Lomontville residents, Steve and Nan Bress Ferri, 45, 44, and their daughter, Ella, now in fourth grade have opened up, The Den of Marbletown, a fun, cozy, and unique Steiff Teddy Bear Museum and Gift Shop, which encompasses a Family-Suite Bed and Breakfast. Steve and Nan, who are very involved with the community and huggable in their own right, wanted to share their love of Teddy Bears and the community.
“My mom is a really big Steiff Collector, (Steiff is the German company that invented the teddy bear) and she was looking to give us some of her collection,” said Nan, a Documentary filmmaker who owns Docnography, a documentary + ethnography corporate research company. “She actually enrolled Steve in the Steiff Club to try to encourage him to become a gentleman teddy bear collector. The more we thought about it the more we felt, why not share my mom’s collection with the public and other collectors?”
“During the week, we hope to be a cozy place for people to come and meet up with each other, use our Wi-Fi, play, relax,” said Steve, who is currently the President of the Marbletown Civic Association. The two felt that the Den would be that great place for a mom to stop by with her kids. “On the weekends we’ll attempt to be more of a collectors and tourism attraction with teddy bear dioramas of things to do in the Hudson Valley. We hope after a weekend stop here, we can inspire tourists to go visit other local attractions and businesses too.”
The Den of Marbletown location at 1 Basten Lane, with an entrance on Route 209 right at Tongore Road in Marbletown, which is such a beautiful home encompassing both the Teddy Bear Museum and B&B is all beautifully described on the website, www.thedenofmarbletown.com with both text and pictures on all the amenities of the homey spot.
The three bears work together to continue to evolve the location. One of Ella's ideas was the Gamer’s Lounge on the second floor where kids can get together and play Minecraft and other games.
Steve, who had a local gourmet compound butter company, and line cooked in various restaurants in New York City, and Santa Fe, will be be the chef for the B&B making breakfast using local purveyors and seasonal menus. “I will also be managing the B&B and Steiff retail store,” he said. “Nan is more involved in the museum and in making films about Steiff, the displays, and local attractions.” Guests will also get to enjoy the amazing baked goods of Lisa Jones and Hudson Valley Food Matters.
And what can a day at the museum offer and a stay at the B&B guarantee?
“Anyone who has been inside of the Basten House agrees that it is a magical space,” said Nan. “Our goal is to create a wonderful, inspiring experience as you walk through the rooms, see the old wallpaper, and discover secret passageways. The bears bring up memories of old world craftsmanship, and nostalgia for the era before the McToy. But we have 21st century experiences too, including interactive displays with sensors, lights, music, and the ability to vote for your favorite bear by simply waving your hand or making a bear dance by dancing yourself.”
Overnight guests also have the exclusive privilege of “A night at the museum.”
Currently, the Ferri family is looking for volunteers to help catalog the museum collection, to help design displays and dioramas, to lead gallery tours, to create hands-on activities for visitors, and to host special event workshops and lectures.
“We are so happy to have the creative talents of artists Nancy Ostrovsky, Lora Shelley, Maria Reidelbach, Rosanne Percivalle, Doreen Johnson, and Lisa Ferri,” said Steve. “But we are also looking for artists to make additional displays. The idea is to change up the look of the museum and the displays each season. Any artists or volunteers can reach out to us at email@example.com or call the Den at 687-6441.
The official Den grand opening on Saturday, Oct. 11, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. is open to the public. The 10 a.m. ribbon cutting ceremony will be through the Rondout Valley Business Association. The day will entail gallery tours, food, family-friendly scavenger hunts, movies about Steiff, and interactive, high tech experiences.
And the following day is the Steiff Club event from 1 to 4 p.m.
“We’re encouraging all Steiff Enthusiasts to come to this event because we’ll have special guests attending from Steiff USA, and a Steiff Archivist who will give free appraisals of your own Steiff pieces – so do go to your attic and dig out a teddy bear, tiger, or two and bring them on Sunday,” said Nan. “We’ll have tours of the Steiff Teddy Bear Time Line, special presentations from our special guests about the history of the brand and a show and tell of new items available for ordering.”
The excitement and happenings at the Den will continue to flourish, but the three bears emphasize they do want to still keep a warm and relaxed atmosphere. “To me the biggest goal of the Den of Marbletown is to be a cozy asset for the community,” said Steve. “In the future we will feature more Steiff pieces rotated from our collection as well as Madam Alexander dolls, Barbie dolls, and hand-carved, wooden toys from our collection. We will also try to be a place for locals to have shows to display their own toy or doll collections.”
“Our exhibitions will change seasonally (and some more often than that),” said Nan. “So our goal is to have people come frequently for new exhibitions and special events.”
And the fun is not just for the kids. “We love the idea of “parallel play” where parents and children can both attend an event and learn something of interest. So kids might be in one room doing a felting activity related to a museum exhibit and parents can be next door learning about Photoshop, or listening to a master craftsmanship lecture, or learning about foraging and feasting (one of our diorama displays).”
Some of he upcoming events include: Steiff History lecture led by Steiff Archivist Rebekah Kauffman; Teddy Bear Tea parties; Master Craftsmanship lectures; Felting workshops; Fashion Design Saturday to design and sew a costume for a Teddy Bear or favorite toy; Mother-Daughter Spa Day in January and the Stop Motion Animation Lab.
The three teddy bears may lead a busy life, but they do have their priorities in order. “In my family, it's Happy Wife = Happy Life,” said Steve. “I also try to remind myself that life is short and I should just enjoy each day I get.”
“Don’t worry about the destination,” said Nan. “Just enjoy each detour.” And make sure that detour includes the Den of Marbletown.
Hours of operation of the museum are Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed Monday. Admission is $2 for adults, $1 for seniors and kids 2-17 years old, and children under 2 are free. The family rate is $5.
And all this and more can be found at thedenofmarbletown.com, by calling 687-6441 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.