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Announcements - What's newest!

April 18, 2014

Calendar of events 2014

All events are subject to change. Please call or visit our website www.wpthistory.org for updates.

The Handy House, 202 Hix Bridge Road, is open 10 AM to 4PM on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month: July 12 and 26, August 9 and 23, September 13 and 27, October 11 and 25. Free.

Our exhibition, Room to Learn: Westport's One Room Schools, is open every Wednesday 10 to 4 at the Bell School, 25 Drift Road.

2 PM Saturday, May 17, at Mill No. 2, 251 Forge Road
"The Mills of Westport," presented by Tony Connors

Mill No. 2, now owned by Steel Dog, was built in 1872 on the site of an earlier water powered mill. Connors, president of the Westport Historical Society, will provide an overview of the development of the Westport Manufacturing Company. A walk around Forge Pond Conservation area, guided by Jesse Ferreira, WCLT's Stewardship Manager, will follow this program. Co-sponsored by Westport Land Conservation Trust. Suggested donation $5.
As space is limited for this program, please pre-register in order to ensure that you have a seat!

7 PM Thursday June 19 at the Westport Library, 408 Old County Road
"Native American Whaling in Westport and Beyond" presented by Professor Nancy Shoemaker

Nancy Shoemaker, professor of history at the University of Connecticut, presents her research into the involvement of Native Americans in the whaling industry. Among the many individuals that she has researched are a number from Westport including members of the Wainer family. Many Native Americans in this region voluntarily went whaling and took pride in their ability to succeed in this industry. Suggested donation $5.

10 AM Saturday June 28 River Day (organized by the Westport River Watershed Alliance)
"Explore the Head of Westport"

In conjunction with River Day, we invite you to join us on a walking tour of the Head of Westport. This tour departs from the Bell School at 10AM. Suggested donation $5.

7 PM Thursday July 17 at the Westport Grange, 931 Main Road
"Paul Cuffe: A Yeoman in the Atlantic World" presented by Jeff Fortin

Jeff Fortin, professor of history at Emmanuel College, Boston, presents a program on his forthcoming book "Paul Cuffe: A Yeoman in the Atlantic World." The first book-length biography since 1987, this project seeks to examine Paul Cuffe and his legacy in the broader context of the Atlantic World, revealing not only his influence in America, but also how he impacted the abolition movement of England and the building of a free black nation in Sierra Leone. Suggested donation $5.
This program is supported in part by a grant from the Westport Cultural Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

5 PM to 7 PM Thursday July 31 at the Dedee Shattuck Gallery, 1 Partner's Lane
"Antiques Show 'n' Tell" with Stephen Fletcher of Skinner Inc.
and frequent appraiser on WGBH's popular "Antiques Roadshow." More details will be released soon!

Wednesday August 13 (time TBA) Explore the ecology and history of the harbor, a walk co-sponsored by the Westport Land Conservation Trust.
Once the summer playground of mill owners from Fall River, the Southwest corner of Westport has a storied past filled with triumphs and tragedy directed by the sea. Join us for a walk along Atlantic Ave towards the Point of Rocks at the mouth of the Westport River. Learn about the land, the lives and the nature that have and still call the Harbor home. Free.

Westport History 101 presented by Tony Connors
10 AM Thursday August 14 and August 21 at the Paquachuck Inn, Westport Point
Two sessions exploring the history of Westport presented by Tony Connors
Pre registration required. Suggested donation per session $5 for members, $8 non members.

7 PM Wednesday September 17 at the Macomber Community House, 938 Main Road.
The Great Depression, a panel discussion led by Westport author Dawn Tripp.

Suggested donation $5.

Saturday September 27 Our first annual traditional artisan demo day at the Handy House, 202 Hix Bridge Road. Free.

Saturday October 4 (time TBA) Re-trace an ancient cart way, a walk co-sponsored by the Westport Land Conservation Trust. Join us for a walk to locate parts of an ancient cart way that connected Westport Point with the Head of Westport. Free.

