WATERTOWN — The Watertown Historical Society hosted an opening ceremony for its new museum from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, September 12, at the new location at 401 Main St. Guests were invited to look at the exhibits, which included an 1852 Wilson sewing machine. One of the first sewing machines made in America, it was manufactured in Thomaston.
Other exhibits included a dining room set from the 1800s and dairy farming equipment that was used by local farmers. Through its exhibits, the museum is able to blend together the town’s manufacturing and agricultural history.
“We’re really excited, this is a big step for Watertown,” said Elizabeth Rebers, secretary of the museum.
For three years most of the museum’s artifacts have been in storage while the board searched for a new location. Board members announced the move to the new location on Main Street last year at the Watertown Foundation’s annual dinner.
There is room for the museum to expand, currently only the first floor has exhibits. The museum staff plans to add additional exhibits to the second floor as they continue to collect and unpack artifacts.
During the opening event, Museum President Linda Merriman announced to guests guests that Watertown Historical Society will now be referred to as the Watertown Historical Museum, shedding its old name.
She also told guests that the museum has received a $150,000 grant from the state, which will be used to create a new exhibit.
Museum board member Stephen Bartkus applied for the grant on behalf of the museum.
He said that the $150,000 will be used to create a community-centered exhibit for the museum.
The planned exhibit will be developed with input from the community and will rely on community involvement to research and donate artifacts such as vintage photos or to record stories about the town.
The flexibility of this project will allow the museum to create an exhibit that could cover any facet of the town’s extensive history and allow residents to get involved in the decision-making process.
“The state had faith in us to create this community project,” Mr. Bartkus added, saying he was grateful for the grant.
Given the ability to expand, the museum will be able to come up with new ways to enrich residents and visitors.
The museum staff plans to host a lantern tour in October. The tour will encompass a walk past the historical buildings centered around the town’s green.
The staff also has plans to work with the school district to get students involved, and visit the museum.
“I want the children to know their history in town,” said Ms. Merriman.
After years of work, the town now has a place where it can appreciate and observe its history. The opening of the museum is another chapter in the town’s 200-plus-year story.
The future looks promising for the Watertown Historical Museum as it gains the ability to grow and deliver new and compelling historical experiences for visitors.
Those seeking additional information on the Watertown Historical Museum may visit https://www.watertownhistoricalsociety.org/watertown-historical-society-welcome-3-2/.