Douglas R. Kent Obituary

Douglas R. KentWith deep regret, Hyde Hall, Inc. reports the passing of long-time friend and supporter Douglas R. Kent.

Douglas R. Kent died on May 1, 2018 at the age of 93. Born on March 23, 1925 in Jordan, New York, he was educated at the University of Rochester and then Columbia University, where he earned a master’s degree. His many accomplishments include service in the U.S. Navy during WWII and a long career in insurance, during which he rose to manage the automobile division for Kemper, a company in Syracuse, New York.

But the central focus of Douglas Kent’s life and work was historic architecture and historic preservation. For more than 50 years he devoted his considerable talents and energy to a single structure: Hyde Hall.

Kent became one of Hyde Hall’s major supporters during the time when the fate of the mansion and its outbuildings was highly uncertain. After five generations of Clarke family ownership (since 1817), Hyde Hall and its 600-acre picturesque park were acquired in 1963 by the State of New York, which planned to demolish the site.

Having appreciated the historical and architectural importance of Hyde Hall since reading about it as a boy, Kent joined Friends of Hyde Hall shortly after it was formed in 1964. This small group opposed Hyde Hall’s destruction, and Kent contributed to their efforts in many ways—writing about Hyde Hall, visiting legislators, and vigorously arguing for its preservation. An article he wrote for The Magazine Antiques in 1967 did much to establish Hyde Hall’s importance as a remarkably distinctive and irreplaceable landmark. Entitled Hyde Hall, Otsego County, New York, this was one of the first scholarly assessments of the Hall’s significance, and its publication in a respected nationally distributed magazine helped convince New York State officials to abandon plans to turn the site into tennis courts. This and the establishment of the New York State Historic Trust paved the way for a partnership between Friends of Hyde Hall and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation to give Hyde Hall a new future as a house museum.

As part of a feasibility study he wrote to clarify the goals of Friends vis a vis Parks during the late 1960s, Kent developed the first comprehensive vision of a restored Hyde Hall. While it is true that the restorations visitors see today when touring the mansion are the fruits of many people’s efforts, it is doubtful that this astonishing accomplishment—the Clarke family’s home reborn as a National Historic Landmark and New York State Historic Site—would have happened if it were not for the passion, intelligence, guidance, and unshakable determination of Douglas R. Kent.    

In 2012 Kent received the 2nd annual Anne Hyde Clarke Logan Cultural Preservation Award for his unmatched depth of knowledge about the history, architecture, and furnishings of Hyde Hall. An ardent and generous supporter, he underwrote the restoration of the two extremely rare vapor light dining room chandeliers in 2012 and many other major projects there. Douglas Kent’s passion for authenticity was a source of inspiration for all who shared with him the long journey of restoring Hyde Hall, now an important, Cooperstown-area museum and cultural center.

  

Seward to Be Honored at Hyde Hall

The Trustees of Hyde Hall, the National Historic Landmark and State Historic Site located in Glimmerglass State Park, are pleased to announce that New York State Senator James L. Seward will be honored for his service to the community at the August 4, 2018 Hyde Hall summer Gala.

First elected to the state senate in 1986, Senator Seward serves as state senator for the 51st  District, which is comprised of all or part of nine counties. Long a supporter of Hyde Hall, in 2016 Seward co-sponsored legislation that would extend for another 30 years the public/private partnership between the State of New York and Hyde Hall, Inc., a 501 c3 non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and restoration of Hyde Hall as a museum and cultural center.

Jonathan Maney, Hyde Hall, Inc. Executive Director and C.E.O., cites Senator Seward’s advocacy for museums and education as the reason for this honor. He says, “Jim’s work securing state aid for local school districts and special education initiatives makes him a friend to all who care about education and preserving history and our local heritage. The work he’s done to improve education as well as his tireless commitment to giving back to the community make him an obvious choice to be this year’s Hyde Hall Gala honoree.”

“Jim Seward has done so much for our area and for Hyde Hall,“ says Gilbert T. Vincent, Hyde Hall, Inc. Board Chairperson. “The grants he helped us get have made it possible for us to spring forward with major restorations. Tin Top, the original gatehouse that is now our Visitors’ Center, the new pine floors inside the house, and repairs to the Portico would not have been completed without his support.”

A native of Otsego County, Senator Seward attended Oneonta public schools and graduated from Hartwick College with a B.A. degree in political science. He also studied at the Nelson Rockefeller Institute of SUNY Albany. In 1999, Hartwick College honored Senator Seward with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

Please visit www.hydehall.org for more information about special events such as the August 4th Jane Austen-themed Gala. Tickets may be purchased by calling 607-547-5098 x8.

Fun, Sun and EGGS!

Despite cool temperatures and snow still on the ground, the Leatherstocking Regional Credit Union/Hyde Hall Easter Egg Hunt attracted 546 children and their families.Nothing stops these kids!

The winner of the Leatherstocking Regional Credit Union basket raffle was Mina Aramini of Cherry Valley.
The Hyde Hall Easter basket winner was Suzanne Campbell of Roseboom.

Hyde Hall is delighted to be the host of this now traditional annual event with the generous sponsorship of the  Leatherstocking Regional Credit Union.

 

Entrance Hall Lantern

Dating to the first quarter of the nineteenth century, this fabulous Argand hall lantern was restored and finally installed in May, 2017 by machinist Joel Paradis of Westmoreland, New York. Joel fabricated the missing center fixture and patinated the frame with highlights to match as was done in the period. With the addition of this over-sized lantern, which is perfect for the generous proportions of the Entrance Hall, the mansion now boasts a variety of functioning period lighting devices that will be used for evening tours and demonstrations.

The lantern is a gift from Douglas R. Kent, who made funds available to support its purchase and full restoration. The lantern’s name is derived from Aime Argand, a Swiss-French chemist who devised a center draft burner in 1783 that represented the first major technological innovation in improved lighting since the time of the Romans. Although not original to Hyde Hall, it is an important early light fixture typical of the oversized lanterns often found in the halls of English and American mansions.

We thank Doug and all our donors who have made it possible for us to add to our collection of furnishings and working period lighting.

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