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Open to the Public, Free of Charge

GUILFORD, Conn., September 21, 2004 - One hundred years ago, on September 21, 1904, the formal opening of the new "State Historical Museum" at the historic Henry Whitfield House in Guilford, Conn., was celebrated with much pomp and circumstance. Not to be outdone, the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism and the Friends of the Henry Whitfield Museum are throwing a party on Sunday, September 26, 2004 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to celebrate 100 years of visitors, education, preservation, exhibits and programs. The event is open to the public, free of charge.

The highlight of the day will occur at 2 p.m. with a commemoration ceremony based on the original 1904 dedication. Federal, state and local officials will speak and a historical address will be delivered by Michael A. McBride, curator of the museum, and Joel Helander, Guilford town historian. The ceremony will culminate with the unveiling of a seven-foot tall bronze statue honoring Henry Whitfield, one of the founders of Guilford in 1639, the first minister of the community and the first owner of the historic Whitfield House. The statue, created by sculptor Robert Shure of Woburn, Mass., was donated to the museum by Whitfield descendant John B. Threlfall of Madison, Wisc. Following the ceremony, guests can enjoy nostalgic music in a recreation of one of Guilford's historic 19th century town bands.

Throughout the day, visitors can tour the Henry Whitfield House, Connecticut's oldest house. Museum collection items that were displayed in 1904 will be featured. The special exhibit "Bicentennial Beacon: Faulkner's Island Lighthouse 1802 - 2002," will be open for tours in the museum visitor center. Children and the young-at-heart can participate in scavenger hunts inside the Henry Whitfield House or enjoy outdoor activities with 19th and 20th century toys and games, including jump ropes, ring tosses, stilts, hoops and catch.

The celebration will also feature a display of antique automobiles to illustrate how visitors have traveled to the museum over the past 100 years. In addition, the first automobile registered in Guilford, a 1902 Oldsmobile owned by Alfred Benjamin of Milford, Conn., will be on display.

The Henry Whitfield State Museum, a National Historic Landmark, is Connecticut's oldest house and New England's oldest stone house (built in 1639). A state museum since 1899, the building was restored by notable architects Norman Isham in 1903 and by J. Frederick Kelly in the 1930s. It is a unique example of English post-medieval domestic architecture and Colonial Revival-influenced restoration work. Visitors can experience 17th - 19th century furnishing and artifacts; exhibits on state, local and social history; landscaped grounds; a visitor center; and museum gift shop.

The museum is open from April 1 - December 14, 2004, Wednesdays - Sundays, 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Admission is $4 for adults; $3 for seniors (over age 59) and college students; $2.50 for children (ages six - 17); and free for children under age six. The museum is open year-round for school groups and groups of 10 or more people. Advance reservations must be made and discount rates are available. The museum is located at 248 Old Whitfield Street, south of the historic green in Guilford, Conn. Take exit 58 off of Interstate 95 or Route 1 to Route 77 South. For further information, call 203-453-2457, fax 203-453-7544, or e-mail whitfieldmuseum@snet.net.

The Friends of the Henry Whitfield Museum is a newly-formed private, non-profit group comprised of members from the community, the state, and the entire country. Its mandate is to support the operations, programs and mission of the Henry Whitfield State Museum.

In 2003, the Connecticut General Assembly created the Commission on Culture and Tourism to identify, preserve, strengthen and promote Connecticut's cultural and tourism industries in order to enhance the quality of life for its citizens, create a destination for travelers and contribute to the reputation and economic vitality of the state.

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Jennifer Aniskovich
Executive Director
Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism
860-566-4770 x305

Michael McBride
Museum Curator
Henry Whitfield State Museum, Guilford

Kathleen Ferrigno
Director of Public Relations
McLaughlin, DelVecchio & Casey


Old Fashioned Fun

  1. Get away from the hustle and bustle of your daily routine with a visit to Allegra Farm & Horse-Drawn Carriage & Sleigh Museum, Rte. 82, East Haddam. Take a ride on an old fashioned horse-drawn carriage pulled by magnificent horses. You'll enjoy their historic and educational programs.
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  3. Drive Rte. 80 West towards Stony Creek and take a boat ride through the Thimble Islands. Enjoy a personal narration of the islands' rich history, dating back to 1614.
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