October 31, 2014

New Trustees Join Connecticut River Museum

ESSEX -– The Connecticut River Museum is proud to announce its 2014 class of incoming trustees.  At the annual meeting on July 11 the Board and Membership of the Museum voted in five new trustees to help manage and oversee the National Register Historic site and museum.  The new trustees include Alison Brinkmann, Peter Coombs, Linda Douglas, Ray Gaulke, and Dr. Allan Rubenstein.

Alison Brinkmann is a resident of Essex where she lives with her husband Stephen.  Before dedicating her time to charitable work, she was a specialty chemical and laboratory supply sales executive. Now, in addition to being the Founder and President of Simply Sharing, a non-profit dedicated to helping the homeless in Connecticut, Alison is also actively involved with the Rotary Club of Essex, sits on the Essex Yacht Club House Committee and serves as membership chair of the Essex Historical Society.  Alison and Stephen enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking and boating in the Essex area.

Peter Coombs is a resident of Essex where he and his wife Jane Siris are Principal Partners in Siris/Coombs Architects.  The couple had practiced architecture in Manhattan for 30 years and recently moved the firm’s main office to Essex.  They live in a house which they designed for themselves and built on the site of the family homestead.  Peter also serves on the Board of Directors for Essex Elderly and Affordable Housing and is an active member of the Essex Land Trust.   He is a sailor and has plied the waters of the Connecticut River since childhood where he derived an abiding interest in both the conservation of the River’s environment and its rich history.

Linda Douglas has practiced law in the Essex area for 28 years. She has been an active member of the community where she and her husband Rob raised their three children. The family enjoys sailing and boating on the Connecticut River.

Ray Gaulke is a resident of Old Saybrook where he lives with his wife Sydney Anderson and their five year old standard poodle Riley. Ray was one of the original Mad Men, beginning his advertising career in Chicago in the mid 60’s. He is a retired Navy Captain, an avid sailor turned power boater and a boat builder interested in teaching these skills to young people.

Dr. Allan Rubenstein is Clinical Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics at NYU Langone Medical Center, Vice Chairman and Lead Director of The Cooper Companies (COO, NYSE), and Chairman of CalAsia Pharmaceuticals.  He, his wife Jane and son Jordan live in Manhattan and Killingworth.  Rubenstein has had a life-long interest in all things nautical since he built a raft at the age of 11 and attempted to sail (unsuccessfully) from his home on Lake Erie to Europe.

Founded in 1974, the Connecticut River Museum has developed as a place where anyone interested in topics about the River can come and be inspired through exhibitions and collections, a library, educational opportunities and public programs.  The Connecticut River Museum’s mission is to lead in the study, preservation and celebration of the cultural and natural heritage of the Connecticut River and its valley. Since 1986 it has had the honor of being accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, a mark of distinction in the field.

The Museum was started with the preservation of the 1878 Essex Steamboat Dock and Warehouse.  Threatened with demolition, the building was saved through preservation efforts by a group of history-minded citizens. Adjacent to Steamboat Dock sat another historic property, the Hayden Chandlery, built in 1813.  In 1982 the building was restored and renovated as the Thomas A. Stevens Library.

​The Museum nearly doubled its campus in 2011 with the purchase of the adjacent historic 1732 Samuel Lay House property. Education is central to the Museum’s mission. Public programs take many forms including workshops for school age children, adult lectures, and on-water excursions aboard the schooner Mary E and Enviro-Lab III ​as part of its popular winter Eagle Watches. Over the past year, the museum has served more than 20,000 general visitors, delivered programing to 3,0​00 school children, and provided scholarship support to ​more than 900 underserved school children and summer campers.

 

According to the museum’s executive director, Christopher Dobbs, “We are pleased to have this talented crew of dedicated ​champions join the museum board and help lead it successfully into the next forty years.” For more information, please call 860-767-8269. The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street and is a membership supported educational organization. Membership is open to all. More information can be found at www.ctrivermuseum.org.

Thursdays on the Dock Heats Up this Summer

Enjoy an evening of live music on the Essex waterfront at the Connecticut River Museum each Thursday in July and August.

