KentPresents awards grant for second year

KentPresents awards grant for second year

The Kent Historical Society is extremely grateful to be a recipient of a grant from the KentPresents/KentProvides Committee this year.

Ken Cooper of the committee announced the award of an unrestricted grant of $1,000, noting that the Historical Society clearly fulfilled the mission sought for grant recipients of service in the life of the community.

“We are proud to include you among this year’s group of grant recipients. Congratulations to you for the work you do to make our community a better place for all to live,” Mr. Cooper wrote.

The Historical Society was one of 29 organizations in Litchfield County that were presented with grant funds that totaled $100,000. KentPresents is an ideas festival started by Ben and Donna Rosen in 2015. The second annual KentPresents was held at the Kent School in August and brought together 87 leaders in a variety of fields for cultural and intellectual discussions. Among the presenters were Nobel Prize laureates; Tony, Peabody and Emmy winners; Pulitzer Prize winners; and distinguished speakers from art, economics, education, energy, environment, food, global affairs, health care, humanities, national issues, performing arts, science, technology and many others. Over 300 guests attended from across the United States.

“We are very pleased that in our second year KentPresents has been able to continue to make meaningful grants to so many organizations,” said Donna and Ben Rosen of Kent, founders and guiding spirits of KentPresents. In the years to come we hope to continue to support needs-based groups that help people in our communities to thrive.”

Annual meeting celebrates 2016 accomplishments

Annual meeting celebrates 2016 accomplishments

The Kent Historical Society celebrated its accomplishments in 2016 and honored a number of volunteers during its Annual Meeting Sunday, Oct. 16 in Kent Town Hall.

President Mike Everett welcomed everyone to the event and went through some of the highlights of the previous year. He mentioned that three grants have been received for the renovation of Tallman House into an Art and Archives Storage Area. He also explained there has been much work to organize the administrative floor of the building

The Collections Committee has received a number of donations from the late Marie Camp and from her family after she passed away this year. The committee continues to try to assimilate the material into the collection. He also mentioned a number of the events, including the Sunday Series, the Summer Art Enrichment for children and the Musicale and Spirited Tea in the spring, and thanked those responsible for organizing and orchestrating the details. One of the major accomplishments was the re-clapboarding of Seven Hearths that was finished and then the siding was painted with a second coat of stain in the summer. Almost all of the trim on the windows and doors has also been painted this year. Monthly curators’ tours were conducted from July through October that were long detailed discussions of how an old house, like Seven Hearths, is restored. These were conducted by Curator Marge Smith and trustee Jeffrey Morgan.

The Summer Postcard Exhibit at the town-owned Swift House was held in June through August, with a walking tour offered in July. There was a new version of the organization’s Constitution and Bylaws adopted and ratified by the members. This document was last amended in 2012.The election of officers and trustees was held:


  • President Mike Everett, term ends 2017
  • Vice President Lynn Mellis Worthington, term ends 2019  
  • Secretary Melissa Cherniske, term ends 2018
  • Treasurer Bruce Whipple, term ends 2019


  • Jeffrey Morgan, one-year term
  • Deborah Chabrian, one-year term
  • Roger Gonzales, two-year term
  • Kent Freeman, two-year term
  • Kate Vick, three-year term
  • Austi Brown, three-year term
Volunteers thanked

Several people ended their tenure on the Board of Trustees and Mr. Everett recognized those who had stepped down and gave them each a hand-created token of thanks. Beth Dooley was honored for her long tenure that stretched back to when Miss Emily Hopson served as president. Zanne Charity, who has been on for five years, was recognized for her efforts particularly in programs and outreach efforts of the society, and for the renovation of the Seven Hearth garage into the Art Barn. Patti Case was thanked for her time on the board and her willingness to continue on as a volunteer for the Collections Committee. Tim Good and Nancy Schaefer were unable to attend but were also thanked for their time on the board.

The Board of Trustees also honored two long-time members with a new designation – Distinguished Member – and Fran Johnson and Ky Anderson were both recognized. Ms. Anderson was able to attend and graciously accepted a hand-crafted certificate from Mr. Everett. The docents who volunteered during the summer’s Postcard exhibit at the Swift House were also honored for their service to the society and each presented with a small gift.

Signature Quilt

Finally, the Kent Quilters were honored and thanked for creating and donating the 2016 Signature Quilt to the Society. All attending were called up to the front to stand next to the displayed quilt. Jane Suttell Zatlin, group organizer of the Kent Quilters, shared a little information about the group. The three-panel quilt includes 600 signatures from Kent residents and six different iconic scenes from town. The ceremony marked the official acceptance of the quilt into the Society’s permanent collection. The 25 quilters were thanked and recognized by the society’s members. The event then adjourned to an entertaining presentation by Nick Bellantoni on “Vampires in New England,” the final Sunday Series of the year.

