Where Westport Meets the World

Genealogy FUN-damentals Series: Services—to buy or not to buy?

Come to Westport Historical Society on Wednesday, Sept. 11, from noon to 1 pm.  Brown bag your lunch and learn the basics of DIY Genealogy from acclaimed WHS’ Archives Manager Sara Krasne!

Learn more about the ins and outs of doing family research on your own, resources you’re familiar with along with lesser known avenues of discovery.

The first part will explore the question—do you need to buy a genealogy service? Pros and cons of services and comparisons between Ancestry and other companies will be delved into—as well as introductions to free online resources for which you don’t need to use a paid service.

Bringing a laptop is highly recommended, but handouts of materials will be available in limited quantities.


Other dates in the series are: Nov. 13, 2019, Jan. 8, 2020, and Mar. 11, 2020.  $50 bundle for all four sessions, or $15 for individual sessions.


Pre-registration recommended, register at www.westporthistory.org or call (203) 222-1424 x5.


History Book Discussion: D Day, June 6, 1944

D Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II by Stephen E. Ambrose is the definitive history of World War II’s most pivotal battle, a day that changed the course of history.  Join Westport Historical Society on Tuesday, June 25th, from 7 to 8 pm, for a discussion led by the author.

D-Day is the epic story of men at the most demanding moment of their lives, when the horrors, complexities, and triumphs of life are laid bare. Distinguished historian Stephen E. Ambrose portrays the faces of courage and heroism, fear and determination—what Eisenhower called “the fury of an aroused democracy”—that shaped the victory of the citizen soldiers whom Hitler had disparaged. Drawing on more than 1,400 interviews with American, British, Canadian, French, and German veterans, Ambrose reveals how the original plans for the invasion had to be abandoned, and how enlisted men and junior officers acted on their own initiative when they realized that nothing was as they were told it would be.

This program is free to the public, but reservations are recommended. Reserve your space on our website www.westporthistory.org or by calling 203-222-1424 ext. 5. Donations are appreciated and can be made online. For copies of the book, call the Westport Public Library at 203.291.4821. 

Author Talk: One Man’s Journey to Freedom

While the story of Billy Winters is known by many, Rhonda Forristall—Curator of the Deep River Historical Society—has turned up a few surprises through her research.  In her second book Forristall, she tells this incredible story. Join WHS for this fascinating author talk on Friday, June 14th, from 6:30 to 7:30 pm.  This is presented in conjunction with the exhibit Remembered on view through June 30th.

Born enslaved, Billy Winters escaped through the Underground Railroad and sought a safe place to live. He found sanctuary in Deep River and for a time in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Frederick Douglass and Winters were two of the thousands who sheltered in New Bedford after self-emancipation between 1840-1863.

Billy told the story of his eventful life to a reporter for the Deep River New Era shortly before he died in November of 1900. Using this first-hand account, Forristall was able to trace his steps and add some details to Billy’s story. Due to the secrecy needed to protect the operators of the Underground Railroad, and those they were trying to save, there are very few first-hand accounts in existence. 

There is no charge for this event however reservations are recommended, register at www.westporthistory.org or call (203) 222-1424 x5.  Light refreshments will be served. 


Once again on Father’s Day Weekend, “kids of all ages” will gather at the Westport Woman’s Club (44 Imperial Avenue, Westport, CT) to enjoy one of the town’s oldest and best-loved family events, The Westport Woman’s Club’s YANKEE DOODLE FAIRThis year’s family Fair opens Thursday, June 13 (6pm – 10pm) and continues Friday, June 14 (6pm – 10pm), Saturday, June 15 (1pm – 10pm) and Sunday, June 16 (1pm – 5pm).

The Yankee Doodle Fair will once again feature carnival rides and games from Stewart Amusements.  Returning are the ever-popular Carousel, Flying Dumbo, Dizzy Dragon, Frog Hopper, Scrambler, Cliff Hanger, Zero Gravity, Expo Wheel, among others.  Pay one price unlimited ride wristbands will be available all days of the Fair, including Friday and Saturday nights!  At the Westport Woman’s Club Face Painting Tent, customers can choose fun or fierce designs, as well as temporary tattoos.  Our youngest visitors will be excited to know that Sand Art is available at the Fair again this year.

