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Chautauqua County Bicentennial History Fair highlights

Buzzings from BeeLines

August 30, 2011
The Chautauqua Suites Convention Center at Mayville hosted a highly successful, one-of-a-kind county-wide History Fair as one of the major events in celebration of Chautauqua County’s bicentennial, or 200 years as an official county in the state of New York.

Participants included the County Historian Michelle Henry, who planned and organized the event, plus most of the Town and Village Historians, Historical Societies, Genealogy and Cemetery Societies, all exhibiting an overwhelming display of historical items, postcards, photos, books, computer displays and ephemera. Civil War Reenactors provided some entertaining fife and drum selections, and there were a few lectures and movies in rooms adjacent to the main exhibition hall of booths.

The Westfield Town and Village Historian Marybelle Beigh shared a booth with Patterson Library, which was represented by Nancy Nixon.

The Patterson display was beautifully and artfully put together, consisting of large historic photographs restored and printed by Dave Correll for the library’s Octagon Gallery annual Westfield Revisited series, which Nixon collaged with photocopies from old photo postcards and photos from the Patterson Library archives. These photographs drew crowds of fascinated visitors and received rave reviews by those who studied the various photos in the display. For the two days of the fair, Nixon expertly explained the history behind the photos and skillfully answered questions of the viewers. She also supervised the Westfield Historian Exhibit when the historian was called to other responsibilities.

The Westfield Historian display focused on the recent research and stories about the many Westfield diners located in the village and town since 1900. Five notebooks containing related diners’ history, advertisements, menus and photos about Closson and Richardson, two local diner manufacturers, Merry-Guest Diner, Stafford’s Diner, Bancroft Lunch Car, Modern Club Diner, Pat’s Diner, Main Diner, Mead’s Modern Diner and a few mystery diners of Westfield. There were two non-Westfield diners displayed as well – Sherman’s Aggie’s Diner and Hilton’s Diner in Brookville P.A. – because of connections with Westfield people. “Diners of New York” books, by Mike Engle and Mario and Lucille Monti, were available to peruse or purchase. In addition, Engle, Diner Historian, assisted in setting up the exhibit, provided additional notebooks about diner manufacturers and diners throughout Chautauqua County and met with various exhibitors to discuss hitherto unknown diners and gather more information on others.

Future BeeLines will feature some of the new information provided by visitors to the booth as well as other exhibitors at the fair.

Marybelle Beigh is the current Public Historian for the Town and Village of Westfield. Her office is located at 3 East Main Street in Westfield, N.Y, 14787 — inside Parkview Ice Cream Parlor. Her scheduled office hours are Monday through Friday 9 to 11 a.m.; other hours by appointment.

Beigh can be reached at or by calling 326-2457 (office), 326-6171 (home) or 397-9254 (cell).

Article Photos

Submitted photo
This drawing of a Closson “Quick” Lunch Wagon is similar to the Closson Lunch Wagon which was recently discovered to have been located near the old B&LE Trolley Station under the east end, north side of the viaduct on Main Street, from 1913-1916, and was named Bancroft Lunch Car. This may have been the first “diner” in Westfield.



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