Three grants awarded to support art and archives preservation area

Three grants awarded to support art and archives preservation area

The Kent Historical Society reported last fall that it was working to plan for the future collections and storage needs and we are fortunate that we’ve had three different granting institutions support our efforts. We will have over $26,000 in grants to assist in our efforts to create the Art and Archives Storage Area in Tallman House and provide climate-controlled storage for the extension art collection of George Laurence Nelson’s artwork, as well as the Society’s archives collection.

The Society has been awarded $4,000 from the Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation from the Edwin M. Stone and Edith H. Stone Fund, $5,000 for Historic Preservation from the national Daughters of the American Revolution, and $17,394 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The IMLS grant is the Society’s first federal grant ever received.

The Nelson art was previously stored in the Seven Hearths Museum. Seven Hearths is not climate controlled, and although the oil paintings have tolerated the far less than ideal conditions fairly well, the works on paper have not. The renovation will include building storage bins of inert material that will safely house the wide variety of paintings that the Society owns, including oil, watercolors as well as lithographs. There will also be a dehumidifier installed.

Our grant applications were supported by a report from Richard L. Kerschner, Conservation Consultant on Museum Environments, who aided the Society’s plan to renovate the lowest level of Tallman House for collections storage. After thoroughly inspecting both Seven Hearths and Tallman House in October 2015, Kerschner quickly came to the conclusion that the tight, dry basement in Tallman offered the best place, for both structural and financial reasons.

The archives are also being moved from the main floor of Tallman to the new space downstairs to satisfy other strategic planning goals and protect the paper documents.

Moving the art collection will allow the Society to proceed with the evolving interpretation of the fur trading area in Seven Hearths. This area was previously used for storing the Nelson artwork.

The environmentally upgraded Art and Archives Area will provide the safest storage space possible on the society’s property. This move will help prevent further deterioration and damage to the artwork as well as increase the Society’s storage space.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant to KHS was one of 206 museum projects awarded that totaled $21 million. The museums were selected from a pool of 548 applications to the highly competitive Museums for America grant program.


Signature Quilt accepted into collection

Signature Quilt accepted into collection

The Kent Historical Society will formally accept the 2016 Signature Quilt into its permanent collection during its Annual Meeting Sunday, Oct. 16 at 2 p.m. in the Kent Town Hall.

The quilt was designed and sewn by the Kent Quilters, a group of 20 local women, who created the beautiful quilt that features 600 signatures of Kent residents that are highlighted by appliques that depict several Kent scenes, as well as a band of curving blue symbolizing the Housatonic River.

The signature quilt project was begun as a way to permanently preserve signatures from full- and part-time Kent residents. It also became a fundraiser for the Historical Society with residents paying $5 to include their signature.

One of aspects of the quilt is that it will capture a look at who was living in the town in 2016 for people in the future looking back at the 21st century. Curator Marge Smith, who is also one of the Kent Quilters, has said that one benefit of signature quilts is that genealogists can use these quilts as a way to determine who lived in a town at a certain period of time.

Jane Zatlin, who is the group coordinator for the Kent Quilters, said the group enjoys working together on community quilts. The completed quilt was displayed in August at the Kent Sidewalk Festival.

The volunteer quilters were able to work with Kent Center School and got all of the students to each sign a muslin square to incorporate the town’s youngest residents into the quilt.

Oral History: Stories from the Past

Oral History:
Stories from the Past

By Lynn Mellis Worthington 

Capturing historical remembrances through individuals is a program that is alive and well at the Kent Historical Society thanks to the work of a group of dedicated volunteers.

During the past year, the Society has enlisted the efforts of teenagers to conduct oral history interviews of the town’s residents and these are being recorded and catalogued as part of the collections preserved. A group of students at South Kent School were able to learn a bit about local history through the eyes of four long-time residents by conducting oral history interviews. This summer, resident Claire Lee, who is a senior at The Gunnery, also assisted with the Oral History program.

The SKS students are part of a new class, Oral History, which is offered by instructor Max Pfeffer through the school’s Center for Innovation. They worked in teams of two to interview Kent residents Marie Camp, Noble Richards and Andy Ocif in the fall of 2015.  

