Photo: Weston Historical Society
The Weston Historical Society has received gifts totaling $1.5 million from the Daniel E. Offutt, III Charitable Trust.
$1 million goes to an endowment that will help the Society fund its ongoing operations. $500 thousand is designated for repair and renovation of the Coley barn, carriage house, archives and museum building, and the bunkhouse, according to Weston Historical Society president Leigh Meccay.
“Additionally,” said Ms. Meccay, “the grant will be used to assist us with our long-range plan of providing educational programs, exhibit space, and workshops in these buildings.”
The Society has an ongoing effort to restore the Coley Homestead. A key part of that work, funded by an earlier grant from the Offutt Trust, is a continuing restoration of the Coley House (photo above), located prominently on the Historical Society site at 104 Weston Road. A reopening will be announced when the work is complete.
The 1841 farmhouse, known as the David Dimon Coley house, was the home of five generations of the Coley family over 130 years. A classical Greek-revival house, its five-bay gable front facade is the only one of its kind in the region. It is an architecturally significant historic structure, one that plays a key role in telling the story of Weston’s history.
“We survived 2020, while weathering a year of restrictions that prevented us from holding exhibitions, events and fundraisers,” said Mrs. Meccay. “Fundraising remains an important aspect of our functioning, as raised funds support our exhibits, educational programs, events, and the maintenance of the property and buildings.”
The Weston Historical Society, founded in 1961, is a non-profit that depends on contributions and member support for its operations and educational programs. The Society is not connected with the Town of Weston and does not receive funding from taxpayer dollars.
“The challenges of 2020 highlighted the difficulties non-profits face when annual fundraisers could not be held,” said Ms. Meccay. “The Daniel E. Offutt, III Endowment Fund ensures the longevity of this important organization.”
The Society is optimistic about reopening this year. The organization plans to present an exhibit on the Roaring Twenties, “Weston Slept While the Nation Roared: Life in the Twenties.” While the buildings remain closed, the outdoors have been enhanced by new signs that help visitors take a self-guided tour, revisit Weston’s agricultural past, and learn about the Coley family, one of Weston’s earliest settlers.
For more information about Weston Historical Society programs, visit the Society’s website.
About Mr. Offutt
“We are indebted to Daniel E. Offutt, who loved Weston and its history,” said Mrs. Meccay.
Daniel Offutt was born in Oakland, Maryland on August 4, 1931, and made his home on Kettle Creek Road in Weston for more than 30 years in a house he built himself.
Mr. Offutt has been described as “metal sculptor, wood worker, farmer, fixer of anything, collector of everything and a good friend.” Among his many interests, he moved a Connecticut tobacco barn to his Weston property, where he displayed his sculptures on his front lawn.
Mr. Offutt served in the U.S. Army and graduated from the University of Maryland and then Columbia University, where he received his MBA. He made his career in New York City as a stock trader and then retired to Weston. Mr. Offutt died on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 2016.