Award-winning historical society celebrates at open house

The Shelton Historical Society had all of its buildings open for viewing, guided tours of the

Brownson House, games and refreshments, as part of Connecticut Open House Day, June 9, days after receiving the Award of Merit from the Connecticut League of History Organizations.

The 13th annual Connecticut Open House was a statewide event, coordinated by the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, that features cultural organizations and tourism attractions opening their doors for a free or reduced price to encourage residents to explore such venues close to home.

Ellen Kolesk, librarian archivist, said that the historical society uses the day to help introduce the citizens of Shelton to the history that exists in their hometown.

“It is a Connecticut event [that has] museums open today to increase awareness about the treasures you have in our own backyard,” Kolesk said. “We welcome people and show them what we have to offer. We would love to increase membership but, it’s mostly about welcoming people.”

A range of 20 to 50 people, which is large for a smaller institution, comes by the historical society every year on Connecticut Open House day for many reasons, Kolesk said.

“Many people come back year after year. Some people have artifacts they want to donate [and have come by today because] they know someone will be here,” Kolesk said. “A lot of people work [during the week] and are unable to come when we are usually open. On this particular Saturday, they know they will be here due to all the publicity.”

Everyone on site — from Sanya Oak and Meleny Lopez of the society’s Teen Travelers to Tracy Tate, director — was working hard on their tours, living up to the expectations from their new Award of Merit, which celebrates institutions who demonstrate high professional standards and the effort of preserving history, according to the organization’s press release.

Tate was proud to have a day that highlighted Connecticut history and that came closely after the award bestowed at the Connecticut League of History Organizations reception on June 4.

“Historical houses and museums from the earliest days of this country through the 20th Century make this state unique — think of all the history they’ve seen, from the days before we were even a country,” Tate said. “Even in the most obscure of these places, researchers and visitors can find treasures if they look hard enough or ask the right questions.”

The Shelton Historical Society will be opening its doors again for its Vintage Vehicles: Antique and Classic Show on Sunday, June 17, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.