New Exhibit: Opening Reception, May 24, 5:30 – 7:30 pm
About the Westport Historical Society
The Westport Historical Society, founded in 1889, is an educational organization dedicated to preserving, presenting and celebrating the history of Westport, Connecticut. It is committed to increasing awareness of the importance of preserving our town’s heritage and its historic buildings and landmarks. WHS is a private, non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization, sustained entirely by the generous support of members, donors, grants, program revenues, sponsors and endowment income. The financial statements of the WHS are audited annually by an independent accounting firm Van Brunt, DuBiago & Company, LLC.
Wheeler House, the Society’s headquarters, at 25 Avery Place, Westport, Connecticut, was purchased in 1981. The house, built in 1795, was remodeled in the Italianate style in the 19th Century and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Connecticut Register of Historic Places. The house has three Victorian Period rooms and a gift shop. The only octagonal-roof, cobblestone barn in Connecticut, which is on the property, was completely restored over a ten-year period and houses the Museum of Westport History displaying a diorama of the town as it looked toward the end of the 19th Century.
The Society has hosted series of educational lectures and has mounted a succession of well-received exhibits which have been an important part of the continuing programs presented to the town. Children’s special events, after school, vacation and summer camp programs are offered during the year. House Tours and Garden Tours are regular parts of each year’s program.
Adams Academy, a 19th Century, one-room schoolhouse on its original site in Green’s Farms, has been restored by the Society. Adams Academy is a stop on our annual Holiday House Tour and is open for special programs and events. For information, call 203-222-1424.
Brochures are available for a self-guided, walking tour of the King’s Highway Historic District as well as a driving tour, Jennings Trail, annotating the two dozen plaques marking historical sites in Westport. A plaque added by Peter Jennings to the Jennings Trail tour in 2000 was the inspiration for a book the Society published, The Bridge Not Taken: Benedict Arnold Outwitted, by Damon Douglas. Other publications include:
- Staples High School: 120 Years of A+ Education by Dan Woog
- Westport, Connecticut – The making of a Yankee Township by Edward Coley Birge
- Stories from Westport’s Past (series of 3) by Joanna Foster
- Westport, A Special Place, by Eve Potts and Howard Munce
- Stars in our Eyes, by Tom DeLong
- Westport, Connecticut – The Story of a New England Town’s Rise to Prominence, by Woody Klein
- Westport and Weston, Connecticut, by William Scheffler
Historic Plaques – How can I get a historic plaque for my house?
Several years ago the Westport Historical Society started a house plaque program to allow homeowners to show pride in owning historical houses. The plaques identified the original owner of the house and the date of construction. Today Westport has 217 historical plaques identifying houses that were built over 100 years ago.
To raise more awareness of the history of our town, the Westport Historical Society has embarked on a direct mail campaign to homeowners that have houses which were built over 100 years ago. The material provided includes the historical importance of the house and the proposed house plaque appearance. Homeowners receiving the material can acknowledge the historical value of their house by requesting a handcrafted plaque from the Westport Historical Society. There is a donation of $300 which covers the costs of the plaque and a contribution to the Westport Historical Society.
As House History Chair, Bob Weingarten is in charge of the plaque program. The new program started with letters to 45 town homeowners with houses built over 100 years ago. The response exceeded our expectations and he intends to continue this program since there are over 300 additional homeowners with houses built over 100 years ago. The need to document our historical roots is great. As owners of historic homes, we can establish a precedent of research and care for future generations.
Please contact House History Chair Bob Weingarten at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive information about our Historic Plaque Program.