What’s New at WDS – June 3, 2020

New WDS Digging Deeper Video Series!

Intrepid WDS tour guide and educator Will Conard-Malley offers periodic bits of wisdom on life in the three historic houses comprising the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum. First up, newspapers in the 18th century! Watch here!

Washington Returns to WDS, Part 4

The time has come for George to bid farewell to Wethersfield and WDS! The Webb House served as George Washington’s headquarters in May 1781, where he met with French commander the Comte de Rochambeau to plan the joint military campaign that led to the victory at Yorktown and the end of the American Revolution.

Taking one last tour of the WDS grounds, George did his patriotic duty and donned a mask in accordance with state guidelines for museums during COVID-19. He got a huge kick out of our plaques, one dedicated by the Society of Cincinnati to George himself, the other acknowledging the Webb House as a Registered National Historic Landmark!

Collections A to Z

“H” is for Hat Rack! The WDS collection spans the 17th – 20th centuries and includes objects from iconic to whimsical. This wooden hat rack fits the latter category nicely, taking its inspiration from flax spinning wheels of the 18th and early 19th centuries. Why, you might ask, does WDS have such a piece in its collection? In a word, Nutting.

Wallace Nutting was a prominent champion of colonial decorative arts and architecture in the early 20th century. As a leading proponent of the “Colonial Revival” movement, he focused on the material culture of 17th and 18th-century America in a series of popular books. Among his other activities was the production of photographs illustrating a sentimentalized image of “colonial” lifestyles.

In time, Nutting acquired a group of period homes which he restored and operated as house museums. Among these was our Joseph Webb House, which includes Nutting’s wall murals depicting Washington’s 1781 meeting with French General Rochambeau at the Webb House. Nutting ultimately branched out and established a factory that reproduced period furniture and furnishings, often branded with his name. While it seems unlikely the hat rack was based on an actual piece, it does reflect Nutting’s interest in all things colonial.

Around the Grounds

Around the Grounds – This 18th-century privy (outhouse) was moved closer to its earlier location behind the Webb House last week after new addition construction in that area was complete. This suitably swanky privy—seating for five, including a child’s seat, and three windows! —was extensively renovated in 2015, complete with the finial at the peak of the hipped roof and a candle shelf inside!

When construction of our new Education and Visitor Center is complete, the privy will be an integral part of the museum tour as it illustrates an important and “necessary” part of everyday life in the 18th century! For details on the restoration of the WDS privies click here: https://bit.ly/2Mi1lka.