History of the Guilford Keeping Society
After the Spartan lifestyle of World War II, when the focus of the country had been on the war effort, and with fears of depression abated by an ever-improving economy in the United States, America's attentions turned to important tasks at home, including the recognition and preservation of the history and ancestral legacy it had fought to protect. So too, in January of 1947, members of the Guilford community formed a society, originally known as the "Old House Group," to foster appreciation of early New England family values and to raise awareness of the rich and varied legacy of early New England homes in the community. Its members came from all segments of Guilford society, from descendants of some of Guilford's founding families to the newest residents who were attracted to a community steeped in tradition and with a natural charm and beauty.
The Society was renamed the Guilford Keeping Society in February 1947 referring to the term "Keeping Room," the gathering place for early American families, and resulting in the Society's early slogan "Keepers of Guilford Heritage." The earliest stated objectives of the Society remain the same today: the preservation and restoration of the homes and buildings of early origin and historic sites in Guilford, promotion of interest and participation in any activities organized to enhance the appearance and distinctive character of the town, education and research to increase knowledge and appreciation of Guilford's history and heritage and maintenance of a library and museum to house and preserve books, documents, pictures, furniture and furnishings and other articles associated with Guilford's history. The Society's earliest activities included the marking of old houses, consulting on the renovation and remodeling of various buildings, influencing town policy with regard to planning, zoning and building preservation, exhibiting various antique collections, most owned by members of the Society, and sponsoring "Open House" tours to acquaint people with the history of the town.
In 1958 the decision was made to look for and acquire a suitable house. After a comprehensive search, the Thomas Griswold House was selected. The house, a colonial type salt box dated circa 1764, was built on land given to blacksmith Thomas Griswold, Jr. (1674-1729) and his wife Sarah Bradley Griswold and was used by many generations of the Griswold family.
In 2001 the Guilford Keeping Society inherited the Medad Stone Tavern on Three Mile Course from Len Hubbard. It also inherited ten acres of land, a barn, a corncrib and a garage. The Len Hubbard Community Garden, (run by the Watershed Partnership, Inc.) is located in one of the pastures. Extensive artifacts and family archives were inherited with the Tavern. A new GKS Archives Room has been completed there. The GKS collection of 5000 glass plate negatives and the Tavern Archives are in this room.
The preservation and upkeep of the museums continues to be one of the Society's primary activities and the raising of funds to accomplish that aim has spawned numerous fund-raising activities including publications, the annual Wine Tasting and Silent Auction, Hearth Cooking classes and dinner, Summer Camps for children and many others.
With the accomplishment of the acquisition of its headquarters, the Society turned its attention to the "keeping" of the records and documents of Guilford's heritage. To that end, a vault was acquired in 1972 to house valuable records including such items as the town's early grand lists, the record book of the first library in Guilford, records of the division of land, documents signed by Governor William Leete and George Washington, early deeds and genealogy and an extensive collection of photographs. The cataloging and preservation of these records became a primary focus of the society's activities. When the volumes of material and demands of increasingly sophisticated preservation techniques indicated the need for a more permanent home for the collection, the records were housed in the Guilford Library. Here the "Guilford History" room was created where members of the society still work today on the acquisition, cataloging and preservation of the town's historical memorabilia in cooperation with the library staff.
Increasingly, the society today focuses its energies on the educational and outreach purposes of its founding. The museum is the site of a growing number of programs for visitors, targeting all segments of the population. These include tours of the museum itself, school visits for children that include hands-on programs to introduce them to the day to day life of the times and a variety of programs for adults including hearth cooking classes and demonstrations ranging from blacksmithing to plowing. The society is responsible for the publication and distribution of many materials detailing the early life and times of Guilford.
Almost seventy years after its founding, the Guilford Keeping Society remains one of the primary social and educational organizations in Guilford for all segments of the population, to acquaint them with the legacy of the community in which they live and work and to provide opportunities for social activity with others dedicated to similar goals and ideals.
GUILFORD KEEPING SOCIETY
President - Robert Hartmann, Jr.
Vice President - Fran Swietlicki
Treasurer - Tom Black
Recording Secretary- Sue Stoddard
Corresponding Secretary - Hope Ryan
Past President Winnie Seibert
Buildings and Grounds Chairmen -
Cyrus Miller/Chris Frohlich,
Bob Hartmann, Jr.
Fund Development Chairmen - Peter Mousch
Fran Swietlicki; Chris Hartmann
Historic & Civic Chairman, Carl Balestracci
Library Chairman - John Plant
Membership Chairmen - Pat Johnson
Museum Chairman - Sally Howe
Publicity Chairmen - Sue Gillie
Rentals - Sue Stoddard
Volunteer - Coordinator Gail Buxton
Board Members at Large
Guilford High School Interns
Middle School Intern
© 2013 by Guilford Keeping Society
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