Their project was done in cooperation with the Kent Historical Society and they went through training similar to what all of the Society’s Oral History Committee volunteers have experienced. In the spring, Willard “Wink” Lampe was interviewed by a new group of students.

Pfeffer came up with the idea for the innovative class with guidance from Head of School Andrew Vadnais, who has a deep interest in history, including a bachelor’s degree in history from Williams College and experience working at the Hancock Shaker Village, where he is currently a member of the Board of Trustees.

“I wanted the students in The Oral History of Kent class to gain an appreciation for their greater community,” Pfeffer said. “The town of Kent has such a rich past, and as students with such busy schedules, it can be easy for them to solely focus their attention on the smaller, South Kent community where they live. Having the students help preserve that history by interviewing longtime residents of Kent is a way for them to not only learn the importance of the town itself, but to also give them the opportunity to build relationships with off-campus residents.”

The students learned about interviewing people and what questions work best to draw out stories and they completed practice interviews of adults on campus. They also compiled questions before meeting with the person they were assigned to interview.

Loren Brill from Maryland was a post-graduate student at South Kent and he interviewed long-time faculty member Noble Richards, who retired in 1996. His interview partner was Nicholas Washington, a senior from Puerto Rico. Richards has stayed closely connected to the school and he is a Kent native with deep roots in town.

Brill said he enjoyed doing the interview with Richards. It was something he had never done before.

“I found a different skill that I can use in my life and I also found how rich South Kent history is,” Brill said.  He enjoyed learning about how some of the traditions, such as reciting the prologue of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, began at the school.

Brill said he was surprised by how much preparation was involved in planning for an hour interview, as well as how time consuming and difficult it was to transcribe an interview. He and his partner got about three-quarters of the way through the task and ran out of time.

Pfeffer plans to continue his class and he enjoys what the students get out of the course. “Aside from learning the excellent skill of communication through interviews and transcription, my hope is that my students were able to garner new perspectives on life, having spoken to members of the community who’ve lived such full lives of their own,” he said. “I also hope that as my students continue on their own journeys, that they’ll take time to think about how their own pasts have impacted their present.”

The Oral History program at the Kent Historical Society has been collecting stories of Kent residents for many decades. Former trustee Charlotte Lindsey spearheaded organizing a group of volunteers that conducted many interviews recorded from 2009 to 2014.

The Society has 51 interviews that have been recorded in one form or another. Some of these are written and others have video and/or audio. We recently purchased equipment to transfer some of the analog recordings to a digital format that will make them easier to use and listen to.

We are considering different ways to use the recordings and the remembrances. Everything that is collected could always be useful in a future exhibit because oral histories capture what people remember about living in our town.

One of our most active volunteers is Ky Anderson and she has met with many people and encouraged them to talk about their memories of Kent.

It is especially important to meet with our town’s oldest residents and we feel fortunate to have met previously with and recorded the memories of people such as Marie Camp, Bill and Charlotte Newton, Gene Bull and others who have passed away and played such an important part in the town’s history.

Anyone who would like to become trained and learn how to conduct the oral history interviews is welcome. Contact Lynn Mellis Worthington ( or our general volunteer email address, as we are always looking for interested volunteers to assist.


Proposed By-Laws for KHS

Kent Historical Society, Inc.
P.O. Box 651
Kent, Connecticut 06757

Below is a draft of the proposed revisions to the Kent Historical Society’s Constitution and By-Laws. These changes will facilitate smoother running of the KHS, and also bring the various board member terms into chronological alignment. These changes will be voted on by the entire membership of the KHS in attendance at our Annual Meeting, which will be held 2:00 p.m. Sunday, October 16, 2016, at Kent Town Hall, at 41 Kent Green Blvd.

Constitution and By-Laws of the Kent Historical Society

[A note to members: Proposed changes to the by-laws are indicated in boldface.]

The primary mission of the Kent Historical Society, a donor-supported nonprofit organization, is to collect, preserve, interpret and present the rich history of Kent as well as to provide educational and research material to enrich the public understanding of Kent’s artistic and cultural heritage.

VISION STATEMENT: The prized possession of the Kent Historical Society is Seven Hearths, a large pre­-Revolutionary house. As the flagship of the Flanders National Historic District, and the only original building open to the public, Seven Hearths offers a unique view of the early development of the Town of Kent. For much of the twentieth century it was the home and studio of noted New York artist George Laurence Nelson.