In the air-conditioned Bedford Hall, our Gourmet Group will hold their highly-anticipated Bake Sale featuring home-made baked goods sure to please every sweet tooth.  While you make your selections, check out our Yankee Doodle Fair Cookbook.  You can also shop at our on-site thrift store, The Curio Cottage, which will be open limited hours during the 2019 Fair (located near the children’s carousel).

For Entertainment this year at the Yankee Doodle Fair, the following groups are currently confirmed:   SWEETCAKE MOUNTAIN, an all acoustic country/bluegrass band will perform Friday (6pm - 9pm); SCHOOL OF ROCK’S HOUSE BAND will perform Saturday (1pm - 2pm); MARK NAFTALIN & FRIENDS, a musical group led by a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, will perform Saturday (6pm - 9pm); KEMPO EVOLUTION MARTIAL ARTS will do interactive demonstrations on Thursday and Friday (6pm – 10pm) and Sunday (1pm – 5pm);  SDSS MARTIAL ARTS will offer an interactive obstacle course on Saturday (1pm – 10pm).   

In addition, the WESTPORT ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY plans to bring their Solar Telescope to the fair again this year for safely showing the surface and features of the sun to interested families; look for their organization on a sunny Saturday or Sunday at the fair.  This organization’s Solar Telescope was funded by a past Ruegg Grant from the Westport Woman’s Club.

Throughout the Fair, you will have an opportunity to buy tickets for Yankee Doodle Fair Raffle Prizes.  The Raffle First Prize is $1000, Second Prize is a $500 gift certificate redeemable at Westport’s Silver Ribbon, and Third Prize is a $400 gift certificate from Gruel Britannia, redeemable for a chef’s table dinner for four persons.  In addition, our Yankee Doodle Fair’s “Take a Chance” tent is returning this year with a wide variety of prizes, many donated by Westport’s generous merchants and restaurants. “Take a Chance” prizes will be available for viewing throughout the Fair under a tent on the fair’s upper level, where you can buy additional tickets to win a “Take a Chance” prize.  All winning Raffle and “Take a Chance” tickets will be drawn at the end of the Fair on Sunday, Father’s Day.  It is not necessary for winners to be present to claim their prizes. 

At the Yankee Doodle Food Court, local favorite JR’S DELI & GRILLE will feature their popular hamburgers, hot dogs, among other selections.  A new food vendor for Yankee Doodle, THE BLIND RHINO, will feature a pop-up menu that includes their famous chicken wings, as well as beer and wine to customers of legal age.  Skip’s vintage GOOD HUMOR Truck will be back with ice cream treats for every taste throughout the fair.  In addition, members of the Westport Woman’s Club will be selling cold beverages and bottled water, with proceeds benefitting WWC community service grants and need-based scholarships for Staples High School seniors.

Says WWC president, Christina McVaney, “We’re so excited to bring the YANKEE DOODLE FAIR, a fun end-of-school year tradition, to Westport and our neighboring towns again this June.  We try to bring new events and activities; this year we’re excited about our addition of a Beer & Wine Garden run by South Norwalk’s own, The Blind Rhino (a “Best of Gold Coast” winner).  We hope the grown-ups in our community come out to enjoy the fair, as well as the kids, all while contributing to the Westport Woman’s Club’s largest annual fundraiser. Net profits from the fair will support many charities in Fairfield County, need-based college scholarships to Staples High School students, and our WWC Food Closet that works in tandem with Westport’s Department of Human Services.  So please save the dates of June 13-16 to bring your friends and family to make great memories at this year’s YANKEE DOODLE FAIR 2019.”

The Westport Woman’s Club is grateful for their generous community sponsors:  Resnick Financial (Gold); Law Offices of Robert Grant, Esq. (Silver); Westport National Bank (Silver).

No dogs are permitted on the grounds during the Fair.

The Westport Woman’s Club, organized in 1907, is a non-profit philanthropic organization dedicated to volunteerism and the raising of funds in support of the educational, charitable, cultural and public health services in Westport and surrounding towns.  You do not have to be a Westport Resident to join The Westport Woman’s Club.  For more information or to join this historic philanthropic organization, visit www.westportwomansclub.org or call the WWC office at 203-227-4240.

