Norwalk history; Republican post-session update; Museum wins ‘prestigious’ award

Justin Gruelle’s 1937 mural, “Steamboat Days on the Mississippi.” (Archive photo)

NORWALK, Conn. —  Here’s a roundup of contemporary Norwalk happenings:

  • Norwalk Historical Commission update: Exhibits ongoing and planned
  • Lockwood Mathews wins ‘prestigious national award’
  • I-95 work in East Norwalk
  • Republican town hall Thursday
  • Tim Currie at Wall Street Theater
  • Lockwood Mathews releases fall schedule

Norwalk Historical Commission to take Steamboat Days out of hiding

The Norwalk Historical Commission is planning an exhibit on the Norwalk Works Progress Administration (WPA) Murals this fall, to include the controversial Steamboat Days on the Mississippi mural, Commission Chairman David Westmoreland said  in an email.

Steamboat Days, a mural completed in 1937 by Justin Gruelle, was removed from City Hall a year ago after an emotional public hearing, in which the painting was decried as racist and not suitable for a public space that people go to for their city business.

“It’s not something that makes me feel welcome and I want to call Norwalk my home,” Tristan Fields said in April 2016.

The WPA exhibit will be accompanied by an exhibit on the Great Migration of African Americans to Norwalk from the south in the 1930s to 1960s, Westmoreland said.

The  Commission opened a “’salon style’ show of 70 paintings from our collection at the Town House,” last weekend, Westmoreland said.

His email said:

“Later in June, we are opening four exhibits at Fodor Farm: 1) our antique Norwalk business signs collection in the barn, 2) the history of Fodor Farm, 3) the activism that saved Fodor Farm, and 4) a selection of farm-related objects from our collection.  We will also be opening a small exhibit on Margaret Hoyt Smith, who was one of the early leading female architects in the state of CT who designed our museum building at City Hall, towards the end of her career.  We are also working on additional interpretive signs, similar to those we just installed at Mill Hill for the other three city-owned cemeteries, Kellogg-Comstock, Brookside, and Pine Island.

“We plan to complete the map exhibit and our Norwalk Industry exhibit in 2018, followed by an extensive Norwalk Pottery Industry exhibit and ‘Famous Prisoners of Norwalk’ in the restored jail in 2019, along with a new permanent exhibit at the Town House covering the geologic history, American Indian history, Colonial settlement through the revolutionary war to support our Little Red Schoolhouse program and for the public.  There are several other exhibit ideas under development as well for the next few years.”

Lockwood Mathews honored

“The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum proudly announces that it has won the most prestigious national award given by the American Association of State and Local History for the exhibit, The Stairs Below: The Mansion’s Domestic Servants, 1868-1938,” a press release said.

The museum-wide exhibition and guided tour focused on documents, artifacts, images, costumes and uniforms— and the Mansion plan itself, the release said. At the same time, the newly restored Servants’ Quarters opened to the public for the first time in the Museum’s history, on Oct. 10, 2015.

While the exhibit is long over the Servants Quarter exhibit remains open.

“The project was aimed at launching a cultural dialogue on class, race, ethnicity, politics, labor relations, and social history during a half-century of ascendancy and through the lens of two households,” Executive Director Susan Gilgore’s press release said. “We are proud and honored to have received this prestigious award which highlights, locally and nationally, the significance of the Mansion’s history, its legacy, and important relationship to the American experience,” Chairman of the Board of Trustees Patsy Brescia said in the release.

AASLH conferred 48 national awards, the release said.

“I am truly honored that the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum, for the first time in its history, has won such a coveted national award from our nation’s foremost proponent of American State and Local History,” Gilgore said in the release. “This highly competitive Award of Merit serves as the ultimate recognition and validation of the tireless efforts of our Community, Supporters, Officers, Volunteers and Staff and once again proves the vitality and relevance of our cherished institution.”


Republican town hall at Norwalk library

A Post-session legislative update with Republican State Representatives Gail Lavielle, Fred Wilms and Terrie Wood is planned for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Norwalk Public Library, at 1 Belden Ave.

“Norwalk’s state delegation will hold a legislative update to discuss what occurred during the 2017 Legislative Session,” a notice on the library’s website states.

“These meetings are an opportunity for you to express any concerns you may have and to ask us questions about specific pieces of legislation or the state budget,” Wilms said in an email. “We expect to enter Special Session in the coming weeks and will keep you updated as new information becomes available.”


ConnDOT working on Strawberry Hill Avenue bridge

The Connecticut Department of Transportation is doing nighttime bridge maintenance work on the Strawberry Hill Avenue overpass, affecting southbound traffic on Interstate 95.

