Historical Society Museum displays stories of the town’s past
By Kitty LeShay - ReminderNews
Stafford - posted Tue., Mar. 5, 2013
The Stafford Historical Society Museum is housed in a building which mirrors the artifacts within it. Entrepreneur Julius Converse constructed the building on Spring Street in 1885 and today there are three floors filled with the history of the town and surrounding region. It is a treasure trove for people interested in history and it is open every Monday from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Kelly Gillett recently toured the exhibits with her four children. “We live in a historic home built in 1890. I happened to stumble across a postcard featuring my home on e-bay and this inspired me to start a Facebook page of Stafford historical photographs. The community has liked the page and have come forward with their own stories and photos,” she said.
Gillett and her children ambled through the three floors which include artifacts that were manufactured in Stafford, including guns, chisels and stoves made in the iron foundries of the 18th and 19th centuries. “Stafford ran out of iron ore, but there is still some iron in everyone’s water,” said Dave Bartlett, president of the historical society.
Stafford was a mill town, like many in the area, and produced wool and cotton from the mid 1800s to the mid 1900s. The surrounding area was primarily dairy farming. Artifacts from these endeavors are displayed at the museum.
Pictures are prominent in many displays. “People in Stafford have been very generous in donating to the society,” Bartlett said. New acquisitions keep arriving. “We would love to attract new members and welcome the public to attend our meetings on the second Tuesday of the month between March and June, and September and December at the Community Center,” he said.
Converse’s office building has had many uses before it became the Stafford Historical Museum in 2001. “It was known as the fanciest office in Tolland County,” Bartlett said. “The large rooms were used to display products and downstairs they bottled Stafford Springs mineral water,” he added.
Converse was a very wealthy man. Hyde Park was his front yard and it was a working farm. When he died, his office building was purchased by the Johnson family, who sold it for $1 to the Stafford Library Association, and it became the town library for more than 100 years.