Enjoy an evening of live music on the Essex waterfront at the Connecticut River Museum each Thursday in July and August.

ESSEX — Now in its fifth year at the Connecticut River Museum, Thursdays on the Dock has for many become the unofficial start to the summer weekend.  This year thanks to lead sponsorship from the Essex Wellness Center and supporting sponsors Guilford Savings Bank and Connecticut River Dock and Dredge, the event that features a different band each night, Connecticut made beer and wine and the panoramic views of being on the River is back and bigger than ever.

Thursdays on the Dock takes place every Thursday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., July 11 through August 28 on the museum’s historic steamboat dock.  Phyllis Stillman, Connecticut River Museum Development Manager, said that “We are fortunate to have received more sponsorship this year that is allowing us to bring in a broad range of musical acts that will appeal to a diverse audience.”  In addition to the lead sponsor, support is also coming from Guilford Savings Bank and Connecticut River Dock and Dredge.  Museum director Christopher Dobbs noted that patrons will hear the sounds of “Dixie land jazz, classic rock, folk, to even steel drum music during the series.”  In fact, some of the performances will be by the steel drumming White-Eyed Lizard Band, noted Irish folk singer Danny Quinn, and the locally jazzed-up Corinthian Jazz Band. Heidi Kunzli owner of the new Essex Wellness Center and leading sponsor said that she has always enjoyed coming down to the museum for these events, “There’s nothing quite like a relaxing evening by the harbor taking in the music and the view. . . It’s a wonderful experience!”  Kunzli is so impressed with the location that she will be offering as part of her business yoga and tai chi on the Museum’s docks this summer.

Kicking off the season on July 11 will be the Small Pond All Stars.  This popular local music group has played at the Old Lyme Inn and Gelston House, performing light jazz and old rock favorites that get people singing and dancing.   Members of the group include John Williams (drums), Dan Bernier (guitar and vocalist), Anthony Nero (bass), Geoff Cox (saxophones), Raphael Stover (percussion), and Steve Cryan (harmonica and trombone).  Cryan is not a stranger to the museum. For twenty years he has been the creator of the annual Holiday Train Show that mesmerizes young and old alike with the miniature world of model trains.  Dobbs laughed, saying that “Steve has become an integral fixture here.  We are placing him on display as part of the museum’s 40th Anniversary exhibit where he will have his summer art studio.”

Schedule of performers:

  • July 11 – Small Pond All Stars
  • July 17 – Longsplice
  • July 24 – Don Sineti
  • July 31 – White- Eyed Lizard Band
  • August 7 – Tom Briggs and Andy Sherwood
  • August 14 – Uncle John’s Clan
  • August 21 – Danny Quinn
  • August 28 – Corinthian Jazz Band

In addition to the lively music, drinks and light snacks will be served.  The Museum’s main floor galleries and gift shop will also be open for a bit of waterfront and local history. The cover for the event that includes the live music, galleries, and breathtaking views is $5 per person (members are always free).

For more information, please call 860-767-8269. The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street and is a membership supported educational organization. Membership is open to all. More information can be found at www.ctrivermuseum.org

Saybrook Point Inn Sponsors Sea Scouts at CRM Boat Building Workshop

Commodore Marshall Parsons of the Sea Scouts and Steve Tagliatela of Saybrook Point Inn & Marina shake hands to commemorate the Saybrook Point Inn & Marina’s sponsorship. The sponsorship will allow several Sea Scouts to take part in the Connecticut River Museum’s public Boat Building Workshop to be held in August. From left to right: Reggie Walden of Old Saybrook, Isaac Doggart of Niantic, Commodore Marshall Parson, Steve Taglietela, Daniel Puttre of Old Saybrook and Cameron Fogg of Old Saybrook.

Commodore Marshall Parsons of the Sea Scouts and Steve Tagliatela of Saybrook Point Inn & Marina shake hands to commemorate the Saybrook Point Inn & Marina’s sponsorship. The sponsorship will allow several Sea Scouts to take part in the Connecticut River Museum’s public Boat Building Workshop to be held in August. From left to right: Reggie Walden of Old Saybrook, Isaac Doggart of Niantic, Commodore Marshall Parson, Steve Taglietela, Daniel Puttre of Old Saybrook and Cameron Fogg of Old Saybrook.

