Country Day School Annual Visit

This October a large second grade class from Madison’s Country Day School joined us
for a fall visit. This was especially momentous since this education program has
been continuously running at the Grave House for fifteen years. Upon arrival, the
children participated in a morning program which focused on everyday life in colonial
New England. The students toured the Grave House and were provided with examples
of the daily activities and chores of children in the 18th century. Highlights included,
hearth cooking, flax to linen production, locating the “secret staircase, and ending with
time to play colonial games outside on the grounds. We look forward to next year.

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19th Annual Bauer Park Harvest Festival

On a beautiful fall Saturday in October, board members in colonial costume joined in the
fun at the Bauer Park Harvest Festival, sharing with visitors the ins and outs of the 18th
century manufacture of linen. Visitors were educated on how linen was made, from
growing the flax, to drying, harvesting the inner fibers, then finally spinning and
weaving. Eighteenth century tools such as a flax brake, swingling knife and hetchel
were demonstrated and explained.  A little trivia was included as well, such as where the
saying “ girl with the flaxen hair” came from – answer: the “blond” flax threads. In
addition to our demonstration at the festival, children enjoyed a hay maze, pony rides,
hay rides as well as pumpkin painting and making their own fresh pressed apple cider.


Oregon Visit


Grave descendants

A Special Visit From Oregon

On an October 1st afternoon a Seventh Generation Direct Descendant of John the Second and Elizabeth Grave toured the House and grounds.

Marian Graves Lovie and husband, Robert Thomas traveled from Beaverton, Oregon to the 1685 House where that Grandfather was born.

A detailed inspection of the House and narrative of the Grave 300 year ownership was very personal and appreciated.

A Late Summer Evening Serenade


The George Manstan Big Band playing in front of our beautiful barn.


The horn section


A little night music


A closeup of the band


Rick Camp Pres. of the Madison Historical Society, and Terry Roberts, Pres. of the Deacon John Grave Foundation welcome our members


A lovely evening with friends

Members of the Deacon John Grave Fooundation, Madison Historical Society, Garden Club Of Madison and the Charlotte L. Evarts Memorial Archives enjoyed the big band sounds of the George Mansion Band. The event marks the fourth year of a joint Grave Foundation and Madison Historical Society sponsored mixer. The evening’s highlight was the band’s final song – Moonlight Serenade. As its lovely melody floated over the grounds it inspired a number of couples to dance along.

Exterior and Window Project is Complete

2016Painting_1wThe exterior house and window project is now complete. The job took around six weeks and, without question, conformed to our highest standards. The exterior was gently power washed and some parts lightly sanded. Some clapboards required repair. The entire House was primed and followed by two coats of bark colored stain which was approved in 2001.

2016Painting_5wAll twenty-one windows were painstakingly addressed. Broken panes were replaced with old glass and most were repaired in place and glazed.

The inside sills needed major work. The traditional method is to use linseed oil but it requires redoing every two to three years. It’s been sixteen years since the sills were last addressed and there was some2016Painting_2w wood rot upstairs. Our painting foreman suggested that we coat the sills with a clear flat poly to protect them. Our experts in these areas are Ken and Cathy Schwanfelder and they agreed upon this application. Also six windows had to be removed and restored by an expert. No doubt you saw the plywood covering these windows. Upon return  they were housed in the Barn as it took a week to glaze, prime and paint.

In addition and at no added cost, the contractors restored the front door beautifully, made a new sign for the House and repainted the entire annex.

Take a good look . . . you will be pleased at the result.

The project was underwritten by generous grants from the Erwin Bauer Charitable Trust of Madison, the Howard Gilman Foundation of New York, and The 1772 Foundation in cooperation with the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation.

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The Deacon John Grave House and Grounds Again Participated in Connecticut Open House Day

OpenHouse1wFor this year’s Connecticut Open House Day on June 11th, Board members in colonial dress provided tours of the house, lectures on Colonial Clothing and a demonstration of Hearth Cooking to visitors from throughout the State. Despite the rain showers, the crowd marveled at the baking and open fire cooking. Especially interesting was a preview of how colonial men, women and children dressed. And of course the Secret Room was a hit.

The Event again reflected a renewed policy to tailor the Deacon John Grave House to community

Sandra Tarbox Speaks at Annual Meeting, May 17, 2016

Sandra Tarbox is a culinary historian and dedicated teacher of 18th century living history for over 25 years. In her program, she shared her knowledge of the Colonial American Table, what they ate, how they cooked it, how they stored and preserved it. She illustrated how each of these played an important role in the preparation and the uncommon ingredients that were used in the recipes with lots of show and tell.

Madison Fifth Graders Return for an Expanded New Program

5thGradersMau3WAfter five years it was time to revamp the History Program since the 250 students, teachers and aides had previously visited as Second Grade students. Peter Bizer, Social Studies Coordinator said this new program was the best ever.

The ten classes rotated from two programs learning new words like: Corset, Stays, Cheshire Pork Pie, Flax and stringed chicken.

One station had Board Members in period dress and actually preparing food in the hearth. The students watched as various dishes were cooked using the 1710 fireplace with all the tools including dutch ovens, peals and other cast iron pots.

In another room, board members in period dress first demonstrated the importance of growing flax and the process of turning it into cloth. Then, using actual period clothing, there was a detailed display of how Colonials dressed. Both men and women’s attire was displayed from childhood to adult.

The fact that underwear was not worn did get their attention.

Annual Meeting: Colonial American Food, What They Ate & How They Cooked, Stored and Preserved It

DjghAnnSp2016collage2wThe Deacon John Grave Foundation, 581 Boston Post Road in Madison, will hold its annual meeting at 7pm on Tuesday, May 17, 2015.

Spend an evening learning what was needed to prepare an 18th century meal. Sandra Tarbox has been a culinary historian and dedicated teacher of 18th century living history for over 25 years. In her program, she will share her knowledge on the Colonial American Food, what they ate, how they cooked it, how they stored and preserved it. Come and see how each of these played an important role in the preparation and the uncommon ingredients that were used in the recipes.

Sandra Tarbox specializes in Open Hearth Cooking and teaching 17th and 18th century Foodways as an Open Hearth Cook. She is a member of the Association of Living History, Farm & Agricultural Museum and a Founding member of the Culinary Historians of Connecticut. She has demonstrated her skill teaching at the hearth in Old Sturbridge Village, Ma, the Museum of Old York, Me., Strawberry Banke Portsmouth, NH, Minute Man National Park, MA and many other museums in New England.
Her web site is

Refreshments to follow and the public is welcome.