Weston Historical Society Re-Opens “History Under One Roof” Exhibit at the JST

The Weston Historical Society is re-opening its exhibit, which debuted last May at Celebrate Weston. Located in four first-floor rooms in the newly restored Josiah Smith Tavern (JST or the JoSTice), “History Under One Roof” tells the story of the JST as a tavern, a home for three generations of the Jones family, and a community building since the early 1950s. This post has been provided in its entirety (with a few inevitable Owl asides) by Pamela Fox, president of the Weston Historical Society. Please note that there is NO update on the restaurant/tavern or even the other two non-profits that may someday lease the space. I would like to comment. I shall not comment. This is all about a really amazing exhibit–the Owl spent an hour there in May and needs to go back to see more.

Residents (and out-of-town history enthusiasts) are invited to a Community Open House at the JST on Thursday, October 6 from 5 to 7 pm. Refreshments will be served. This is also an opportunity to see the beautifully restored building.

The exhibit will be open on Wednesdays from 12 to 2 beginning September 21 and on other occasions, as listed below. The society is also scheduling daytime and early evening Open Houses for Weston organizations, churches, and garden clubs. If you belong to a group that might enjoy a tour, or for further information, email info@westonhistory.org. Additional open hours, when scheduled, will be listed on the Society’s website, http://www.westonhistory.org.

Dates and Hours of Opening:

Every Wednesday, 12 to 2 pm. September 21 through December 7, except November 23.

Community Open House, 5 to 7 pm, Thursday, October 6. Refreshments. All are welcome.
Saturday, October 15, 10 am to 3 pm. Join the Weston Police 5K race, check out the Rotary Children’s Business Fair at the AIC, and the Open House at the Fire Department, and visit the JST exhibit.

Saturday, December 3, 10 am to 3 pm. Enjoy the Women’s Community League Winter Festival and visit the JST exhibit.

Exhibit Background:

“History Under One Roof” is the result of two years of research and exhibit preparation by Weston Historical Society (WHS) volunteers and professional consultants, beginning in 2021 in anticipation of the tavern reopening. The society will be leasing four rooms. Rather than immediately moving out of its temporary “headquarters” in the St. Julia Church basement, WHS decided to use the empty rooms to tell the story of taverns in Weston and the history and architecture of the JST, and to display some of the society’s rich collection of furniture, photographs, and artifacts from the Jones family. The exhibit also includes a timeline and five informational panels that will remain at the JST on a permanent basis, after the exhibit closes at the end of December.

Because Josiah Smith owned two enslaved persons, WHS volunteers studied the history of slavery in Weston and incorporated this research into an information panel that will remain on permanent display. New Englanders used enslaved indigenous peoples and Africans to address chronic labor shortages. Enslaved men and women of
African descent were working in towns including Weston until Massachusetts became the first state to abolish slavery outright, by judicial decree, in 1783.

Rebecca Migdal, a free-lance museum consultant, worked with WHS volunteers in researching Jones objects and arranging their display. Three rooms are devoted to the family at work, at play, and at home and include everything from dolls and toys to the varnish containers used by Theodore Jones in his carriage painting business. Also on
display is a melodian, a small organ owned by the family. Chris Reynolds of Reynolds Design and Management designed the timeline and informational panels. Will Twombly of Spokeshave Design designed and installed the exhibit.

Josiah Smith Tavern- Jones family on porch

Until research began, volunteers working on the exhibit were unaware that John Jones and his wife Abigail had a daughter, in addition to sons Theodore and John Jr. We may never know why Caroline “Carey” was institutionalized in 1861, the same year her father died. For the rest of her life, Caroline lived at the Vermont Insane Asylum, later called the Brattleboro Retreat, in Brattleboro, Vermont. The 1000-acre, semi-private institution applied emerging theories of moral and humane mental health treatment.

The Joneses lived next to George W. Cutting Sr., owner of the general store across the street. In 1857, Theodore Jones married George’s daughter, Sarah Lord Cutting, and the Cutting home became like an extension of the Jones home. Theodore and Sarah had two daughters, Ellen and Alice, who were ages 5 and 2 when their mother died unexpectedly at age 30 from a form of tuberculosis. Sarah’s widowed sister, Harriet Cutting Stimpson, helped raise Ellen and Alice alongside her own children. They lived at the Cutting house and then at the JST after 1899, when the Cutting house was moved to make way for the Weston Public Library.

Playing cards found in the attic of the Josiah Smith Tavern. Weston historian Daniel
Lamson wrote that gambling took place there “even on the Lord’s Day.”

To further explore the three generations of Jones who lived at the JST for over a century, the society is sponsoring a lecture by curator Rebecca Migdal on “Tools, Toys, and Treasures: Getting to Know the Joneses” at the Weston Historical Society Annual Meeting, Thursday, November 10 at Weston Public Library (7 pm business meeting,
7:15 refreshments, 7:30 lecture). [Ed: why wasn’t this titled “Keeping Up with the Joneses”? That’s what I would have done].

Funding for the exhibit came from donations and a grant from the Weston Historical Commission. The exhibit is supported in part by a grant from the Weston Cultural Council, a local agency that is supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.

All images courtesy of the Weston Historical Society.


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