The Hartness-Porter Museum of Amateur Telescope Making is dedicated to the collection, preservation and showing of items relevant to the amateur telescope making movement. It is located at the Hartness House, an Inn and former home of Governor James Hartness, in Springfield, Vermont, and was first opened in 1975.
The accompanying photographs show some of the items on display. Since Porter was the founder of the Springfield Telescope Makers and is considered to be the father of the amateur movement, he is heavily represented through his original art works, a Garden Telescope and telescope making artifacts. The museum has numerous other contributors as well: several telescopes made by early and current STM members, a Hartness sundial, items from and mirror made by Scotty Houston, the original 1924 article in Scientific American which got the ATM ball rolling, 1st edition of ATM-1, mirror making kits and parts sold by John M. Pierce, and an Alvan Clark mirror testing stool, just to name a few.
The Springfield Telescope Makers are interested in considering items deemed significant to the understanding of the history of the amateur telescope making movement. These would include: early Maksutov telescopes, Schmidt cameras, tilted component and catadioptric telescopes, other unusual telescopes, innovative telescope components, testing equipment, and accessories. Please contact Bert Willard if you have something which you would be interested in donating to the museum. Many thanks in advance for your help.
Springfield Telescope Makers Historian and Museum Curator
The museum is currently only open during selected hours during the weekend of the annual Stellafane Convention; see the convention program for those times. Special arrangements can be made by contacting the Springfield Telescope Makers at other times. The Springfield Telescope Makers do not charge a fee but donations are always appreciated to help defray museum expenses.
Arrangements can also be made with the Hartness House to have them provide a tour of the Museum; they charge a small fee for museum tours they give.
The museum is the only Stellafane facility not located on Breezy Hill; it is located at the Hartness House at 30 Orchard Street in Springfield, Vermont (Map). The Hartness House is a mansion that was the home of James Hartness, a talented and wealthy man who made his fortune in the machine tool industry and served as Governor of Vermont. Hartness lured Russell Porter back to Springfield to help him design and productize his extremely successful Optical Comparator. Russell Porter founded the Springfield Telescope Makers shortly after returning to Springfield, and the original members all worked at Jones & Lamson, the company that Hartness owned.
Hartness built a turret telescope in his front yard (it's still there today, however the bushes show in the photo at left have been cut away) and then connected it to the basement of the mansion with an underground tunnel, and later he added several rooms under the front lawn to serve as his personal retreat, study and work area (See diagram above). It was used as a speak-easy during prohibition, and now it house the R. W. Porter Museum. See the Hartness House History Pages for more information on James Hartness and the history of the Hartness House.
On the subsequent pages we present photographs of selected items from our extensive collection; the museum holds much more, including several historic telescopes of original members and other amateurs of that era.
The museum is fortunate to have a good collection of historic telescopes, many made by the original members of the Springfield Telescope Makers and show in the Scientific American ATM books. We also have the historic Boston Common Telescope, which was used for many years for public viewing on the Boston Common.
In addition, display cases hold many historic telescope making artifacts. Click the link to see a small part of our collection.
Porter documented his ideas and experiences with sketches and drawings. His technical drawings were superb (his most famous are his Palomar Drawings). He also had an excellent sense of humor and often sketched caricatures and cartoons of the events and people he interacted with.
Our collection also includes many historic photographs of the people and events surrounding the amateur telescope making movement. Click on the link to see a small part of our collection of sketches, photos and drawings.
A small collection of cartoons drawn by Harry Kozan of the Maksutov Club in the 60's and 70's.
Porter and his contemporaries did a lot of casting and model building. We have many of these in the museum, several of which are displayed on the linked page.
Porter was always sketching or painting, expressing his creativity through this visual medium. He painted many watercolors on his arctic expeditions, and many of those are in the National Archives. The museum has many of his pastels and watercolors, click on the link to see some our collection.
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