A Review of the Past Year’s Accomplishments: Watertown History Museum Elects Board of Directors and Officers

The Watertown History Museum hosted its Annual Meeting to elect the Board of Directors and Officers and reviewed the past year on November 10. The staff at the Watertown History Museum looks forward to welcoming more visitors in the coming year, and hopes to soon unveil two new exhibits. 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 St.

WATERTOWN — The Watertown History Museum hosted its Annual Meeting to elect the Board of Directors and Officers and reviewed the past year on November 10.

Seven members of the board were recognized as continuing to serve: Diane Ciba, Polly Curtiss, Chelsea Marti, Nancy Maton, Beth Porter, Chris Shields, and Paul Zasada. Unanimously elected to the four remaining spots were: Joanne Barthelmess, Ivan Cyr, Jeffrey Grenier, and Roger Spinelli.

The following slate of officers was elected: Ivan Cyr, president; Chelsea Marti, vice president; Chris Shields, secretary, Polly Curtiss, treasurer, and Diane Ciba, curator.

Recognized were two members of the board who had retired. Former President, Linda Merriman, was instrumental in the purchase and move into the Main Street location. 

Her dedication and talents provided a solid framework for future work. Former Treasurer Kendra Hoyt Scapeccia was an able money-manager, securing grants and dedicated to ensuring adequate funding for day-to-day operations. 

Her financial stewardship was essential to the ongoing health and vitality of the organization.

Those at the meeting reviewed the facility improvements that were made possible by grants from the Woodward Foundation, including attic insulation which now provides a climate controlled atmosphere for three floors of the museum; the parking lot resurfacing which provides more space and handicap-accessibility to the Annex building, and the first floor which has been transformed by museum-quality lighting and paint into exhibit spaces that will  showcase the heritage and history of Watertown and Oakville.

Despite pandemic restrictions, several programs were offered in the past year. The Spring 2021 Walking Tour took place on May 1. 

A brochure is available at the museum which 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 host a 100th Year Anniversary Ceremony at the WWI monument on the Green.

In June, the museum re-opened for business with Covid restrictions in place offered two new exhibits that took place on Connecticut Museum Day. 

Stories in Service: In War and In Peace is dedicated to the town’s citizens who served in the military or those who supported the war effort as civilians; and Milking Memories, an exhibit which showcases dairy farming from colonial times to present.

The collection remains the priority with a renewed focus on the community and families from Watertown and Oakville. 

Two major restorations, also funded with support from the Woodward Foundation, were done in the spring: conservation of a flag carried in the Civil War by local veteran, Nathan Bangs Abbott, and the restoration of the hat rack once used in the Warren Hotel, which later became Taft School.

Archival storage systems were installed that allow the museum to properly preserve and protect textiles, photos, albums, maps, and other fragile items in its care with support from Thomaston Savings Bank and the Watertown Foundation.

The communications team has upgraded technology to provide better internet access, assist in financial planning and management, help catalog the collection, and communicate with volunteers. The museum’s website, Facebook page and Instagram account reach the community and members.

The staff at the Watertown History Museum looks forward to welcoming more visitors in the coming year, and hopes to soon unveil two new exhibits. 

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 St.

The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays or by appointment.

Those seeking more information may visit the website at https://watertownhistorymuseum.org.

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