The Connecticut River Museum is pleased to announce that it has received a sponsorship from the Saybrook Point Inn & Marina that will allow Sea Scouts to build a CRM 12 skiff as part of a public three-day workshop in August.  The 12’ skiff is reflective of the traditional boats that were built locally in the late 19th and early 20th century.  With great versatility, these skiffs were used for fishing, rowing and sailing on the River and in the tidal marshes and tributaries.

After hearing that the Museum was piloting a summer boat building workshop for families and adults, Stephen Tagliatela (2012 “RiverMan” of the Year), managing partner of Saybrook Point Inn & Marina wanted to make a difference by sponsoring a boat that the local Sea Scout crew members could build.  Tagliatela’s father was an Eagle Scout and built model power and sail boats.  Two of the models won awards in the New York Boat Show of 1939 and are now displayed in Saybrook Point Inn’s restaurant, Fresh Salt.  He said “It is important to provide opportunities to our future adults and leaders.”  Tagliatela went on to say that “building a boat creates a sense of accomplishment and helps to develop the critical life skills of problem solving and teamwork.”

Since 1912 Sea Scouts has been part of the Boy Scouts of America.  Sea Scouts is a coed program offered to young adults 14 years (or 13 years and completed the eighth grade) through age 21. This youth maritime training program is organized to address members’ boating skills and promote knowledge of America’s maritime heritage.  The Scout units are called “Ships”.  The local Ship out of Westbrook is captained by AJ Maxwell. For more information about Sea Scouts, contact the New England Sea Scout Flotilla Commodore Marshall Parsons at twinpars@earthlink.net and/or 860-938-7681.  Mr. Parsons is excited to have this opportunity and noted that “we are opening this up to a limited number of parents and teenagers who would like to know more about Sea Scouts.”

The three-day boat building workshop that the Connecticut River Museum is offering for families and adults will be held on August 22 – 24.  Participants can either do the workshop as individuals or as a group (up to four people).  There is no previous boat building experience required to build one of these kits.  However, organizers do expect that participants will have basic woodworking knowledge.

Space is extremely limited for the boat building workshop.  Participants must be at least 10 years old (13 if they are doing it as part of the Sea Scout program) and accompanied by an adult.  The deadline to register is Monday, July 14.  The $1,500 program fee includes all the supplies needed to build the CRM 12, oars, and instruction.  By the end of the weekend, participants will have a nearly completed boat (all but paint) that is ready to take home. The basic kit is designed to be rowed.  However, a sailing conversion kit and sail is available for an additional cost.  Paul Kessinger, owner of Madison Kit Builders, has donated and constructed a CRM 12 that is now on display at the Museum for those interested in seeing the final product. Thanks to the generous donation of Saybrook Point Inn & Marina, there is no cost toSea Scouts. For more information, visit www.ctrivermuseum.org or call 860-767-8269.

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open daily from 10 am – 5 pm.  For more information, call 860-767-8269 or go to www.ctrivermuseum.org.

The Sea Scouts gathered at the Connecticut River Museum with Steve Tagliatela, Chris Dobbs and Boat Building Volunteers to celebrate the sponsorship. The Scouts will be one of the groups that take part in the public Boat Building Workshop held at the Museum in August. Left to right: Isaac Doggart of Niantic, Commodore Marshall Parsons, Museum Director Chris Dobbs, Steve Tagliatela of Saybrook Point Inn & Marina, Paul Kessinger of Madison, Daniel Puttre of Old Saybrook, Skipper AJ Maxwell of Chester and Tom Doggart of Niantic.

The Sea Scouts gathered at the Connecticut River Museum with Steve Tagliatela, Chris Dobbs and Boat Building Volunteers to celebrate the sponsorship. The Scouts will be one of the groups that take part in the public Boat Building Workshop held at the Museum in August. Left to right: Isaac Doggart of Niantic, Commodore Marshall Parsons, Museum Director Chris Dobbs, Steve Tagliatela of Saybrook Point Inn & Marina, Paul Kessinger of Madison, Daniel Puttre of Old Saybrook, Skipper AJ Maxwell of Chester and Tom Doggart of Niantic.

