Although the Stamford Historical Society was founded in 1901, it took a number of years before the Society met regularly. After meeting five times between October of 1901 and March of 1902, the Society did not meet again until the fall of 1905. From then on, monthly meetings were held, other than during the summer months of July and August. This practice continues today as there is no August meeting of the Board. It was not until 1909 that the Society was recognized by the State of Connecticut as an incorporated body. Colonel Woolsey Hopkins, Society President (1901–09), had appointed a committee to see to this goal as early as 1907, but it was not until after his death that the goal was realized under the Society’s second president Frederick G. Mather (1909–23).
In order to celebrate the 100th anniversary of incorporation, the Society is putting together a centennial exposition, 100 Years in the Making: Highlights from the Society’s Collections, that will chronicle our history as well as show off some of the finest pieces in our collections.
The Hallway will illustrate the history of the Society from its inception in October of 1901 to the present. The biographies of some of our charter members will be featured in addition to pamphlets, photos, flyers and newsletters put out by the Society over the years. We are also endeavoring to include photos of every one of our past presidents from Colonel Hopkins to the present. The exhibit will give the viewer a thorough understanding about where the Society has been in the past, what have been its chief foci and concerns, and where we are going in the future. Featured will be a mini-exhibit about our Hoyt Barnum House, including a scale model of the house built in the 1960s.
HBH was acquired by the Society in 1943 but did not serve as its headquarters until 1950. It was at an historic board meeting when, after hearing a poem composed by Mrs. Hilliard, long-serving SHS Board Secretary, in which the House was given a voice through the poem, the Board decided unanimously to make HBH its home. The Society did not move to its present address until 1984.
The Red and Halliday Galleries will feature some of our most prized pieces from the collections. The objects will be presented in much the same style as in the American Wing of the Met. The exhibit will be arranged chronologically with room-like settings interspersed with cases filled with objects pertaining to national events as they affected Stamford, such as the Revolutionary and Civil Wars and WWI and II. Many of the items that will be displayed have either not been shown or have not been seen for a very long time by the public. Included will be furniture, decorative items, textiles and memorabilia.
I would like to thank our great team of volunteers mentioned elsewhere who made this all possible. Their efforts have given the Society better control of its collections. They have also helped us to preserve items. Each one of our volunteers has contributed to this exhibit and to the strength of the Society. We look forward to seeing all at the opening of the exhibit on October 25 when we will celebrate the Society’s 100th!— Thomas Zoubek, PhD