Somers Historical Museum opens for new season

By Annie Gentile - ReminderNews
Somers - posted Wed., Apr. 10, 2013
Somers Historical Museum Vice President Barry Moynihan restored this 1800s-era rocking horse. He also takes care of much of the maintenance work on the one-and-a-half-story, one-room historical museum. Photos by Annie Gentile.
Somers Historical Museum Vice President Barry Moynihan restored this 1800s-era rocking horse. He also takes care of much of the maintenance work on the one-and-a-half-story, one-room historical museum. Photos by Annie Gentile.

The Somers Historical Museum building may be tiny in size, but it packs a lot of local history inside its walls.

Set to reopen for the season on April 13, the museum has a few new permanent and temporary displays, with one long-time display getting a makeover.

The permanent items include a native American diorama of the Algonquin speaking the Nipmuc tribe of the Mohegans, created by Rudolph Weyse of Glastonbury. Carol Pyne, who manages the museum, said the diorama was a gift from local veterinarian Dr. Mike Stenz, who was the last owner of the former Somers Mountain Indian Museum, which closed its doors about 10 years ago. Stenz also gifted the Somers Historical Museum with a collection of arrowheads, all of which were located in Somers.

“Some of these arrowheads are thousands of years old,” said Cory Haynes, an assistant at the museum.

Pyne said many of the items from the Indian Museum originated from native American tribes out west and were auctioned off years ago by Sotheby’s. Many other items, she said, were donated to the University of Connecticut’s Thomas J. Dodd industrial museum. “When it comes to items for this museum, I have to concentrate on Somers items only, because this building is far too small to accommodate items from all over the country, let alone the world,” said Pyne.

Many of the regular displays in the museum include items from the Somersville Mill, including a few children’s coats made by mill workers.

The museum’s latest temporary display includes a Civil War rifle on loan from a local family, as well as a Civil War-era healing brace made of wood, metal and leather that belonged to Dr. William B. Woods, formerly of Somers.

The Civil War items fit well with a planned May 11 Civil War Living History Day to be held on the Somers Common, right outside the historical museum, which follows an April 16 research and photographic presentation at Somers Public Library by Connie Satton on Connecticut Troops at Gettysburg.

“For the May event, Civil War re-enactors [from Company F, 14th CVI] will be coming to set up a tent, and they’ll be doing a firing of rifles and demonstrating how typical meals were made,” said Pyne. “The event will run all day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the public is welcome.”

Another display includes an 1800s-era rocking horse which came to the museum in the 1980s. The rocking horse was in poor shape, but in the hands of museum Vice President Barry Moynihan, it has gotten a makeover.

With a little bit of research and combined creativity, Moynihan repaired the horse, adding leather ears that came off of a 110-year-old horse buggy. The horse also had no tail or fur, but he fixed that problem by adding his own, courtesy of horse hair from the local Antonacci Farms.

“Most of the old rocking horses were from England, so I ordered a rein for the horse from a supplier in England,” said Moynihan, adding that the one stirrup on the horse was a result of finding one under the floor boards of an old house he was refurbishing in Somers. “Fixing this horse up has been a lot of fun. I still need to find horseshoes for it, but I think that’s something I’ll likely have to make,” he said.

The museum, located at 11 Battle St., will be open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on April 13, May 11, June 8, Aug. 10, Sept. 2, Oct. 12, Nov. 9 and Dec. 7. For more information, call 860-749-6437.


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