Reunion of Different Kind at Richfield Springs High School
The nearly 130 year old Republican campaign memorabilia that once hung in the center of Richfield Springs boasting presidential and vice presidential candidates was retrieved from its resting place in the annexes of New York State Museum for a brief visit to Richfield High School. The banner was found in a drop ceiling in one of the buildings owned and renovated by Jay Bernhardt. (Photo by Don Urtz)
There was one special visitor at Richfield Springs High School during the recent reunion weekend who was not celebrating a 45th, 50th or even 55th reunion. The heyday being commemorated with this visit occurred well over 100 years ago, and the years have not been kind to the visitor, who lay sprawled out on the old gym floor for much of Friday and Saturday, August 20 and 21.
The visitor was a political campaign banner, “from the Harrison campaign of 1892,” according to New York State Museum History Curator, Craig Williams.
According to Marj Walters, Richfield Springs Historical Association, “The banner was found in the dropped ceiling of the Getman Building when it was a renovated by Jay Bernhardt. We call this the Gladstone block.”
It could not be kept in the building because of its size, Walters said, so the NYS Museum was contacted to see if they would accept it, which they did. “It has never been on view in Richfield since its original hanging, which was from the McCredy building across (the street) to Jay’s building,” explained Walters.
The banner reads, “Regular Republican Nominees” across the top, although the ‘R’ in “regular” is now missing. It then lists “For President Benjamin Harrison” and “For Vice President Whitelaw Reid.”
Prior to the reunion, “Jay asked me to make the arrangements (to display the banner), so I got in touch with Craig and the only place I could think of that would be suitable would be the school gym,” Walters explained.
With the help of RSCS Superintendent Robert Barraco and Maintenance Supervisor Randy Moshier, Walters managed to arrange to have the banner displayed on the old gym floor for the duration of the high school tours.
Following the tours, that very Saturday afternoon, the delicate and disintegrating piece of history which is now a part of the museum’s permanent collection, was safely returned to the museum’s collections storage facility in Albany, Williams said.
Walters noted as an after thought, “It’s tough to imagine it hanging across the street with present day trucks and busses!”