WATERTOWN – The Watertown History Museum held its annual meeting to elect the board of directors and officers and reviewed the past year on November 10.
Seven board members have been recognized as continuing to serve: Diane Ciba, Polly Curtiss, Chelsea Marti, Nancy Maton, Beth Porter, Chris Shields and Paul Zasada. The four remaining positions were unanimously elected: Joanne Barthelmess, Ivan Cyr, Jeffrey Grenier and Roger Spinelli.
The following list of officers was elected: Ivan Cyr, President; Chelsea Marti, vice-president; Chris Shields, secretary, Polly Curtiss, treasurer, and Diane Ciba, curator.
We recognized two members of the board of directors who had retired. Former President Linda Merriman was instrumental in the purchase and move into the Main Street location.
His dedication and talents provided a solid framework for future work. Former Treasurer Kendra Hoyt Scapeccia was a skilled money manager, securing grants and dedicated to ensuring adequate funding for day-to-day operations.
His financial stewardship was essential to the continued health and vitality of the organization.
Those present at the meeting reviewed the facility upgrades made possible by grants from the Woodward Foundation, including the attic insulation which now provides a climate-controlled atmosphere for three floors of the museum; the resurfacing of the parking lot which offers more space and accessibility to disabled people in the annex building, and the first floor which has been transformed by museum-quality lighting and painting into exhibition spaces that will highlight the heritage and the history of Watertown and Oakville.
Despite the restrictions related to the pandemic, several programs have been offered over the past year. The spring 2021 walking tour took place on May 1.
A brochure is available at the museum that offers a self-guided tour of the buildings and monuments that exemplify the spirit of Watertown’s past and present.
On May 21, volunteers worked with local veterans organizations and the Watertown Parks and Recreation Department to hold a 100th anniversary ceremony at the World War I monument on the green.
In June, the museum reopened with Covid restrictions in place and featured two new exhibits that took place on Connecticut Museum Day.
Stories in Service: In War and In Peace is dedicated to the citizens of the city who served in the military or to those who supported the war effort as civilians; and Milking Memories, an exhibit that showcases dairy farming from colonial times to the present day.
The collection remains the priority with a renewed focus on the community and families of Watertown and Oakville.
Two major restorations, also funded with support from the Woodward Foundation, were carried out in the spring: the retention of a flag carried during the Civil War by a local veteran, Nathan Bangs Abbott, and the restoration of the hat rack once used in the Warren Hotel, which later became the Taft School.
Archival storage systems have been installed to enable the museum to properly preserve and protect textiles, photos, albums, cards and other fragile items in its care, with support from Thomaston Savings Bank and the Watertown Foundation .
The communications team upgraded the technology to provide better Internet access, help with financial planning and management, help catalog the collection, and communicate with volunteers. The museum’s website, Facebook page and Instagram account join the community and members.
The staff of the Watertown History Museum look forward to welcoming more visitors in the coming year and hope to unveil two new exhibits soon.
The first will be to honor the family of Mary Julia Heminway and Paul Klimpke, who were the first family to live in the building at 401 Main Street.
The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays or by appointment.
Those looking for more information can visit the website at https://watertownhistorymuseum.org.