1st/2nd Grade Colonial Life Program
Children spend a morning or afternoon (1 1/2 hours) in the Society’s Museums learning about childhood, family, and community life in Colonial times. In the c.1770 Fitch House and the c.1860 Abbott Barn presenters and activities help them understand what life was like in the past. They try on period clothing, learn about barn building, shave a wooden peg, try embroidery, learn about what their chores would have been in the hearth, and listen to a story about a farmer and his family in the bedroom.
If classes visit while the Train Show is on exhibit (Late November through mid-January) this fun, interactive experience can be added to the program.
2nd Grade Community Program
Classes from Miller Driscoll visit the Town Hall complex for an hour and a half to learn about Wilton’s town government. The civics lesson brings students in contact with the First Selectman, the Town Clerk’s office, the Vault, the Police Station, and the Fire Station.
5th Grade Colonial History Program
We welcome students to spend a day learning about life in colonial Wilton, during which they are immersed in the gamut of tasks and activities that defined colonial life, and actively learn through hands-on activities. The programs curriculum touches on aspects of everyday life with discussions about family roles, trades, and life in general in colonial New England
The children journey back to colonial Connecticut by rotating through six learning stations. At each station knowledgeable staff, professionals, and volunteers engage them in discussion and hands-on learning.
- In the c.1860 Abbott Barn students card and spin wool and use the flax break and hetchels to learn the process of turning raw wool and flax into wool yarn and linen thread that can be knitted or woven into finished textiles.
- Extra looms are set up in the c.1740 Betts House weaving room that houses a large barn loom to provide a hands-on fiber experience of weaving.
- A visit to the c.1890 Blacksmith Shop will introduce the blacksmith trade and process of apprenticeship to becoming a master craftsman.
- Children prepare food by cutting and mixing ingredients for open hearth cooking in the c.1770 Raymond/Fitch House.
- Battering and trading are explained with the opportunity to barter for supplies with the proprietor of the “Belden Store” located in the c.1732 Sloan House.
- In the c.1840 Burt Barn Gallery students will learn about Northeastern Indian family life, as well as the indigenous peoples’ interaction with the woodland environment and their progression through time.
Walter R.T. Smith Student Historian Award
Presented to a senior at Wilton High School for outstanding achievement and interest in history and a record of community service. The prize is given at the Academic Awards Ceremony in May.
Walter R.T. Smith (1922 – 2015), master builder, building historian and preservationist of Wilton’s architectural history for nearly 70 years, became best known for the work he loved the most: melding his expertise as a master builder/preservationist with his untiring commitment to community service. Chief among the organizations benefiting from his leadership was the Wilton Historical Society, which he first joined in 1948, going on to become its three-term Board President and, ultimately, Trustee Emeritus. Over the years he was in large part responsible for the organization’s “rescue” and adaptive reuse of 17 historically significant Wilton buildings. He moved and painstakingly restored many of the antique structures that today comprise the Historical Society’s headquarters on Danbury Road and also at the Lambert Corners site. In 2005, he managed the development of Cannon Corners, moving and renovating a cluster of historic buildings that today stand at the foot of Olmstead Hill Road.
On permanent exhibit in the Society’s Abbott Barn are approximately 600 antique tools donated by Walter, most of them made in or around Wilton. He took great pleasure in demonstrating their use and giving lively talks about local history to visiting groups of schoolchildren who had never before seen a butter-churn or blacksmith’s anvil. The artifacts in the “Tools of the Trades” exhibition were culled from his world-class collection of more than 4,000 tools used by dozens of trades and crafts in the 19th and early 20th Centuries.
Recent recipients of the Walter R.T. Smith award:
- 2021 Thomas Petrillo
- 2020 Dalton DiCamillo
- 2019 Anthony Calderone
- 2018 Michael Wallace
- 2017 Nina Mellin
- 2016 Isabel Saltzman
- 2015 Jack Kaelin
- 2014 Chase Smith
Wilton High School Senior Year Internship
Each year, Wilton High School offers seniors a chance to participate in a three- to four-week internship program. From mid-May until the last day of class at Wilton High, seniors are given the opportunity to explore areas of interest outside their usual class schedules. The program encourages students to gain first-hand experience with organizations ranging from local businesses to global companies to nonprofits.
Over the years, the Wilton Historical Society has been pleased to welcome interns, who work with the executive director and rapidly become involved with research projects. Recently, interns have researched the Society’s clock collection; explored the origins and workings of a wooden cotton gin; investigated slavery in Connecticut and a Lambert family slave sale document in the Permanent Collection; and learned about local sculptor Gifford Proctor.