On September 11, 1958, a handful of interested residents formed the first Old Saybrook Historical Society. Their concern that the oldest town on the shoreline had “many valuable records, diaries, letters that had already been lost, scattered, or destroyed and that there should be no further delay in making a start toward collecting and saving what is still available.”
We are a non-profit, all volunteer, tax-exempt organization with over 350 members from across the USA whose mission is to investigate, preserve and maintain collections in archeology, furniture, genealogy, and historic records of the Town of Old Saybrook while encouraging the study and appreciation of this historical heritage -especially by the young people of the area.
The restored General William Hart House (1767), Frank Stevenson Archives, and the historic gardens comprise a one-acre “campus” in the village that is home to the Society
Marek Sarba, an artist and resident of Old Saybrook, at our annual meeting, presented a portrait of General William Hart that he painted for the Society. It was after his first visit to the Hart House this summer that he decided to research and use his talents to do this and gift to our organization. He traveled to the Wadsworth Atheneum to view the small locket that shows the only known likeness of William. His gift is a wonderful work of art. As he spoke to the members, he stressed the importance of history and his admiration for the work of the Society and all its volunteers. Marek's paintings are on display at Mystic Seaport's Maritime Gallery, the Historical Society of Maryland, Mariner's Museum in Newport News, VA, Merchant Marine Museum in Kings Point New, NY, Great Lakes Historical Society, etc. We are thrilled with this special gift.
HISTORICAL SOCIETY RECEIVES AWARD
Each year the Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce recognizes a non-profit organization who “contribute to the economic vitality and quality of life in Old Saybrook” and this year the honor went to the Old Saybrook Historical Society. In making the announcement, the Chamber’s Executive Director Judy Sullivan said the Historical Society has developed a reputation for organizational excellence and has had a major impact on the lives of individuals within the past year. Ms. Sullivan pointed out several specific reasons for the selection:
1. The Old Saybrook Historical Society and the William Hart House and Gardens is a gem right in the middle of town.
2. Many volunteers work very hard to promote the long history of Old Saybrook and work to keep it in the minds of the community – particularly being the oldest town on the Shoreline!
3. The many programs presented by the Historical Society encompass all ages. Volunteers encompass all ages!
4. The Stevenson Archive and Library has helped many residents and visitors with genealogical research.
5. Varied and interesting lectures provide insight into historical information.
The award was presented December 5 at the Chamber’s Annual Dinner at the Saybrook Point Inn by the Chamber President Kristen Roberts and Executive Director Judy Sullivan. Previous recipients of the “Nonprofit of the Year” award include Estuary Council of Seniors, High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Center , HOPE Partnership, and the Old Saybrook Youth & Family Services of Berlin.
Members and friends are cordially invited to share an evening of holiday cheer at the annual Wassail Party
Sunday, December 15, 4 to 6 at Hart House
Please feel free to bring a Guest.
Hosting for History 2013
The society thanks all of those that made this a memorable event.
Saybrook Document Collection - Helping to Fulfill Our Mission
A large collection (150-160 items) of early Saybrook documents recently became available on eBay. It was spotted by Trustee, Tedd Levy. Tedd recognized an opportunity for the Society to purchase these original documents and immediately contacted the dealer and alerted the Board. The collection includes documents with names from Saybrook’s history, like Shipman, Clark, Buckingham, Ingham, Kirtland, Tully, Denison, Dibble, Bushnell, Hotchkiss, Pratt, etc. There is a booklet that includes the estate of William Lynde. Many are transfer deeds for such as the “common field”, “boggy swamp”, “Bokim”, “Lynde Neck”. Others include statements about the various town paths and roads, e.g. to the burying ground, the path marsh to the Fort, the highway to Potapoug. There is a 1722 document about a Saybrook sailing ship’s Caribbean ports of call and several early postal items. Had this collection been sold as individual items and disbursed it could never be retrieved. The purchase price was $5000. A high dollar value, but for us, these documents are a priceless historic contribution to the Archives. We will spend the winter accessing, transcribing and copying the documents. I hope the publicity surrounding this acquisition will inspire members and friends to share any early Saybrook documents they may have with the Society. Don’t let history be lost.
The Hart House and Stevenson Archives are now virtual: