“Through the Looking Glass: Celebrating Early Milford Families” is the title of this year’s opening exhibit at the Milford Historical Society, which resumed tours this weekend.
The hours are 1 to 4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday through Columbus Day at the society’s complex at 34 High Street.
The centerpiece of the exhibit is a mirror that was a wedding present given by Capt. Anthony Stow to his bride Sarah Bryan on Oct. 22, 1800. This Federal period (1781-1800) looking glass has a pediment with 15 acorns – one for each state (dating to about 1797) and gilded molded sides with gesso. The mirror was a gift to the Society by Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Stow Butler of Greenwich, descendents of the original owner, in memory of their son, 1st Lt. Anthony Stow, Jr. Items owned by other early Milford families also are on display
The society has an exhibit of photographs, banners and mementos from past celebrations of Milford’s founding. There are souvenirs and commemorative books from the 350th, 325th, 300th and other years.
New this year is a Victorian Parlor that can be viewed in the Bryan-Downs House. Furniture and accessories have recently been donated by Burton and Natalie van Hise and other Milford families. Finishing touches will be put on this exhibit all summer.
Also on display is the permanent exhibit of Native America artifacts from the “Claude C. Coffin Indian Collection.” The story of indigenous people in Connecticut began at least 13,000 years ago, and the society’s collection spans 10,000 years of that time including many items from the early cultural Archaic Period 8,000 years ago, a stage not well known in the Northeast.
Milford is one of the oldest European settlement sites in Connecticut. In 1639, members of the Paugusset Tribe, known locally as the Wepawaug Indians, traded land that became Milford (and other towns) to settlers originally from England.
During this year, the 375th anniversary of the founding of Milford, the suggested donation for tours of three houses is $3.75. However, no donation will be requested on June 14, Connecticut’s “Open House Day” during the usual Saturday hours of 1 to 4 p.m. “Open House Day” is sponsored by the Connecticut Office of Tourism to broaden awareness among residents of Connecticut of its cultural sites and showcase our museums and galleries for visitors.
Thanks to the “Blue Star Museums” program, admission is free every weekend to those active in the military and their families. “Blue Star Museums” is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 2,000 museums in all 50 states.
For information on joining the society, call 203-877- 1851, visit milfordhistoricalsociety.org or write to the Milford Historical Society at P.O. Box 337, Milford, CT 06460.