Person of the Week
Megan Stine: Preserving and Protecting Clinton’s History
Soon after moving to Clinton, Megan Stine joined the Clinton Historical Society and has been helping preserve the town’s—and her family’s—history ever since. (Photo courtesy of Megan Stine )
Even though her original hometown in Ohio was a long ways away from Clinton, you can still say Clinton history has always been in Megan Stine’s blood.
“The house I live in was my great uncle’s house, George Flynn,” Megan says during a recent chat.
George Flynn is a name that may ring some bells for many Clinton residents. Flynn was a lover of the arts and after he passed away, his bequest was used to establish a trust that pays for classical concerts featuring world-famous musicians to come to Clinton each year.
Megan can recall annual visits to the area when she was young, and they clearly had a lasting impact on her.
“I always knew I wanted to live here. There’s so much family history here,” Megan says.
Megan moved to Clinton permanently in 2006, and not so long after she got a call from the Clinton Historical Society (CHS).
“They reached out to me to see if I wanted to join; they knew the family history,” Megan recalls.
Nearly 15 years later and counting, Megan is still a CHS member.
Megan describes the goal of CHS as “To preserve documentation and to advocate for the preservation of Clinton’s historical building and artifacts to learn about Clinton’s past.” During her time at CHS Megan has worked in several roles from newsletter editor to a curator at Old Brick (a historical home in Clinton originally built in the 1700s) to stints as vice president and president. Currently she runs the CHS Facebook page and works on publicity for the society.
Megan points to the 350th celebration that Clinton held in 2013 to celebrate the town’s founding as a favorite event.
“It was a big event where people came from all over. It was massive,” she says. “The events at CHS were organized by Treasurer Bion Shepard and featured iron workers, sheep shearers, and basket weavers to commemorate some of the activities Clinton’s forefathers would have participated in...It was just a wonderful celebration for the whole town,” Megan says.
Another activity of which Megan is particularly fond is the annual visits school children make to CHS facilities learn about Clinton’s past, as well as the times that older visitors come.
“The older generation really connects with photos of the past,” Megan says. “It prompts memories.”
Six years ago, one of Clinton’s treasured historical institutions, the Stanton House, was almost lost. Instead the CHS stepped up to make sure that didn’t happen.
“One of our biggest achievements was talking over that house,” Megan says.
Originally built in 1791 and since turned into a museum, the trust that was formed to fund the museum was running out of money. Strict rules associated with the trust prevented fundraising efforts that were needed to fund improvements to the house.
To protect the house, Megan and the CHS came up with an idea: The CHS pledged to donate $5,000 a year for three years and help the Stanton House become a registered 501(c)(3) organization. The process was completed in March.
“There was a real chance it would be out of money and be sold and end up not being a museum. We felt an obligation to keep it,” Megan says.
Megan’s first role with the CHS was editing the newsletter of the organization. That was a fitting role, because Megan is an accomplished writer by profession. Megan is the author of more than 150 children’s books both fiction and nonfiction. Her most famous works include the “Who is” and “Where is” series that teach children about historical figures and places on such varied topics as Queen Elizabeth II, the Congo, and Richard Nixon.
“I sort of fell into it. I’ve been doing it for more than 40 years,” Megan says.
Megan says that her favorite book is Where is the Brooklyn Bridge?
“It’s just has a fabulous story on the builders,” Megan states.
In her spare time, Megan can be found doing photography, reading, gardening, and, to pass the time during the coronavirus pandemic, “so much cooking!” Megan and her husband Bill are particularly fans of Clinton’s “proximity to the shoreline and New England charm.”
“I have a long history in town even though I didn’t live here until 2006,” Megan notes.