Somers Historical Society home to small-town gems
By Annie Gentile - ReminderNews
Somers - posted Wed., Sep. 28, 2011
The Somers Historical Society is a gem of a building - an eclectic mix of Colonial, Queen Anne, Georgian and Greek Revival architecture - and what it houses on the inside is as interesting as its unique attractiveness from the outside.
Open one Saturday morning a month, the building and former first Free Public Library in town offers a rotating exhibit of small-town history of both Somers and Somersville.
“We always have military exhibits, as well as exhibits from the Somersville Manufacturing Company,” said Somers Historical Society President Carole Pyne. “Rockwell Keeney, formerly of Manchester, started the mill, and immigrants from many different nationalities worked there. Everything revolved around the mill where they made blankets and materials for uniforms for the first and second world wars.”
Jeanne DeBell, the curator of the museum, said the mill eventually closed due to competition with imported Italian wool companies and state regulations on pollution. Eventually, the equipment for the mill moved out of state.
Since June, the Somers Historical Society has been exhibiting a collection of World War II memorabilia from the late Edwin (Eddie) Sagan, who had lived in Somers for more than 50 years. A technical sergeant draftsman, Sagan served in WWII from 1942 to 1945 in the Burma-India-China offensive. The exhibit includes a Japanese flag he obtained during the war years, as well as a dagger from India.
Built in 1896 and moved form Main Street to Battle Street about 100 years later, the museum offers a wide mix of exhibits, including cemetery maps for researchers trying to locate graves of ancestors in the North and West Cemeteries, multiple photographic exhibits including the 1955 flood that devastated much of Connecticut, and recorded stories from long-time residents about growing up in Somersville. The exhibits also include military uniforms, kitchen implements, a Boy Scout bugle, and more, with many of the items donated by local residents.
“If you think the museum is full, you should see the basement,” said Pyne. “We always have interesting things to see here.”