  1. The name of this organization shall be The Kent Historical Society, a registered not-for-profit 501(c) 3 corporation.
  1. The purpose of this organization shall be to discover, preserve and restore historical material relating to Kent, Connecticut.
  1. The property and affairs of the Society shall be under the care and management of seven Trustees and four Officers who are members of the Society. Trustees shall be elected at the Annual Meeting by a majority of the KHS membership in attendance each year for a staggered term of three years, and Officers with a term of three years. Officer terms and trustee terms are separate.
  1. At this time, the Officers of the Society shall be a President, a Vice President, a Secretary and a Treasurer. These four officers constitute the Executive Committee. Duly deliberated alternate structures also can be adopted.
  1. It shall be the duty of the President to preside at all meetings of the members and meetings of the officers and trustees, and the President shall have concurrent authority with the Secretary to call such meetings.
  1. It shall be the duty of the Vice President to preside at meetings of the members and meetings of the officers and trustees in the absence of the President, and to assist in the stewardship and the finance activities of the KHS.
  1. It shall be the duty of the Treasurer to receive and safely keep the money, funds and securities belonging to and which may be acquired by the Society; to invest same as directed by the Officers and Trustees; and to enter regularly in books kept for that purpose all money and income received by the Treasurer in said capacity and the source of the same, and of all money disbursed by the Treasurer on behalf of the Society and for what purpose and to whom the same was paid, to take records for said payments, which books and vouchers shall at all reasonable times be open to inspection of the members, Trustees and Officers of said Society. The Treasurer shall make a report at each Annual Meeting of the receipts and disbursements during the year, which report shall also contain an inventory of the Society’s funds.
  1. It shall be the duty of the Secretary to make and keep records of the votes, doings and proceedings of all meetings, and to prepare and transmit to the members or the Officers and Trustees, as the case may be, the notices required by these by-laws, except as the same may be issued by the President.
  1. The Board shall consist of the Officers and Trustees of the Society. The powers of this Society shall be exercised by, and the control and management of its property and affairs shall be vested in, the Executive Committee who shall be fully empowered to enforce the provisions of this Society’s Certificate of Incorporation, and to make, amend and enforce by-laws and regulations for the government of such Board and for the government of this Society.
  1. The Board shall meet at least four times a year. Other meetings of the Board shall be called by the President or at the request of three board members.  Other meetings may be called by the President or at the written request of seven members of the Society. At any board meeting, seven shall constitute a quorum.
  1. At least three days’ notice shall be given for meetings of the Executive Committee, which notice may be oral or written, and four shall constitute a quorum.
  1. In case of a vacancy among the Board of Trustees, the Board may name a member to complete the unexpired term, effective until the next election.
  1. Committees and/or task forces shall be appointed by the President, with counsel from the Board.
  1. EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR:  An Executive Director of the Kent Historical Society may be named by the Board upon recommendation from a subcommittee of the board. Compensation for the Executive Director shall be determined by the Executive Committee, and approved by the full board.
  1. The Annual Membership Meeting normally shall be held in October, at a time and place selected by the Executive Committee, with proper notice given to all members at least five days in advance. The purpose of the Annual Meeting shall be to elect Trustees and Officers. This meeting will also hear the Minutes of the previous Annual Meeting, the Report of the Treasurer and any other reports, and transact such business as is proper to come before said Annual Meeting.
  1. At any membership meeting, seven members shall constitute a quorum.
  1. Membership shall be open to any person who is interested in the purpose of the Society upon payment of the membership fee. Honorary membership may be conferred by the Executive Committee, giving consideration to the member’s long-standing interest in the Society, either by active participation and/or financial aid.
  1. It shall be the duty of the Treasurer to collect, record and acknowledge receipt of membership fees. Any member whose dues remain unpaid for two years may be dropped after second notice is given.
  1. The fiscal year of this Society shall begin on the first day of October in each year, and shall end on the thirtieth day of September.
  1. In the event that the Kent Historical Society, Incorporated, shall be dissolved, the funds of said Kent Historical Society, Incorporated, shall be allocated to the Kent Library Association, Inc. for the maintaining and preservation of all records of the Kent Historical Society, Incorporated, on file in the archives of the Kent Historical Society.
  1. These By-Laws may be altered, amended or repealed, or new by-laws may be made, by the Board at any regular or special meeting called for that purpose, by a majority of the Board, provided that the proposed amendment action has been submitted to the Board members not less than five days in advance. By-laws altered, amended or made by the Board may be altered, amended, repealed or ratified by a majority vote of those present at a general membership meeting.

