Milford's place in cinema history told in new exhibit

Columns Museum holds sneak preview for Black Bear Film Festival's Patrons Den, plans opening in near future

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  • Costume replicas for the Mary Pickford, John Barrymore film “The Informer” (Photo provided)

  • Bob Keiber, executive director of the Black Bear Film Festival, welcomes Patron Den and Sponsor guests (Photo provided)

  • Curator Lori Strelecki presents the new exhibit (Photo provided)

"The history of early filmmaking here in Milford has always been a pet project of mine. The rest of the world needs to know about and come visit."
Mayor Sean Strub

— A new exhibit that tells the story of Milford's place in film history exhibit has opened at the Columns Museum.

Sponsored by the Black Bear Film Festival's Executive Director, Bob Keiber, and curated by museum director Lori Strelecki, the exhibit opened with a private sneak preview for the festival's Patrons Den.

"People kept telling me we needed a film museum to pay tribute to the town's rich film production legacy," said Keiber. "It occurred to me that we already had fine museum. All we needed was someone to sponsor an exhibit. And who better than Black Bear Film Festival? And what a great addition to the festival in October."

A trolley is planned to take visitors from the Milford Theater to the museum.

The exhibit starts with the Mary Pickford, D.W. Griffith silent films "The Informer" and "Feud in the Kentucky Hills," circa 1912, which can be seen at the exhibit. It goes on to feature Charlie Chaplin, Francis X. Bushman, John Barrymore, Gladys Leslie, and Douglas Fairbanks, with more stars to be highlighted as the exhibit grows. Many of those early stars lodged at the Hotel Fauchère.

"April 8 was Mary Pickford's birthday, so we thought it would be a great date to open it," said Strelecki. "We even baked a cake and sang 'Happy Birthday.' This is just a beginning. We will continue to look for more artifacts to add to enrich the display. Anybody out there who has something to contribute is encouraged to contact me,"

Milford Mayor Sean Strub said he loved the preview.

"Lori and Bob did a world class presentation," said Strub. "The history of early filmmaking here in Milford has always been a pet project of mine. The rest of the world needs to know about and come visit."

Dave Chant of Chant Realtors said the exhibit provides a "fascinating insight into Pike County's pioneering film history. It also is a great example of cooperation between two important local nonprofit groups — the Pike County Historical Society and the Black Bear Film Festival — that benefits the community. Hats off to Lori and Bob Keiber for proving the power of collaboration."

A public opening of the exhibit is scheduled for the near future.

The Columns Museum is open from 1 to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays by appointment; and from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

For more information call 570-296-8136.

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