Witch of Blackbird Pond Tour
For the first time, the Webb-Deane-Stevens (WDS) Museum will open the beloved Buttolph-Williams House (BWH) for public tours for the month of October through November in 2020. Author Elizabeth George Speare, a resident of Wethersfield, used the decidedly medieval-looking house (c. 1711) as the setting for her Newbery Medal-winning book, “The Witch of Blackbird Pond.” The book is the basis for one of the most treasured education programs at WDS and has been read by generations of school children.
Witch of Blackbird Pond Tours are offered at 10 a.m., noon, and 2 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and Sundays at 1 and 3 p.m. by advance registration. To register contact Acting Co-Director Cynthia Riccio at 860-529-0612, ext. 12, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Admission: nonmembers – $10, members – $7. *Please note – BWH tours include walking on uneven ground and the use of stairs. Facemasks are required and tours are limited to groups of six.
An overwhelming response to a recent post on the WDS Facebook page about the Buttolph-Williams House made clear that many adults remember the book, and the house, very fondly, inspiring the museum to open it up for the entire month. “Every year hundreds of students who have read the book take our “Witch of Blackbird Pond” tour,” says Acting Co-Director Cindy Riccio. “It’s a timeless classic, exploring ignorance, slavery, prejudice, and superstition, and it resonates with any child who has ever been bullied or singled out for being ‘different’.” She adds, “Given the responses we’ve seen on Facebook, the book continues to appeal to adults, many of whom toured the house decades ago and expressed an interest in returning.”
“The Witch of Blackbird Pond” book tells the story of Kit, a newly orphaned young woman from Barbados, who arrives unannounced to live with relatives in Wethersfield. Considered an outsider, and different from other girls, she befriends the kind, elderly Hannah Tupper, who had been outlawed from the Massachusetts Colony for being a Quaker. As fellow outcasts, Kit and Hannah develop a deep bond, even after her uncle forbids the friendship. When a mob gathers to kill Hannah, the book becomes a tale of witchcraft and adventure, with honor, and the heroine, winning in the end.
In 2009, WDS guide and Wethersfield artist Phil Lohman crafted a map illustrating the locations of events in “The Witch of Blackbird Pond” at the request of former Wethersfield Town Librarian Laurel Goodgion. Wildly popular, the map has been reprinted many times. Both the map and the book are available at the WDS Gift Shop.
The Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum manages the Buttolph-Williams House which is owned by Connecticut Landmarks.
About the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum
Located in the heart of Connecticut’s largest historic district, the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum provides the quintessential New England experience – from the American Revolution to the early 20th century. Tours include the 1752 Joseph Webb House, where General George Washington met with French General Rochambeau and planned the military campaign leading to the end of the Revolutionary War; the 1770 Silas Deane House, built for America’s first diplomat to France; and the 1788 Isaac Stevens House, which depicts Connecticut life in the 18th and 19th centuries. For more information visit: www.webb-deane-stevens.org or call (860) 529-0612, and like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WDSMUSEUM.