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al bullard

Symbol Of Endurance Buoys Milford Church

BAPTISMAL FONT REPAIRED

Symbol Of Endurance

Buoys Milford Church

Al Bullard, who restored the Milford Methodist Church’s Baptismal font, damaged when church burned in 2017, examines his handiwork.  (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.COM)

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

MILFORD – Three years ago, shortly after the Milford Methodist Church burned down, two members of the congregation, Al Bullard and Bill Triolo, were standing across Route 28 watching a crew of Peruvians from Rohlf’s Stained & Leaded Glass, Mount Vernon, removed “Christ in Gethsemane” and other windows from the ruins.

Rev. Robert Austin donated the Baptismal font in 1930, after a 1929 fire destroyed the Milford church.

As Bullard remembers it, Triolo, now chairman of church trustees, suggested, “Let’s go over and ask them for help.”

Soon, the amiable crew was loading two wooden flower stands, the Communion table, the pulpit and the Baptismal font into Bullard’s red pickup truck.

“I’m sorry we didn’t get the communion rail,” he added.

The church furnishings ended up in Bullard’s garage on Eddie Martin Road, except for the pulpit, which organist Ron Johnson stored in his garage in Pierstown, and is now in the Milford Community Center on East Main Street.

“The wood was alright,” said Bullard, an antiques and hops expert who is also pastor at the Colliersville and Emmons Methodist churches, “but it was black from soot and water damage.”

He added, “You can’t go wrong with quarter-sawn oak of the finest quality.”

By the time the new church opened last summer, Bullard – assisted by David Elliott, Milford – had restored the Communion table, inscribed across the front with “Do This In Memory Of Me.”

This past Sunday, however, when church members tuned into Pastor Sylvia Barrett’s 10 a.m. service on YouTube, which has become a staple since the coronavirus threat required in-person Sunday services to be cancelled, they were greeted by a surprise.

The Baptismal font and flower stands were back in place.  (The pulpit, considered out of scale in the smaller church, may be restored and displayed as an artifact in the new lobby.)

Among delighted church members was Becky Mattison, Oneonta, who had been alerted the day before by her daughter, Emily Mattison-Welsh.  Both Emily, now 37, and son Shawn, 41, were baptized at the font.

The mother called it “an old friend.”

Bullard has been refinishing furniture since a teenager in the Philadelphia suburb of Morton, Pa., where his father was an antiques dealer.  “I like bringing things back,” he said.

The bowl is Depression glass, created between 1930 and 1939 by the Jeannette Glass Co. in western Pennsylvania.  In the space beneath the bowl, Bullard found instructions on how to space the pews in the old church.

He scrutinized the brass plaque on the blond wood: It was donated by the pastor at the time, the Rev. Robert E. Austin, and his wife.

Looking at records back at the parsonage, Pastor Sylvia discovered another surprise: Rev. Austin was pastor in 1929, when an earlier church had also burned down.

He donated the Baptismal font at the ceremony dedication the new church in March 1930, 87 years before the replacement church burned.

Bullard has a personal connection to artifacts salvaged from the 2017 fire: One of the smaller restored windows behind the Communion table was dedicated to Grace Martin, a relative of his wife Sandra.

Raised a Presbyterian, he came to Otsego County in 1966 to attend the Cooperstown Graduate Program in Museum studies, met his future wife and stayed, becoming a Methodist.

“It’s nice to have something from the old church in the new church,” he said.  “For continuity.”

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SUNDAY, AUGUST 26
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SUNDAY, AUGUST 26

‘Brandenburg Concertos’ By Bach

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CONCERT – 7:30 p.m. Hear Bach’s “Brandenburg Concertos” performed by returning favorite Joseph Lin. Ticket’s, $25/adult. The Otesaga, Cooperstown. 877-666-7421 or visit www.cooperstownmusicfest.org/new-events

ANTIQUE ENGINE SHOW – 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Single-cylinder gas engine enthusiasts show their antiques from the early 1900s. Stop by for engines, food, community lawn sales, more. Fly Creek Cider Mill, 288 Goose St., Fly Creek. 607-547-9692 or visit www.flycreekcidermill.com/antique-engine-show-fly-creek-day-lawn-sales

‘Partners In History’ Event Highlights Otsego History

‘Partners In History’ Event

Highlights Otsego History

Hops expert Al Bullard, Milford, top photo, who published “The Hops Farmer’s Year” in 2015, discusses the once-ubiquitous Otsego County crop, now being revived, with attendees – from left, Dorothy LaGasse, Sandy Chase and Donna Robinson, all of Cooperstown.  The event was this morning’s “Partners In History” at Milford’s Upper Susquehanna Cultural Center, where historic displays were put on by local historians from across Otsego County.  At left is Judy Kessler, president of the Milford Historical Society, which hosted today’s event in collaboration with the Otsego County Historical Association.  Activities included a tour of the Sayre House and store, next door to the former Presbyterian church, conducted by Jim Havener.  (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

We’re Long Way From 20 Million Pounds, But Hops Rebounds, Bullard Tells GOHS

We’re Long Way From 20 Million Pounds,

But Hops Rebound, Bullard Tells GOHS

Hops history expert Al Bullard of Milford holds up a garland of hops flowers as his began his address at the Greater Oneonta Historical Society's annual dinner last evening at Toscana's on Chestnut Street. In 1880, the Central NY hops region produced 20 million pounds of hops, and we're a long way from that, Bullard said, but 20 years ago there were no commercial hops being grown in Otsego County at all. The Farm Brewery Act of 2012, which requires 90 percent of ingredients be grown in state by 2022, has changed that, he said. Sixty people – a full house – attended the dinner, a fundraiser for the GOHS. (allotsego.com)
Hops history expert Al Bullard of Milford holds up a garland of hops flowers as his began his address at the Greater Oneonta Historical Society’s annual dinner last evening at Toscana’s on Chestnut Street. In 1880, the Central NY hops region produced 20 million pounds of hops, and we’re a long way from that, Bullard said, but 20 years ago there were no commercial hops being grown in Otsego County at all. The Farm Brewery Act of 2012, which requires 90 percent of ingredients be grown in state by 2022, has changed that, he said. Sixty people – a full house – attended the dinner, a fundraiser for the GOHS. (allotsego.com)
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