Monday, October 31, 2016

Take a walk around historic Torrington with new audio tour

There is nothing more refreshing than a walk on a brisk day in a small city that offers great window shopping -- shopping and interesting architecture along the way. To improve on this experience, the Torrington Historical Society has installed of 21 audio tour signs in Historic Downtown Torrington.

The audio tour signs are permanently placed on each of 21 historic buildings and sites highlighted on the tour route. Each sign has a unique QR (quick response) code that can be read using a smartphone and will connect the user to an audio recording about the history of each building and site. The QR codes are located on 8 x 10 inch signs attached to each building on the tour or on sign posts near the sidewalk in front of featured sites; the audio is about two minutes long.
The audio tour allows residents and visitors to learn about the history of these sites that gives Downtown Torrington it's unique character and charm. 
Although the tour can be started at any of the 21 features attractions, it has been designed to begin with the Hotchkiss-Fyler House Museum at 192 Main Street where free parking is available. The audio tour is a partial loop of about ½ mile. The Tour starts with the Hotchkiss- Fyler House Museum at 192 Main Street and progresses down Main Street to Center Square also known as the Five Points Intersection.  At this point, the tour makes a short side trip up East Main Street as far as the Venetian Restaurant and then  doubles back to the center of town.  At this point, the tour crosses the Naugatuck River on Center Bridge and continues onto Coe Memorial Park and the Torrington Library.  In the final stretch, the tour re-crosses Center Bridge and goes up Water Street and turns right onto Prospect Street where it ends at the Allen G. Brady House located at 258 Prospect St.
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Victorian Tea - From Downton Abbey to Camelot

The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum will host its annual Victorian Tea on Sunday, Nov. 6 at 2 p.m. This event will feature a talk by textiles, fashion merchandising, and design expert Susan J. Jerome titled, From Downton Abbey to Camelot, at 295 West Avenue, Norwalk, CT.

Susan J. Jerome is Collections Manager at the University of Rhode Island Historic Textile and Costume Collection. Her talk will explore how the highly popular television show, Downton Abbey, illustrates the clothing worn by the aristocracy during the first years of the 20th century, while Jacqueline Kennedy reigned over a modern American gentry in a parallel Camelot, inspiring designers even as social forces re-defined fashion’s inspirations. The Mansion’s Victorian Tea will feature a traditional English tea menu by Susan Kane Catering and a hat contest with prizes.

This fascinating talk on clothing fit for royalty, surrounded by the timeless splendor of this iconic National Historic Landmark, is a perfect pairing to a quintessential English tea and an afternoon not to be missed and sure to brighten an afternoon in November. 

Tickets for the Tea are $35 for members and $45 for non-members. Proceeds will support the Museum’s artistic, cultural and educational programs. For Victorian Tea reservations please contact:, 203-838-9799.

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

9th Annual Washington Green Cemetery Tour

Led by tour guides dressed in Vintage attire, visitors to this year's Washington Green Cemetery Tour held on October 28 from 6:15 to 8:30 p.m. in Washington will be thrilled with tales and unforgettable characters. The theme of this year's tour, with all new characters, is "Uncommon Tales from Common Folk". 

Groups of visitors will meet at the Museum located on 5 Wykham Road and be led by Tour Guides dressed in vintage attire along a path of luminaries through the Cemetery to meet some of Washington's unforgettable residents from the past. Unique, memorable and familiar citizens from the last century will be brought to life by costumed actors who will tell stories of their life; some amusing, some sad, some tragic — even horrific!

Cemetery Tour attendees should come to the Gunn Historical Museum and form a line to get numbered tickets for the tours, handed out on a first-come first-serve basis, starting at 6:15 p.m. on Oct. 28, and continuing through the evening until the tickets run out. Tours of the Cemetery depart from the Gunn Museum in groups of fifteen people every eight minutes between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. and last approximately one hour. While there is no fee to attend the Cemetery Tour, but, donations are greatly appreciated.

A Halloween themed movie will be shown in the Wykeham Room of the Gunn Library where attendees can wait inside for their tour group to depart. Visitors are urged to bring a flashlight, dress warmly, and wear comfortable walking shoes. 

The Gunn Museum is located at 5 Wykeham Road, at the intersection of Wykeham Road and Route 47, in Washington, Connecticut. Parking at the Gunn is limited, please carpool and use nearby lots and side streets.

