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On Saturday, Sept. 7, board member and event co-chair Linda Reich invites all to attend Evening in White, a garden dinner party to benefit non-profit Hyland House Museum, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets, $50, are on sale now. (Photo by Pam Johnson/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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Linda Reich knows the transformative magic of a visit to the Hyland House and its grounds—after all, she was the lady who showed scads of kids how to make a bandage from a leaf in the herb garden. As development director for the Hyland House Board, it was only natural, when she first heard about Evenings in White, that Linda’s next thought was “on the grounds of the Hyland House Museum.”
On Saturday, Sept. 7, Linda invites all to attend Evening in White, a garden dinner party to benefit the non-profit Hyland House Museum, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets, $50, are on sale now—and expected to go quickly—at hylandhouse.org.
Following the discontinuation of Hyland House’s long-running annual fundraiser, the Guilford Antiques Show, Linda and co-board member Teresa Buchanan worked together to co-chair two successful art auction fundraisers (with lots of help from board member Mairi Bryan) in 2017 and 2018, ultimately raising $28,000 to give the 18th-century Hyland House its brand-new cedar roof.
Proceeds from Evening in White will be put toward costs for recent structural repairs and to paint the house, which was built by Guilford settler George Hyland’s son-in-law Issac Parmalee in 1713.
“Hyland House is not owned by the state,” Linda notes. “All the money that’s required to keep the house going is raised from membership and fundraisers.”
Raising the Bar
With 2019 marking the start of Hyland House’s second century as a museum, Linda says planning this year’s fundraiser was about raising the bar—and finding a way to pay homage to the women who saved the historic building in 1916 and opened the museum, in 1918, under the mantle of the Dorothy Whitfield Historic Society (now Hyland House/Whitfield Historical Society). Those ladies are still fondly known by Hyland House supporters and history fans as the Madcap Dorothies.
“Just to think that over 100 years ago, this house was going to be demolished, and the Madcap Dorothies sprang into action. They had a series of fundraisers—especially a rollicking fundraiser at the Rollwood estate, which raised $600 to help save the house,” says Linda, adding, “in the spirit of the madcap Dorothies, a group of local civic-minded ladies from the early 1900s who saved the Hyland House and were known to host zany fundraiser parties, we invite you to Evening in White.”
The white-themed evenings have recently popped up across the country and around the globe. Guests arrive donned in white to an event where white is reflected in décor, lighting, and more. On Sept. 7, the long stretch of property backing the classic red saltbox at 84 Boston Street will be transformed with accents, accessories, and attendees in white.
“The stage will be set as you enter the magical Hyland House garden decorated with white twinkling lights, white tables, white chairs, and candlelight,” Linda says.
The night will feature live music and a silent auction as well as paddle auction with a lively auctioneer. In the spirit of guests contributing to the cause, Hyland House will provide long, white tables and seating in the garden, while guests will bring their own settings, food, and beverages for their individual party to enjoy. Linda envisions a crowd dressed in summer whites “as fancy as you like,” setting up their all-white place settings, fun and fancy table décor en blanc, delicious picnic dinners, and drinks or wine.
“Evening in White originated from the Parisian Dîner en Blanc,” Linda says. “Our president, Bob Donahue, attended an [evening] in another Connecticut town and loved it so much, he wanted to bring it to Guilford. You can dress up and be as elaborate as you’d like. The pictures I’ve seen from the other events are fabulous.”
Linda’s compatriots on the Evening in White committee include Donahue as well as Buchanan, Bryan, and Lorraine Jorden.
Inspiring Ongoing Stewardship
As the sun sets on Sept. 7 and the white lights twinkle around the grounds, Hyland House’s new cedar roof will be illuminated for the gathering, no doubt making a dramatic entrance. The natural cedar shake roof dominates the back of the clapboard house, running in a long, wide slope from its peak to a point just a few feet above the ground. Highlighting the roof will also help drive home the point that all proceeds from Evening in White will help the board continue to maintain the two-story structure, described by the National Registry of Historic Places as a “landmark building in the history of domestic architecture.”
“Our mission is to share Guilford’s rich Colonial history and to inspire ongoing stewardship of that legacy,” says Linda. “For more than a century, the Hyland House has been sharing [that history] through tours, events, hands-on programs, classes, and research.”
A statistician by profession, Linda works part-time in psychiatric research at Columbia University, New York. Her earlier work as a bio-statistician at Bristol Meyer Squibb brought her from Baltimore, Maryland, to Connecticut. She also met her husband, Harold Mastalerz, a scientist, at the Wallingford company.
In 2008, when the couple’s son, Erik Mastalerz, was in 2nd grade at Calvin Leete Elementary School, Linda first signed on to help out as a Hyland House volunteer. Time flies—Erik just graduated with the Guilford High School Class of 2019.
Linda still remembers how she “fell in love” with the Hyland House more than a decade ago.
“I had been to the Hyland House summer picnic and enjoyed the atmosphere and the lovely community-minded people. I also liked seeing the kids and adults dressed up in Colonial costumes for Early Guilford Days each spring and had always admired the herb garden,” she says. “When one of my neighbors, Teresa Buchanan, the Early Guilford Days director, asked me if I would like to head up the herb workshop, I was thrilled to get involved, and that was the beginning of my tenure with the Hyland House. It was such an exciting day for my son and me when he was in 4th grade and it was his turn to participate in Early Guilford Days.”
A House of History
Linda was the “herb lady” for about eight years, as well as being the recording secretary for the board, before her current role as a development director with the board. She still can tell you all about the herbs in the Hyland House garden. One of the 4th graders’ favorites: plucking off a leaf of lambs’ ear, pulling away a strip along the stem to expose a sticky substance, and wrapping the fuzzy, absorbent leaf around their fingers to stick like a Band-Aid.
For those of us who aren’t in 4th grade, there are plenty of opportunities to plan a visit to Hyland House Museum. From June to September, Hyland House is open for guided tours on Fridays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sundays from noon to 4 p.m., and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., except on dates when special programming is scheduled. Admission is free, unless otherwise specified.
“Our docents are incredibly knowledgeable and love to share the history of the house with guests,” says Linda. “You walk in and you can picture what life was like here. We also have a lovely and extensive collection of 18th- and 19th-century ceramic ware and furniture, and pretty Colonial gardens.”
Special summer programs at Hyland House this season include a showing of children’s toys and furniture on Saturday, July 20 (free tours during open hours), a hearth cooking demonstration set for Saturday and Sunday, July 27 and 28 ($10 fee), a two-hour architectural walking tour of historic downtown Guilford on Sunday, Aug. 4 (leaves from Hyland House at 10 a.m., $10), and an Saturday, Aug. 24 embroidery workshop exploring the delicate embroidery of a Colonial-style sampler (all materials provided, $25). Programs are also planned for September and October. To learn more or to register for programs, visit hylandhouse.org.
“I adore the charm of The Hyland House; it’s such an important part of the fabric of Guilford,” says Linda. “It takes a talented board of hard-working volunteers and a caring community to maintain and preserve such a beautiful historic house and period collection, but it’s worth it!”
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