By Nicole Shue
The John Wells Pratt House Museum in Fulton will soon lose one of its most beloved employees to retirement. Alec Seymour, head of maintenance at the historic house, has decided to pass on the hammer.
“It’s hard to let go. I’ve seen this place blossom and come alive,” said Seymour.
Seymour began doing maintenance on the house in the mid 1980s.
“I haven’t left since,” quipped Seymour, noting that with a house of its size, there is always a long to-do list.
Seymour moved to Fulton in 1966. He spent four years with the Air Force, and 34 years with a local telephone company. If you’ve visited the Pratt House in the last decade, Seymour was most likely your tour guide. Many Fultonians know him as man who collects antique telephones. He loves answering questions about his extensive collection, especially from students on his tours.
“Things like pay booths are a thing of the past,” said Seymour. “I have elementary kids visit that have never seen a rotary phone. That’s hard to imagine.”
Although his days of painting and scraping the old house are over, Seymour still plans to give tours “until they kick me out.”
Seymour enjoys seeing the relics that people bring in. When the house first opened to the public, just about any old treasure was accepted. Now the Pratt House primarily features objects with ties to Fulton.
“I always ask people questions about their items when things come in,” said Seymour. “There is so much to learn, and so many things still out there stowed away.”
Hundreds of old black and white photos have been donated to the Pratt House over the years. The problem is that most of the subjects in these photographs are unidentified.
“In the olden days people didn’t move as frequently,” said Seymour. “Now, pieces of Fulton are all around the country.”
Seymour recommends that everyone identify their old family photos by writing names and dates on the back. This is especially helpful when people come in with genealogy questions.
In addition to being a paid employee of the Pratt House, Seymour is also the exhibit chairman. Every year after the Parade of Trees, Seymour builds and changes the two downstairs displays. In the coming year, first responders and all things miniature will be featured.
“I like seeing the displays come together and tell a story,” said Seymour. “The Pratt House highlights what I think is impressive about the area. The house has a lot to give everyone. Fulton has a gem here.”
Seymour said that what really keeps the house going are the volunteers. Friends of History has over 200 members, with 30 regular volunteers. Every item that comes through the house is given a number and recorded. When an item moves from room to room, it has to be documented. Volunteers who do these tasks sit on the accession committee.
The Pratt House is currently looking for volunteers to help answer the phones, write letters, direct tours and do outdoor upkeep. The museum is open Wednesday to Friday.
Sue Lane, director of the Pratt House, said that in 2015, she is also looking to increase membership and member participation.