Ridgefield's Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center receives grants

RIDGEFIELD — Recent grants awarded to the Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center in Ridgefield will help support the continuation of virtual programming and bring structural restorations to the Keeler Tavern, which dates back to 1713.

The first grant, totaling $2,000, comes from the Wadsworth Lewis Fund, which awards grants to nonprofits conducted for the benefit or use of local residents. The money will support two of Keeler’s ongoing series, “Tavern Tastings” and “Let’s Talk Hard History!,” and ensure audiences have unfettered access to each. The virtual programs debuted during the pandemic to educate patrons from the comfort of their own homes.

About the Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center

Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center, located on Main Street in Ridgefield, Conn., tells 300 years of the town's - and nation's - history through the lives of its past residents.

The four-acre historic site is currently open for outdoor visits to the Cass Gilbert-designed Walled Garden and Rose Arbor, including the self-guided walking tour "Gilberts in the Gardens." Scan the QR code on any one of the outdoor signposts for a map of the campus and walking tour stops. Visitors can also view the famous cannonball - an authentic Revolutionary War relic from the Battle of Ridgefield - embedded in a corner post of the historic Keeler Tavern.

The Carriage Barn is open for limited-capacity exhibitions and events, but the museum is temporarily closed to the public pursuant to state and local health guidelines for social distancing due to the coronavirus.

Additional information, including updates about on-site and virtual programming and events, as well as rental availability for the Garden House and Walled Garden, can be found at keelertavernmuseum.org, @KeelerTavernMuseum on Facebook and Instagram, @KeelerTavern on Twitter, or by emailing info@keelertavernmuseum.org.

For inquiries about school programs and digital learning experiences, email education@keelertavernmuseum.org.

Source: Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center

KTM&HC board president Rhonda Hill commended Wadsworth’s continued support of the museum in a release, saying, “Their generous gifts are an investment in the community and help us provide a robust selection of accessible, in-person and virtual educational initiatives.”

The next “Tavern Tastings” is Tuesday, April 6, at 6:30 p.m., and will be all about beer. To register, visit www.keelertavernmuseum.org/events.

The second grant, totaling $2,770, comes from the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Connecticut, another longtime supporter of the museum. Its mission is to preserve structures that existed during the American Revolution, a criterion that the tavern certainly fits.

“The tavern dates back to 1713, when the original homestead was built,” said KTM&HC’s executive director Hilde Grob. “What you see today grew over a period of 50 to 60 years.”

The Society grant is “squarely committed” to preserving the tavern, Grob said, and will go towards residing the exterior and repairing window trimmings. Because the structure is so old, the museum plans to contract skilled local carpenters with experience in historic restoration.

A project like this, Grob said, “requires a lot of expertise and craftsmanship.”

The museum will cover the remaining balance to complete the project with its own funds, Grob added. Restorations will be ongoing this spring and summer, and repainting is slated for the fall.

“As the repairs happen, the community will be able to see what it takes to make sure generations of people can continue to come here,” she said. “This is a great contribution towards this much-needed work. In the nonprofit field every dollar helps.”

The site is currently open for outdoor visits and self-guided walking tours (see box). For more information, visit www.keelertavernmuseum.org.

alyssa.seidman@hearstmediact.com