The rain date for the Cemetery Tour is Sunday October 30 from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The 2nd Annual Cemetery Tour November 1st @ New Canaan Historical Soceity

Halloween continues for an extra day with our second Cemetery Tour on November 1st.  Patricia Funt Oxman, antique dealer and Historical Society volunteer, is joined by Patricia Brooks, author of Where the Bodies Are, to conduct the tour.

The group will tour a classic country graveyard in North Stamford to visit the final resting place of a number of famous and noteworthy people, including Gilda Radner and Benny Goodman.  Some stories of their interesting lives will be told by Mrs. Oxman. 

Upon returning to The New Canaan Historical Society, enjoy a snack of cider and donuts, while listening to a brief talk by author Mrs. Brooks on the three books she has written about this fascinating subject.
Those going on the tour are asked to meet at the Historical Society at
12:45 pm.  The tour van will be leaving promptly at 1:00 pm.  The cost is $20 per person, and space is limited. To sign up for the tour, please call (203) 966-1776 or email   

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Whoooo Lives in the Enchanted Forest?

Attend a hoot of a Halloween happening at The Connecticut Audubon Society’s Enchanted Forest located on 2325 Burr Street in Fairfield on Friday, October 28 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.  This is an alternative, nature-themed Halloween celebration, the Enchanted Forest also introduces fascinating, entertaining and educational information about nocturnal animals in their natural habitat.

Children are encouraged to wear costumes for this unique and fun – but not scary – event. Experience the Larsen Sanctuary at night while being escorted along the luminary trail by volunteers who light the way with flashlights. The festivities also feature fall-themed craft making, Halloween snacks and a chance to meet some of the Center’s creepy, crawly critters. The Enchanted Forest is held rain or ‘moon’ shine.  

Guided walks leave every fifteen minutes beginning at 5:30 p.m.; the last walk leaves at 7:30 p.m. Pre-registration and pre-payment are required. Ticket prices are: CAS members--$10/child, $2/adult; non-members--$15/child, $2/adult. To purchase your tickets on-line, visit:, or call 203-259-6305 ext. 109. Sign-up early to reserve your walk time of choice.

 Visit The Connecticut Audubon Society’s website at for a complete list of their fall programs and special events.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Monroe Halloween Fall Foliage Creepy Cemetery Tour and Hike for Families

A fall foliage walk over a short segment of the Paugussett Trail has been combined with a  peek back at the historical intrigue of Monroe’s East Village, creating a family-oriented outing Oct. 29, the Saturday morning before Halloween. Participants will meet at 8:45 a.m. for this fascinating tour that lasts from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., reservations for this free event are required and can be made at

Everything starts and finishes at the Meeting House (at the intersection of East Village Road and Barn Hill Road) where parking is available. All are asked to assemble there by 8:45 a.m. for an excursion that unfolds on foot and also by bus, focusing on the East Village with its sites steeped in the life—and interment-- of the Monroe of the 1800s and earlier.
 The Meeting House itself is an historic treasure, established as a Methodist Church in 1811 and today a repository for antiquities and heirlooms—everything from World War I uniforms to indian arrowheads-- assembled by the history society in one of its three buildings preserving  Monroe’s legacy of years past.   
 Next a bus carries the hikers to the Paugussett trailhead on East Village Road for a hike over a short stretch of the trail—hopefully ablaze with fall colors—led by David Solek, Monroe’s park ranger and tree warden.  Leaving the wooded area, the route takes you across Barn Hill Road to the stone ruins and wheel pit of the hoopskirt and corset factory that Foster Cargill operated in the mid-1800s for an informed commentary by cyberspace archeologist Kevin Daly.
Across the street are the contemporary versions of homes of Cargill and William Tucker,  the neighbor he was acquitted of murdering with a knife  in 1845 when  long-simmering animosity between the two was supposedly ignited by a slight to Cargill’s wife.

Both men are interred only feet apart and a short bus ride away in the East Village Cemetery (est. 1766) where tombstones mark the graves of Henry Plumb, the farmer-entrepreneur who converted Monroe’s indian caves into a tourist attraction in the 1890s, and his daughter Mary, reputedly so obese that P.T. Barnum wanted to recruit her as the fat lady in his circus. Here Vic Casaretti, the president of the historical society, and docent Nancy Zorena provide commentary.

  The tour then returns by bus to the Meeting House for apple cider and informal conversation intended to generate interest in Monroe’s past and allow participants to share their family heritage and experiences with life in the community as it once was, their own brushes with history.    

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