Witchcraft in Early New England: Between The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea

posted Oct 11, 2017, 3:29 AM by Margaret McIntire   [ updated Oct 11, 2017, 4:44 AM by Julie Johnston ]

Just in time for Halloween, the Darien Historical Society will present “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea,” a discussion focusing on the colonists’ preoccupation with the supernatural with Leslie Lindenauer, professor of history at Western Connecticut State University on Wednesday, October 25 at 7:30 p.m.

The talk will be held at the Bates-Scofield Homestead Museum, 45 Old Kings Highway North, Darien. The program is free for members of the Society and $20 for non-members. 

Lindenauer, whose research focuses on gender and religious culture in early America, will discuss why so many allegations of witchcraft emerged in early America, and what caused the deep-seated paranoia prevalent in New England during the 17th and 18th centuries. Lindenauer, will also discuss little-known case studies of individual women who were accused of performing black magic.

“From the first trials in the 1640s to the infamous epidemic in Salem in 1692, witchcraft accusations and trials can provide us with a window on early American religion, popular culture, and gender that is illuminating, disturbing, and entertaining in equal measure,” Lindenauer said. 

An editor with The Papers of Benjamin Franklin at Yale University, Lindenauer has directed departments of education and interpretation at several history museums, including the South Street Seaport Museum in New York City and Historic Hudson Valley in Tarrytown, New York. She was also the executive director of the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame. 

In addition to history, Lindenauer teaches courses in Museum Studies, American Studies, and Women’s Studies. She is the author of Piety and Power: Gender and Religious Culture in the American Colonies, 1630-1700 and this year Lindenauer was quoted in The New York Times on her critically-acclaimed book, I Could Not Call Her Mother: The Stepmother in American Popular Culture, 1750-1960.

The Darien Historical Society, located at 45 Old Kings Highway North, operates the Bates-Scofield Homestead, featuring an 18th century saltbox colonial, historical herb garden, resource library and spacious barn exhibition gallery. The Society’s mission is to educate the community about its rich heritage and to preserve historical artifacts for future generations.

Please register for this program by calling 203.655.9233 or email ukremer@darienhistorical.org. Seating is limited.

New President Appointed and New Members Join Board of Directors

posted Oct 10, 2017, 4:20 PM by Margaret McIntire   [ updated Oct 11, 2017, 3:44 AM ]

The Society's Board of Directors has a new leader at the helm with the selection of Robert J. Pascal, Jr., as its new president. Pascal succeeds Bruce D. Sargent, who held the position for the past two years, and remains on the board’s advisory council.

A native of Darien, Pascal is the chief marketing officer for Centerplate, a leading hospitality firm for the world’s largest public venues and stadiums. He has been a member of the board since 2011, and served as its treasurer for the past two years.

During its recent Annual Meeting, members of the Society honored Sargent for his “clear-eyed leadership, quiet generosity and dogged enthusiasm for the Society and its mission.” Sargent served on the board for the past six years, and was also treasurer of the board for two years.

            A graduate of Columbia College and Columbia Graduate Business School, Sargent is a certified financial analyst who has spent his career at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, and is currently senior vice president and portfolio manager at its Westport office. His antique cars have generously represented the Darien Historical Society in the town’s Memorial Day parade for several years.

Co-Vice President Kate Larson said Sargent and his wife, Janet, are part of the “fabric of the Darien Historical Society” and remain integral to its continued success.

“Bruce, you’ve left the Society on a firmer footing in every possible way – your guidance on financial matters, ideas about programming, your attention to the facility and its grounds. You were instrumental in managing the search and hiring of our new executive director,” said Larson, during a public presentation after the meeting.

The Darien Historical Society, located at 45 Old Kings Highway North, operates the Bates-Scofield Homestead, featuring an 18th century saltbox colonial, historical herb garden, resource library and spacious barn exhibition gallery. The Society’s mission is to educate the community about its rich heritage and to preserve historical artifacts for future generations.

Sargent said that Pascal’s professional experience and commitment to public service make him uniquely qualified to serve as the Society’s president.

“Over the years, I’ve been impressed with Bob’s enthusiasm, his commitment to the Society’s mission, and his dedication to this town. I’m confident that I’m passing the baton to someone who will lead the Society toward further growth,” Sargent said.

Active in several professional and civic organizations, Pascal is a recognized marketing expert who oversees his company’s global client strategy, as well as its corporate marketing office and public relations initiatives. A recognized resource on industry trends, Pascal is frequently called upon for trade and mainstream media stories as well as speaking engagements at industry and academic conferences. A graduate of Davidson College, Pascal and his wife, Sara Lyn, live in Darien’s Delafield Island section with their two children.

