North East Historical Society showcases Terni family’s legacy with library exhibition
As a way to further illustrate the Terni family’s story through images and objects, a third element of the Terni family exhibition at the NorthEast-Millerton Library entails a collection of artifacts from the multi-generation family that moved from Italy to Millerton.
Photo by Kaitlin Lyle

North East Historical Society showcases Terni family’s legacy with library exhibition

MILLERTON — Paying tribute to a family that’s had a lasting impression on the village during the past century, the North East Historical Society partnered with several local entities to arrange an exhibition of the Terni family’s legacy at the NorthEast-Millerton Library.

“It’s an interesting story on many levels,” said North East Historical Society President Ed Downey in regard to the Terni history. “First of all, it’s unusual to have a family in the same business throughout three generations in the community. It’s a story of immigrants who came here — first lived in other parts of New York south of us — but came to this community in 1919 and created a business, and the business itself is unique and this has survived through three generations.”

Downey touched on how each member of the Terni clan, in their own way, made important contributions to the community.

Bringing this exhibition to life, Downey said, was a partnership among several different entities, including the NorthEast-Millerton Library whom Downey said was gracious enough to offer space for the exhibit.

“It couldn’t happen to a nicer family,” said Library Director Rhiannon Leo-Jameson. “I’ve known Ellen [Terni] fairly well over the last couple of years and they’re just lovely people and it’s so interesting.”

Though she didn’t grow up in the village, Leo-Jameson has heard stories of the Terni family and was touched when looking through photos of the three generations now on display.

“It’s also wonderful for the library to work with the Historical Society because it’s important to recognize our local families, especially one that has such an impact on the community,” she said.

Other partners for the exhibition include Main Street Magazine — which assisted the Historical Society with accessing information about the family — and Thorunn Kristjansdottir of Thorunn Designs and Main Street, whom the Historical Society retained to create poster boards for the exhibit. The Terni family was especially vital in the collaboration by providing an abundance of information and background for the exhibition.

As they make their way around the library, visitors will find the exhibition divided into three main sections. The first element entails a series of about a dozen poster boards featuring different components of the family’s legacy. Told as a “chronological, biographical narrative to give people a sense of each generation,” Downey explained the boards are based on research that was done in collaboration with the Terni family with members of the Historical Society, accompanied by images collected from the Historical Society’s own collection and the Terni family.

As a digital element to the display, the second part of the exhibition includes a video-recorded interview told in three parts featuring the recollections of Don Hastings, an actor, writer and close personal friend of the late Phil Terni. Recorded on Thursday, May 6, Downey said Hastings’ family was kind enough to let the Historical Society do the interview, adding that Hastings also delivered the eulogy at the memorial service for Phil, who passed away this March.

The last element features a collection of artifacts from the Terni family that shares their story through images, objects and elements of the family’s history, including (among other tokens) candies and photos taken inside the now closed Terni’s Store on 42 Main St. in Millerton; Phil Terni’s hats; a photograph taken in 1953 to commemorate Assunta Terni’s return visit to Italy with her granddaughter, Stephanie; and photographs of the family.

The Terni exhibit will be available for viewing until Saturday, June 29.

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