Highlights from the First Fifty Years
- 1957 The Mansfield Historical Society is founded.
- 1960 Publication of A Bibiliography of the History of Mansfield, Connecticut, compiled by Ruth Munsell.
- 1962 Town offers the use of the Eagleville School to the Mansfield Historical Society.
April 10 — the centennial of the birth of Gov. Wilbur Cross is celebrated with a special dinner meeting. Philip Hewes, who was Gov. Cross’s Executive Secretary, is guest speaker.
August 11 — The Mansfield Historical Society opens its museum in the old Eagleville schoolhouse.
- 1963 The Mansfield Historical Society offers a five-week workshop in historical research.
- 1964 Publication of The Wilbur L. Cross Centennial Celebration, 1862-1962. The Connecticut League of Historical Societies presents an Award of Merit to the Mansfield Historical Society for its museum, research programs and publications.
- 1965 The Mansfield Historical Society joins with the Conservation Commission to form The Joshua’s Tract Conservation and Historic Trust. American Association for State and Local History in Harrisburg, PA, presents an Award of Merit to the Mansfield Historical Society for “a dynamic and comprehensive program of lectures, seminars, and research on local history, and for playing the major role in the organization of a local conservation and historic trust.” The Mansfield History Workshop members makes plans to write a history of Mansfield. Work begins on what would result in the publication of the Chronology of Mansfield in 1974.
- 1966 September 16 — The Mansfield Historical Society holds a Living Museum Day with demonstrations of various colonial crafts. Approximately 550 people attend.
- 1967 The Connecticut League of Historical Societies holds its annual meeting in Mansfield Center as a guest of the Mansfield Historical Society.
- 1969 The museum holds a special program for children during the summer featuring demonstrations of candle, broom, taffy and ice cream making.
- 1970 Exhibit of Furniture and Furnishing of Early Mansfield held in Jorgensen Gallery, University of Connecticut, January 26-Feb. 19
The Connecticut League of Historical Societies presents an Award of Merit to the Mansfield Historical Society.
- 1971 Exhibit of Mansfield in the Mid-Nineteenth Century held in Jorgensen Gallery, University of Connecticut, April 3-25
- 1973 The Mansfield Historical Society sponsors a Colonial Supper prepared by the Grade 10 American Studies class at E. O. Smith High School.
- 1974 October 10 — Re-enactment of the signing of the town’s historic “Declaration of Freedom” on October 10, 1774. Publication of The Chronology of Mansfield, compiled by the History Workshop of the Mansfield Historical Society.
- 1975 Publication of That Sacred Plant of Paradise by Jack Lamb and Roberta Smith
- 1976 The Connecticut League of Historical Societies presents an Award of Merit to the Mansfield Historical Society for “creatively combining history and the dramatic arts in a re-enactment of the Mansfield Town Meeting of October 10, 1774 at which a “Declaration of Freedom” was adopted; for therefore accurately bringing history alive for the citizens of Mansfield. “
- 1977 Publication of Farming in Mansfield, 1690-1955 by Alfred Staebner and Mildred Smith
The Mansfield Historical Society, in cooperation with UCONN Office of Public Programs, sponsors a concert by the New England String Quartet to raise funds for the restoration of the Old Town Hall.
- 1978 Publication of On the Trail of a Legend: The Separatist Movement in Mansfield, Connecticut, 1745-1769 by James H. and Esther D. Barnett
- 1979 The Mansfield Historical Society, in cooperation with UCONN Office of Public Programs, presents a benefit concert by the New England String Quartet, with proceeds towards the establishment of a permanent headquarters for the Society.
The Connecticut League of Historical Societies presents an Award of Merit to James H. and Esther Barnett for their book, On the Trail of a Legend. The Society receives a bequest from George Gurley of 15% of the residue of his estate, or about $165,000.
This becomes the basis of the Society’s endowment fund.
- 1980 The Mansfield Historical Society moves to its present headquarters in the former Town Office Building.
Publication of George Freeman, Miniaturist, 1787-1868, by Wilma Keyes.
First “Sandwiched-In” Program held.
- 1981 The Connecticut League of Historical Societies presents Awards of Merit to the Mansfield Historical Society for its achievements and to Wilma Keyes for the publication of her book on George Freeman.
- 1982 Publication of The Storrs Brothers and the Founding of the Storrs Agricultural School, 1881, by James H. Barnett
- 1983 Publication of Listen to the Echoes — The Early History of Spring Hill, by Roberta K. Smith.
The Mansfield Historical Society presents a 4-week course on Mansfield history through Mansfield’s Community Education Program.
- 1984 The Connecticut League of Historical Societies presents an Award of Merit to Roberta Smith for her book, Listen to the Echoes.
The Gurleyville Grist Mill Management Committee of Joshua’s Trust and the Mansfield Historical Society publish Wilbur Cross Remembered.
- 1985 Publication of The Mansfield Poor House: A Forgotten Institution, 1861-1922, A Memoir by Dorothy Jenner Gardiner and Other Materials for an Historical Study.
- 1986 The Old Town Hall Building becomes part of the Mansfield Historical Society Museum.
