Cambridge Historical Society and Museum

Nestled in a late-Victorian-era house on Broad Street in the village, the Cambridge Historical Society and Museum has been in existence since 1929, when it was tasked with preserving the history of Cambridge and the surrounding area for the enjoyment and education of community members and visitors alike.

“I went to a historical society event about 12 years ago and have been involved ever since,” said Beverly Collamer, the society’s secretary, who has also served as society president.

The society and museum have as their goals the preservation and protection of the Cambridge area’s history in physical and written form. In part, the society relies on individuals and families to offer items for short-term exhibit or permanent display. These artifacts are used for educational insight and then returned or saved for posterity.

The society also encourages historical reference, examining the range of genealogy from the past to current events that can be found in letters, written articles, remembered stories and objects.

The society is provisionally chartered by the New York State Education Department and follows the guidelines it sets forth for museums and archives, thereby protecting items in its custody.

The society’s motto, “Saving our history…honoring the past,” is personified by the building that houses it.

Built in 1869 by John Smith, an officer of the Cambridge Valley Bank, the house is a splendid example of period architecture with its mansard roof, wraparound verandah and ornate exterior moldings.

In 1881 the house was sold to William McKie, whose daughter, Katherine, inherited it in 1901. She was a graduate of Emma Willard School in Troy,  belonged to the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and was director of Mary McClellan Hospital and founder of the hospital’s women’s auxiliary.

In 1929, the house was sold to the McFarland family who deeded it to the Cambridge Historical Society.

Rooms in the house museum include displays of 19th-century Cambridge-made Barton Furniture, Revolutionary and Civil War memorabilia, firefighting exhibits, as well as early china, pewter, glassware and antique kitchen utensils.

The museum’s collection also includes examples of 19th-century textiles, such as quilts, homespun coverlets, bedding, period clothing and accessories. Upstairs rooms include a beautiful period master bedroom, a children’s room and a resource room.

“We’ve also been working on restoring the old carriage barn on the grounds, which will be a new exhibition space by the end of the summer,” Collamer said.

“We’ll use the space to exhibit an old printing press and fire equipment from the Cambridge fire department. In the main house this summer will be an exhibit of wedding gowns from the Victorian era up through the 60s,” Collamer added. “We rotate exhibits about every two months.”

The society relies on support from the community. “We get all of our funding from fundraisers, donations and memberships,” said Collamer. “And we have a lot of great fundraisers planned for this year.”

Events planned include a chili supper and plant sale in May, a strawberry shortcake sale during the Cambridge Balloon Festival in June, an “Antiques Road Show”-inspired Cambridge Antiques Road Show in July and a Victorian tea and period fashion show in October.

For more information on the society and museum, call 518-677-5232, 518-677-3327, email or visit

The museum, located at 12 Broad St. in Cambridge, is open June 1-Nov. 1 on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 1 to 3 p.m. or by appointment.

NYVT Media
Author: NYVT Media

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