I first found my way to the Andover Historical Society about 6 years ago when Grace and I decided to research the history of our circa 1887 house. I wanted an Andover historic marker for the house, and I knew the Society was the place to get one. So Grace and I stopped by one Saturday morning. They explained what we needed to do in order to get a plaque (a lot of research!) and helped point us in the right direction.
The other thing we got that day at the Historical Society was a tour. Not a tour with 15 other people, but a private tour — just Grace and me and the guide. I had no idea you could just walk in there and someone would show you around and tell you all about the history of the house and the people and boarders who lived there. I remember being a little worried that Grace would be bored within minutes. But she wasn’t. She learned about the tools in the kitchen, got to see the fancy parlor, and was shown the chamber pot in the boarders’ room upstairs (among lots of other things). I think we spent about 45 minutes, and she wasn’t bored. At all.
After that, we started paying more attention to events at the Society for kids. Both of my girls attended American Girl Teas, special programs about Laura Ingalls Wilder, and visited with their Brownie Troops. Grace, of course, visited with her 3rd Grade class (Ellie will go this year) for Andover at Work. Not only did they see the Society as a fun place, but they found history interesting. And I really believe that when kids learn about how people, especially kids, lived a hundred years ago, they appreciate their own way of life, and all its comforts, even more.
In Spring 2011, I saw on Facebook that the Society was looking for a volunteer photographer. I knew we were a perfect fit! You can read more about my first assignment for them here. Most recently, I had the pleasure of photographing AHS volunteers from all walks of life for the Top 40 Exhibit now on view. Just meeting the cross section of people — from teenagers to senior citizens — who work with the Society on a regular basis was truly inspiring.
However, I don’t think most people in Andover realize what this institution offers to our community. This town has so much history, and the Society is a wealth of not only information, but of hands-on learning about our past. They are a place we can go to learn something new. And they hope to grow the ways in which they are a gathering place for the people of Andover. The Society’s home — the Amos Blanchard House — is also more than a historical society — in many ways it really is a museum. You would be amazed at the artifacts in their collections!
The reason for this blog post is that the Society has invited me to be an “ambassador” of sorts for them. To help spread the word about what they offer now, and what they have in store. They are truly an anchor for Andover’s Downtown — businesses may come and go, but the Blanchard house has been there for almost 200 years and it is in a prime location.
Over the next two months the Society is opening its doors on the 3rd Thursday at 7pm and the 2nd Tuesday at 10am to share their story, information about their offerings, and their vision for their future. They are really trying to expand their reach in the community and bring more visitors through their doors. I’ve promised to bring 10 visitors (even if you have been there before) to one of these events to hear about their plans and learn how you and your family can enjoy what they have to offer. It’s a quick one hour program where you will hear some really interesting and touching stories about how the Society has made a difference in the lives of Andover’s residents.
Before I went to one of these events myself, I kind of thought I already knew the extent of what AHS had to offer. But I realized that what I had seen was just a tiny peek into their treasures. (Heck, while I was there they showed us a drum that was just donated to them — it belonged to a Civil War Soldier from Andover, and it was AMAZING to see.)
If you are also interested in learning more and even sharing YOUR ideas with THEM about how the Andover Historical Society can have a bigger role in our community, or learn about how the many ways you can get your kids involved there (they have volunteers as young as ten!), shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can arrange for you to attend one of their presentations. I’ll even join you and we can have coffee or a glass of wine afterwards!
The dates for the next presentations are:
Tuesday 9/11, 10AM
Thursday, 9/27, 7pm
Tuesday, 10/9, 10AM
Thursday, 10/25, 7pm
If those dates don’t work, or if there is a lot of interest from a particular group — Moms/Parents in Andover for instance — the Society is willing to add another date as well so let me know if you are interested!