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Eastonite of the Week: Lisa Burghardt

Historical Society President chats with Patch.

Name: Lisa Burghardt                                 

Occupation: President of the Historical Society of Easton

Family: Steve Burghardt (husband), married for 24 years, and Shannon Burghardt, 15, student at Joel Barlow High School

How long have you lived in Easton? 12 years

What do you enjoy most about your work with the Historical Society?

I love the diversity of the projects I am involved with at the Society. One week I am writing grant application and the next week I am researching a tombstone that was spotted in Milford but belongs in an Easton Cemetery. Then I find myself in an old 1700's barn on a hot summer day trying to find scribe marks on the timber frame. My job is exciting and certainly keeps me very busy.     . 

What are the challenges you face with the society?

Right now we are really struggling to find adult and teenage volunteers. We are looking for volunteers to help in small ways. For an hour a month, a volunteer could write thank you notes to donors, help with bookkeeping,  accessions and document scans. In just two hours, a docent (teacher) could assist in and help teach third grade children about schooling in the 1800s.  We also need docents for two hours a month in the summer to teach Easton history and perform farm tool demonstrations. New this year we are looking for a few brave souls to learn 18th century loom weaving once a month for two hours with a our loom historian. For those who have more time, we are seeking grant writers, fundraisers and event planners.  

What do Easton residents need to know about the society?

The Society serves the community in four distinct ways. We research and answer questions about Easton history. We manage two historic properties. The first is the Adams Schoolhouse (circa 1850) where visitors and children learn about Easton schooling. We also manage the Bradley-Hubbell Museum which contains an 1816 house listed on the National Register and an 1860 barn which houses 18th and 19th century farm tools. Our last role is in education. We have the privilege of educating Easton's third grade children each year about colonial history.

What has been the most rewarding project you have worked on?

I love when I find information that cannot be found anywhere else except in Easton. My most rewarding project this year was for a gentelman in his eighties from Massachusetts who wanted to know what school his grandmother attended in Easton. The research resulted in school records and photographs from 1906.  We still talk periodically as he continues to learn more about his grandmother, Mary Agnes Gelson.

What has been the most unique project?

It's so hard to choose the one that is most unique. Every time I delve into a research project it has a way of taking on a life of its own. I had fun researching a house on Wells Hill Road that was constructed using the timbers from a barn on the property. I originally thought the house was a barn and was surprised to learn that the house was built in the 1970s. After conducting the research in the land deeds I discovered that the property was farmed by the Davis family from the 1700's until 1911. There was an old barn on the property with chestnut timbers dated back to the Davis family holdings in the 1800s. When the barn was dismantled the new owners of the property decided to use the barn timbers to build the interior frame of the house. In an age when barns are likely to be torn down, the owners did something quite spectacular. They saved the barn and preserved its timbers for as long as the house stands.

What is in the future for the society?

I'ts an exciting time to be involved with the society. We restored the Bradley-Hubbell House and are are now creating the long-term museum plan. We have an ambitious vision to create a new museum that is one of a kind. A place where a visitor can immerse themselves in learning about the region's agricultural history and the families who shaped our history. It's a fabulous time to get involved at the beginning stages of Easton's only museum. 

How can residents get involved and how can they find out if their property is indeed one of historical significance?

Interested volunteers can email the society at hseastonct@gmail.com or call me at (203) 581-0850 to find out more about how to get involved with the society. 

In terms of house histories, we have surveys of all the historic houses in town. The surveys provide an architectural overview of the house, possible date of construction and owners. If a home owner wants a more detailed history the society can refer home owners to house history researchers who can examine the land deeds and analyze the house's architectural features and timber frame for a clearer understanding of when the house was built.  

What other organizations are you involved?

I serve as Vice Chair of Easton's Cemetery Committee. Our charge is to oversee the maintenance and restoration of three Easton historic cemeteries; Gilbertown, Center Street and Lyon Cemetery. We have work days once a month in Gilbertown and/or Center Street where volunteers repair broken and fallen stones. I look forward to our work days each month because the people involved are just about the nicest people I know. 

What is your favorite thing about Easton?

One of the main reasons we moved to Easton was to to raise our daughter in a smaller and quieter community. We like that we know so many of Shannon's classmates and their families. It refreshing to go into the Village Store, Grieser's, the senior center, the library, and just about anywhere in Easton and know the people well enough to know their names and what they are passionate about whether its kids, sports, farming, town government, or the schools.  

What is your favorite spot in Easton?

I love driving past the Aspetuck Reservoir everyday on my way to Barlow each morning. No matter what time of year it is, the Aspetuck Reservoir is the prettiest and most tranquil places.

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