Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Stockade Walkabout

A fife and drums corps marches on North College Street during the 1987 Walkabout. Photograph from Grems-Doolittle Library Photograph Collection. 

The Stockade Walkabout, which celebrates the rich history of the Stockade neighborhood and offers visitors the opportunity to tour the interiors of historic homes, gardens, and public buildings, has been a tradition in Schenectady for nearly 60 years. The first Walkabout was held on September 25, 1954 and was sponsored by the Schenectady County Historical Society and the Schenectady Museum (now MiSci). The event included tours of 19 homes and public buildings in the neighborhood. The Wednesday Group of St. George's Church provided a luncheon at the church, and volunteers provided child care during the event at the University Club, 17 Front Street. 97 costumed performers provided tours of historic homes and walked the streets of the Stockade.

Ticket for the 1959 Stockade Walkabout, featuring a listing of the homes and public buildings on the tour. Image from Grems-Doolittle Library Documents Collection. 

Ticket for the 1970 Stockade Walkabout. 8 homes and 4 public buildings were open for tours that year. Image from Grems-Doolittle Library Documents Collection. 

The initial Walkabout was a great success: over 600 people turned out to tour the neighborhood. "The affair was so successful," reported the Schenectady Gazette, "that several persons attending suggested that it be made an annual affair." The Walkabout did continue on, but not on an annual basis. The 1959 Walkabout was touted as the "Sesquicentennial Walkabout," as part of the celebration of the sesquicentennial of Schenectady County. A 1962 newspaper article indicated that the Walkabout was a biannual event. By the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Stockade Association partnered with the Historical Society to organize and promote the event. By the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Walkabout generally became an annual event.

Poster advertising the 1974 Stockade Walkabout. Image from Grems-Doolittle Library Documents Collection.  

Map of sites open for the 1961 Stockade Walkabout. Image from Grems-Doolittle Library Documents Collection. 

In addition to being open to visitors for the Walkabout, the Schenectady County Historical Society hosted teas and luncheons as part of the day's festivities. The Society also featured a number of demonstrations -- from wood carving and rug hooking to stenciling and needlepoint -- and provided historical slideshows and lectures.

Carol Harvey mans a table promoting the 1972 Stockade Walkabout at a Better Business Bureau function. Photograph from Grems-Doolittle Library Photograph Collection. 

This year's Walkabout, presented by the Stockade Association and the Schenectady County Historical Society, will be held on Saturday, September 28, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For more information about this year's Walkabout, or to order tickets online, visit Like us on Facebook at Stockade Walkabout 2013!

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