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Rededicating Wethersfield’s Museum

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Video report by Jim Altman, Fox CT

Text by Christopher Hoffman, Hartford Courant

WETHERSFIELD — The Wethersfield Historical Society will rededicate and reopen the Cove Warehouse Museum Saturday, four months after the historic building was broken into and vandalized.

The ceremony, set for 2 p.m., will mark the 80th anniversary of the 17thcentury warehouse’s original dedication as a historic structure. Revolutionary War re-enactors and a bateau, a small early colonial trading vessel, will be on hand for the event.

Historical society Executive Director Amy Northrop Wittorff thanked people and organizations that donated items to replace artifacts stolen in the January break-in.

Mystic Seaport‘s cooper and Gouveia Vineyards of Wallingford donated wooden barrels to replace those lost in the theft, while local collectors replaced other items, she said.

The society also used a grant from CT Humanities to help fix broken windows, replace explanatory panels taken by the thieves and make other repairs, Wittorff said. Renovations had been planned anyway, she said.

“It was on our list to freshen up,” she said. “Due to the fact that it was broken into and vandalized, we moved it to the front of the line. It has made it such a special thing that there was so much community involvement in it.”

The warehouse, which sits in Cove Park at the end of Main Street, was closed for the season when the break-in occurred in January.

Police Chief James Cetran said Monday that no arrests have been made, but the crime remains under investigation.

Cove Warehouse was built in about 1680, Wittorff said. It was one of six warehouses constructed along the Connecticut River to serve the town’s booming maritime trade, especially in red onions, with the West Indies, she said.

A big flood at the end of 17th century reconfigured the river and destroyed all the warehouses except one, Wittorff said. The surviving structure was moved to behind a house on Main Street, where it served as a barn for the next 200-plus years, she said.

“Yankees never waste a thing,” she said.

Residents realized the warehouse’s historical significance in the early 20th century. In 1928, the family that owned structure donated it to the town, Wittorff said. It was then moved to its current location in Cove Park, fixed up and dedicated in 1934 as part of the town’s 300th anniversary celebrations, she said.

Coincidentally, Saturday’s rededication will take place 80 years to the day after the original dedication, Wittorff said.

“It just worked out that way nicely,” she said.

The town owns Cove Warehouse, which is at the center of the town seal, but leases it to the historical society for a rope of red onions. Wittorff said she expects to present town officials with the yearly red onion rent at the ceremony Saturday.

The Cove Warehouse Museum will be open 1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 8. Admission is free. For more information, click here to visit the Wethersfield Historical Society website.

Click here for more information on Heritage Weekend events.

 

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