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Cultural Events

Open House, Clock Restoration Demo At Matthew Curtiss House, Sunday Afternoon



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The clock is ticking, and the countdown is on for the first fall open house at The Matthew Curtiss House, 44 Main Street in Newtown.

Time will be of the essence, as longtime clock collector, restorer, and aficionado Jerry Valenta will be in residence on Sunday, September 15, from noon to 4 pm. Mr Valenta has long tended to cleaning and keeping Newtown Historical Society’s several time pieces running, and for this event, he will be demonstrating how clocks work with cutaway models, discussing and showing examples of the history of clockmaking, and showing how the parts of a clock go together to keep us on time.

The Matthew Curtiss House, home of the historical society, is one of the oldest buildings on Main Street. It was constructed about 1750 and purchased by Matthew Curtiss in 1781; Curtiss continued to live there until his death in 1824. He is sometimes called Junior, in deference to his father, the first of the family to live in Newtown, though the elder apparently lived in the Berkshire section of town.

But the Curtiss House is not just an old building. Maintained by the historical society as a house museum, the society’s collections on display are intended to represent the house throughout its life, not just the period of Curtiss ownership. Thus, the artifacts range from a tall case clock made in Newtown in the 1780s by Ebenezer Smith to a 19th Century weathervane that swung round the barn of Scrabble developer James Brunot in the 20th Century, to 20th Century graphics and needlework.

All the items in the house reflect either a direct Newtown connection or are examples of things that might well have been used in the town, whether for work, play, or to celebrate an occasion. These treasures will all be on view in their context within the Curtiss House, and they are not limited to sight. Guests this weekend will be invited to listen to the newly remastered recording of the 19th Century Organette.

Costumed docents will be available to lead tours, or guests are free to walk through the house on their own.

Newtown Historical Society is a volunteer organization with no paid staff, and volunteer staffing limits the society to one open house per month during the spring and fall. For more information visit newtownhistory.org, facebook.com/newtownhistoricalsociety, or call 203-426-5937.

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