10 AM Tuesday October 7 and 14 Colonial Conversations
Join us at the Handy House on Tuesday mornings in October for "Colonial Conversations" with independent scholar Michelle Coughlin-- an opportunity to learn about the roles of women, family life, religion, race and slavery life in colonial New England by exploring the life and times of Elizabeth Cadman White who lived at the Handy House in the early 1700s. Space is limited and pre registration required. Suggested donation $5 for members, $8 for non members.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Westport Cultural Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

6:30 PM Thursday October 16 at the Westport Grange, 931 Main Road, Westport
Annual meeting
Stone by Stone: The Magnificent History in New England's Stone Walls presented by Professor Robert Thorson

Abandoned stone walls found in the woods all over Westport (and New England) have a long and fascinating story. Robert Thorson, Professor of Geology at University of Connecticut, presents a program examining the cultural and environmental history of stone walls and the importance of the preservation of historic landscapes.

Saturday October 25 Haunted Happenings for all the family at the Handy House, 202 Hix Bridge Road. Free.

January 6, 2014

Westport History 101

10 AM Tuesday March 4, 11, 18 at the Paquachuck Inn, 2056 Main Road, Westport Point

We hope to repeat these programs sometime in the future, so please check back for updates.

Besides Westport's incorporation in 1787, how much do you really know about our sleepy little town?

Lexington, Concord and even New Bedford may have grabbed all the historic headlines, but Westport has a rich past of whaling and fishing, farming, manufacturing, immigration and even tourism that has contributed to the fabric of the SouthCoast region. Beginning March 4 on three consecutive Tuesday mornings, Westport Historical Society President Tony Connors will lead us on a fascinating journey through Westport's history. He'll begin with the glaciers that influenced the town's development then travel through time until the decline of the town's manufacturing base in the early 20th century.

Join us at the Paquachuck Inn for three discussions beginning at 10 a.m.

March 4 includes Westport's geological formation, the early native American inhabitants, first European contact, Plymouth Colony and King Philip's War. We then discuss the early settlement of Old Dartmouth and end with the American Revolution.

March 11 covers the incorporation and organization of Westport in 1787, but also includes early roads and transportation, the whaling and fishing industries, and early industrial development.

March 18 starts with Westport in the Civil War, the rise of cotton manufacturing and Westport Factory Village, the introduction of railroads and trolleys, and the development of Route 6. The course ends in the early 20th century with a look at major changes and trends.

Coffee and pastry from Westport's new gluten-free bakery, Goat Cottage Farm, will be served.
Suggested donation per session $5.

Please PRE-REGISTER for Westport History 101 by contacting the Westport Historical Society at 508 636 6011 or by email at westporthistory@westporthistory.net

For more information please visit our website www.wpthistory.org

November 24, 2013

Annual Appeal 2013

If you would prefer to mail in your donation please use this form here annual_appeal_return.pdf

Engage, inspire, connect - the mission of the Westport Historical Society - places YOU, our supporters, at its heart. While 2013 was an extraordinary year for the Society thanks to its members, we can't wait to show you what's in store for 2014!

First, some 2013 history:

  • Our new manager of education opened up our offerings for families and children.

  • We continued to celebrate the personal stories -- such as rum-running tales and the memoir of Elvira Smith, who celebrates her 100th birthday in 2014.

  • Our collection of historical furniture, photos and books continued to grow through generous donations.

  • We began revamping our web site to make it more user-friendly.

  • We hosted the tremendously successful "Splice the Main Brace!" end-of-summer party at the Point, which placed the Society on the path toward long-term financial sustainability.

Also in 2013, the first stage of the Handy House's structural stabilization was completed. Exploration funded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation has already begun the innovative process of "opening windows" into the interior of the historic Hix Bridge Road house to reveal the secrets of its construction.

We look forward to opening the doors of the Handy House next spring and revealing the untold stories of its early settlers. We will celebrate the architectural treasures of Westport and cast new light on local, regional and national history.

But we cannot move forward without your help. We are deeply grateful for the public's on-going support of the Society over the years. Now we are asking you to join our 2014 Annual Giving Campaign with an overall goal of $25,000. If you are a previous donor, please consider moving to a new gift level. If you are a new donor, please understand that your participation is key to our success. Would you consider a scheduled monthly gift? Donations can be made securely online through our website www.wpthistory.org.