The Good News Gospel Choir Spring Benefit Concert

The Good News Gospel Choir with Chris Coogan & Jason Terry celebrate 25 years of Singing for a Cause at their 2019 Spring Benefit Concert on Saturday, June 1st at 4:00pm at Norfield Congregational Church,64 Norfield Road in Weston, Connecticut.  The concert will feature the Choir performing a variety of inspirational and uplifting songs from their favorite songbooks with local children joining in to sing the original composition by Chris Coogan, "Faithful Friend."  This event promises to be a very special musical experience for all ages!  Tickets are on sale now -  $20 (Adults), $15 (Seniors) and $10 (Children) and will be available at the door. 

Proceeds from the concert will benefit the Berni & Murcer Friends for Life “Comfort Backpack” program for children and their families diagnosed with cancer.  For more information, please contact berniandmurcer@gmail.com or visit www.berniandmurcer.org.   For tickets, please visit www.berniandmurcer.org or Berni & Murcer’s Facebook page.

The Good News Gospel Choir is a 40-voice, multi-dimensional singing group with members representing all of Fairfield County.  The choir, under the leadership of musician Chris Coogan and choral director, Jason Terry, perform throughout the greater community and beyond.  

Exhibition Series: Washington Black by Esi Edujyan

A new series begins Tues., June 11! Join us from 3 to 4 pm for a docent-led tour of our current exhibition followed by a book discussion to gain greater insight into the historical context of the exhibit.  Professional moderator Kelle Ruden will lead the book discussions.

Selected as one of the New York Times Best Books of 2018, this novel follows the early life of George Washington “Wash” Black, a field slave on a Barbados sugar plantation, chosen at age 11 as the manservant of his master’s brother, who to his surprise, turns out to be a naturalist, explorer, inventor, and abolitionist. Soon Wash is initiated into a world where a flying machine can carry a man across the sky, where even a boy born in chains may embrace a life of dignity and meaning, and where two people, separated by an impossible divide, can begin to see each other as human.  The novel won the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize, and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize.

Before our discussion tour, visit our award-winning exhibit Remembered for a deeper understanding of the contributions of African Americans to Westport and national history.

“Perfectly executed . . . Soaring . . . More than a tale of human bondage, it’s also an enthralling meditation on the weight of freedom, wrapped in a rousing adventure story stretching to the ends of the earth.” —The Boston Globe 

This program is free to the public, but reservations are recommended. Reserve your space online at www.westporthistory.org or by calling 203-222-1424 ext. 5. Donations are appreciated and can be made on the reservation form. 



On June 2, the Weston Historical Society will present the “Landmark Homes of Weston” House Tourfeaturing six historic homes that were the residences of notable people who helped shaped the town of Weston. The house tour features a private viewing of these inspiring and elegant homes including those of actress Eva Le Gallienne and the Metropolitan Opera’s Fritz Reiner. Your Home Tour ticket also includes entrance to the current exhibit “Three Women Who Made Weston Weston– Alice DeLamar, Eva Le Gallienne and Katharine Ordway”; plus a guest reception from 4pm – 5:30pm, and a special Music At The Barn Concert with P.J. Pacifico from 5:30pm – 7pm, all at the Historical Society.  Purchase your ticket online at westonhistoricalsociety.orgor on the day of the show at the Weston Historical Society Museum, 104 Weston Road.  The tour starts at 1 p.m. and ends at 4 p.m.  Programs and tour maps can be picked up at the Historical Society before the tour begins. For more information:  www.westonhistoricalsociety.org, or email info@westonhistoricalsociety.org.

Redeeming Uncle Tom: A Film, The Josiah Henson Story

On Wed., May 29, from 6:30 to 8 pm, Westport Historical Society will present a film screening as part of the programming series in conjunction with the exhibit Remembered on view through June 30th.

Josiah Henson was the enslaved man who was the influence for Uncle Tom in the seminal society-changing novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe.Although he was catapulted to international fame in 1852, when the novel came out, what happened to him has been largely lost to history. Until now.

