The Amity & Woodbridge Historical Society (AWHS) is pleased to announce that it was awarded a “Good to Great” grant by the State of Connecticut for improvements to the historic Thomas Darling House, where it operates its museum. The “Good to Great” grant provides funding for capital projects that link art, history and tourism in ways that enable cultural and historical sites to enhance the visitors’ experience.
Grant funds of $48,263 from the Department of Economic and Community Development will be matched with $16,088 in AWHS funds to install a mist fire suppression system and to provide kitchen space and a public washroom by remodeling an existing archives room as well as a hall and half bath, which are part of the adjacent caretaker’s wing of the property. The original 18th century house will not be altered by this renovation project.
The creation of these new spaces will allow AWHS to increase their educational programs, support increased visitation to the museum, and create more intimate living history experiences their visitors. “Our audiences enjoy and derive the most educational benefit from being able to participate: they learn by tasting, touching, and being introduced to history via stories of real people and authentic objects,” says AWHS President Alexia Belperron. “We want our visitors to feel at home to stay and explore, not just take a tour. This project will directly support this plan.”
The Thomas Darling House is an exceptional resource for understanding 18th– and 19th-century art, culture, and history in Connecticut. The site preserves the country home of a prominent colonial figure and his family and is filled with material culture that illustrates the history of the family and of Woodbridge, including a Doolittle grandfather clock, Benjamin Woodbridge’s chair from the original Amity Parish meetinghouse, 19th-century portraiture, products of local factories, and an exceptional collection of textiles. These provide authentic windows to the arts, culture, and history of Connecticut and every visitor reacts enthusiastically to their experience.
State Senator George Logan says, “the Society has a stellar reputation, thanks to its many dedicated community volunteers. Improving the safety and accessibility of the Darling House is vital to ensuring that the Society can continue to be successful in its mission. These funds will assist the Society in its commitment to preserving the history of Woodbridge while educating people of all ages on the importance of that history.”
The Amity & Woodbridge Historical Society is an 85-year-old, all-volunteer organization that promotes the preservation of Woodbridge and Connecticut history. Its extensive collections include numerous Darling family possessions housed in the Thomas Darling house museum which it uses to fulfill its mission to preserve and promote the history of Woodbridge and Amity Parish through maintaining the museum and collections, creating engaging programs for all ages, and promoting the preservation of historic buildings and sites.
For more information about the Amity & Woodbridge Historical Society visit www.woodbridgehistory.org.