So after months of careful planning, he is getting ready to unveil a Woodhaven history exhibit that he hopes will delight long-time residents, as well as ignite an interest in Woodhaven history for neighborhood newcomers and the next generation.
Wendell, who currently serves as president of the society, hopes his future replacement will be a neighborhood kid that comes to see the exhibit.
In the next six to eight months, Wendell said the society is also planning on coming out with a book about the neighborhood’s history. He’s hoping to have the exhibit ready sometime in October.
“We really wanted something that would bring people together,” said Wendell. “We have a lot of interesting history, it would be nice to have a place to go and see things.”
Wendell is holding final details of what the exhibit will look like close to chest, but he promised it will be an interactive experience.
“It’s going to be a place where people can come together and really experience the history of the community in a really unique way,” he said.”
Wendell said he started to feel a sense of urgency to create the exhibit because the landscape of the community is constantly changing. For example, the last movie theater in Woodhaven closed in the 1980s, so at some point in the future there will be nobody left living who saw a movie in Woodhaven.
“It’s not just old history that’s disappearing,” he said. “It’s our more recent history too.”
Doing this in Wendell’s home community of Woodhaven is even more special for the longtime historian.
“I think that the people that live in this community have always had an interest in history,” he said. “If you’re going to go in front of a Woodhaven audience, you’ve got to know your facts.”
Wendell is still looking to add to the exhibit. He is searching for items from Woodhaven’s past or photographs he can scan and return. He can be reached at email@example.com.
He’s particularly interested in oral histories from residents willing to share their memories, which will be archived with the Queens Library.
“I’m hopeful that people will take part in this so our history and stories will be heard in our voices for hundreds of years,” he said.