“It is an honor to serve as president of the Darien Historical Society, which is such a vital resource for our community,” Pascal said. “I’m looking forward to working with this very talented board of directors to develop some exciting new initiatives.”

In addition to Sargent, Elissa Hylton retired from the board after serving for six years, but she will continue to serve on the board's collections committee. Hylton and her husband Hartwell have been residents of Darien for six years, and raised their daughter here. Hylton is a graduate of Dartmouth College and New York University School of Law. In 1996, Hylton retired as vice president and senior associate counsel of Chase Manhattan Bank in New York.

During the Annual Meeting, the Society named new officers to the board, and also announced the addition of several new members to the board. The officers include:

Kate Larson, co-vice president. A retired attorney, Larson moved to Darien in 1989 and has held prominent positions in numerous community organizations. She and her husband Steve have raised two children in town.

Joe Spain, co-vice president. Spain is a graduate of Manhattan College and Boston College Law School. He retired from a Manhattan-based law firm and is now senior counsel at Clifford Chance. He and his wife, Susan, moved to Darien in 1967 and have three children and seven grandchildren.

Jared Heuer, treasurer. A graduate of St. Lawrence University and Columbia University, where he earned an MBA, Heuer is the managing partner of a real estate investment firm based in Stamford. Heuer and his wife, Schuyler Roach Heuer, live in Tokeneke with their three children.

Julie Johnston, secretary. A graduate of Brown University, Johnston has over twenty years of professional experience in the IT and design industry, and now works as a freelance web development specialist. She developed this creative website for the Darien Historical Society. Johnston and her husband, Scott, have two children.

Mollie Fullington. Fullington is a public relations professional and has held many prominent public relations roles, including the office of New York Governor George E. Pataki for over five years. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Fullington is currently executive vice president of Linden, Alschuler & Kaplan PR in New York.

David Polett. A graduate of Boston College and the University of Bridgeport, Polett spent 35 years in education, including 25 years as science coordinator for the Blind Brook-Rye School District. Active in many community organizations, Polett and his wife, Karen, live in Darien and raised a daughter here.

The following people were elected to the Darien Historical Society’s Board of Directors during its Annual Meeting:

Abby Hord, Carolyn McGrath, Jim Ozanne, Jim Phillips, Lisa Shanahan and Valerie VanDerzee.

For more information, or to become a member of the Darien Historical Society, visit us or call 203 655-9233.

The Darien Historical Society 2017 Annual Meeting and Lecture

posted Sep 25, 2017, 11:05 AM by Margaret McIntire

The Darien Historical Society’s Board of Directors will hold its Annual Meeting on Sunday, October 1 at 4 p.m. Following the meeting, Revolutionary War Reenactor Eric Chandler will present “Sheldon’s Horse,” a discussion of the Revolutionary War cavalry unit that was dubbed “Washington’s Eyes.” Kindly register by calling 203.655.9233 or email ukremer@darienhistorical.org.

Darien Historical Society Announces Hiring of New Director

posted Sep 20, 2017, 9:20 AM by Margaret McIntire   [ updated Sep 20, 2017, 9:50 AM ]

The Darien Historical Society has its focus on the town’s past, but the Board of Directors has been looking to the future recently, and has hired a new Executive Director to help with some exciting new initiatives.

Margaret McIntire, a former journalist with a background in library programming and communications, has been named its new Executive Director, the DHS board announced. McIntire brings to the position a passion for history and commitment to delivering educational programs, said Bruce Sargent, president of the Society’s board of directors.

“With Maggie at the helm, we are confident that the Darien Historical Society will continue its strong traditions as the vanguard of the town’s history, while also enacting some exciting and creative new ideas,” Sargent said. “We’re excited to work with Maggie to make the Darien Historical Society the best it can be, and to spread the word about our stellar exhibits and programs.”

A former newspaper journalist, McIntire previously worked at the Mark Twain Library in Redding where she coordinated adult programs. Before that, she worked in the communications department at the Ferguson Library in Stamford. A former resident of Darien, McIntire worked for many years at Barrett Bookstore in Noroton Heights, where she specialized in coordinating programs. She also was co-founder of the store’s history book club.

“I am thrilled to serve as the Society’s executive director, and to be part of such a unique organization whose mission is to make local history come to life. I’m especially eager to meet all the people who make Darien Historical Society such a special place,” McIntire said.

The search for the new executive director began over the summer, according to Robert Pascal, Jr., treasurer of the Society. Pascal said the board was impressed with McIntire’s background as a journalist, and also her long experience in educational programming.

“Maggie’s experience and her enthusiasm is what really made her stand out to the board during the lengthy search and interview process. Her vision about the potential possibilities for the Society closely matched the board’s philosophy,” Pascal said.