Work is scheduled from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. through June 30. Weather or other unforeseen conditions may affect the schedule.


Currie performs Friday

“Tim Currie presents Suns of Walrus,” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 16, at the Wall Street Theatre, located at 71 Wall St.

That’s Tim Currie, Lincoln Schleifer, Jim Mola, Adam Ippolito, George Naha, Phil DiCostanzo and Steve Sasloe.

Tickets are $20 and are available on the theater’s website.


Lockwood Matthews releases schedule

The fall/winter season is all lined up for the Lockwood Matthews Museum Mansion. A schedule released last week:


Old-fashioned Flea Market

Sun., September 17, 2017, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Flea Market shoppers looking for bargains and treasures might have that opportunity at the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum’s Old-Fashioned Flea Market where more than 80 vendors will be offering a variety of items including antiques, repurposed furniture, collectibles, jewelry, specialty foods, crafts, household items, clothing, and toys. The Museum will be open for $5 mini-tours and feature a White Elephant table where visitors can shop for rare finds. Trendy food trucks will serve edibles to satisfy all palates, while food demos and a classic and antique car show will entertain shoppers of all ages.


The Gilded Age in New York book cover. (Black Dog & Leventhal)

The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum’s Gilded Age Gala

Sat., October 14, 2017, 7 p.m.

Single tickets: $200-$250

The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum’s Gilded Age Gala will include cocktails, a black-tie dinner, live and silent auctions, the exhibit preview, Gilded Age Redux by the Rowayton Art Center, and a special presentation by Comedian Brian Grossi. Mr. Grossi has performed at The New York Comedy Club, The Broadway Comedy Club, Gotham Comedy Club, Caroline’s on Broadway and the world-famous Metropolitan Room, among others.

From left: Midge Lopat, Rose Carroll and Hadley Veeder. (Courtesy of Sarah Grote Photography.)

Halloween: Witches, Vampires, & Ghosts Tours at the Mansion
Oct. 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29

General Admission $20 – Limited Tours – Reservations required

Featuring a troupe of living history volunteers led by Halloween co-chairs Midge Lopat and Rose Carroll, the Witches, Vampires, & Ghosts Tours at the Mansion will focus on the history of witchcraft from colonial times to the Victorian era, highlighting the New England Vampire Panic and other dark tales.  Ticket buyers beware…visitors may run into a Victorian era witch or vampire during tour hours. Ghosts, witches, and vampires will wander throughout the first and second floors of the Mansion, but only during these very special and spooky Halloween tours. Children under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.


Victorian Tea

Sun., Nov. 12, 2017, 2-4 p.m.

Featuring a talk and book-signing by Esther Crain

The Victorian Tea at the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum will feature a talk and book signing by Esther Crain, author of The Gilded Age in New York, 1870-1910. Published in 2016, this fascinating account of the Gilded Age in New York City takes a broad look at the political and social changes during one of the most transformative eras in the city’s history. Ms. Crain is also the founder and editor of the very popular and well-reviewed website, Ephemeral New York, which chronicles the city’s past. Ephemeral New York has been featured in numerous publications including the New York Times, New York Daily News, and New York Post. Guests will also enjoy a formal English tea surrounded by the timeless splendor of this iconic Victorian era mansion.


The Mansion’s Holiday Exhibit
Fri., Nov. 24, 2017 – Sun., January 7, 2018
Wed.–Sun. 12-4 p.m.
$10 Adults, $ 8 seniors, $6 children 8-18 years old /45 minute tour

The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum kicks off the Holiday Season the day after Thanksgiving with its traditional display of trees and decorations highlighting the development of the holiday traditions during the Victorian era in America. Visitors will see its evolution from 1850 to the 1900s, from small tabletop trees with edibles and handmade ornaments, to lavishly embellished trees that stood on the floor and almost reached the ceiling. The Mansion will also display a glittering and festive, Designer Show House of Holiday Trees and Decorations featuring Victoria Vandamm of Vandamm Interiors.

The Dance Pointe. (Courtesy of The Dance Pointe)


Holiday Open House
Sun., Dec. 10, 12-4 p.m.
$5 Admission
The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum will feature a joyful family-friendly event and several hours of entertainment with dance and choral youth performances and a special appearance by Santa Claus and his elves. In collaboration with Melissa Truelove owner of The Dance Pointe, based in Greenwich, CT, the Mansion will feature Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary, Hip Hop and holiday inspired presentations by the school’s top students. These performers are also part of The Dance Pointe’s international youth dance company who perform in Switzerland and Germany to benefit children with special needs.


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