By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement
I love the Doors Open weekend. It is a great program that gives people in their community, or those visiting town, to visit buildings that might not otherwise be open, or it may give them a fresh perspective on a familiar site. A number of years back, I visited Doors Open Toronto and visited a number of churches, museums, and archives in Toronto’s downtown core, and it was wonderful to see the history amongst the tall office buildings. This year, I am able to be a visitor for Doors Open Oshawa; in years past, I’ve always greeted visitors at the Oshawa Community Museum, playing a different role for the event. I cannot wait to visit these heritage sites in the community that I love.
At the Oshawa Community Museum, we are opening up the doors to Henry House, the oldest building of our Museum complex. It is estimated that Rev. Thomas Henry has his stone house built c. 1840. He lived in the home with his second wife, Lurenda, and there was typically 8 or 9 of his 15 children living in the home with them. The second storey, a wooden addition, was added sometime after 1861. We know this because Census records from 1852 and 1861 record a single storey brick home being owned by Thomas Henry, and Henry House today is very distinctly two storeys high.
Often on tours, Visitor Hosts are asked what lies behind the door in the hallway, and the answer is storage. If you ever visit a historic house museum and you see a closed door, chances are very strong that there are items being carefully stored behind them. This is very true with Henry House. Behind the door is a set of stairs which leads to the second floor storage areas. There are three rooms: two of them are used for storing our textile collection, including clothing, hats, shoes, and quilts, while the third room is used as a digitization studio, used for photographing artifacts in the collection.
If you visit Henry House for Doors Open Oshawa, you will have the opportunity to learn about the family from costumed guides, tour through a Victorian home, one of the oldest in the City, and you will have the chance to view letters from the recently acquired Thomas Henry Correspondence Collection, a fascinating collection of papers and letters written by or written to Thomas Henry by family or associates in the community. We will also have our tablet in Henry House and guests can view our Behind the Scenes of Henry House video. Can’t make it to Doors Open Oshawa? View the video here: Behind the Scenes of Henry House