Keeler Tavern’s #HandsonHistory exhibition opens Oct. 11

Ralph Lapidus depicts 18th-century blacksmithing in an outdoor family demonstration of the 2017 #HandsonHistory: It Takes A Village exhibition.

Ralph Lapidus depicts 18th-century blacksmithing in an outdoor family demonstration of the 2017 #HandsonHistory: It Takes A Village exhibition.

Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center

Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center (KTM&HC) announces the opening of #HandsonHistory (#HOH): It Takes a Village Oct. 11 through Nov. 8. The award-wining exhibition explores the interdependency of farms, families, and businesses across Ridgefield’s history — showcasing individual trades and their tools.

An online exhibit — combining maps, narrative text, and multimedia content — takes visitors on a virtual tour of the businesses on Ridgefield’s 19th century Main Street. In addition, there is a curated display of featured trades on-site in the Carriage Barn, where visitors can learn more about Ridgefield’s trades through the tools that were used. All hands-on elements have been removed in compliance with COVID-19 protocols. Advance registration with timed entries for groups of up to 8 people will be required to visit the exhibition in the Carriage Barn.

As in previous years, family demonstrations will be offered outdoors on weekends, including blacksmithing on Oct. 25 (see for a complete listing). School groups and other “cohorts” are encouraged to make a special reservation for a guided tour of the Carriage Barn. Additionally, a series of virtual Zoom talks is planned on topics such as tavern tastings, a history of medicine and pandemics, and the boom and bust of economic cycles in Connecticut’s past.

“For much of its history, Ridgefield was a farming community, however, no family farm could be entirely self-sufficient,” said Catherine Prescott, chief curator and assistant museum director at KTM&HC who oversees the design and installation of all #HOH exhibitions. “Members of the community developed specialized trades to accommodate the needs of a growing village, and by the turn of the 19th century, the nature of Ridgefield’s Main Street shifted to reflect this new market. Small enterprises had sprung up all over town, and by 1820, roughly one-third of Ridgefielders were engaged in some type of manufacturing.”

In the online exhibition, It Takes a Village, visitors will discover businesses that lined Ridgefield’s Main Street in the 18th and 19th centuries, including the cabinet maker, the blacksmith, the shoemaker, and, of course, the tavern. They will also virtually explore early daybooks and ledgers from KTM&HC’s archival collection to learn about the trade and barter transactions that were the economic drivers of early Ridgefield.

The Carriage Barn will be open from Sunday, Oct. 11, to Sunday, Nov. 8, Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, from 1 to 4 p.m. For more information, or to register for a timed entry, visit:

School and youth groups may schedule a private guided tour of the exhibit Monday through Friday, Oct. 12 through Nov. 6, by calling the Museum office at 203-438-5485 or emailing A number of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) worksheets based on the exhibition are available for teachers and anyone homeschooling.

The Carriage Barn at Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center is located at 152 Main Street, Ridgefield. Parking available onsite. Visit to enjoy the virtual tour of #HandsOnHistory: It Takes A Village.

This exhibition is generously supported by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Prescott as well as CT Humanities.