Double Birthday Celebration: A Great Success

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Double Birthday Celebration Called Great Success

Making use of the rain date, the town of Kent and the Kent Historical Society held a double birthday celebration on the beautiful Sunday afternoon of October 5.  The occasion was the 275th anniversary of the incorporation of the town of Kent, which coincided with the 60th birthday of the Historical Society.  The day’s delay allowed the rain to clear, and over 100 celebrants enjoyed the crisp fall weather at the Seven Hearths Museum just north of Kent.

After a brief annual meeting, KHS President Lynn Mellis Worthington summarized the Historical Society’s recent accomplishments and introduced the new KHS Executive Director, Brian Thomas. Thomas expressed excitement over his new post, and said he was looking forward to working with Marge Smith in her role as Curator.

Beth Dooley, who is one of the longest serving members of the Board of Trustees, thanked Marge Smith for her years of service as Executive Director and presented an espaliered pear tree as a gift from the Historical Society. Smith spoke and reflected on the legacy of Emily Hopson, the organization’s late president and benefactor, and how the Historical Society has grown steadily in the past decade and a half.

The Berkshire Hills Trio livened up an interlude of socializing. Many visitors ventured inside Seven Hearths to see “Iron, Wood and Water: Essential Elements in the Evolution of Kent.” This exhibit will be open this Saturday through Monday (Oct. 11, 12 and 13) – the last official weekend, then by appointment through the end of October.

An old school bell summoned everyone for a town photo in front of the Seven Hearths Museum. Photographer Randy O’Rourke was lifted above the crowd using the Kent Volunteer Fire Department’s aerial truck.

The photo was followed by a presentation from State Sen. Clark Chapin (R-30th District) and State Rep. Roberta Willis (D-64th District), who read the proclamation that sent congratulations to Kent and the Kent Historical Society from the entire State Assembly.  The festivities climaxed with Thomas presenting a Time Capsule to the Town of Kent, explaining that it contained contributions from Kent citizens, businesses, organizations, and government. There are a variety of items that were donated to represent a slice of life in 2014. Items included the Kent Cub Scouts, who listed their favorite books, local restaurants supplied menus, and Kent organizations gave photographs.  It will leave a detailed, valuable record for when the capsule is opened in 2039, the 300th anniversary of the town’s incorporation.

Thomas noted that the capsule was initially going to be buried on the grounds of the Seven Hearths Museum, but KHS board agreed that the proposed Town Green (or Town Hall) would be a more fitting site.

In accepting the Time Capsule, First Selectman Bruce Adams admitted that he wouldn’t have focused on this year as the town’s anniversary, if he hadn’t been approached by the Kent Historical Society. “Zanne Charity came to me and later the Board of Selectmen with a great presentation explaining the event.”

Then a birthday cake lit with sparklers appeared and the double birthdays were toasted with champagne. It was a festive end to a warm-hearted community event.


New sign welcomes Seven Hearths visitors

New sign welcomes Seven Hearths visitors

Grants assist KHS with several projects

The Kent Historical Society recently installed a new sign in front of its Seven Hearths museum and several new lights with a $1,500 matching grant from the Connecticut Humanities (CTH).

To qualify for the grant, the historical society had to be part of a museum development program known as StEPs-CT, sponsored by CTH and the CT League of History Organizations (CLHO), and developed by the American Association for State and Local History. StEPs is an acronym for Standards and Excellence Program for history organizations.

The sign was designed to look similar to 18th century signage. Roger Gonzales, a Kent resident and member of the Board of Trustees, helped design and install the wooden sign atop a wooden post. It is like those that would have been common in the Flanders section of town, which was where the town of Kent began in the 1700s.

“We have received many compliments on our new sign,” said KHS Executive Director Marge Smith. “The museum will be much easier to find for visitors, with such an eye-catching sign.”

Two post lights were installed to help provide more light outside of the Seven Hearths museum to help guide visitors to parking areas. Three additional lights were added to the outside of the museum and the Art Barn, which is located in the rear.

Signs and lighting were two areas of improvement that were highlighted in the 2013 strategic plan completed by the Kent Historical Society. A $1,500 CTH grant was also awarded to KHS for that project as well, to fund a consultant. Nationally-recognized museum consultant Anne Ackerson, who has extensive experience in strategic planning and best practices development, was hired to lead a committee of board members in creating a dynamic strategic plan that is helping the society to move forward in the completion of many mission-driven initiatives.

The planning process involved input from KHS members and townspeople, as well as a great deal of internal examination by the KHS board and planning committee. A variety of strategic goals focus attention on restoring and preserving Seven Hearths, the society’s 1751 house museum; on increasing the community outreach programs and community collaboration; on developing more sophisticated use of technology and on making the KHS resources better available to the public. It is a road map for the society and its board, whose members have been working hard to make the Kent Historical Society a major player in the town of Kent.

Both of these grants are the most recent of 12 grants awarded to the Kent Historical Society by CTH. A total of $31,900 has been given since 2005 to support wide-ranging Kent Historical Society initiatives. The society would not be where it is today without the support of CTH.

Connecticut Humanities (CTH) is a non-profit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities that funds, creates and collaborates on hundreds of cultural programs across Connecticut each year. Connecticut Humanities brings together people of all ages and backgrounds to express, share and explore ideas in thoughtful and productive ways. From local discussion groups to major exhibitions on important historical events, CTH programs engage, enlighten and educate. Learn more by visiting

The Connecticut League of History Organizations (CLHO) builds connections among those who preserve and share the stories and objects of our past. The CLHO encourages and supports the activities of historical organizations throughout the state, promotes professional standards, serves as a network for the exchange of information, and advances historical interests at the state level. For more information, go to