DOWNTOWN PEOPLE: Keeper of History
If there was anyone meant to spend her days in a 1730s National Historic Landmark, it’s Jennifer Plick.
By Janice Llanes Fabry
If there was anyone meant to spend her days in a 1730s National Historic Landmark, it’s Jennifer Plick. As the Assistant Director of the Rye Historical Society, she lives and breathes history.
“The Square House is one of those great houses with stories to tell,” offered Plick, who loves people’s reactions upon their first visit to this prominent museum in the center of town. “George Washington was here twice and we can prove it through his travel diary.”
The history buff can hardly believe she has worked at the Rye Historical Society, which maintains both the Square House and Knapp House c. 1692, for nine years already. “I see kids, who participated in a lot of our programs, and are now out of college,” said Plick, who started out as the education curator. “It’s nice to see the next generation coming back to the Square House.”
No stranger to national treasures, when Plick first graduated with a degree in history and political science, she worked as a tour guide at the John Jay Homestead Museum in Katonah. Subsequently, she went on to work in educational programming at Historic Hudson Valley and the Greenwich Historical Society.
Here at the Square House, she is passionate about the programs offered to children who are interested in activities outside of the more typical extracurricular programs or sports. “It’s a good spot that allows kids to explore history along with other arts they like, crafts, theater, music. It’s fun.”
During her tenure, Plick has created workshops, school and summer camp programs. As Assistant Director, she has acquired more administrative duties and continues to oversee the programming.
“I like the idea of having kids experience different time periods,” she explained. “It’s not about reading from a text book. It’s putting pieces of a puzzle together, like being a detective and seeing how events in the past influence and have an impact on the present.”
Is she could live in any other time period, which would it be? “My favorite period is from the mid-1700s to the 1800s,” she pondered. “We were creating a whole new country and a whole new system of government at that time. What it took to get all that going was amazing.”
She is intrigued that the Square House was reincarnated as Rye’s City Hall for 60 years long after it was a public inn and before it became a museum. “People still remember getting their marriage license here in the 1950s and 60s,” she noted.
Plick has a rich repertoire of archival anecdotes that she loves relating. But even a serious historian has her guilty pleasures. Hers is the Food Network. “I am addicted,” she admitted. “I spend far too much time cooking and baking.”
As far as her goals for the Rye Historical Society, she said, “I want the Square House and the Knapp House to be known by the community as the keepers of history, so future generations can learn about the times we live in now.”