The Charlote L. Evarts Memorial Archives will be having an open house Sunday, March 27 at 1 p.m. in the lower level of Memorial Town Hall on Meetinghouse Lane.
So, who is Charlotte Evarts and why is an archive named after her?
The Charlotte L. Evarts Memorial Archives (CLEMA) is a historical depository where you can find documents, maps, photography and other such pertinent information detailing Madison's recent and past history.
Named after Madison’s first town historian, Charlotte Evarts was appointed to that post in 1988. She was born in 1923 On December 15 and she lived in Madison all her life.
Mother's passion for history trickles down to the daughter
During Charlotte’s life, her mother’s passion for Madison’s history trickled down to Charlotte herself and she kept the town’s historical record growing on a daily basis. An avid photographer, Charlotte could be seen out with one of her many cameras quite regularly, photographing the town, keeping track of changes as they occurred.
She devoted much of her time to the town, volunteering on many boards including more than twenty years on the Madison Board of Education as well as The Deacon John Grave Foundation, to name just two.
She was employed by Connecticut Light & Power for forty- five years. Once Charlotte retired, she devoted her free time to discovering more about her hometown of Madison, Connecticut. For that reason, it is no wonder that in 1988 she was honored for her work and appointed as Madison's first town historian, by then First Selectman Gus Horvath.
Now you can certainly understand why Madison Connecticut’s Archive depository is named after her. She was an integral part of Madison and she should be so honored.
Archives entirely run by volunteers
In February 2010, I joined CLEMA’s board of directors having been nominated by Carol Blackwood a member of the board for some time. Founded in 1995, after Charlotte Evarts passed the year before, CLEMA was formed to honor Charlotte’s memory. Charlotte L. Evarts Memorial Archives has developed a solid group of volunteers and is completely volunteer run. CLEMA’s first and only home has been Memorial Hall. For the first 15 years, CLEMA’s office, reading room and vault were found on the main floor.
In March 2010, the town informed CLEMA of the need to move to the lower floor to make room for the combined Guilford and Madison Probate Court. Volunteers and Board Members set about the arduous task of carefully removing the Archive’s contents to the lower level once everything was set up downstairs.
To see photos of the move in progress you can see CLEMA'S Facebook photos here, CLEMA move phase one, and here, phase two. The vault in the basement had to be restored. To preserve the collection, certain environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity had to met.
Dehumidifiers were brought in to remove some of the moisture. Walls had to be built and painted. Shelving for all the contents had to be constructed and placed in the vault. Finally all the contents had to be placed there.
More than 800 boxes of information
Over 800 boxes of data are stored at CLEMA and the information is available via a computer database. Individual pages from the database are available for print out. There is a collection of photographs available as well as other information for anyone to use at the Archives.
Before I joined, I had no idea how much information was on hand at CLEMA. Unlike The Madison Historical Society located on Boston Post Road just up the street from Scranton Library, CLEMA has very few artifacts. CLEMA is a repository of archival materials. I’m a huge history aficionado, having minored in history at Southern Connecticut State University when I attended in the 1990’s, so joining CLEMA was an excellent opportunity.
Should you want to visit CLEMA here is the info you’ll need:
- Hours: Friday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesday 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. and by appointment. Please call 203 245 5667 or email the archives at firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Archives is located on the lower floor of Memorial Hall at 8 Meetinghouse Lane on the eastern edge of the Madison Green. It is in close proximity to the First Congregational Church and Route One. There is an elevator for handicapped access. A map is available.
Thanks to Nancy Bastian, CLEMA’s archivist and Pam Landon, CLEMA’s Pesident for helping to gather some of the information in this article.