Regan Miner, although only in her early 20s, has a resume that includes the positions of consultant to the Norwich Historical Society, coordinator of Norwich Heritage Group and member of the Board of Directors for the Leffingwell House Museum.
In only a few short years since she was a student at NFA, Regan’s enthusiasm for all things Norwich has shaped the city’s future by focusing on its past. Visit her at the recently opened Norwich Heritage and Regional Visitors’ Center at the Lathrop Schoolhouse on the Norwichtown Green.
Recently the Norwich Heritage and Regional Visitor Center opened. Please tell me about your involvement in the Norwich Heritage and Regional Visitor Center and about the organization in general.
Miner: As a consultant for the Norwich Historical Society, I coordinated the efforts to complete the Norwich Heritage and Regional Visitors’ Center restoration projects and the “Discover Norwich” exhibit. The restoration to the Lathrop Schoolhouse included restoring the windows, repairing the front door and installing a screen door, and replacing the back door. Other future projects include an HVAC system and a drainage system. The Norwich Historical Society spearheaded the movement to create a Heritage and Visitors’ Center backed by 14 other heritage organizations here in Norwich.
The Norwich Historical Society is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit corporation and its mission is to preserve, protect, and promote the rich history of the City of Norwich. The Norwich Historical Society was founded in 2001 by the late William B. Stanley and Margaret Wilson and promotes the history of Norwich through newsletters, educational lectures, walking tours, and historical events.
The Norwich Heritage and Regional Visitors Center is located in the 1783 Dr. Daniel Lathrop Schoolhouse on the historic Norwichtown Green. The Heritage and Regional Visitors’ Center will educate residents and visitors on Norwich’s rich history and offer information about regional tourist attractions. The Center will serve as a gateway into the City of Norwich where visitors can learn about our numerous cultural sites and various local businesses.
On permanent display in the Center will be the “Discover Norwich” exhibit, which is a 10panel exhibit encompassing themes in Norwich’s history from the 17th century to the 20th century. The panels feature interpretive text in addition to historical images and maps of the specific historical eras. In addition, we are planning on hosting many cultural and historical events at the visitors’ center and on the Norwichtown Green, such as colonial reenactments and art classes.
We are also actively looking for volunteers to staff the visitors’ center on weekends. Please contact the Norwich Historical Society if you are interested!
What about Norwich and its history initially piqued your interest?
Miner: As kids, my parents would take my sister and me to the Norwichtown Colonial Burial Grounds, stroll along the Heritage Walk and visit Leffingwell House Museum and Slater Memorial Museum. Growing up I became immersed in Norwich’s rich history and knew I wanted to get involved. I am an 18th Century/Revolutionary War enthusiast so when I did a little research in “History of Norwich” by Francis Caulkins and discovered all the important 18th century figures that came from Norwich, I was instantly hooked.
Why do you think it is important to preserve and honor Norwich’s history?
Miner: I think it’s important to preserve and honor Norwich’s history because if we don’t, future generations won’t have the opportunity to enjoy it. Norwich’s history is significant and until now it has been largely overlooked. Knowing our community’s rich history will instill pride in Norwich’s residents and I believe Norwich should be very proud of our history.
What other organizations have you worked for in town? What is/was your role?
Miner: As a college student, I was a summer intern at Slater Memorial Museum working on the Egyptian exhibit and an intern for the Norwich Community Development Corporation digitizing walking trails and creating the Benedict Arnold Walking Trail. After graduating from UConn with my B.A. in history, I became a consultant for the Norwich Historical Society and joined the Board of Directors at the Leffingwell House Museum. In addition, I am the coordinator of the Norwich Heritage Groups, which is a consortium of 15 heritage groups in town working to promote heritage tourism in Norwich. I represent the Norwich heritage groups at the Norwich Creates committee meetings.
What do you think are Norwich’s best assets?
Miner: Norwich’s best assets are its history and small businesses. Norwich’s history tells the story of the formation of our nation; our history dates back to the 17th century and continues through the 20th century. Norwich’s stories define the American Experience if it was happening in Norwich it was happening in the country. I’ve had the pleasure of befriending many small business owners in town, which I believe, lie at the core of our community; they represent vibrancy and creativity.
If you could have dinner with three historical figures from the Norwich area, whom would you choose? Why?
Miner: It would have to be Sachem Uncas, General Benedict Arnold and Governor William Buckingham. Each of these men significantly contributed to Norwich’s rich history and I would like to hear their stories. I’d like to hear Uncas’ firsthand account of the Battle of East Great Plain, I’d like to ask Arnold what it was like growing up in Norwich, and I’d ask Buckingham what were the trials and tribulations of being Connecticut’s Civil War Governor. I think it would be a lively dinner table discussion!
On a completely different note, what are places in the region that you enjoy frequenting in your spare time and why?
Miner: I spend a lot of my spare time enjoying what Norwich has to offer, but I often frequent the Mystic/Stonington area as well. In addition, I enjoy traveling all over the state and visiting local museums such as the Samuel Huntington Homestead in Scotland and the Henry State Whitfield Museum in Guilford. New England in general is an amazing region to explore and learn about this region has treasures and sites that simply cannot be equaled anywhere else.