WRITTEN AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY JOHN R. GREENWOOD
If you've ever stepped inside a Stewart's Shop, you will thoroughly enjoy one of the Saratoga County History Center's current exhibits.
The exhibit is titled "A Century of Ice Cream - And More!" It’s located at the Brookside Museum, 6 Charlton St. Ballston Spa. Admission is free. Donations are appreciated.
As a lifelong friend of the Dake family and 30-years Stewart's retiree, I thought I was familiar with everything about both entities. As co-curator of the Stewart's Exhibit, I soon realized I'd only experienced the tip of the iceberg. With the expertise of SCHC trustee Field Horne and the knowledge of Greenfield Town Historian Ron Feulner, I learned enough about Stewart's and nine generations of Dake history to write a book. That American history began in Rhode Island, touched down in White Creek, fought in the Battle of Bennington, and ultimately landed in a Town of Greenfield settlement appropriately referred to as Daketown.
The exhibit is a Centennial celebration of "Dake's Delicious Ice Cream" and the Dake's start in the ice cream business. The business began in 1921 with brothers Charles V. and Percy W. Dake using a hand-cranked ice cream maker to make ice cream on the family farm in Daketown. In 1945 the brothers purchased Don Stewart's Dairy on Church Ave. in Ballston Spa. In 2021 they have over 335 stores and are bursting at the seams with growth at every level.
My intention is not to detail the history here, but to encourage you to visit the museum and see it firsthand. Whether you're new to the area or you grew up around Stewart's, I promise you will enjoy traveling back in time to the days of the Saratoga Ice Company, helicopter rides, and home ice cream deliveries. You will find an original Dake family deed from 1787 and a family tree dating back to 1760. Two of my favorite display items are an original 1913 "Horse Thieves Beware!" Poster and a 1950s Tonka Truck that you could purchase with "Perky Points."
The exhibit will interest the longest-tenured Dake's Delicious Ice Cream eater and the youngest 2021 MYO Sundae fan. There is something here for everyone.
Along with the Century of Ice Cream, there are three additional exhibits to enjoy at the museum.
The Country Store in Saratoga County
Before Stewart's, every hamlet in Saratoga County had a country store. They carried the necessary staples of the communities they served, and they became a social gathering place in the process. Rare photographs of those country stores line the largest room in the museum. The Country Store Exhibit is dedicated to the vital role they played in our history.
Mystery Photographs from Eastern Saratoga
This exhibit consists of 33 unidentified photographs that came from large format glass plate negatives. It is unknown who the photographer was. The Old Saratoga Historical Association of Schuylerville was instrumental in preserving them. I can attest to the haunting beauty and intriguing subject matter of these post-Civil War era images.
The Social Life of Hats
This exhibit of historical hats and their stories was made possible by a collaboration between the Saratoga County History Center and the Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore. It was the result of a course taught by Drs. Tillman Nechtman and Eric Bastress-Dukehart. It involved analyzing and investigating Brookside's extensive historical hat collection.
The Saratoga County History Center, Brookside Museum, and the dedicated volunteers and trustees have worked tirelessly to breathe new life into this *National Treasure. They have done a spectacular job preserving the building and our county's history, and they deserve the community's gratitude and support.
The Stewart's Exhibit will remain on display through May 2022 but don't delay—visit today. We'd love for you to tell your friends and neighbors to stop by too.
Don't forget to stop for ice cream on the way home!
*Brookside Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Country Store Exhibit: Greenfield Center 1957.
Stewart's Perky Pride ice cream containers circa 1948.
Saratoga Ice Company truck fleet. Present day Waterworks Building in the background.
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