The Darien Historical Society operates the Bates-Scofield Homestead Museum, which includes an 18th century saltbox colonial, an exhibit gallery and historical library.

The Society’s current exhibit, Mannequins on the Runway: Haute Couture and Contemporary Designs of the 20th Century, is open through October 4th. Admission is free for members and $5 for non-members. For more information call 203 655-9233.

We Are Open 12 to 3 On Sundays

posted Sep 5, 2017, 7:59 AM by Margaret McIntire   [ updated Sep 5, 2017, 8:02 AM ]

The Darien Historical Society is now open from noon to 3 p.m. on Sundays. Bring the family for a tour of the Bates-Scofield House and see our current exhibit: Mannequins on the Runway: Haute Couture and Contemporary Designs in the 20th Century.

We will be closed on Sundays in August through Labor Day

posted Aug 4, 2017, 6:39 PM by Julie Johnston   [ updated Aug 4, 2017, 6:39 PM ]

We will not be open on Sundays in August or on Labor Day weekend, and will resume our Sunday schedule 12-3pm on September 10th. We hope you have a wonderful summer!

CLOSED - Job Opportunity: Executive Director

posted May 31, 2017, 8:28 AM by Julie Johnston   [ updated Jun 16, 2017, 11:59 AM ]

6/17/17 UPDATE: Thank you to all who submitted resumes. The timeframe for submission is now CLOSED.  We are reviewing applications currently and expect to schedule interviews in the next several weeks. If you are selected for an interview, you can expect a phone call from a member of our Search Committee shortly. Thank you again.
5/31/17 ORIGINAL POST: The Society seeks a dynamic, highly motivated leader who is a self-starter with demonstrated management and administrative experience. This individual reports to the Board of Directors (the “Board) and works closely with the Board President and the Society’s staff on an ongoing basis. The Executive Director is responsible for the overall organizational management, operations and promotion of the Society at large. With assistance from the Board, staff and volunteers, the Executive Director provides the necessary vision, leadership and initiative for the Society to successfully achieve its mission and grow the organization as a whole.

Please see the attached job description for more details. 

Interested candidates should email their resumes to DHSdirectorsearch@gmail.com 

Thank you!

Piece of Darien History Acquired on 250th Anniversary

posted Apr 24, 2017, 10:45 AM by Julie Johnston   [ updated Apr 24, 2017, 10:46 AM ]

Pictured are Jeffrey Burt, Hattie Burt, Chloe Burt, Darien Historical Society historian Ken Reiss, Sophie Burt, Carolyn “Rusty” Burt (holding the document), Dave Burt, and Bill Ruscoe.

The 1767 Middlesex Militia muster roll.
Something Old is New Again at Darien Historical Society

Although historian Ken Reiss had knowledge of its existence, and had hoped for years for its re-emergence, he was unexpectedly and happily surprised when Dave Burt expressed his plans to donate a significant piece of history to the Darien Historical Society, a Middlesex militia muster roll from April of 1767. Although the document had been in Burt’s family for decades, he deemed it an appropriate time to give it back to the town; its 250th anniversary was approaching.

Burt, along with family members, mother Carolyn “Rusty” Burt, brother Jeffrey Burt, nieces Hattie, Chloe and Sophie Burt, and uncle Bill Ruscoe, were in attendance at an informal ceremony where the muster roll was donated to the Society. The occasion was marked with a champagne toast and refreshments, and a reading by Rusty Burt, touching on the family’s connection with the document.

Established as a way to account for members in a military unit, the muster lists the names of soldiers assigned to the Fourth Company of the Ninth Regiment, which was made up of the militias from Norwalk, Stamford, Greenwich and Ridgefield. These towns were considerably larger in 1767 and included "parishes" that became Wilton, New Canaan, Darien and part of Westport. Middlesex Parish was part of Stamford that 53 years later would be incorporated as the town of Darien.

The historically significant document not only affords a glimpse of the colonial life in Darien, but also previews the way in which this traditional form of military preparedness could so quickly translate into action at the outbreak of war. It also dates to just eight years before the battles of Lexington and Concord, which marked the beginning of the Revolutionary War and which brought militiamen from all over Connecticut under arms. 

Although there is no record of the Fourth Company, Middlesex Militia ever fighting as a unit, during the eight years of the Revolution many of the men and officers listed on the muster were active participants in various units of the Continental Army, the State militia brigades, and the local militia Coast Guards who were charged with protecting local shores from the British and Loyalist raiders based across the Sound on Long Island. The document contains the names of many families now living in the towns of Darien, Stamford and Norwalk.

