The Society was fortunate enough to apply for and receive a grant from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County to design and produce two full color exhibit signs to be placed at the Hart House Campus! We’ve completed the signs and they are installed. The first is located inside the picket fence at the front of the General Hart House (far left) and offers information on the mission of the Old Saybrook Historical Society and what one will find inside the 250 year old house. The second sign (near left) is located to the rear between the Hart House and the Stevenson Archive building. That sign presents information about our beautiful gardens as well as information about the Archives and what historical treasures can be found in there. The signs will provide information to those who come by during hours that the house and the archives aren’t open to the public and hopefully entice them to return!
Hart Campus Exhibit Signs
These two outstanding portraits are on permanent loan from our neighbor, The First Church of Christ in Saybrook. One is a portrait of Amos Sheffield (1789-1868) a successful merchant who owned a store on Main Street with Elisha Hart, General Hart’s brother. the other portrait is of his wife, Amelia Hotchkiss Sheffield (1783-1869). Amelia was the daughter of General Hart’s youngest sister who was married to Rev. Frederick Hotchkiss, the popular minister of the Congregational Church for over 50 years.
“Liberty or Death”.
Decorated with carvings of animals, cannon, swords, trees, patriotic mottos and a fort. Oliver Graham was a drummer who enlisted January 5, 1777. Length 15 1/2″ inches.
It Truly Is A Small World!
by Donna DiBella
Over the years, I have met so many interesting people through the Society and today would like to share a special story of one of them.
Sometime in 2003, I received an email from Barbara Newhook, a Florida resident who claimed her great grandmother; Louise Holt Berrian had lived in the General William Hart House from 1894 to 1923. Louise was a Montclair, New Jersey resident and used the house every summer to escape the busy metropolitan New Jersey/New York area to a more relaxed seaside atmosphere that was Old Saybrook. After a good deal of research, I discovered that indeed, Louise Holt Berrian did inhabit 350 Main Street in what is now “home” to our Society. Many of you know that the house was once known as “The Wood School”, a boarding school for girls run by Miss Hetty Wood who owned the house for over 50 years. Louise Holt Berrian’s husband, George was the son or grandson of Hetty’s sister Maria and George eventually inherited the home from Hetty. Once that was confirmed, Barbara and I agreed to meet at her home in Palm Beach Gardens. Seems “Grandma Lou”, as she was called, was someone who kept everything and Barbara Newhook and her mother, Barbara Burke had inherited trunks of family items looking for a “new/old” home. Ironically, at that time my husband and I were spending occasional long weekends in Florida and our golf club was two minutes from the Newhouse home. Of course, I shared all this with the late Dorothy Swan who was delighted and couldn’t wait for me to return with information on the items the family wanted to gift the Society.
Barbara Newhook, and I spent several hours poring through trunks filled with textiles, buttons, beads, Old Saybrook memorabilia even a piece of Grandma Lou’s wedding cake! Photographs of the house and gardens have been a wonderful resource capturing a glimpse of a time gone by. On a cold damp Thursday in March of 2004, the truck arrived at the Hart House with several trunks and boxes filled with Berrian items. Dorothy Swan, Suzanna Otto, Warren Almquist and yours truly were there to welcome the Berrian items home. How fortunate and grateful the Old Saybrook Historical Society is to have received these marvelous “treasures”. In 2004, the exhibit committee put together, “The Berrian Years in Old Saybrook” and nearly all of these items were on display. Grandma Lou’s granddaughter, Barbara Burke and great granddaughter, Barbara Newhook from Florida came up for the pre-exhibit party. In addition, Jane Walker and her husband from Pennsylvania who Grandma Lou sold the house to in 1923 came as well. A great time was had by all!! This past summer we devoted a case in the exhibit gallery to many items and photos of The Berrian Years. They are on exhibit indefinitely for all to enjoy. When Barbara Burke passed away, the family asked that donations be sent to the Old Saybrook Historical Society. Barbara Newhook and I, although we do not see each other often enough, remain friends and to think all this