What's Up (and Around) at the Meeting House

By Louise Polli

It could have been any late fall day at Landis. The skies shifted ever so slowly from threatening clouds to cleansing rain and, suddenly, cleared. The weathered barn door of the Meeting House was thrown open, and as if on cue a luminous double rainbow spanning the Schoharie Valley appeared.

Though the Meeting House barn door is gone, the view seen through two walls of windows and glass doors is no less spectacular. A wrap-around deck has recently been enhanced by a stone retaining wall. Landscaping and a patio allowing additional seating are planned for the spring. And so the improvements to the Meeting House progress. Some, like those mentioned, are visible at first glance, while others quietly elevate the functionality of the facility. These enhancements include gravel paths, roof vents, a storage shed with counter space, a widened driveway, and additional outside lighting.

But the real magic is what has been happening inside and around the structure. Events, big and small, have filled the space with visitors: birthday celebrants, music aficionados and budding stars, picnickers, employee groups, and wedding parties. As Special Events Coordinator Wendy Kass said, “We’re just getting started.” She and Board President Jim Paley teamed up with local music promoters, Sam and Noel Bates and Jim Miller, to establish an Arts and Entertainment Committee and present two ongoing musical events, the Full Moon Music Series and the Landis Acoustic Music Series. These were joined by a host of other performances including the Upper Catskill String Quartet, the Albany Gay Men’s Chorus, and multiple Open Mic nights.

Next year’s schedule will be even better with other notable performers to attract new audiences. And then there are the weddings, Wendy’s area of special interest. After last year’s nearly half a dozen bookings, she has already had 42 additional inquiries. Rural weddings are trending, and Landis has proven itself an ideal choice for couples seeking a mix of rustic tranquility, simple elegance, and an unmatched scenic locale. Affordability and proximity to the Capital Region are other important assets. Wendy noted, “They are so welcomed; we’re a fast-growing part of the Arboretum . . . . This is from zero to 60 in three years.”

Indeed, just a few years ago, none of this seemed possible. With the momentum fueled by the growth of the Arts & Entertainment and Special Events Committees, successful fundraising and grant writing, and enthusiastic response from the public and Arboretum supporters, “The Meeting House Complex” is becoming a reality. As Jim promised, “We’re not done yet.” The future might include solar panels, additional landscaping by the pond, and, of course, fully accessible bathrooms, making the Meeting House truly welcoming as a three-season classroom and event space. Wendy and Jim agree: “The sky’s the limit.”

Winter 2015

Volume 33 , Number 1

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