Reimaging the Townsend Historical Society

Society will host ‘Virtually Vintage: A Live, Online Antique Appraisal Event” in October

Townsend Minutemen Company reenactors Taber Morrell and Anni Smith welcome guests to the Townsend Historical Society’s 2019 Fall Open House. The society is hosting a virtual antiques appraisal on Oct. 10 as a fundraiser for the nonprofit.
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TOWNSEND — The Historical Society makes its home in the 1790 Reed Homestead, situated in the heart of Townsend Harbor, along the banks of the Squannacook River, which was owned for five generations by the Reed family. Today the homestead serves as a museum and headquarters for the society.

The society sees as its role in the community to foster a deep discussion about local history by operating a museum, maintaining four historic properties, and serving as an educational and historical research center and a forum for local interests.

To continue those efforts the nonprofit will be bringing back one of its most popular programs by hosting “Virtually Vintage: A Live, Online Antique Appraisal Event.” It will held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 10.

“We are thrilled to be partnering once again with Wayne Tuiskula of Central Mass Auctions Inc.,” said Taber Morrell, site administrator of the Townsend Historical Society. “The society had the chance to work with Wayne when we hosted an antique appraisal event in 2017 — when it was much simpler to hold in-person programs compared to today.”

Morrell said the 2017 event was a huge success, and community members brought family heirlooms in for hours for appraisal.

“Of all of our past events, this one probably ties with our Annual Arts and Crafts Fair for the one we receive the most inquiries about,” Morrell said. “People asking hopefully whether we’ll be holding another one soon.”

Tuiskula brings three decades of professional appraisal experience, has been awarded the General Personal Property Appraiser designation from the National Auctioneers Association, and has even appeared on PBS’s “Antiques Roadshow.”

To learn more about Tuiskula’s adventures in antique appraisal and about the outstanding Central Mass Auctions Inc., go to its website at centralmassauctions.com.

“We are inviting members and friends to join the fun by purchasing tickets online through a simple website called Eventbrite,” Morrell said last week.

You can also find ticket options at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/virtually-vintage-a-live-online-antique-appraisal-event-tickets-120768920091.

The appraisal cost is $10 per item or three items for $25. The option to purchase tickets for second and third items should be available during the online ticketing process on the Eventbrite website under “Add-ons.”

Once tickets have been purchased, Morrell said participants should send the Townsend Historical Society digital photographs of the items to be appraised, noting any known history pertaining to the pieces.

Morrell said it’s important for ticket holders to be sure to include images of markings, decorations or unique features that could help Tuiksula in his evaluations.

“Once you have purchased tickets for up to three items, please include your photographs and any corresponding background information in an email to us at townsendhistoricalsociety@yahoo.com,” Morrell said.

Participants will be welcome to view the live broadcast of Tuiskula’s appraisal of each of the antiques on Oct. 10.

“You can join just to see your own items appraised or feel free to relax and enjoy the entire show,” Morrell said.

Morrell said viewing will be easy to use via Zoom with no need to create a profile or password.

“The Townsend Historical Society will simply send you a link to view the program on your home computer,” he said.

“This has been a challenging year for just about everybody, and the museum world has certainly felt an enormous impact,” Morrell said. “With safety concerns and regulations changing sometimes on a weekly basis, it has been impossible for historical societies to follow anything like a typical schedule of field trips, tours, and other events which we rely on for much of our funding.”

From social media posts about cooking colonial recipes, to a virtual open house, a Zoom-based presentation about the history of tourism in New England, and now the upcoming “Virtually Vintage” event, Morrell feels fortunate to be able to keep in contact with many of the society’s members.

He said that Reed Homestead was also able to resume operations over the summer with restrictions as laid out under Phase 3 of Massachusetts’ reopening plan.

“At the moment, we are able to host visitors by appointment and I am happy to say we have had a steady stream,” Morrell said, adding that the society’s board has worked hard to provide creative alternatives to its members.

The society was fortunate to receive funding through the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act via Mass Humanities, which has helped it (and many museums across the country) persevere and maintain operations throughout the uncertainty of this year, he said.

“I think it’s been a year with so many obstacles that it’s easy for some to think ‘well if we can’t hold our usual events then I guess we just have to throw in the towel,’” Morrell said. “But we’ve shown a number of times now at the Townsend Historical Society that if our team is able to get creative with how we envision events, we can still work together to pull off some really neat ideas.”

The Townsend Historical Society is also looking forward to Lee McTighe’s historical tour of The Old Burying Ground on Oct. 24.

This year’s version will be virtual, but Morrell said next year they are excited to return to their usual format “which, in addition to Lee’s insight and exceptional storytelling, includes cider doughnuts,” Morrell said with a smile.

The society’s Board of Directors is also working on deciding the best way to hold its Annual Membership Meeting this fall.

With regulations changing so frequently Morrell said they will be sure to let everyone know the dates and details of these and other upcoming events.

“Our ‘Virtually Vintage’ program is building on this new tradition of reimagined ways to gather, and even though it’s virtually, we are still able to learn about, preserve, and celebrate history — and have fun at the same time,” Morrell said.

For information about online ticketing, emailing your photographs, using Zoom or general society information, contact the society by calling 978-597-2106 or townsendhistoricalsociety@yahoo.com.