Published: June 26, 2012
Ronald Bourgeault accepted Old Sturbridge Village’s President’s Award at a reception in his honor at Boston’s Union Club on June 21. The Portsmouth, N.H., auctioneer was honored by his colleagues for his contributions to the public appreciation of New England life and history.
Donna A. DeCorleto, chairman of the museum’s board of trustees, welcomed guests and acknowledged previous recipients of the award, who include Jane C. Nylander, president emerita of Historic New England and senior curator of Old Sturbridge Village between 1969 and 1986; Brock W. Jobe, professor of American decorative arts at Winterthur Museum; and Abbott Lowell Cummings, PhD, the Charles F. Montgomery professor emeritus of American decorative arts at Yale University.
Taking the podium, Old Sturbridge Village President and CEO Jim Donahue said that he was pleased to report that attendance is on the rebound at the living history museum, whose finances have improved in recent years.
“Congratulations to Ron Bourgeault, our unanimous choice for this award,” concluded Donohue, as he introduced Nylander.
“Ron is deeply concerned that future Americans need to understand American history. He is a man of vast experience and goodness,” said Nylander, who first met the founder of Northeast Auctions in 1960 when he was a teenage exhibitor at an antiques show in Wolfeboro, N.H.
“Ron is a very good businessman with the soul of an antiquarian. He is loyal and cares about people,” she added, citing the auctioneer’s flexibility, honesty and generosity, both to his adopted hometown of Portsmouth and to the field of American art.
“It’s all about the people. Friendships have made my life’s work rewarding,” said Bourgeault, thanking those present. He recalled visiting Old Sturbridge Village as a child with his mother, Isabelle, and his close friendships with Ferilyn Watson and her husband, George, who oversaw the creation of Old Sturbridge Village and the movement of buildings to the museum site from the 1930s onward.
“I am honored to be in the company of Jane Nylander and Brock Jobe, who got me launched in the auction business,” he continued. Bourgeault’s first sale was a fundraiser for Historic New England, where Nylander and Jobe then worked.
He also acknowledged the part that Nylander played in helping him acquire the 1789 Jacob Wendell house in Portsmouth. Bourgeault is the first owner of this house outside of the original family and has carefully restored the dwelling and its outbuildings. He also helped to preserve the house’s original furnishings, many of which are on display at nearby Strawbery Banke museum.
Summing up, Bourgeault said, “We have to let every child know that they are part of this great American heritage.”
Based in Sturbridge, Mass, Old Sturbridge Village is the largest outdoor history museum in the Northeast.
For more information, 800-SEE-1830/800-733-1830 or www.osv.org .
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