Oysterponds Historical Society unveils 2024 Village House exhibitions

Oysterponds Historical Society’s mission to collect, preserve and share the history of Orient and East Marion is crystal clear to executive director Alison Ventura.

“I think people think of us as just an Orient institution because that’s where we’re located, but a lot of our collections relate to the history of East Marion, and I love when we have a chance to share that because it has its own really interesting history,” Ms. Ventura said. “I always want to make sure that the East Marion people feel welcome and know that we’re doing what we can to preserve the history of that place as well.”

One of six new OHS exhibits for 2024 opened Friday with a reception at the Village House. It features photographs by Loren A. Rowley, photographer and former minister of East Marion Baptist Church, who documented the hamlet at the turn of the 20th century. 

“He was a wonderful photographer, and the images are really engaging and a really good window into life in East Marion at the turn of [that] century,” Ms. Ventura said. “I think people are really going to connect with those images.”

Every year for at least the past decade, the historical society has installed six exhibitions — most curated by William McNaught — on the second floor of the Village House, in what used to be its bedrooms. The exhibits will be open Fridays and Sundays from 2 to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Admission is free for OHS members and children; for nonmembers, same-day admission to all exhibits is $10.

Art from William Davis Steeple that will be on exhibit as one of the six new 2024 Village House exhibitions at Oysterponds Historical Society. (courtesy photo)

An exhibit called “All Dressed Up …”  documents clothing worn by late 19th-century Oysterponds residents. It was curated by Mr. McNaught and OHS volunteer Sarah Olmstead. Ms. Ventura commended the co-curators for how creatively they put the exhibit together, and said she expects it to be popular.

“It is so sweet. It’s an adorable exhibition,” she said. “To see the craftsmanship and the colors, we’re so fortunate that they have been really well cared for, so the colors are all really vibrant, they’re in amazing condition.”

Other new exhibits include “Highlights from Oysterponds Kitchens,” which focuses on items that were used in period kitchens similar to those on display at Webb House and Village House. There will also be a show of etchings by William Steeple Davis, from his first foray into printmaking.

An exhibit celebrating the 150th anniversary of Poquatuck Hall includes a video produced by Jon Holzapfel, as well as documents and items related to noteworthy meetings, plays, parties, lectures and recitals that took place there.

Finally, OHS will also showcase some of its recent acquisitions, which include paintings, documents, furniture, textiles and  toys —  all donated by members of the community.

A bonus exhibit — the Red Barn Collection — comprises pictures, tools, equipment and artifacts related to farming and fishing, winter activities and early transportation, offering a portrait of life in Oysterponds as it transitioned from the 19th into the 20th century.

Ms. Ventura is extremely proud of the volunteers and staff who worked to put together such an impressive array of exhibits.

“I think it’s a real testament to the size of our collection and the breadth and the depth of our collections that we can create so many different and really interesting exhibitions using just objects that we have been given,” she said.