- 1989 The Mansfield Historical Society and 16 other museums join together to form Museums of Northeast Connecticut (M.O.N.C. ).
- 1990 Publication of The Constant Years: The Life of Constant Southworth (1730-1813), by Roberta K. Smith.
Museum enters the computer age with the purchase of its first computer.
- 1991 Ann Galonska is hired as the Society’s first museum director.
- 1992 An Education Committee is formed and the first museum loan boxes are prepared for use by the local schools.
- 1993 The Society hires a consultant, Paul Himmelstein, to do a conservation assessment of the museum.
- 1994 The Town and Historical Society sign a new 20-year lease for use of the former Town Office Building and the Old Town Hall as the Society’s headquarters and museum.
Silkworms are successfully raised at the museum for the first time as part of an exhibit on the local silk industry.
- 1995 The museum begins to enter its collection records into an Access database.
- 1996 In January, the Executive Council approves a prioritized capital improvement budget: Priority I: 1) Update security system; 2) Solar screening (UV filters) for windows in main building; 3) Update office equipment. Priority II: 1) Solar screening for the Old Town Hall; 2) Track lighting in main building; 3) Climate control for main building. Priority 3: 1) New computer; 2) Handicapped accessible facilities.
By the end of the year the Priority I goals have been achieved: The security system is updated; the solar screening is installed in both buildings and the new office equipment is purchased. A matured CD is used to pay for the improvements.
- 1997 Climate control units are installed on the first floor of the museum. The Society and Town share the costs.
The Society receives a $3,000 grant from the Quinebaug-Shetucket Heritage Corridor, Inc. for an exhibit, educational program and video about the building of the Mansfield Hollow Dam.
The Society hires Ralph Fierro for the summer to begin the process of updating the Chronology of Mansfield from 1972 to the present.
- 1998 The Society reserves a $10,000 gift from Ruth Munsell which the Executive Council earmarks for publications.
A new slate roof is installed on the main museum building. The Town of Mansfield pays for this work. With the water leakage problem solved, volunteers re-paint the interior of the main museum building.
The Society raises its dues to $10 (individual) and $15 (family).
- 1999 The entry of the museum’s accession records into a computer database is finally completed.
The Society establishes a Web site.
- 2000 The Society launches a town-wide membership mail campaign. As a result, the membership almost doubles to 512.
The Society receives a $1,000 Link to Learning / Museums for the Millennium Grant from SNET to support its Web site development.
Plans begin for celebration of the Towns Tercentenary in 2002. Several Society members serve on the Town’s Steering Committee.
- 2001 Historic Mansfield Center is published in Dec. 2001 and all 500 copies are nearly sold out a month later. Plans are made for a second edition.
The Society receives a $3,500 matching grant from the Quinebaug-Shectucket Heritage Corridor for the Chronology of Mansfield publication project.
- 2002 The Society contracts with Dr. Janice Stockard to write a book about the silk industry in Mansfield.
The second edition of Historic Mansfield Center is published in December.
The Society raises $3,300 in sponsorships for the publication of the updated Chronology of Mansfield, 1702-2002.
The Society holds special exhibits, co-sponsors a bus tour of Wormwood Hill, Mount Hope and Atwoodville, and participates in several of the Town-planned tercentenary events.
Dues are increased by $5.00 to cover rising costs of operating expenses, postage and additional publications.
- 2003 The updated Chronology of Mansfield, 1702-2002 is finally published after 6 years of work. It receives an Award of Merit from the Connecticut League of History Organizations.
- 2004 The electrical service is upgraded in both museum buildings. A track lighting system is installed in the main building. The Town pays for half of the project cost and Society members donate the necessary funds to complete the project.
A successful Tag Sale is held in April but the weight of the large crowd in the Old Town Hall causes structural damage to the building. The building is temporarily condemned until new support columns can be installed in the basement and the floor joists are reinforced. The building cannot be used for the rest of the year. Thankfully, the Town pays for these expensive repairs.
- 2005 The second edition of Roberta Smith’s Listen to the Echoes is published.
To help defray the Society’s mounting operating costs, an anonymous member offers a $5,000 challenge grant. Society members donate the necessary funds to secure the grant.
Janice Stockard completes the first draft of the book on the silk industry, but more work remains.
- 2006 The Society receives a grant of $2,782 from the Community Foundation of the Tri-County Area, Inc. for an exhibit on local Hungarian, Czech and Slovak families and a related program and booklet.
The Historical Society, in partnership with the Town, receives a Historic Preservation grant ($8,200) from the Quinebaug-Shetucket Heritage Corridor, Inc. to replace the roof on the Old Town Hall and to repair and re-paint the water-damaged interior walls. Generous members again answer the call to raise the Society’s share of the required matching funds.
Due to rising costs, dues are raised another $5 to $20 (Individual) and $30 (Family).
- 2007 Work on the Old Town Hall preservation project is completed in January.
New library shelving is installed and the library and office area are re-organized.
The Community Foundation grant project is completed.
The Historical Society celebrates it 50th anniversary at its annual dinner on September 14.