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The second time was the charm, literally, for the more than 50 attendees who spent Sunday afternoon, June 24, enjoying the hospitality and meticulously maintained grounds of Jean and Lincoln Sander.
The couple had graciously offered to showcase their property to help Newtown Historical Society raise funds in part to repair two barns behind the Matthew Curtiss House on Main Street, according to Gordon Williams, chair of the society’s annual House & Garden Tour.
The Sanders moved to Newtown in 2002, acquiring the home of one of the community’s founding fathers.
The circa 1748 Benjamin Curtiss House was built by the brother of the namesake, Matthew Curtiss, whose former home at 44 Main Street serves as headquarters for Newtown Historical Society (of which Mr Sander is a former president).
Benjamin was one of three men to petition the General Assembly in October 1761 to establish the Stratford-Newtown town line, according to Ezra Levan Johnson’s History of Newtown, Conn. (1917).
The original event date of June 10 had to be postponed after intense storms three weeks earlier caused substantial damage around the Sander’s property.
But except for a few fresh stumps and several trees that showed signs of branches being broken off, the grounds of the Sander’s historic home at 211 Walnut Tree Hill Road appeared pristine this past weekend.
Guests meandered through the gorgeous English garden and through the property’s wooded trails that afforded glimpses of boaters on the Housatonic as well as a corn crib, the property’s original outhouse, and nature themed statuary amidst dozens of diverse species of flora along the shaded paths.
The event, which was attended by numerous Historical Society supporters and special guest First Selectman Dan Rosenthal and his wife, Meri, represented a one-off experiment by society organizers who normally solicit four or five properties for attendees to view by travelling among them.
Mr Williams previously told The Newtown Bee that society leaders decided to hold this year’s event at that single property in part because there are few other locations in town that have as much to offer. By all observations, this was true, since the house itself is packed with furnishings and antiquities, many with interesting stories behind them.
For example, as Mr Sander was leading a group through the house, he pointed to a somewhat austere piece of furniture and remarked, “that one piece cost me more than my first house.”
Stepping into a child’s room on the second floor, visitors could view features from another time, including a rocking “potty chair,” a number of hand-sewn stuffed animals, and a breathtaking canopy bed whose decorative covering was hand-embroidered in Poland, reportedly taking four years to complete.
The event also provided a venue to honor Newtown Historian Dan Cruson by launching a scholarship fund in his name. Mr Cruson has served as town historian for at least three decades and has authored a number of books related to the town and its history.
The scholarship fund being established in Mr Cruson’s name will bestow awards to high school graduates planning to study history.
Learn more about and discover ways to support the Newtown Historical Society at its website.