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Arts & Culture

Wethersfield Museum Celebrates New Facility

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The Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum
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The Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum's Holcombe Education Center

The Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum in Wethersfield celebrated the opening of a new addition over the weekend.

The museum is actually three preserved 18th-century homes on Main Street: the Joseph Webb House, the Silas Deane House and the Isaac Stevens House. One of those homes, the Joseph Webb House, is where George Washington and French commander Rochambeau famously planned the Battle of Yorktown, a pivotal victory against the British that ended the Revolutionary War. The brand-new Holcombe Education Center ties these three homes together with a new welcome center, exhibition space and meeting rooms.

“It’s successful in two ways -- architecturally it nestles into the property very well, so when you are walking along Main Street you really aren’t aware of this new structure,” explained Joshua Campbell Torrance, executive director of the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum. “But it also, on the back side, allows us to interface with nature and with the beautiful Amy Cogswell Colonial Revival garden.”

The new facility will offer year-round programming, as well as space for public meetings, music and theater performances and research. For Torrance, the new facility also means more exhibits.

“I think the temptation is to start doing a deep dive on the stories that are in these houses. And I think what’s really exciting is that there are stories that haven’t been told,” said Torrance. “Hidden stories, you might say. I think part of the challenge is going to be trying to figure out which ones we can tell, when we can tell it, and plan out the research we still need to do.”

Torrance said that in the future, the museum plans to use the new facility for traveling exhibits, as well as living history programs.

The Connecticut chapter of National Society of the Colonial Dames of America, which owns the museum, secured most of the funding for the Holcombe Education Center, about $6.1 million, from individuals and foundations. The state kicked in $1.7 million for construction costs.

The museum is ready with four new exhibits, including a collection of artifacts excavated during construction of the addition.

The Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum hosted events all weekend to celebrate the opening of the facility.