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Middleport historian and village artifacts get new home

MIDDLEPORT - The office of Middleport Village Historian Christa Lutz and the village's collection of historical artifacts have a new home.

Thanks to a donation from the FMC Corp., Lutz has recently moved her office to quarters in the Masonic Lodge, 20 Main St.

"People want to see these things shared with the community," said Lutz. "I think it's just incredible."

Lutz described a 1921 Presbyterian Church ladies' supper quilt; fire department memorabilia; and many items from the late Dr. Kent Williams' local medical practice on display in her new headquarters.

"The Williams family donated these items because Dr. Williams' daughter, Susan Williams Brown, said, 'I want Daddy's things to come home,'" Lutz said. "People have loved it."

Andy Twarowski, plant manager at FMC Middleport, was instrumental in helping Lutz find the new spot, as well as secure it for the coming year.

"This is very exciting," Twarowski said. "It adds to the attractions. There is a growing kernel of development here and this is another step in the right direction.

"There is educational value to this," he said. "It's important for people to see where they've been, in order to see where they're going. I'm excited to see that these items have a new home. "

A generous resident had earlier granted temporary free space in a vacant building for the historian's office, but when that space was rented out earlier this year to a new business, Lutz was looking for a new spot.

Twarowski said that as a member of the Royalton-Hartland Business and Professional Association, he became aware of Lutz's plight and that as a Mason, he also knew of a perfect spot in the Masonic Lodge. He said he and Janet Lyndaker of the association "started brainstorming and it led to this."

The histories of the site of FMC Corp. and the village have long been entwined.

FMC Corp. has been operating on nearly 90 acres in Middleport since 1943, when it bought the site from Niagara Sprayer, which had been established in the early 1900s. Before 1974, the plant made arsenic-containing pesticide products, but now operates as a formulating and packaging facility. Since 1991, FMC has been involved in government-monitored investigation and clean-up of arsenic-tainted soils on nearby village properties.

Twarowski said, "The room has a fresh coat of paint, new carpeting and is in a great, secure location. Now Christa is going to try and make it a mini-museum as well as her office."

Lutz said she will continue to keep the majority of village artifacts in storage space in the nearby Village Hall, but she appreciates her new spot and hopes to rotate displays.

"This is a nice little space that puts me at street level with people, so they have a chance to stop in and see what we have," she said.

The office is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, or by appointment.

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