50 years of housing town’s history saluted

By SHERIDAN CYR

STAFF WRITER

The Plainville Historical Society celebrated its 50 year anniversary at a reception and open house on Sept. 15 with a full house and several guest speakers to help commemorate the society’s longevity.

Fifty years ago, a group of people realized that the history of their town was being lost. On July 15, 1968, 43 volunteers met at the library, and on Sept. 9, 83 members met to approve the by-laws of the society and elect the first officers.

Finding a “home” was a struggle in the beginning. The group went from a small corner of the library, and Ruth Hummel, then-president, had a vision for the old Town Hall. That vision became a reality on Dec. 31, 1973.

After two years of painting and cleaning, the historical society’s museum was made open to the public on Memorial Day of 1976. Today, it sits filled with memorabilia of all kinds, from kitchen sets to Native American artifacts, and old schoolbooks to manufacturing equipment.

Gertrude La Combe, the historical society’s current president, welcomed guests to the historical society, and reminded them of her predecessor Hummel’s legacy that she left behind.

“I feel grateful to have had a mentor like Ruth,” said La Combe. “It was a work of love for her, and a labor of love for me.”

La Combe said it was important to keep Hummel’s momentum going, and continue preserving Plainville’s rich history.

State Representative Dr. William Petit Jr. (R-22) and state Senator Henri Martin (R-31) presented the historical society with a proclamation from the Connecticut General Assembly.

“The historical society testifies the passing of time, and we like to have these memories,” said Petit. “It reminds us of what we have, what we can lose, and the good things in life.”

Martin shared some memories of the town’s history, discussing the old canal and its transformation to railroads, and Connecticut’s 70th governor John H. Trumbull who lived in town.

“The path to accomplish change is not a straight line. There is work to do to make Plainville, and Conn., a better place to live, and our history is important to that,” said Martin. “We are our past, and our past guides our actions in the present and sets a path for the future.”

William Petit Sr., a charter member of the historical society, shared memories of the building being the old police station, and later being the town hall. The room the reception took place in was formerly the Town Council chambers. He, too, stressed the importance of remembering history, but also called on youth to get involved and carry it onward.

Since its opening, researchers have visited in search of information from all around Connecticut as well as Ohio, Massachusetts, Florida, Kansas, California and Montana. Town Council chair Kathy Pugliese gave the historical society her best wishes, and hoped for another 50 years of success.