Grand Opening

1960s promotional drawing of Stangl's Kiln Display

The Hill-Fulper-Stangl Museum Kiln Display grand opening celebration occurred April 15, 2000.  The air was redolent with the scent of blossoms from the ancient magnolias, crab apples and forsythias planted by Martin Stangl.  The cheer of the flowers was reflected in the high spirits of the many folks that gathered at Pfaltzgraff's Flemington store prior to the celebration!  Over 200 people signed our guest book, and there were many more who we know did not sign, so we can only estimate the number of people who actually attended!

Liz Kramar introduced Museum Directors Rob Runge and Diana Bullock-Runge, who then introduced Martin Stangl's daughter Christl Stangl Bacheler and Stangl designers Kay Hackett and Rose Herbeck.  The Dedication Ceremony and ribbon cutting were officiated by Flemington Mayor Ken Kutscher and Hunterdon County Freeholder George Muller.  Mayor Kutscher's daughter wielded the scissors to make the cutting official!

After the Official Opening of the Kiln, nearly 300 enthusiastic visitors filed through the kiln, oohing and aahhing over the 186 years worth of ceramics on display.  Pfaltzgraff reported record crowds visiting during the following week as well.  The whole afternoon of the 15th was filled with reminisces of the days "when it was still Stangl". Nearly everyone commented on the original 1950s Stangl Kiln Display.   Christl Stangl Bacheler also mentioned that it was her husband, Merrill Bacheler, Stangl Outlet manager, who originated the idea of the kiln display, and brought it to life in 1950.  Fifty years later, we had the wonderful opportunity to recreate it and expand on it.  When told that his original display was the inspiration for the whole museum, Merrill Bacheler seem surprised, but was obviously proud and pleased.

Merrill and Christl Stangl Bacheler

We received dozens of congratulatory letters prior to the Grand Opening, even a fabulous floral display was delivered, compliments of a prominent local Stangl/Fulper club member.  Unfortunately, neither Martin Stangl's granddaughter Libby Bacheler nor great-granddaughter Heidi Henderson could attend, but both wished us well.  Betty Stangl Thomas, Martin Stangl's youngest daughter, also could not attend, but in her very gracious note exclaimed "Dad would be proud of you!"

Several former Stangl employees traveled to join the celebration.  In addition to Merrill and Christl Stangl Bacheler and designers Rose Herbeck and Kay Hackett, the opening was attended by Irene Podayko, Outlet Assistant Manager; Evelyn Crone, bird decorator; Dorothy Denyse, dinnerware decorator; Josephine Tiffenbach, also a decorator; and visiting prior to the opening was Stangl's ceramic engineer Charles Jankowski.  A great time was had by all!

Following are photos of the event!

The welcoming committee gathers prior to the fete!
Lynn Davis, Dennis Barone, Regina Albert and Liz Kramar

Rob signs books as the ceremony is about to begin.

Mr. Stangl!  No one told us YOU were coming!!

Original Museum Benefactors Liz and Frank Kramar, 
with Rob's Book #1 that launched the Museum fundraiser!

The Peanut Gallery, center square!

Christl Stangl Bacheler relates tales of Merrill and herself managing
 the outlet, and memories of her father, Martin Stangl.

Kay Hackett recounts the joys of working at the pottery
 and designing for Mr. Stangl.

Rose Herbeck: "Thank you for inviting me.  You did it!  And well!  
Congratulations!  More than ever, I am for peace.  I am for beauty,
 art, harmony, and commitment to the goodness in life."


Hunterdon County Chief Deputy Freeholder George Muller (left), and Flemington Mayor Ken Kutscher (right) addressing those gathered on the importance of preserving the history of Hunterdon county and Flemington.  In the words of Mr. Muller "NOW is the time to preserve history, while it is still available, before it is lost to us forever!"

A few of the folks gathered in front of the speakers.

A bit more of the audience.

Christl's speech captures the attention of all.

Rob with Mayor Kutscher.

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