Masters Lecture Series


Individuals who exhibit specific skills and trades were essential to life in early America. These “Masters” were devoted to practicing skills such as construction, gardening, textile production, and more. While some worry that technological advancement has rendered these skills extinct, many of these skilled craftspeople still in fact practice their craft today.

This series of lectures will allow guests to hear directly from these Masters themselves. While discussing their own personal journey from novice to Master, these individuals will also share an insider’s look at their trade, its practicalities in early America, and how it is still alive today.

Textile Production In Early America

Presented by Margaret Liljedahl

August 8, 2024

Textile production was an important component of the early American economy, and continues to be a career and hobby for many individuals today. This talk will focus on the techniques and tools that weavers like Noah Webster’s father would have used to produce cloth for their communities. This includes a review of common natural fiber sources, basic fabric structures, and design considerations. Participants will have the chance to see examples of antique fiber processing equipment and learn about how they have been used for the past 300+ years.

About the Presenter: Margaret Liljedahl is a West Hartford native who had her first encounter with an antique loom at the Noah Webster House. Over the past decade, Margaret has studied historical weaving techniques and has the privilege of working with several historical sites and museums across Connecticut and New York to get their barn looms singing again. She is an active member of the Handweavers Guild of Connecticut and is passionate about connecting antique fiber equipment with locals who still know how to use them.

Constructing Connecticut: Cultural Transmission and Timber Framing 1680-1730

Presented by Nevan Carling

November 7, 2024

This talk will consider the distinctive timber frame style developed in the Greater Hartford Area in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Connecticut’s architectural and building traditions of this period have long been overlooked and primarily compared to those found in the Boston Bay. This talk seeks to elucidate a building tradition developed in Connecticut, and consider our buildings as culturally distinct among those found in the rest of New England. These case studies will include the John Goodwin House c. 1698, the Riley/Adams House c. 1722, the Noah Webster House c. 1700-25, the Buttolph-Williams House ~1711, the Jonathan Demming House c. 1665, and many others. While many of these houses are still with us, many more have been demolished in only the last 100 years. Creating awareness of our unique and fascinating history is the first step in preserving this treasure for future generations.

About the Presenter: Nevan Carling is a conservation timber framer based in Connecticut. He is a graduate of the University of York, England, where he earned a First Class undergraduate degree in Archaeology and Heritage Management. He is currently pursuing an MSc in Timber Building Conservation at the Weald and Downland Living Museum in Chichester, England. Nevan works as a conservation timber framer and teaches/demonstrates hewing at the Eric Sloane Museum in Kent, CT.