 

Connecticut River Museum Livens Things Up . . . 19th-Century Style

 

The historic Samuel Lay House is the venue for Evening at the Lay House: 1814 Tavern. The beautiful home is now part of the Connecticut River Museum campus and overlooks the River. Photo by Bill Yule, Connecticut River Museum

The historic Samuel Lay House is the venue for Evening at the Lay House: 1814 Tavern. The beautiful home is now part of the Connecticut River Museum campus and overlooks the River. Photo by Bill Yule, Connecticut River Museum

Essex, CT – The Connecticut River Museum (CRM) premiers the Evening at the Lay House: 1814 Tavern program on Saturday, April 26.  With gourmet historic food, wine and beer tastings, music and games, the museum will unveil its newest property overlooking the Connecticut River. 

Christopher Dobbs, Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum, said that “We wanted a fun program that pulls people into the museum and provides a unique experience.”  He also noted that this is one of several events taking place along the lower Connecticut River that commemorates the April 8, 1814 British Raid on Essex.  Dobbs said “I can’t think of a better way to give people a sense of life in Essex in 1814 than seeing the Lay House by candlelight, indulging in libations and good food, and enjoying period entertainment.”

The evening will include drinking songs and ballads by noted folk musician Don Sineti.  Sineti is best known for his sea chanteys and lively banjo music.  Catering by Selene is creating appetizer-sized samples of early 19th-century food.  These are based on chef Selene Sweck’s extensive research and collection of early American cookbooks and will comprise such foods as roasted corn chowder, pork pie and cranberry pudding.  Fine crafted Connecticut beer by City Steam and Shebeen Breweries will be available.  Shebeen is brewing a special beer just for this night that is based on a 19th-century recipe.  Also available will be select period appropriate wines.  As part of the evening, participants will have an opportunity to try their hand at historic games such as Skittles (played with a top that goes through a maze knocking down pins) and Captain’s Mistress, a game with a scandalous sounding name. 

Space is extremely limited with programs at 5:30 PM and 7:30 PM.  The $18 CRM museum member and $22 general public tickets include a wine and beer tasting, period appetizers, one complimentary drink and entertainment.  Additional drinks will be available for purchase.  Call 860-767-8269 or visit ctrivermuseum.org to buy your tickets.  Reservations are required and you must be 21 or older to participate.

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open daily from 10 am – 5 pm and closed on Mondays. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for children age 6-12, free for children under 6.  For more information, call 860-767-8269 or go to www.ctrivermuseum.org

Exhibition Commemorating the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 at the CRM

 

Departure, by Victor Mays, Connecticut River Museum collection.

Departure, by Victor Mays, Connecticut River Museum collection.

As part of the 200th anniversary of the British Raid on Essex, the Connecticut River Museum will host a traveling fine art exhibit by members of the American Society of Marine Artists (ASMA). Twenty-five paintings by sixteen different artists illustrate the various arenas of military action that unfolded during this War which was largely fought on the water. The exhibit is comprised of three theaters of war: the oceans; the Great Lakes; and the bays, estuaries, sounds and rivers of the Eastern United States. The paintings include oils and watercolors, and depict scenes of famous engagements as well as lesser known vessels and locales. While many of the works of art present traditional views of the great navy vessels on the high seas or in action, others feature more personal views of men, giving the war a human face.

The American Society of Marine Artists was founded in 1978 by a small group of professional artists who shared a love for all things maritime. The Connecticut River Museum is pleased to team with ASMA for this themed exhibit. 

The Connecticut River Museum is one of five national venues in which this exhibit will travel. It will be on display during the bicentennial of the April, 1814 British Raid on Essex.  The Raid has been the subject of considerable research and attention at the Museum in recent years and will culminate during the spring of 2014 with this special exhibit along with a series of related programs and events.

