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Westfield already has ‘welcome centers’

February 25, 2016
Westfield Republican

Dear Editor,

I would like to respond to a few items that were mentioned in the Feb. 11 "Bee Lines." Marybelle Beigh expressed a desire for a Westfield Welcome Center in a historic Westfield mansion where there would be a dedicated Westfield Museum, and a tea room/coffee shop and areas for a Westfield Historical Preservation Society.

To be quite frank: WE ALREADY HAVE THESE THINGS. For example:

- "A Westfield Welcome Center in a Historic Westfield Mansion": The McClurg Museum is just that. A historic museum that is also the headquarters of the Chautauqua County Historical Society. This mansion contains vast amounts of Westfield history and photos and memorabilia along with information regarding all of Chautauqua County. The McClurg is a much sought after visiting place for travelers from all over the United States and other parts of the world and is also a facility where people come to do research on many topics. The information contained in this mansion is world class and displayed in a tasteful manner as any museum in Buffalo or New York City would have. The curator, John Wolfe, is sought out by historians and educational facilities from all over. The Museum continues to receive historic information and items that are part of the history of Westfield and our county. Area scout trips and school classes plan regular tours to become educated in history. The archives are constantly being added to.

- Another "welcome center" with great historic significance is the Patterson Library. A vast treasure of historic information is contained in this beautiful building. There is a specific area devoted to the history of Westfield and of the area. The library also is a place that is visited by people doing historic research and gathering information. The library is a great place for the children of our area to come to for many programs and to learn. After school programs are given at the library as well as homework specific programs. A large number of other cultural events are open to the public throughout the year. Again this could be considered a welcome center in our community.

- The Grape Discovery Center could also be considered a welcome center with the displays of antique equipment used in the early days of the grape industry. After all Westfield was named the "Grape Juice Capital of the World." The historic display of grape growing shows how the glaciers formed the gorge and Lake Erie and deposited the gravel that makes the vineyards grow so nicely. The world class exhibit room is visited by thousands a year including class tours and other groups who come to see the amazing displays. Tourism information about all the wineries, museums and other events to see in Westfield and Chautauqua County are available as you enter the Center.

- As for the tea room/coffee shop, there are a number of places in our village that serve these beverages and anyone visiting them will be sure to hear some interesting conversations, some of which will certainly be about "how things used to be." Besides that is a tea room/coffee shop a financially safe investment?

All of the above facilities are available to everyone to learn more about the history of our area. In addition these facilities all have huge investments in continuing to offer the services to one and all this kind of commitment to preserving history and telling a story is expensive. The wish by Beigh, I am sure, is sincere but why go to the expense to try to duplicate what we already have? There are a lot of other issues that need our attention at this time so that we can continue to thrive as a village and town. For those of us that support the efforts of the McClurg Museum, The Patterson Library and the Grape Discovery Center we are proud of these facilities and what they give to us in the form of history and the future.

Helen Baran




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