NYLA & United for Libraries dedicate Literary Landmark™ for Almanzo & Laura Ingalls Wilder
The New York Library Association, in partnership with the Empire State Center for the Book, United for Libraries, the Almanzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder Association, and HarperCollins Publishers designated the Wilder Homestead in Burke, New York, as a Literary Landmark™ in honor of author Laura Ingalls Wilder during a celebration on July 11.
Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867 – 1957) first wrote about her childhood growing up on the American frontier in Little House in the Big Woods (1932). She then immortalized the boyhood home of her husband, Almanzo, in Farmer Boy (1933), the second title in the “Little House” series. The novel chronicled one year in Almanzo’s life on the farm near Malone where he lived and worked from his birth in 1857 until 1875, when his family moved to Minnesota.
The Museum planned a day of celebration in conjunction with their annual art event for children. Adirondack folksinger Roy Hurd performed before the ceremony and the winners of the art contest for fourth graders were announced. Among those attending the dedication was Lisa C. Wemett, President of the Friends of Libraries Section of the New York Library Association (NYLA), representing both the library association and the Empire State Center for the Book.
Wemett submitted the application to United for Libraries on behalf of the Homestead and worked with all eight sections of NYLA to raise funds for the bronze plaque. “It seemed fitting to give northern New York a gift in recognition of NYLA’s 125th anniversary year. The Friends of Libraries Section was pleased to partner with all these groups to provide this legacy, which brings national recognition to the museum, with its strong connection to literature for young people,” said Wemett.
The Wilder Homestead is the first Literary Landmark™ in northern New York and the sixteenth in New York State. It is the only “Little House” site to receive this recognition from United for Libraries. This original homestead of Almanzo Wilder’s family is on the New York State Register of Historic Places and was named to the National Register of Historic Places in December 2014.
Museum volunteer Jim Lusk, who portrays Almanzo’s father James Mason Wilder, served as master of ceremonies and helped to unveil the plaque. Homestead Vice-President Ken Carre had constructed a pedestal of locally quarried stone which holds the plaque, surrounded by the kitchen garden at the farmhouse’s entrance. Historian and award-winning author William Anderson of Lapeer, Michigan, spoke about the “Little House” series and the significance of the Wilder family and Homestead to northern New York.
Anderson took the opportunity to present the 2015 “Laura’s Legacy Award” from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association to Sally House and her late husband Lawrence of Potsdam, New York. Originally of Malone, Mr. and Mrs. House were instrumental in bringing the Wilder farm to the attention of local residents and establishing it as an historical site. The annual award recognizes individuals who have made an outstanding contribution toward the preservation of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s legacy.
FLS has also worked this year with the Board of Directors of the Robert Louis Stevenson Cottage and Museum in Saranac Lake to secure Literary Landmark™ status. The Stevenson Society of America will be holding a celebration next summer to unveil their plaque in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the Museum.
The Literary Landmark™ program is administered by United for Libraries. More than 130 Literary Landmarks across the United States have been dedicated since the program began in 1986. To learn about the program and see a list of the other Literary Landmark™ sites in New York State, please click here.