In addition to the exhibition, the Connecticut River Museum will be offering a series of programs about the War of 1812 and the art in the exhibition.  The Naval War of 1812 Illustrated program will be a four part series running Thursday evenings from March 27 – April 17 at 5:30pm. To commemorate the bicentennial, the American Society of Marine Artists has released this video series and it is with great pleasure that CRM is able to make it available. Each program will explore a different aspect of the naval war from Open Ocean to the Great Lakes, to rivers and coastal conflicts. The programs will include commentary from CRM staff and ASMA artists. You may register for one session or all 4. The program series is free for CRM members and $7 session, $20 for the series for nonmembers. Please call 860-767-8269 for information or to reserve a space. For more information on the exhibition and related programs, please visit ctrivermuseum.org. The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open daily from 10 am – 5 pm and closed on Mondays.

 

 

Local Battlefield Site Moves Closer to Federal Recognition

Archeologists investigated sites along the Connecticut River in Old Saybrook and Essex and discovered a variety of objects linked to the 1814 Raid.

Archeologists investigated sites along the Connecticut River in Old Saybrook and Essex and discovered a variety of objects linked to the 1814 Raid.

ESSEX – Following nearly six years of planning, historic research and archeological digs, the War of 1812 era battlefield site along the mouth of the Connecticut River is moving closer to receiving federal recognition.  The British Raid on Pettipaug (Essex, CT) occurred on April 7 and 8, 1814.  During this engagement, 27 American vessels were destroyed, resulting in the country’s largest loss of ships during the War of 1812.

The Connecticut River Museum in Essex has spearheaded this effort.  In 2012, the Museum received a grant through the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program to identify and document the British Raid in preparation for nominating it to the National Register of Historic Places as a battle site. If accepted, the battle site would include several locales: the Village of Essex; portions of Watrous Point; Ayer’s Point; and Saybrook Point. These areas along the Connecticut River include the peninsula of Essex which served as the British landing site, several period buildings, and locations of former shipyards where ships were burned.  Also included are sites along the River in Old Saybrook, where Americans fired on the enemy in an attempt to prevent their escape.

Speaking on behalf of the Connecticut River Museum, executive director Christopher Dobbs said “This will be a significant honor for our region.” Dobbs went on to say, “National recognition is yet one more way to elevate the importance of the River and bring tourists to the area.”  Stacey Vairo, State Historic Preservation Officer, noted that “Battle site designation is largely symbolic and recognizes the area’s significance in State and National history.”

As a next step for battle site designation, the State Historic Preservation Board will meet to review the nomination at their scheduled meeting on January 27, 2014.  In preparation for this meeting, the Connecticut River Museum will host a short information meeting with project archeologist Kevin McBride from the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, whose team has conducted the field work in this project, and Stacey Vairo, State Historic Preservation Officer.  The meeting is free and open to the public and will take place on Tuesday, January 21at 5:30 PM at the Connecticut River Museum, 67 Main Street, Essex, CT. Following the State review, the application will most likely move to the national level.  It is the intent by many in Essex to have the nomination completed in time for the bicentennial of the event in 2014.

For more information about the proposed nomination and National Register process, please contact the State Historic Preservation Office at 860-256-2766.

The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street and is open Tuesday – Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Connecticut River Museum, located in the historic Steamboat Dock building, offers exhibits and programs about the history and environment of the Connecticut River. For a full listing of event details, go to www.ctrivermuseum.org or call 860-767-8269.

New Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum Appointed

Chris Dobbs will take the helm as Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum on November 18th.

Chris Dobbs will take the helm as Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum on November 18th.

ESSEX, CT — Christopher I. Dobbs has been named Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum. For the past nine years, Dobbs has been the Executive Director of the Noah Webster House and West Hartford Historical Society in West Hartford. During his tenure, Dobbs led efforts to restore the Webster House, which is a National Landmark building, and reinvigorate its exhibits. He also developed many innovative public programs, including “Tavern Nights”, “Webster’s War of the Words” a word game show featuring Connecticut celebrities, and “West Hartford Hauntings,” a popular historical program that was held in cemeteries. Under his leadership, the Webster House won several awards for its exhibits, and the museum received several significant grants. The museum’s attendance and its number of volunteers increased, and membership grew by 40 percent. Dobbs also helped lead a capital campaign that raised $1.2 million, 20 percent more than its goal.

