Posts Tagged ‘leffiingwell’

Blue Star Museums Summer: In Our Town!

Sunday, August 5th, 2018

Since I made the list of Blue Star Museums for the wall, Lincoln has been obsessed with “moo-see-ums”, and asks every day if we can go to one. Our summer weekends are blessedly empty of commitments, so we get to say yes pretty often. Last weekend though, we looked at the list, mentally calculated the costs of lunch and/or dinner out, the drive times, the 95% humidity and dragged our feet all morning, hoping the kids would entertain themselves.

Then I remembered we had two Blue Star Museums right here in Norwich. I hadn’t even bothered to add them to our list because they are walking distance from our front door and I pass them several times I day. They don’t really count as GOING somewhere. But E and I had never been to either one and figured it would be a good compromise between doing nothing and moo-see-ums.

It turns out, both places are TOTALLY worth visiting! They were interesting! And bigger than I thought! And really fun, even if it was a million degrees inside!

First, we visited The Slater Museum. It’s on the campus of Norwich Free Academy, which is the high school in our town. It’s an endowed academy, a private school that serves as a public school. You can read about the history here, which is the sort of stuff I love, so when we bought this house one of the main draws was being super close to NFA.

From their website:┬áSlater Memorial Building, dedicated in 1886, a gift from William A. Slater (NFA 1875; 1857-1909), was the second structure built on campus. It included the Slater Memorial Museum. The Norwich Art School launched in 1890, because the Museum offered a World-class laboratory for art instruction. By 1906, the Art School, enjoying ever-expanding success and popularity, moved into its own building, named for benefactor Charles A. Converse. (More dorky stuff: my favorite house in Norwich is the Converse House, a Victorian Gothic mansion around the corner from us. I bought a bedroom set at a garage sale there once and got to go inside and look around. It’s AMAZING. Also, it’s for sale.)

This is all really typical New England stuff. Towns on rivers all used to have huge mills and factories, lots of people used to be super rich, and if you walk through the graveyards the names on the stones are all the names of the streets, hospitals, museums, banks, buildings and people who still live here. I love it.

Anyway, back to our visit. The Slater Museum was actually free for everyone the day we went, not just military families. (It’s free on Saturdays during July and August for everyone, so if you’re close enough I recommend a visit!) I’m going to go back with fewer children so I can actually read signs and learn stuff.

Then we went over to the Leffingwell House Museum, which is WAY older than NFA. It used to be a private house, then an inn and tavern. It also was full of familiar names – at one point it was owned by the Backus family, Backus Hospital is where I delivered all four babies.

I took a lot fewer pictures because I was actually listening to our tour guide, who was very entertaining, knew tons of interesting facts both about the house and about the 1700’s in general, and kept the kids entertained.

That thing is called a weasel, and they used it to measure skeins of yarn and when you spin it it makes a pop sound when you have the right length. Pop goes the weasel.

Standing in the exact spot where George Washington stood. Since my children are obsessed with Hamilton, this was very exciting. There was also a lot of Benedict Arnold stuff (he’s from Norwich) but I’m going to need a hip-hop musical about his life before I’m super interested.

I can’t believe I’ve lived in Norwich for 10 years and haven’t been to either of those museums before. If you’re local, don’t make the same mistake!

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