The Local History Room is an extension of the Town Historian's office and is administered by the Town Historian. The room is staffed by the Local History Room Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator. Their duties include organizing materials, building displays, researching various topics, helping patrons, and coordinating volunteers.
The Local History Room is located inside the Penfield Public Library at the Penfield Community Center, 1985 Baird Rd., Penfield. The room is open Monday 12:00-5:00 & 7:00-9:00 pm, Tuesday 10:00 am-12:00 pm & 12:30-4:30 pm, and Wednesdays 10:00 am-12:00 pm & 12:30-4:30 pm. Town Historian Kathy Kanauer oversees this room.
In 1984 the Town of Penfield began to formulate plans for a new community center on Baird Road. Maude Frank, Penfield Town Historian at the time, proposed that a local history room be established to provide a place for Penfield records and artifacts to be preserved and displayed. A room for the Town Historian was incorporated into the Library area of the building. The Historian organized an advisory committee and held monthly meetings for more than a year to discuss requirements and plans for the room.
With information gained from archival conservation seminars at the Rochester Museum and Science Center and with the advice of a conservator at the Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum the committee was able to incorporate the latest museum conservation technology into their plans. Particular attention was given to room lighting, proper light levels shielded fixtures and treated window glass to prevent damage to displays. Separate heat and air conditioning controls were planned for the room.
Display space was designed to include floor areas, a large wall cabinet and glass top drawer displays--all properly lighted. Room furnishings are in keeping with the historical purpose of the room. A clock, a deacon's bench, and storage cabinet were given to the room by the Penfield Library. The Penfield Heritage Association donated an early church pew. Antique tables and chairs were purchased to complete the room furnishings. Wall stencils by local artist Jean Bayer provided an appropriate and colorful background.
All materials permanently acquired by the own will be Penfield related or of significance to the Penfield area and western New York. Display materials need not be so related but may be hobbies, collections, etc. However the emphasis is on local history. The community is invited to participate in lending items for display and donating material for permanent acquisition.
The initial display featured milling, farming, and pioneer home activities in early Penfield. Other major exhibits have included "Plenty of Everything and All in One Place" which featured a country store and early Penfield Post Offices; "Tea Bread, and Butter" featuring a parlor furnished with several early Penfield artifacts; "Plain & Fancy Fabric & Needlework" with examples of spinning wheels, a loom, early quilts, and various other textiles and needlework; "Historic Penfield A Growing Place", which highlighted early horticulture and nurseries in Penfield, "So...What's the Idea?", featured Penfield inventors and patent holders, focusing primarily on Almon Brown Strowger, Penfield native who invented the automatic telephone switch.
Other displays have included Native American artifacts, early lighting devices, canning jars, teapots, dolls decorative combs, seasonal items, various Penfield related documents, artifacts from Daytons Corners School, cameras, blacksmith tools, and items relating to milling. Ongoing displays include a scale model grist mill built by local carpenter James Shedd; a relief map of the mills along Irondequoit Creek, made by Katherine and Robert Thompson; and the 175th Anniversary Quilt, made by members of the Penfield Heritage association, under the leadership of Anne Bush.
Early displays were planned and installed by Janice Braman. Historian and Local History Room Coordinator, Kathy Kanauer, prepares current displays. Many individuals helped to make the displays possible. Marion Mallory provided artistic talent and James Shedd provided woodworking craftsmanship for many of the displays. Local History Room Committee members have provided many ideas and materials for display. Area residents have been very generous in loaning items for displays.
Pioneer Certificates were established in 1985, the Town of Penfield's 175th anniversary year. These were made available for people whose ancestors settled in Penfield prior to 1885 or in Webster prior to 1840, when it was a part of Penfield. Several hundred pioneer certificates have been awarded to individuals. This is an ongoing project in the Local History Room.
Materials that are available for genealogical research include federal and state census records cemetery records, church records several listings of births, deaths, and marriages, DAR Indexes, family history files, reference books, and more. Family history files have been created for many early Penfield families. Files include information provided by one or more sources who have researched the family. New files are created when information becomes available.
The Widger Genealogy collection, consisting of more than 500 volumes, was donated by the children of Jane Terry Widger, in her memory. The collection contains research materials relating to areas outside of Penfield, primarily New England. This allows researchers to continue their work.