Amherst Village Questers seek a new project

AMHERST – The Amherst Village Questers and their sister chapter, The Nipmugs, are quiet, low-key organizations of history and antique lovers who have used their time and talents to keep and restore Amherst’s past.

Money raised through raffles and sales have benefitted many of the town’s older buildings.

The Village Questers were founded in 1975 and members are looking forward to a 40th anniversary next year. They are also looking for a new project.

Recently, several members of the group met at the home of Jeannie Weller to talk about history and their interest in it.

“We need a project. We are also looking for fundraising ideas,” she said. “There is another chapter in Amherst and as far I know, only one other group in New Hampshire, and that’s in Concord.”

Past projects include significant contributions to the church steeple, town library, Brick School, cemetery sites, restoration of the library’s historic gardens and most recently, the corncrib on Baboosic Lake Road.

They also installed a Welcome to Amherst sign at the east entrance to the village, contributed to the granite curbing around the Wigwam and Chapel museums, appropriate books at the library and a transcribing machine for oral histories.

Some years ago, members created and sold a historic Amherst coloring book, as a fundraiser.

“When they were cleaning the library recently,” Weller said, “they found some of the books and money from sales, in a package. They gave it to us.”

Fundraisers have often included the talents of members and townspeople, including watercolors by Joyce Kingman, a cross-stitched sampler by Kim Renda, a quilt stitched by Tracy Veillette, Christmas cards with artwork by Marley Watton and woodcarving by Joe Allwarden.

There are also woodcut “shelf sitters,” featuring historic Amherst buildings, a new one each year.

The group contributes toward scholarships for those wishing to study history or related fields, current President Carol Smith said. They sponsored a group to advise residents on the proper historic preservation methods for their old homes.

Annual dues paid to the national organization in Philadelphia help support other scholarships, as well as the Winterthur Museum in Delaware.

The Questers are social as well as cultural, and chapter membership is limited to the number that will fit comfortably in a typical member’s home. New chapters can be formed if there is enough interest.

They hold two luncheons a year, in May and Christmas, and occasionally sponsor a speaker in a larger venue to include members’ guests. A recent program featured a New Hampshire Humanities Council speaker on the grand hotels of the White Mountains.

Anyone interested in the program or has an idea for a new project may contact Weller, who is the incoming president of the Village Questers, at P.O. Box 608, Amherst N.H. 03031.

International Questers was formed in Philadelphia in 1944 by Jessie Elizabeth Burdens.

She said, “A Quester is a socially well-adjusted person who has curiosity, enthusiasm, imagination and a good memory. For the greatest powers of the mind are memory and imagination … for without memory we have no past and without imagination, no future.”

Questers is governed by by-laws and is a nonprofit. They hold an annual national convention. The Preservation-
Restoration section was begun in 1956 with their first project in Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts.