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Local History Online

While the week began with predictions of rain, Sunday, April 23, proved to be a beautiful spring day -- perfect for walks in Grasmere Park, watching sheep being sheared, and watching weavers and spinners are work.

Margaret Quinn delighted children and adults alike as she expertly gave the sheep in attendance (Daisy, Myrtle and Cookie) their spring haircuts, using only manual shears.

Visitors were also able to watch weavers and spinners at work in the house, and members of the Essex County Spinners set up shop by our historic hearth.

Special thanks to Board Member Patty Chrisman who led the organization of the event and is a member of the Essex County Spinners.

Aurora Harrington and high schooler Samara Berg ran children’s activities, while Marilyn Schnaars greeted visitors at the house and Leesa Anderson welcomed shoppers to our Country Store.

It was a wonderful event made possible by Durand-Hedden's enthusiastic all-volunteer Board as well as the support of our SOMA community and beyond.

This past week, thanks to Durand-Hedden Board Member Tim Gill, Verizon technician Anton Riccert (pictured here) arrived at Durand-Hedden to install Fios internet to ensure higher internet speeds for board, staff, volunteers, and visitors. Anton immediately understood that, while we were anxious to have higher internet speed, we are also highly protective of our 250-year-old landmark building and took special care to avoid any unnecessary damage.

Anton Riccert, photo credit Susan Newberry

Anton told Maplewood Town Historian and Durand-Hedden Board Member Susan Newberry, who was there to supervise, that he enjoyed this very non-standard job and as a history lover, wants to learn more about our historic house, grounds, and events. In fact, he hopes to bring his children all the way from Stroudsburg, PA, to Maplewood to attend our Juneteenth event on Sunday, June 18!

According to Susan, John Capolongo, the head of the PSE&G gas line crew is another history lover and protector of Durand-Hedden.

"He has found our 1815 and 1904 maps very helpful and was intrigued by the story of the house and grounds," said Susan. "John found that Durand-Hedden is an exception to the PSE&G gas line project because it is historic. The house's current gas meter (fittingly hidden in the basement) won't need to be replaced by the unsightly new one outside."

An intricately pieced quilt probably dating from the mid-19th c. has been given to Durand-Hedden by Robin Newmark, a former resident of Washington Park. The motif is called a Mariner's Compass, and the 93-inch square features 25 such medallions. It appears that several people did the stitching and piecework. Durand-Hedden has a collection of quilts from the 19th and early 20th centuries. They are displayed at the House periodically.

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