Keeler Tavern Announces Opening of #HandsonHistory Tomorrow!

Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center (KTM&HC) announces the opening of #HandsonHistory (#HOH): It Takes a Village October 11 through November 8, 2020.

The award-winning exhibition explores the interdependency of farms, families, and businesses across Ridgefield’s history – showcasing individual trades and their tools.

An online exhibit—combining maps, narrative text, and multimedia content—takes visitors on a virtual tour of the businesses on Ridgefield’s 19th-Century Main Street. In addition, there is a curated display of featured trades on-site in the Carriage Barn, where visitors can learn more about Ridgefield's trades through the tools that were used. All hands-on elements have been removed in compliance with COVID-19 protocols. Pre-registration with timed entries for groups of up to 8 people will be required to visit the exhibition in the Carriage Barn.

As in previous years, family demonstrations will be offered outdoors on weekends, including blacksmithing on October 25 (click here for a complete listing). School groups and other “cohorts” are encouraged to make a special reservation for a guided tour of the Carriage Barn. Additionally, a series of virtual Zoom talks is planned on topics such as tavern tastings, a history of medicine and pandemics, and the boom and bust of economic cycles in Connecticut’s past.

“For much of its history, Ridgefield was a farming community, however, no family farm could be entirely self-sufficient,” said Catherine Prescott, chief curator and assistant museum director at KTM&HC who oversees the design and installation of all #HOH exhibitions. “Members of the community developed specialized trades to accommodate the needs of a growing village, and by the turn of the 19th century, the nature of Ridgefield’s Main Street shifted to reflect this new market. Small enterprises had sprung up all over town, and by 1820, roughly one-third of Ridgefielders were engaged in some type of manufacturing.”

In the online exhibition, It Takes a Village, visitors will discover businesses that lined Ridgefield’s Main Street in the 18th and 19th centuries, including the cabinet maker, the blacksmith, the shoemaker, and, of course, the tavern. They will also virtually explore early daybooks and ledgers from KTM&HC’s archival collection to learn about the trade and barter transactions that were the economic drivers of early Ridgefield.

The Carriage Barn will be open from Sunday, October 11, to Sunday, November 8, on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. For more information, or to register for timed entry, click here.

School and youth groups may schedule a private guided tour of the exhibit Monday through Friday, October 12 through November 6, by calling the Museum office at 203 438-5485 or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . A number of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) worksheets based on the exhibition are available for teachers and anyone homeschooling.

The Carriage Barn at Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center is located at 152 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877. Parking available on-site. Visit https://keelertavernmuseum.org/hoh-village/ to enjoy the virtual tour of #HandsOnHistory: It Takes A Village.

This exhibition is generously supported by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Prescott as well as CT Humanities.



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