Historian takes on town of Van Buren

She then volunteered her time filing alongside Lysander town historian Bonnie Kisselstein and became interested in the old local theatres.

“It started with two movie lobby posters that led to five volumes of the Showtime Collection,” Breakey said. “I wanted to know what the people were seeing and what the people were doing.”

Her first volume focuses on the Orpheum, which was located on the south side of West Genesee Street.

“It’s more like a cultural study of what was going on in theatres, what the people were doing, [there’s] a lot of genealogy in it,” she said.

The Orpheum includes a DVD of one of the last silent films shown there.

The second volume she wrote centers on the former Howard Opera House, where Pizza Man Pub is currently located. The third volume is on the Grange Theater, fourth is the Palace Theater and the last is about other entertainment, particularly the circuses that came to Baldwinsville in the late 1890s.

“The whole set, primarily the first four, are an interesting look at how the movies changed, the role of the women … that’s [the research] I did.”

The entire collection can be found in the local history and genealogy department of the Baldwinsville Public Library.

A little bit on Breakey

When Breakey’s not hard at work as the town historian, she’s hard at play. The 74-year-old has a passion for painting and cycling, and was once an avid hiker. In 1996, she completed a long distance hike on the New York State Finger Lakes Trail that which she would walk in parts, mostly during vacations. She was a hiking coordinator for elder hostel programs in Corning, and also an educational guide at Beaver Lake Nature Center.

“My dad was from the Adirondacks as was his father and his father,” Breakey said. “I grew up there summers so I had a real thing with the outdoors and nature.”

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