Please join in supporting the Society as we seek to preserve the historical culture of Westport and connect all of us to our extraordinary heritage.

Thank you!

Tony Connors, President
Jenny O'Neill, Executive Director

November 22, 2013

A Handy House Thanksgiving

Not much is known about how the holidays were celebrated at the Handy House, however we've uncovered that Thanksgiving 1927 was a real hair-raising time!

Handy House with porch.jpg

Abbott Smith, who purchased the Hix Bridge Road home in 1911, hosted 48 of his nearest and dearest at one large table out on the front porch, according to Smith's grandson, also named Abbott, who wrote about the event in the Millbrook (N.Y.) Round Table in 1993.

"The logistical and culinary planning and execution of such an affair was delegated to the family butler (Maurice), who proved stunningly up to the task," wrote Smith, the husband of Round Table columnist Betty Smith.

"Pots, pans, china, silverware and high and low chairs were volunteered and delivered by various families," said Smith. "And such food as turkey and pies that could be all or partially precooked was done that way in various family kitchens, and delivered to our family cook, Anna."

Young Abbott wrote that he particularly recalled the noise level "being quite high as impatience and hunger stirred up the volubility and some crying and screaming by hungry young" as well as the adults who competed to be heard above the crowd.
At 3 p.m., after his grandfather led the crowd in a prayer of Thanksgiving, dinner was served.

"Various 'borrowed' maids and Maurice scurried hither and yon feeding the tribe," wrote Smith. "The gargantuan turkeys were carved at both ends of the table, one by Grandpa and the other by Uncle Arthur Delano, a senior-in-law.

"The maids did yeoman service keeping everyone's plate full, following Maurice's quiet directions from the house dining room where he could observe everything by opening the door just a crack.

"The major event - an accident, really - happened as the gravy was being served," wrote Smith. "Maurice appeared with a large gravy boat and started down the outside of the table. Suddenly he lost his footing on the unfamiliar floor, the gravy boat crashed, and a river of gravy started to flow down the wooden porch floor.

"At the same instant, some of us could see a strange object scudding along on the top of the gravy river," he recalled. "It was Maurice's perfect toupee, upside down in the stream of gravy (and) at the same time, stretched out fully was shiny pated Maurice, swimming face down in the flow."

Poor Maurice!

"Once he grabbed his toupee and stood up to expose his soiled tux and shamed face, some people (like me) just couldn't keep from laughing briefly," he said. "Finally, we all bushed and stored up our laughing for some later and more private time."

The red-faced butler would not be seen again that day, said Smith, although his "trembling voice could be heard from behind the door instructing the maids on whom to serve next, and we also heard the occasional restrained tittering of the girls as they passed him going in and out."

Smith said no one had a clue that the butler's "perfectly-coiffed headpiece was not his own hair. "His humiliation was felt by all."

After the Maurice incident, the family agreed "such a massive family meeting was not to be attempted again...the strain was just too great."

Abbott Smith's grandson's Thanksgiving memoir appeared in the Round Table's Nov. 25, 1993 feature "My Side of the Street," a weekly column written by his wife, Betty.

Photographs of the interior of the Handy House during the time that Abbott Smith owned the house:






November 14, 2013

Just how old is the Cadman-White-Handy House?

The Westport Historical Society has received a $10,000 National Trust for Historic Preservation grant to help answer a $10,000 Question: Just how old is the Cadman-White-Handy House? This project is part of an innovative process of "opening windows" into the interior of the house to reveal its evolution.

William Flynt_small.jpg

Just how old is the Cadman-White-Handy House?

The Westport Historical Society has enlisted the expertise of Historic Deerfield's architectural conservator William Flynt to answer that very question when he performed a dendrochronology study at the Hix Bridge Road property.

Dendrochronology is better known as "tree ring dating." It is used to narrow down the age of a building through the trees' rings as well as other variables such as environment and climate.

During his recent visit to the Handy House, Flynt took samples from timber under the floorboards and in the ceilings in all three phases of construction, as well as in the attic.

