Willington Historical Society takes on big project with Daniel Glazier Tavern

By Kitty LeShay - ReminderNews
Willington - posted Mon., May. 20, 2013
President of the Willington Historical Society Bob Shabot is showing the newly unwalled beehive oven in the Daniel Glazier Tavern. Photos by Kitty LeShay.
President of the Willington Historical Society Bob Shabot is showing the newly unwalled beehive oven in the Daniel Glazier Tavern. Photos by Kitty LeShay.

In 2008, the keepers of Willington’s history were given the Daniel Glazier Tavern. The structure and three acres have a prominent location on the town green. Most recently it had been occupied by the Williams family who gifted it to the Willington Historical Society. It served as Edward and Martha Williams’ second home from the 1960s to the 1990s.

Bob Shabot is the president of the WHS and is interested in preserving every era this circa 1820 house has gone through, from restoring the beehive oven which was hidden behind a wall to preserving the 1950’s kitchen. “Our plan is to have an exhibit space downstairs and our offices upstairs. We will need an up to code kitchen and this one will work for us,” he said. “ We also have a bomb shelter on the property and will be keepers of that history as well,” he added.

The beehive oven, which is larger than most built during the period, was to accommodate a clientele frequenting a tavern and enjoying breads, pies or any type of baked goods baked within. “The oven and fireplace will be used to demonstrate cooking during the Federal Period. We hope to have a mini- Sturbridge Village here,” Shabot said.

The Daniel Grazier Tavern was a place where travelers enjoyed food and drink, gave their horses a rest in the barn which is no longer out back, danced in the ballroom and slept in one of the rooms with a fireplace. Early presidents Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison often travelled from Virginia and Massachusetts to our capitals in New York, Philadelphia or Washington, and stayed in similar taverns.

The Willington tavern had fallen into some disrepair when the WHS received it and its members are working to get it ready for its reincarnation for public use. With a grant from the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, the WHS has been able to make the first floor structurally safe for a variety of uses by the community. “We are looking for grants and donations from people interested in preserving history,” said town historian Joe Froehlich.

In addition to the beehive oven, the structure has the original wide floor boards and wall stenciling. “Stenciling was done instead of wallpaper because it was less expensive,” Shabot said. An eight foot mantel was found in the basement and will be restored as well as the fireplace in the taproom.

Charles Preston, a former owner, wrote at the turn of the century that the attic may have served as a station of the Underground Railroad between Norwich and Worcester.

The Willington Historical Society welcomes new members. There are various tasks for members such as writing the newsletter, planning programs, the acquisition committee, electronic preservation of documents, and of course, the restoration of the tavern.

“I am a newcomer to the organization as an active member. Everyone has been very welcoming and encouraging of new ideas. It is a very friendly group,” Froehlich said.

The WHS can be reached at willingtonhistoricalsociety ct.org or from a link on the town Web site. Contact the Society directly by email at willingtonhistoricalsociety@gmail.com.

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