“Chris Dobbs is a seasoned and innovative museum professional who has a proven track record as a museum leader who can inspire community engagement,” said Peter Prichard, chair of the Connecticut River Museum. “He is also a very versatile and talented manager. We were fortunate to be able to hire him and we expect great things under his leadership.”

Brenda Milkofsky, the founding director of the Museum who has served as interim director since July, said: “Next year is the Museum’s 40th Birthday so this is the perfect time for fresh ideas and renewed energy and Chris Dobbs brings both to this maturing institution. He’s an experienced museum professional, well-grounded in history who will help us recommit to the public service and educational standards of our mission.”

Dobbs said “I am looking forward to taking the helm of the Connecticut River Museum and working with its Board, staff, and community to expand the museum’s reach and cultural impact.” He went on to say that “The museum has a critical mission to preserve, document, and engage thousands of visitors each year with New England’s most significant, and in my opinion, most beautiful inland waterway.”

Dobbs, 42, has a bachelor’s degree in American history from Indiana University and a Master’s Degree in museum studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program, which is a joint project of the State University College of New York and the New York Historical Society. He now serves on the board of the Cooperstown Alumni Association. Dobbs began his career in history museums as an intern when he was still in college in the mid-1990s. In 1998 he joined Mystic Seaport, where he served as Supervisor of Special Interpretative Programs, including the Lantern Light Tours, before being promoted to Associate Director of Education. For the past six years, he has also served as a Peer Advisor to museum and non-profit leaders for the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, assisting non-profits around the state with strategic planning, development and program creation.

In his spare time, Dobbs enjoys woodworking and recently restored an antique boat. He is married to Jennifer White-Dobbs, Director of Education of the Connecticut River Museum. The couple has two children and they live in Deep River.

February Vacation Week Programs at the Connecticut River Museum

art project in process

Art activities and outdoor adventures are part of the week at the Connecticut River Museum’s February Vacation Week Programs.

Essex, CT – When school is out, the Connecticut River Museum is the place to be! Take a hike, create a masterpiece, challenge yourself to a scavenger hunt or take a cruise up the river on an eagle boat trip. Our February Vacation Week is packed full of discovery, exploration and fun. Plan to come for a day or two, or join us for the week.  Weather permitting a portion of each day will be spent outdoors, appropriate clothing is required. Each program runs from 9:00 – 12:00 and is designed for children ages 7 – 12.  The member fee is $25 per day for the Tuesday – Thursday sessions, $35 for Friday and $95 for the week.  The non-member fee is $30 per day for Tuesday – Thursday, $40 for Friday and $110 for the week.  Advance registration is required.  To reserve a space, download and mail in the registration form from the website: www.ctrivermuseum.org, or contact the education department at 860-767-8269 x113 or jwhitedobbs@ctrivermuseum.org

Tuesday, February 19: Museum Quest
What treasures live in the Museum? It’s discovery day as we explore the galleries, solve puzzles, create our own I SPY adventures to challenge our friends and make masterpieces inspired by the museum collections.

Wednesday, February 20: Winter Wonderland
Bundle up for outdoor exploration as we take a nature hike to search for animal tracks and other natural treasures. Back inside we will create nature collages and paint winter landscapes.

Thursday, February 21: Sail Away
Ahoy Mateys! Join us for a day of sailor life as we build model boats, make sailor crafts, perfect the art of knot tying, send secret messages with signal flags and play a treasure hunt navigation game.

Friday, February 22: EagleWatch Adventure
Join us for an adventure on Project Oceanology’s Enviro-lab III as we cruise up river in search of eagles and other winter birds. Kids are welcome to bring their own cameras. Back in side we will create eagle art and make a bluebird box to take home for your yard.
For more information on these and other February vacation activities at the Connecticut River Museum, go to www.ctrivermuseum.org or call 860.767.8269.  The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street on the Essex waterfront.