Historical interpreter to help kick off Adams exhibit

For residents who have never met a president of the United States, their chance to do so is Monday, said historical interpreter Bill Chrystal. Chrystal will lead a town meeting as John Adams, the second president of the United States. "It's a great way to encounter the past and to realize how much we owe to the founders and also to realize what a great legacy they've given us,' Chrystal said.
Lydia Coutré
Jun 25, 2011

 

The interactive meeting will be held in Grand Haven Central Park at 7 p.m. Monday. After talking about the life and history of Adams, Chrystal said he will answer any questions people have on historical or contemporary subjects.

“So if you wanted to ask John Adams about the bad economy, I would make a real attempt to answer that question as John Adams,” Chrystal said. “I would anchor it in something that he did or knew or said, but then I would talk about the event today.”

The meeting is a part of the “John Adams Unbound” exhibit at Loutit District Library, which runs June 27 – Aug. 5. The American Library Association Public Programs Office and the Boston Public Library organized the exhibit, which is traveling to 20 libraries throughout the country. Loutit is the only library in Michigan to display it.

“It says that we’re top notch,” said Larry Halverson, public relations for the library. “We’re really one of the elite libraries in the country to get this.”

The exhibit, which is on display on the main floor of Loutit, was made possible through a $2,500 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Every library to receive the grant and exhibit is required to present at least two adult programs and two children’s programs. Loutit is presenting 14 throughout the summer.

“We had such a great community response from all segments of the community,” Loutit Library Director John Martin said. “So we felt it was important that we do all these different types of programs.”

Chrystal was booked separately from the exhibit, as are all of the programs. Halverson said the entire exhibit and programs total about $18,000. He said the library used some of its own funds, along with an $8,000 grant from the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation and a $4,000 grant from the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies.

Beginning on Monday, a town crier will walk up and down Washington Avenue at 6 p.m. every weekday throughout the exhibit. He will proclaim John Adams Unbound events as well as the “news of the day,” which Halverson said library officials researched to have period-correct news.

Historian, re-enactor

Also on Monday, historian and re-enactor Ernie Marvin will present “Living in Grand Haven from 1735 to 1826,” at 10 a.m. in Loutit’s program room A, where he will explore what the city was like during Adams’ lifetime.

Colonial Tea

Historical Interpreter Wendy VanWoerkom of Norton Shores will host “Colonial Tea with John Adams” at 2 p.m. on Monday in the library’s program room A.

Residents who wanted to meet Adams (Chrystal) over tea were required to sign up for the event. There is currently a waiting list, Halverson said.

VanWoerkom said after a period-accurate meet and greet, she will talk about the history of the refreshments.

“Coffee and tea and chocolate, they had a lot of other things attached to them besides just the fact that they’re food,” VanWoerkom said. “I think people are fascinated by it, and why not know the history of a beverage, of a food or where things come from? I think it satisfies the curiosity that people have about it.”

Halverson said they have spent countless hours researching every detail to ensure they are entirely accurate. The food and drink served at the colonial tea comes from recipes they received from George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon.

“The library is full of information, and we want it to be as truthful and as accurate as what we can make it,” Halverson said. “We love to go back and re-visit how we got to be to where we are today.”

In keeping with this accuracy, there will be no sound system at the town meeting and Chrystal will be standing on crates reflective of the time period.

Hauenstein Center director presentation

Also next week, Gleaves Whitney, executive director for the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, will present “John Adams’ View of Fame” at 7 p.m. Thursday at Loutit.

Chrystal said it is important not to overlook what history has given us.

“I believe the study of history makes us a lot smarter in how we deal with the present and the future,” he said.

Chrystal, who has three master’s degrees in education, divinity and American history, said he has “spent years and years reading everything that I can.”

He said he has written articles and books on historical themes, and currently has four in the works. He became involved in historical interpretations about 20 years ago.

“I think for a lot of people it’s a lot more interesting than reading a book,” Chrystal said. “Frankly a lot of people will never read a book about him. This is the way they’re going to get to know more about John Adams than they would have otherwise ever known.”

For more information and a complete list of programs, visit loutitlibrary.org.
 

 

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