February 6, 2023

Roberts Leaves CRM to Work on “Battle Site Essex” Project

Executive Director Jerry Roberts

Executive Director Jerry Roberts

Jerry Roberts of Deep River who has led the Connecticut River Museum (CRM) as executive director for the past seven years is moving on to a new opportunity as  battlefield historian for a National Parks Service grant project on the British raid on Essex shipping in 1814. One of the final products of the project will be the nomination to the National Register of Historic Places of an area on both sides of the Connecticut River between Saybrook Point and North Cove, Essex that is known as “Battle Site Essex.” The federal grant to CRM and the project was conceived by Roberts who is also writing a book on the subject. The large colorful mural in the Museum that depicts the British raid was installed during Roberts’ tenure and that exhibit will soon receive enhancements through a grant from CT Humanities. Roberts’ term at the Museum has been characterized by enhanced exhibitions that reflect his experiences as Vice President for Exhibits at the Intrepid Museum in New York City prior to coming to CRM.

In making the announcement, CT River Museum Chairwoman Maureen O’Grady said, “Jerry had many accomplishments during his tenure. He spearheaded efforts that brought our waterfront alive and launched many important exhibits. We will be always grateful for that, and we wish him well in his new role.”

The current field work on the “Battle Site Essex” is headed by archaeologist Dr. Kevin McBride of the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center who also teaches anthropology at University of Connecticut. The initial documentary research, completed by David Naumac, with a grant from CT Dept of Culture & Tourism, brought to light the participation of large numbers of area militia on both sides of the River who attempted to impede the British as they returned to their ships in Long Island Sound. The goal of the National Parks Project is to map the entire Raid area and to identify & map the core areas  of engagement using GIS mapping and archaeology.  Jerry Roberts will bring his expertise to bear in helping to focus the areas that may be of archaeological interest and to assist with the mapping that is a basic goal of the project.

Both Roberts and McBride will participate in public meetings with home-owners who may own properties of interest as well as the general public.  At the completion of the project the pair will host a series of special presentations to bring together all of the new and old information about this incursion that put Connecticut Valley towns in the heat and fire of a war that was not of their choosing.