Visit the Johnston Historical Society for a taste of local lore

By RORY SCHULER
Posted 6/18/21

History is back in Johnston.

Members of the Johnston Historical Society want the public to once again visit their headquarters and museum at 101 Putnam Pike.

“We’re open,” …

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Visit the Johnston Historical Society for a taste of local lore

Posted

History is back in Johnston.

Members of the Johnston Historical Society want the public to once again visit their headquarters and museum at 101 Putnam Pike.

“We’re open,” said society trustee Anthony Ursillo. “Our museum is something to see!”

Hours of operation have been necessarily spotty over the past year, throughout the pandemic.

Now that things are almost back to normal, the nonprofit organization needs donations and visitors.

“The public can visit by appointment when staff is available,” Johnston Historical Society President Elise Carlson said. “In the fall we hope to keep more steady hours.”

“We’re here when they want us to be here,” Ursillo added.

Ursillo, Carlson and the society’s recording secretary Carl L. Johnson gave a local tour of the museum and adjacent Elijah Angell House.

The huge trunk and canopy of nearly 300-year-old copper beech tree shades the property.

The society is dedicated to preserving town and local history, sometimes salvaging one artifact at a time. The members also help maintain the town’s more than 100 historic cemeteries, and admit they could use more help from the public.

“We rake the leaves, pick up trash, mow the grass and fix fallen stones,” Carlson said. “We’re looking for volunteers all the time.”

The organization was formed by a group of residents in the 1970s.

In the early 1980s, the group met in the historic Elijah Angell House, and opened the museum in a classically constructed barn behind the home.

The barn was subsequently expanded to include a larger meeting space, according to the group’s online history.

The first floor of the Elijah Angell House is maintained as a museum, and includes a collection of historic maps and countless pieces from Johnston’s past.

A glass display case contains the World War II fighter pilot jacket worn by local resident George Sutcliffe.

Pieces of a repaired 1750 tombstone are propped against one wall. It was smashed and has been rebuilt by Historical Society Vice-President Stephen Merolla, head of the group’s cemetery committee.

“We’ve been here for all these years, but some people in the neighborhood don’t even know where we’re located,” Ursillo said.

The group has about 50 active members, but has plenty of room for more.

The community is invited to call 401-231-3380 to schedule a visit to the museum.

More information can be found at the society’s website, Johnston Historical Society website.

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