SOUTHINGTON – The Southington Historical Society has reopened on Wednesday evenings, having used the time it was shutdown to re-arrange exhibits and prepare for new displays on town history.
The historical society, located at 239 Main St., is now open from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays. The building, originally home to the town library, contains a wide array of artifacts from throughout town history, from Civil War and WWII relics to industrial items to exhibits on Southington’s sports heroes.
“In the past we’ve been open on Thursdays but we decided to try Wednesdays and maybe benefit from some of the Music on the Green traffic,” said Phil Wooding, town historian and interim president at the Southington Historical Society. “When we have our time change in the fall, we’ll be going back to Saturdays.”
Wooding said during the months the building was closed for covid, volunteers came in to prepare it for eventual reopening. Volunteers, he said, went through archives, consolidated displays and began preparations for new exhibits.
“We apologize to those who called during shutdown,” Wooding said. “We did not have an office staff and were unable to respond in a timely manner. We are hopeful that now we will be able to move forward and that our new projects and displays will spark interest in seeing what Southington's past looked like and how it's different from today. As the motto goes, we are ‘preserving the past and informing the future.’”
One of the new displays in the works will focus on the history of women in Southington.
“As you might imagine, currently we have a lot in industry history, military history, furniture and so-forth,” Wooding said. “We've had discussions about getting together something that might be of more interest to women coming into the museum. We've dedicated a portion of one of the rooms to that end. We're in the process of getting some clothing and women's accessory items together and determining how they might best be displayed.”
The Southington Historical Society is also hoping to expand its military room.
“We've now designated one room for military history of Southington,” Wooding said. “We're appealing for materials relevant to both the Korean War and the Vietnam War. We have quite a bit of material right up to that point.”
The Southington Historical Society also hopes to expand its exhibits on the town’s pre-industrial revolution, agrarian roots, showcasing some of the tools used for farming during this era.
“We have found that we had been somewhat lacking in the early history of Southington, particularly from its original agricultural beginnings before the industrial revolution,” Wooding said.
The society has also completed renovations of its basement area and installed new flooring.
“We are now also deliberating and discussing what the best use of that area is going to be,” Wooding said.
The Southington Historical Society also plans to elect a new slate of officers within the next month or two. In the meantime, Wooding said he enjoys sharing his knowledge as interim president.
“I’m constantly learning; I was not appointed town historian because I know everything,” he said. “Every day I’m learning something new or another aspect of a subject I had a pretty good handle on.”
Wooding said it can be a challenge to get the younger generation interested in history. But, every now and then, there are visitors who take a keen interest in what they see on display.
“I hope that as we encourage younger people to come in and see the rich heritage that Southington has that they will get an appreciation of where we've come from,” he said.
For more information on the Southington Historical Society, visit southingtonhistory.org or call 860-621-4811.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or email@example.com.