Historical Society Curator Keeps Busy

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Christine Ritok

This April, Christine Ritok, the King House Museum’s first employee, is approaching her first-year anniversary as a curator.

Already the result of her work is visible. Approximately 5,400 items, the majority of the collection, has been entered into an electronic database from the existing card catalog, plus Curator Lester Smith’s meticulous notes, transcribed and enhanced by Christine, an accomplishment helped in part by previous volunteer work. The exhibition room is better lit, more storage space was found, and better preservation techniques and pest control are being implemented. After re-organizing the curator’s office, Masonic symbols discovered by Lester are now noticeable. Christine and Lester surmise that the room was possibly used for secret Masonic meetings during the period of anti-Masonic sentiments beginning in the 1820s.

A particular delight for Christine is to listen to Lester recount the stories of Suffield, its history, people and myths. They have traveled together throughout the town as he pointed out the highlights, while she recorded him.

In a November program, attended by locals and antique experts, Christine and Kevin G. Ferrigno presented a program on their discovery of an account ledger of Lemuel Adams (1769-1850), a partner in the prominent Hartford cabinetmaking firm Kneeland & Adams.

Christine mounted a stellar exhibit for the museum’s annual HolidayFest in December. Choosing disparate treasures from an anonymous lender, Christine presented a new way of thinking about local history: How and what do individuals collect? What does a museum exhibit?

Future plans include a detailed collection policy, repurposing the King House rooms to display different eras in the home’s history, an updated docent’s narrative, the addition and training of more docents, articles to publish, more programs and events, particularly for the upcoming celebration of the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 2026, an archaeological study of the grounds and fundraising for the building of a storage facility. Lots to do!

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