Josiah Henson (1789-1883) spent 41 years as a slave. He was a dynamic, driven man with unyielding principles who overcame incredible odds to escape his cruel masters and improve the lives of hundreds of freed people throughout his long life. Including interviews with leading experts and Henson descendants, Josiah is an unmissable documentary about one of history’s greatest lost figures.

To accompany the documentary, the definitive biography of Josiah Henson’s life, The Road To Dawn: Josiah Henson and the Story That Sparked theCivil War, by author and documentarian Jared A. Brock will be on sale in our shop.

Online pre-registration $10 for members, $15 for non-members.  Reservations are recommended, register at www.westporthistory.org or call (203) 222-1424 x5

Westport Is Your Oyster Cocktail Party

Before there were hotdogs and hamburgers to liven up your outdoor fun, there were oysters.

Oysters were the quintessential American food—especially in the estuaries and inlets of shoreline Connecticut where they grow in natural abundance. Oysters were enjoyed by native people who seared them in hot coals, in a method later adopted by European colonists. In those days, the oysters pulled from the waters around Westport were as large as dinner plates.

On Monday, May 27, Westport Historical Society is kicking off the beginning of summer by celebrating the culture and lore of oystering on the Long Island Sound with a cocktail party from 3 to 5 pm featuring this Connecticut staple. Join us after the Memorial Day parade and before your Memorial Day cookouts and parties!

A raw bar courtesy of Copps Island Oysters, prosecco and beer will be served. There will also be a drawing for a gift basket including a growler of the custom beer created for the event by Full Moon Brewing, as well as items from our shop. 

Online pre-registration $50, at the door $60.

Reservations are recommended, register at www.westporthistory.org or call (203) 222-1424 x5.

28th Annual Garden Celebration & Tour

Join us this year June 8th and 9th for a Garden Lovers Extravaganza featuring Peonies & Pollinators! The beloved Annual Garden Tour will have a new twist from year’s past with a full day of DIY classes and family fun events, including face painting, food trucks, and specialty cocktail party on Saturday. The tour of unique, hidden gardens in Westport and Weston will take place on Sunday.

On Saturday evening, June 8, a unique cocktail party featuring honey beer, made by Westport brewer TJ Elgin of Full Moon Brewers and a specialty peony vodka cocktail will be also held at the Society’s Avery Place headquarters.

Classes and Events (see website for full description): Saturday June 8th, 10-4 pm

Full Day class pass – $65 online pre-registration, $75 day of

·       Flower Arranging with Karen Legan (offered twice, 11 am & 2:30 pm) $35 online, $40 day of

·         Flower Arranging with Sarah Shaw (offered twice, 1:15 pm & 3 pm)$35 online, $40 day of

·         DIY Pollinator Pots (offered at 10 am): $10 online, $15 day of

·         Face Painting & Ceramic Flower Pot Decorating for Kids, All-Day: $10 day of only

·         Plein Air Painting at WHS, Drop-in All-Day: available at 11 and 12:30. Free Event

·         Designing for Pollinators with Eva Chiamulera (offered at 12:30 pm)Free Event

·         Tree Tour at Winslow Park, (offered at 12:30 pm at Winslow Park): Free Event

Food Trucks on site too!

Bloom Bash: Saturday June 8th, 6-7:30 pm

What’s a garden celebration without a Garden Party? Join us as we toast our theme flower—the Peony!—and pollinators with a bespoke cocktail featuring peony vodka and hibiscus and honey beer, custom made for WHS by Full Moon Brewing. $25

Tour the Gardens! Sunday June 9th, 11-4 pm

From a unique property that hosted Hollywood’s elite, a classic New England estate, an apiary producing local honey to a charming retreat of a renown Westport Artist and an 18th Century Farmhouse re-imagined into a birder’s paradise, visitors will be charmed by each unique property on this year’s tour.  Make sure to stop in at our Pop-Up shop featuring whimsical gifts for the gardener and garden lover. $55 member, $65 non-member & $75 for all on day of event

Weekend packages as well as single day and single class tickets are available!

Please register and purchase tickets online at https://westporthistory.org/garden-tour/