9 October 2018

INN TO THE PAST

Program Reviews | Samantha Kilpatrick


Every Sunday afternoon the Montgomery’s Inn runs a Sunday tea. A beautiful, sunlit tea room, an art exhibition on the walls, costumed interpreters, and of course, tea and cookies.

The tea service at Montgomery's Inn. Photo courtesy of Samantha Kilpatrick. 

This spread is available for a suggested donation of only seven dollars (ten, if you want to include the tour as well) and is excellent. Four varieties of cookie, plus a peach loaf, plus tea, all homemade and delicious. If tea isn't your preference, the Montgomery’s Inn also hosts Thirsty Thursdays on the last Thursday of every month. The Inn reprises its former role as a tavern and serves stew,
A small sample of the wide array of events Montgomery's
Inn runs. Photo courtesy of Samantha
Kilpatrick.
a selection of bread, and wine to the accompaniment of live music. Don't get this confused with the first Thursday of every month when the Inn hosts “Fret Not Ukulele Night.” Ukulele players of all skill levels are invited to congregate and become part of a tradition of music at the Inn (bringing your own ukulele is encouraged, but not mandatory). If you’re not fond of going out to eat at all, they also host a farmers market on Wednesday 2-6 year round. All events can be found here.

The museum hosts seasonal events of all kinds, including Halloween and Christmas, plus summer camps. It is also available, of course, for rentals of space, although not overnight.

The Inn came to my attention while writing this column precisely because of this wildly diverse array of activities; I was making a list of programs hosted by museums in the area, and then realized that nearly half were from the same institution.

During my tea, in the beautifully restored tea room, a kind interpreter in costume pointed out the exhibition of landscapes on the wall, by a Canadian artist who took her very early automobile on and off the road in search of the most picturesque landscapes in Ontario to paint. In this space were a scattering of other guests, and the crew of “Scenes From Joshua,” blocking scenes for the upcoming one-hour chamber opera. By the time this article posts, they will be performing.

By any count, this impressive roster of events for a museum with only twelve rooms, but I like to think that the historic use of the Inn acclimatized the building to the activity. It is an Inn so well used, that there is a groove in the floorboards from the door to the bar. The building would likely not be bothered by the constant rotation of activities through this space.

While the Inn was active, it was the meeting place for the local Orange Lodge at the turn of the eighteenth century, and later served as the meeting place for annual Home District Meetings, later served by four separate counties. Records made by the eponymous Montgomery indicate that the Inn was also home to at least one political campaign meeting, one wedding, and multiple concerts and dances.

One of the bedrooms historically available to rent at Montgomery's Inn, as seen on the tour of the house.
 Photo courtesy of Samantha Kilpatrick.
I bring up this wide array of activities because how to program a historic site is a question every museum is either currently grappling with, or should be grappling with. For small museums and historic sites/houses in particular, how to encourage repeat visitors is a perennial and crucial question. Montgomery's Inn seems to answer this question with not only a host of programming for all visitors, but also by rotating these events with such frequency that it’s incredible that the entire building doesn’t spin on its foundations.

I can’t, of course, speak to the other events programmed in the Inn. I can only speak to the tea I had-- an excellent offering of a variety of foods wide enough to please nearly every palette.

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