While the Society is aware that the Handy House was built in three phases over more than a century -- starting in what is believed to be 1710 -a vast amount of research on the historic property hasn't turned up more definitive dates for the additions.

By enlisting the help of experts, the group hopes to narrow down the dates of construction to help the Society interpret as well as preserve the interior of the house. The more information gleaned from studies stimulated by the grant will help boost the "visitor experience" when the Handy House opens to the public next year.

When the house opens its historic doors in the spring, adult and children will be invited to get a first-hand look at the dendrochronology process and check out the "core samples" taken at the house as well as learn more about the usefulness of tree-ring dating.

Flynt's work is associated with a $10,000 National Trust for Historic Preservation grant which the Society will match to conduct research and develop programs to "open windows" into the interior of the house to reveal its evolution.

November 5, 2013

Harbinger Fall 2013



Join now!
Start enjoying the satisfaction of being a member of the Westport Historical Society now! Just click on this link, print out the membership form, and mail it to us. Thanks!
What's newest!
Search Westport History
There are several ways to effectively search this and related Westport history Web sites. For a complete guide with appropriate links go here.

Use this search box to search various announcements “posted” to these pages since the Web site was put online in 2003.

To search our archive and photograph collection on line go here. This will take you to a database containing more than 6,000 individual records and over 3,000 images. You will find information on themes of Westport history: people, maritime activities, Native Americans, agricultural activities, buildings, events, businesses, tourism, mills, religious organizations, and civic institutions. You will find materials such as newspaper clippings, obituaries, deeds, wills, account books, maps, oral histories, postcards and photographs. This database is updated regularly.

Announcements by category
Westport History Web

This interactive Web site is brought to you by the Westport Historical Society in the interest of promoting and preserving knowledge of the history of Westport, Massachusetts. We encourage you not only to read, but to add your comments where appropriate, thus building to our overall knowledge of Westport.

What you'll find here:

The links at the top of this page point to consistent features of the site that change infrequently. We'll discuss them in a moment, but first please note the links in the right-hand column, for that is the dynamic portion of the site.

The frequently updated heart of this site is the announcements, the most recent of which appear in the upper right of this page under "What's Newest." You can add your own thoughts to any of these announcements through the comment form which appears at the end of each one. (You'll see it when you read the announcement.)

Your comments then stay with that particular announcement. This could prove particularly relevant if you have personal knowledge that relates to an announcement on a historical subject, but, of course, may prove relevant for any annoucement.

You'll notice the announcements fall into several categories and are also stored under these categories. Again, notice the links on the right headed "Announcement Catagories." This list is also a good guide to the varied content of the announcements.

Finally,announcements are also stored by month to make it easy for you to find dated material.

The links up top

While the announcements change frequently, the material in the links up top change infrequently, if at all. Here's where you'll find the records of all town meetings, for example - as well as informaiton about the Historical Society. Here's a quick guide to these links.

About the Society - Who, what, where, when and how to join are covered in this section about the society.

Town Records - The official minutes of town meetings from 1787 to 1846. But it won't end there. We'll be adding to these over the coming weeks to bring them right up to the present. Some really fascinating reading here and they are organized by decade and year and are searchable as well.

Historical Timeline - This is a brief, chornological overview of Westport history that includes the key dates from four centuries.

Purchase Books - The Society has copies of several books and related items of Westport history for sale. You can order by printing out this form and mailing it.

Westport Memories - A special collection of photographs and text first exhibited at the Bell School in September 2003 by the Westport Historical Society; the images come from postcards from the collection of Al Lees Jr. Bette and Jack DeVeuve composed the captions.

Lees Photo Gallery - More than 400 historical photos of Westport and surrounding communities can be found in this selection from the collection of Al Lees. (This link opens a new browser window with a page from the Lees Market web site. To return to this site, simply close the window.)

Contact information

Westport Historical Society
25 Drift Rd. (Head of Westport)
P. O. Box N188
Westport, MA 02790-0700


Mondays and Wednesdays

Contact us:

Phone & fax: 508-636-6011
Email: westporthistory@westporthistory.net


Greg Stone
Email: gregstone@verizon.net

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