For more information about the 1767 military muster, call the Historical Society at (203) 655-9233.
Carolyn “Rusty” Burt holding the 1767 Middlesex Militia muster roll. 

The 1767 Middlesex Militia muster roll.

Ladies' Luncheon with Curator

posted Apr 24, 2017, 10:32 AM by Julie Johnston   [ updated Apr 27, 2017, 7:54 AM ]

Please join us for a Ladies Luncheon with our Curator Babs White on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at 11:30 am and Wednesday, May 10, 2017 at 11:30 am (May 10th is SOLD OUT). 

Babs will discuss in detail our latest exhibit, "Mannequins on the Runway, Haute Couture and Contemporary Designs of the 20th Century".

You may reserve and purchase tickets online to the right or you may call the Society at 203.655.9233 or email Ukremer@darienhistorical.org to reserve tickets and purchase over the phone or in person.

The exhibit will run through the end of the summer.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Ladies' Luncheon, May 10th, 2017


"Mannequins on the Runway, Haute Couture and Contemporary Designs of the 20th Century"

posted Apr 6, 2017, 9:55 AM by Julie Johnston   [ updated Sep 5, 2017, 8:04 AM by Margaret McIntire ]

Babs White, costume curator for the Darien Historical Society, prepares for the upcoming exhibit, Mannequins on the Runway, Haute Couture and Contemporary Designs of the 20th Century.

Designs by Sophie of Saks, Harvey Berin, and Elizabeth Arden are among fashions included in Mannequins on the Runway, Haute Couture and Contemporary Designs of the 20th Century.

Dress designed by Emilio Pucci, one of the many fashions included in Mannequins on the Runway, Haute Couture and Contemporary Designs of the 20th Century.
Don't miss our latest exhibit that focuses on Haute Courture of the 20th Century...

In keeping with its mission to tell the ongoing story of “costume”, one of history’s most tangible artifacts, the Darien Historical Society is presenting designer and ready-to- wear styles that existed during and after World War II. Mannequins on the Runway, Haute Couture and Contemporary Designs of the 20th Century highlights five decades of fashion with designer outfits from the 1940s through the 1990s. It follows the history of prêt-à-porter, or ready-to- wear, as it largely replaced haute couture in the fashion industry. The exhibit opens on April 21 and runs through August 2017, with a Champagne Reception on April 21 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. and Ladies’ Luncheons with the Curator on May 3 and 10 at 11:30 a.m. 

Curator of the show, Babs White, set up the exhibit to mimic a 20th century fashion show, with mannequins lined up as if on the runway. White, who has her own 47-year history with the Darien Historical Society as its costume curator, arranged the fashions chronologically, beginning with a 1947 design by Christian Dior. She commented, “At the end of World War II, women longed to replace fashion’s stiff, square shoulders and straight lines. Dior’s more romantic look took the fashion world by storm.” Dior’s success allowed Paris to reassert its world leadership of haute couture following its decline during the war. 

Dior eventually commissioned his designs to be produced abroad as ready-to- wear lines in the 1950s and Yves Saint Laurent followed suit with his “Rive Gauche” designs. In the 60s, the charm and elegant style of Jackie Kennedy was greatly admired and copied, and Sophie of Saks and Elizabeth Arden, both represented in the exhibit, produced designs in New York. By the mid- 60s, fashion began to focus on youth, their music, and their “free-wheeling” attitude, producing the most potent symbol of the 60s scene, the miniskirt, also on display.

Bill Blass and Oscar de la Renta creations reflect the bold fabrics of the 1980s, which also heralded the look of big shoulders and giant sleeves. The Reagan administration signaled the return of formality, and Adolfo and Ungaro fashions mirror the 90s, an era in which ready-to- wear had become dominant. In keeping with a typical fashion show of the 20th century, the exhibit concludes with a bridal gown: a 1983 design by Carolina Herrera, socialite and longtime fixture on the best-dressed list. 

Fairfield County Bank, Darien Board of Realtors, Pagano’s Seafood, Palmer’s of Darien, Leary’s Liquor Cabinet, Cesco’s Trattoria, Sanda’s Cleaners and Tailors, Darien Sport Shop, and The Finishing Touch Landscaping sponsor Mannequins on the Runway. The hours of the exhibit are from noon to 5 p.m. from Tuesdays through Thursdays, and on Sundays from noon to 3 p.m. A non-member donation of $5 is suggested. Cost for the Champagne Reception on April 21 is $50 for members and $65 for nonmembers. Ladies’ Luncheons on May 3 and 10 are $25 for members and $35 for nonmembers. To make reservations or to find out about sponsorship opportunities, contact the Historical Society at (203) 655-9233. The Darien Historical Society is located at 45 Old Kings Highway North.
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