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About Us

In January 1968, a group of Thompson residents, led by John Flood, met to form a historical society, interested in preserving Thompson records, artifacts and buildings.

Preserving Thompson’s History Since 1968

The Thompson Historical Society (THS or “The Society), relies on volunteers to enrich our understanding of Thompson’s history. Our volunteers include:

  • Museum Shop staff,
  • archivists cataloging artifacts and documents
  • tour guides leading historical walks
  • presenters of historical programs
  • people collecting old photos
  • membership coordinators
  • accountants paying the bills
  • web designers working on our website
  • designers creating unique products for sale in the Museum Shop
  • and specialists working on restoring the buildings

This is a drawing of the Old Jacobs Clock. This clock was in the Jacobs Tavern in East Thompson CT at the time President George Washington stopped at the Tavern to have breakfast in the year 1789. The clock is now proudly displayed in our Museum.

Our Story

While too numerous to mention by name, it is through the  efforts of many volunteers that the Society has prospered through the years. Below is an abbreviated history of THS and our efforts.

January 1968: Formation of the Thompson Historical Society.
A group of Thompson residents, led by John Flood, met to form a historical society, interested in preserving Thompson records, artifacts and buildings.

July 23, 1968: First annual meeting held, to enroll members, elect directors and officers and conduct the business of the society. The first officers were: President Elmer White, Vice President John Flood, Secretary Ann Davis and Treasurer Raymond Graham.

 

Origins

Meetings were held in the Thompson Memorial School cafeteria and, later, in different areas of the town including the West Thompson Fire Station, Quinebaug-Fabyan Community Center to name a few.

 

 

 

July 23, 1968

The first annual meeting was held July 23, 1968 with the purpose to enroll members, elect directors and officers and to conduct the business of the society. The first officers were: President Elmer White, Vice President John Flood, Secretary Ann Davis and Treasurer Raymond Graham.

Meetings were held in the Thompson Memorial School cafeteria and, later, in different areas of the town including the West Thompson Fire Station, Quinebaug-Fabyan Community Center to name a few.

A committee was named to approach the town to purchase the Old Town Hall to use as a meeting place and a repository for donated historical artifacts. From the beginning, the Town of Thompson has been very supportive of the Society. The town voted a yearly stipend of $500. The Village Improvement Society also made donations including $200 for paint.

 

 

 

 

Interior view of a Grosvenor Dale Company mill.

1969

1969: the deed to the Old Town Hall was turned over to the Society for $1.00 which Merrill Seney, the Town Clerk, paid from his own funds. This began the long process of getting the building in shape. Ann Davis spearheaded this project, working to secure grants and directing improvements. All members of the Society for the year 1969 were considered charter members. Funds were raised by having two raffles. The prizes were paintings done by artist Vera Peterson and Sheila Burns.

1972

THS sponsors a 3-day town-wide spring festival, titled “A Walk Through History”. Walking tours were held at important sites around town.

1974

An oral history project was undertaken by the Thompson Library and the Society.

1975

A historical marker was dedicated on the Common, the result of a project led by Nancy Kriz.

1977

Ruth Barks, chairperson, led another Walk Through History. Work had progressed on the Old Town Hall enough to allow meetings and events here.

1989

1989: The Christmas Concert, organized by Jane Vercelli and held for 14 years at the Old Town Hall, was a smashing success, in part due to the intimate setting of the hall.

1990

1990: The Society’s Museum Shop opens in the Old Town Hall, Activities in 1990s such as the Paine – Kwiecien auction, Garden Tours, Quilt Shows, Illumination Night Concerts and Society presentations of historical topics contributed to the Society’s reputation as an active and contributing group to Thompson culture.

1995

1995: The Society leases the former library on Thompson Hill from the town for a period of 99 years at $1.00 per year. Since then, the library was called the Ellen Larned Memorial Building (ELM) after Thompson’s noted historian Ellen Larned (1825 – 1912).

Under former Society President Jane Vercelli’s leadership, the Society was recognized by the town for its significant accomplishments and was named the town’s official municipal historian.

2000

2000: Patriot’s Day weekend Thompson’s efforts, led by THS President Dave Babbitt, contributed to the march commemorating the militia’s march to Bunker Hill for action against the British in 1775. With fife and drum corps leading the way, soldiers in period costumes marched to and encamped on Thompson Common.

Other Society activities in town included a speech by former Selectman Jim Sali, the release of a 25th Anniversary Calendar and a Millennium CD filled with photos and documents of Thompson’s past.

Echoes of Old Thompson, Volume I and Volume II are printed Presentations & Talks- open to all begin, and continue to this day.

Topics featured include:

 

  • Lithic Structures in New England

     

  • Jim Canty and Sports in Thompson

     

  • Open Space and Conservation in Thompson

     

  • Thompson Speedway History

     

  • 175th Anniversary of the Thompson Hill Fire Engine Company

2003

The Ellen Larned Memorial Building opened as an on-going exhibition center and museum documenting Thompson’s history. The first exhibit featured the story of Thompson’s last country doctor, Dr. Robert C. Paine.

The Society changed its mission and began enthusiastic outreach to local schools, starting with a series of in-class talks on Dr. Paine and student tours of Thompson historic sites.

A quarterly newsletter was added, enhancing our community outreach.

Jane Johnson and Thompson filmmaker Blair Cole collaborate on a series of video interviews of noted Thompson residents.

2005 – 2006

THS museum was expanded, including a 20 panel permanent display area on Thompson’s 10 Villages.

An exhibit by Mary Ellen Tomeo and Sue Vincent, based on the lives of 5 generations of the Ballard-Dalton-Eddy-Chase family members from Chase Road in Thompson, opened on Walking Weekend ’06. Walking Weekend tours provided by David Babbitt in North Grosvenordale and by Joe Iamartino on Thompson Hill.

2007 – 2008

THS’s Christian Iamartino and his father Joseph convert the 1970s-era Oral Histories on cassette audio tapes to a digital format. 

2008

2008: THS opens a new exhibit on racing, organized by Sue Vincent. Donations from Geoff Bodine, Mark DaVia, Lou Funk Jr., David Belden, and other notable racers made the exhibit special as did contributions from Barbara Weaver and from the Hoenigs on racing history.

2008 – 2009:

2008 – 2009: Major improvements in the THS archives. Countless hours were invested cleaning the archives of non-collectible items. The cleanout and cataloguing process continues.

Additional work is done on both buildings, including moisture reduction at the Museum, major groundskeeping activities in conjunction with the EASTCONN organization, repairs and repainting to the Old Town Hall.

2012 – 2013:

Full inventory of The Society’s archives, including artifacts in the Tourtellotte Memorial High School Memorial Room. The Last Green Valley awarded our Society a $3000 matching grant to see this archiving and web-posting effort to completion.

2013 – 2017

 Major efforts to catalog the Society’s collections undertaken by volunteers. The ELM collections are managed by Mark Snay.

Ramsdell Transportation Collection, donated by Ramsdell heir Dale King, was inventoried by historians Bob Belletzkie and housed in a classroom at the Tourtellotte Memorial High School. 

The PastPerfect Software system is upgraded to manage our physical collections, and a RAID system of 32 TB installed to handle the growing digital images and documents. Sophisticated camera and scanning equipment added to speed up the digitalization process.  

2018

THS finishes the Museum roof project, completing 15 years of restoration. 

THS launches a new website.