Adopted July 31, 1968
Revised 1999
Revised October 2012
Proposed revision June 20, 2016

Vampires in New England

October 16 Sunday Series talk to focus on
“Vampires in New England”

Vampire folk beliefs go back to the 18th century in Connecticut, and Dr. Nicholas Bellantoni has archaeological evidence that he’ll share to illuminate beliefs about… the undead.

On Sunday, October 16, 2016, at 2:00 PM at the Kent Town Hall, Dr. Nicholas Bellantoni recently retired Connecticut State Archaeologist, will present some highlights of his own research at Colonial gravesites, exploring how fear and superstition led New Englanders, particularly those around Jewett City, CT, to take drastic measures with burial customs — they didn’t want anyone returning from the grave. The archaeologist will discuss the sources of belief in vampires and the undercurrent of fear of the undead. Bones, graves and history reveal the myth and fact of each situation.

Dr. Bellantoni’s talk will follow a brief Annual Meeting of the Kent Historical Society. There will be an election of trustees and officers, as well as a vote to amend the organization’s bylaws. The Kent Historical Society sponsors the Sunday Series every other month September through May. Free admission for members; $5 suggested donation for non-members.

For more information please call 860.927.4587.


Revision to Society By-laws to be voted on

Revision to Society By-laws to be voted on

Members of the Kent Historical Society will be asked to vote on the ratification of the following amendments to the organization’s Constitution and Bylaws during the Annual Meeting Sunday, Oct. 16 at the Kent Town Hall at 2 p.m. The Board of Trustees voted to approve these in June 2016.

2016 Amendments

The document is a PDF. If you don’t have software to read it, you can download it for free at Adobe.

2016 Summer Art Enrichment: another success!

2016 Summer Art Enrichment: another success!

The Society enjoyed another successful Summer Art Enrichment program educating youngsters with an array of professional artists as instructors.

The organizers expanded the program and again added a new teacher, Lilly Rand Barnett. There were three different teachers involved in five weekly sessions of instruction and 46 participants were instructed. Each session also got a tour of the Seven Hearths Museum thanks to Curator Marge Smith.

At the end of each week, there was an art show presenting each child’s work and parents, grandparents and friends enjoyed seeing all the work on display.

“We are pleased by the high quality of art instruction that is being provided through this program,” said trustee Lynn Mellis Worthington, one of the volunteers who helped organize the program.

“It was so nice to see George Laurence Nelson’s property so active with lots of young artists flowing with creativity.  He and Helen would be so happy and proud to see the program we have developed ” said Melissa Roth Cherniske, another one of the trustees that helped organize the program.  

Barnett, who is the art teacher at Sharon Center School, instructed students in a wide variety of artistic mediums.  Some of the projects included sewing of 3D sculptures, embroidery, painting and plaster mask making. She offered both a morning and afternoon session for different ages.  Each of the students got their own sketchbook and a challenge to continue to draw in it during their entire summer.  

Cheryl Moore, chairman of the Art Department at South Kent School, returned for her third year and instructed 5 to 7 year olds. Once again her young students explored color in a variety of ways, including using a variety of watercolor techniques.

Andy Richards, chairman of the Visual Arts Department at The Gunnery school in Washington, led sessions in drawing and painting. His sessions always include a critique element, in which students analyze each other’s work and he provides guidance and encouragement.

Following the sessions, the Society surveyed the parents to get feedback on each class. One parent wrote, “My daughter talks about this camp non-stop. She had so much fun. She was very excited to learn to sew and really enjoyed the art show at the end of the week.” Another parent wrote, “He loved working with different media and creating projects using multiple methods. He also loved seeing the Historical Society and learning about it.”

The Society is thrilled to have the Art Barn in use to allow children to develop their artistic skills.  George Laurence Nelson gave art lessons in various forms over the years and so we believe our art instruction continues his legacy.


“Camps of Kent” Wins Award of Merit

Camps of Kent” Exhibit Wins CLHO Award of Merit


The Kent Historical Society 2015 Exhibit, “Camps of Kent: Memories of Summer” has been honored by the Connecticut League of History Organizations with their Award of Merit. The award letter declared, “The Committee highly commends the Kent Historical Society for creating an exhibit that explored this previously undocumented aspect of the town’s history. The committee was impressed with the amount of original research that was conducted and the extra effort that was made to reach out to the community to collect and share the stories and artifacts of both the camps and the campers who came to Kent.”

Marge Smith and Melissa Cherniske co-curated this exhibit  and did a tremendous job, particularly guest curator Melissa Cherniske. Her personal experience and passion for the camp experience shone through every facet of the exhibit.

For more information on the award-winning exhibit please click here.