perfect Play was The Comment from All Sides" by the Republican. Estimates were made of an audience of 400 to 500 that were seated, plus 300 more people who watched from a distance and all of whom stayed till the last line was spoken and the last note of music faded away.

The memories and dreams of this special time at the Patterson Library Pergola Garden brought back another remembrance. In the booklet provided to attendees of the library dedication some 16 years earlier, August 1, 1908, another dream that has yet to be fulfilled is included in the following quote: "One of the beautiful features of the library is the pergola at the rear encircling the book room. It consists of a grassy terrace twenty feet wide between the building and a colonnade of huge stone pillars which support a trellis for vines. The colonnade is supported by a massive rock wall of field boulders with a cut stone coping. The ground slopes off rapidly at the rear to the lower level. Springs found in excavating for the building will give an ample supply of water for a fountain and a pond to be added later."



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