Carol A. Johnson, an archivist at the Elting Library, began listing off a stream of facts about New Paltz, facts few current students would know.
“The first floor of Old Main used to be an elementary school,” she said. “The second floor was a high school and the third floor a college. The college students received experience by teaching on the two floors beneath them.”
Johnson is a scholar of the history of New Paltz. Johnson has been working at the Elting Library for 25 years, specifically in the Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection (HHHC), a place she lovingly refers to as “New Paltz’s attic.”
The HHHC, has proved to be a valuable resource for Johnson when she wrote “New Paltz Revisited,” a 128-page photo spread released on Monday, Sept. 27.
“I know where to look to find out about it,” said Johnson, referring to information pertaining to her book.
Johnson has a real history in this town. Having lived in the same house in New Paltz all her life, Johnson said that it is a town she will always know as home. Having grown up here, Johnson feels that it’s important for her and other New Paltz residents to know the history of the town.
In her book, Johnson includes a fair amount of information about SUNY New Paltz.
“The college is an important part of the book,” she said, “since it’s an important part of the community.”
Johnson’s love for New Paltz was a contributing factor to her writing the book. Her primary intentions, however, serve a much deeper role than just demonstrating her admiration for the town.
Her inspiration for writing the book was twofold. She said her love for the history of New Paltz is a passion that she wants to share with the community. She hopes that her book will help people learn more about New Paltz, and the rich heritage behind it.
Johnson said when people read a book about someone who lived in New Paltz, they become interested when they can see the house that person lived in.
In addition to this passion for New Paltz, Johnson said she hopes to ignite a desire in people to question and challenge the world around them. She hopes that though her book provides many answers and that it will also leave people with just as many questions.
Johnson’s love for the town is less for its aesthetic appeal, and more for its rich history.
When asked what she loves about the town, other than its history, Johnson laughed and said, “I have to think about that.” She sat for a while, looking down at the table, as though the question posed a large challenge for her.
Though her book signing already occurred at the library, Johnson promised to sign any copies people bring in. So come by the library, and get your book signed. Though be prepared, for you may leave with more questions then when you had entered.