“What Lies Beneath” Opens

Weston Today photos

The exhibition currently running at the Weston History & Culture Center is a bit of a departure, a display of items unearthed at one of Weston’s oldest homes.

“Weston … What Lies Beneath” runs every Thursday and Sunday from 1:00 to 4:00 through March 2, excluding holidays. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children, free for WHCC members.

It all started in early 2022, shortly after Maryclare Roos and her family bought and moved into the Peter Thorp house on Steep Hill Road, which was built around 1739. Over two centuries, the property had morphed from a working farm into the home of James Melton, a popular singer in the 1920s and 1930s who then became an opera, theater, and radio star.

One day, Ms. Roos decided to try out a metal detector that had been given as a gift, and almost immediately began to uncover objects, many of which are on display in the exhibition: buttons, rings, coins, shards of tableware, bottles, jewelry, personal items, and other artifacts.

Some of the items were easier to identify than others, but “I love cracking a code,” said Ms. Roos, who by profession is a market researcher.

As an example: after painstaking analysis, Ms. Roos concluded that what appeared at first to be a small button was actually a wheel from a toy car, probably from around the 1940s. (The late Mr. Melton was a famed collector of antique automobiles.) An extensive search to determine exactly which toy car led to Ebay, where she found an original, now on display.

Many of the exhibits are in pieces, viewed for reference next to intact originals or similar versions. A favorite of Ms. Roos is a teapot she has been able to reassemble (mostly) and trace its origins to a Massachusetts potter in the early 1800s.

Ms. Roos, a Weston native, said she was partly drawn to the Thorp house by the connection to James Melton, who taught Shirley Temple how to drive and was a close friend of Helen Keller. In a corner of the exhibition space, you can see photos of them all, sit and listen to Mr. Melton sing on the radio, and watch a film he narrated for another friend, Walt Disney.

Children visiting the exhibition will enjoy a chance to discover buried treasures too, using a metal detector in a sandbox.

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