Historical society visits Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum
The Ridgefield Historical Society’s collection of the journal of Miss Susie Scott, written in 1871 when she was a 15-year-old living in Manhattan will be the focus of a visit to the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum on Saturday, Sept. 21.
Susie Scott Hall was the mother of Mrs. Gerardus P. Herrick, whose family had a summer “cottage” on High Ridge beginning in the early part of the 20th Century. (The family’s main residence, as was typical of Ridgefield “cottage” owners, was in New York.)
When the Herrick descendants wanted a place for their historical collection a few years ago, they chose the Ridgefield Historical Society. The materials included plans for Gerardus Herrick’s “Vertaplane” (an invention to which he devoted his career) and the actual prototype of the plane’s convertible wing/rotor.
Another treasure is Susie Scott’s diary.
One of the subjects to which the young Miss Scott devoted space in her journal was a visit to the “Le Grand Lockwood place” (as she called it) in Norwalk, which is now a National Historic Landmark. Susie Scott was rarely at a loss for words in describing her life in New York, but the Lockwood mansion overwhelmed her: “I cannot describe the house but it is a paradise on earth and will spoil me for any other house…. “
In a case of historical connection, the Ridgefield Historical Society has planned a Saturday, Sept. 21, visit to that very same home, now known as the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum, where guests will see From Corsets to Suffrage: Victorian Women Trailblazers. Curated by Kathleen Motes Bennewitz, the exhibit celebrates the centennial of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution and is the first in a year-long schedule of events entitled, Votes for Women: Ridgefield Celebrates the 19th Amendment, co-sponsored by Ridgefield Library, Ridgefield Historical Society, the League of Women Voters of Ridgefield, Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center, and the Drum Hill Chapter of the DAR.
The tour will last 90 minutes and reservations may be made at ridgefieldhistoricalsociety.org. For more information, call 203-438-5821. The cost is $18 for members; $20 for nonmembers.
LeGrand Lockwood’s personal connection to Ridgefield went beyond having hosted the mother of a future Ridgefielder; he and his uncle, Edwin Lockwood, were substantial investors in the Danbury & Norwalk Railroad and he helped create the branch line to Ridgefield in 1870. (According to author L. Peter Cornwall, in his book In the Shore Line’s Shadow: The Six Lives of the Danbury & Norwalk Railroad, Ridgefield has LeGrand Lockwood to thank for the elegant design of its station, now beautifully restored and repurposed by the Ridgefield Supply Company.)
The Lockwood mansion, a National Historic Landmark since 1971, is regarded as one of the earliest and most significant Second Empire Style country houses in the United States. Owned by the City of Norwalk, it was rescued and restored by dedicated volunteers, who were able to turn what had once been a derelict storage building for the city’s heavy equipment back into the magnificent mansion that so thrilled young Susie Scott.