Upstater Destinations: Durham Center Museum

  |  March 1, 2012

Photo: Durham Chamber of Commerce

In a small, unassuming red schoolhouse in East Durham on Route 145 lies one of the greatest collection of random artifacts and treasures in this part of the Hudson Valley. You’d never know it; the Durham Center Museum has no website. But what it may lack in technological advancement, it more than makes up for with stuff. Lots of lots of stuff.

The red schoolhouse which houses the museum is a little piece of history itself. Built in 1837 and used for its intended purposes until 1940, the schoolhouse was purchased by Vernon Haskins, who lived next door. His ephemera collection had outgrown his own home, so he stored his stuff in the schoolhouse. Soon, friends and neighbors caught wind of his collection and wanted to see it for themselves. Thus, the Durham Center Museum was born.

A book by Mr. Haskins, for sale on ebay

The Durham Center Museum is packed from floor to ceiling with farm tools, bibles, sheet music, toys, photographs, scrapbooks, plates, utensils and even memorabilia from President Lincoln’s funeral. And that’s just a fraction of it. It would be impossible for us to enumerate the items in the museum, but the curators, Dough and Sancie Thomsen, know it all and will guide you through the historical twists and turns.

The museum also contains a massive genealogy collection in their research library, not to mention cemetery records, assessment roles, obituaries and maps. They’ve also just recently added a book store and gift section.

H/ has an article about the museum here, along with a photo album, if you’d like a bit more information and to see just exactly how much there is to see at the Durham Center Museum.

The hours of operation have changed a few times over the past couple of years, so best to call ahead at   (518) 239-8461 or (518)239-4081,  or email

About Kandy Harris

Kandy is a writer and musician/music teacher living in Saugerties, NY.

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