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Documentary outlining Charles Evans Hughes's Adirondack connections set to premiere

GLENS FALLS — A documentary on the life of Charles Evans Hughes — the Glens Falls native who went on to serve as governor of New York before being named to the U.S. Supreme Court, only to resign and run for president — is set to premiere next month.

Tickets for the virtual premiere of “My Native Air: Charles Evans Hughes and the Adirondacks” are currently on sale through the Charles R. Wood Theater.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the theater and the Glens Falls Arts District, which have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Maury Thompson, a former Post-Star reporter who led the project, said the film was originally slated to premiere at the Wood Theater, but the pandemic forced a change.

“We found a way to turn lemons into lemonade, because the theater can sit a finite number of people,” Thompson said. “But with a virtual download, there’s no limit. As many friends and neighbors as you can reach out to and tell about it can view (the film) and the proceeds from this will help the theater out at a time that it needs it.”

An on-demand version of the film can be purchased for $15 and can be viewed from Jan. 15 until Feb. 15.

The documentary tells the story of Hughes’ connection to the Adirondacks and his tireless to preserve its wilderness during his years of public service, which included four years as governor of New York, beginning in 1906.

Hughes would later be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court but resigned in 1916 to accept the Republican nomination for president in an unsuccessful bid against Woodrow Wilson.

He would later serve as secretary of state under President Warren Harding.

President Herbert Hoover, in 1930, appointed Hughes as chief justice of the Supreme Court, where he served until 1941.

He died in 1948.

Thompson said Hughes lived a life worthy of a 10-part Kens Burns-like documentary series, but he managed to narrow things down to 43 minutes.

Filmmaker Caitlin Stedman of Snarky Aardvark Films produced the film and local songwriter Ray Agnew composed and recorded an original soundtrack.

“We basically focus on his whole life, because his whole life was geared around the Adirondacks,” Thompson said.

The documentary was filmed over a two-year period at various locations throughout the Adirondacks region, including The Hyde Collection, the Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library, Fort Ticonderoga and the Silver Bay Association in Hague.

Thompson said, at one point, he and Stedman boarded the Lake George Steamboat Co.’s Mohican vessel to document Hughes’s connection to the lake.

“We wanted to get some footage from the lake of Cannon Point, where Hughes spent one summer, and get some general scenic footage of the lake,” he said. “When we got on board and started the cruise, I started saying, ‘Oh, film that. Film that. Hughes was there; Hughes had a connection here.’”

Thompson said Mountain Lake PBS signed a nonbinding letter of interest to air the film, but talks with the station are ongoing.

He added that he hopes the film will not only educate viewers about the life of Hughes but will help draw to the region visitors looking to explore its cultural attractions.

“It’s, in a sense, a trip through time back in history to tell the life and career of Hughes and about his connections with the Adirondacks,” Thompson said. “But it’s also a trip in contemporary geography to show people the cultural attractions in the region that are connected to Hughes.”

The film was supported by Behan Communications, Adirondack Chip Carving, JMZ Architects and Planners, Glen and Carol Pearsall Adirondack Foundation, Touba Family Foundation, Glens Falls Foundation, Warren County Bar Foundation and individual donors.

An on-demand code for the documentary can be purchased through the Charles R. Wood Theater’s website at woodtheater.org/events.

Chad Arnold is a reporter for The Post-Star covering the city of Glens Falls and the town and village of Lake George. Follow him on Twitter @ChadGArnold.

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