SOUTHINGTON – The wartime history of the Clark Bros. Bolt Company is the topic for next week’s History Pints, a Barnes Museum program that takes place at Kinsmen Brewing Company in the historic factory building on Canal Street.
Barnes Museum Curator Christina Volpe, who gives the talks on local history topics, said it gets the museum out into the community and highlights the town’s history in a fun location.
“We have two factory buildings in town, they both have breweries in them,” Volpe said.
The upcoming History Pints will take place on June 7 at 7 p.m. at Kinsmen Brewing Company, 409 Canal St. There’s a $10 suggested donation.
It's the second program held at Kinsmen. Last month, Volpe gave a talk on the original factory building and William Clark, one of the business’ founders caught up in the gold rush but unable to find his fortune in California. Clark later opened a mine in Montana, which is now in ruins but still there.
Volpe said the talk drew about 80 people. A previous program was held at Factory Square on Center Street, a former factory and now home to a host of businesses including Witchdoctor Brewing Company. She’s glad for the opportunity to bring historical knowledge to other locations in town.
“It’s definitely the idea of how to connect the history of the Barnes Museum out to the community,” Volpe said. “We want to highlight that.”
The Clark Brothers’ business produced 300,000 bolts a day for Navy ships during World War II, Volpe said. She’ll be talking about the company’s work during both world wars next week.Clark Hall
Kinsmen Brewing opened in the Clark Brothers building in 2017 and the industrial aesthetic of the former factory is important to its image, according to Chris Carvalho, the brewery’s events and social outreach coordinator.
“So many people come to our brewery and comment on the space and the location. This is something we want to highlight so (History Pints) is a great way to do it,” Carvalho said.
One of the brewery’s owners Bruce Staebler is also the building owner. He’s keenly interested in preserving the building’s history and has gathered artifacts from the Clark Brothers company from the building and elsewhere.
“Staff knows to buy that stuff up” at local flea markets and tag sales, Carvalho said.
Between Staebler’s collection and items brought by Volpe, Carvalho said there was a good display at the previous History Pints.
Many locals have strong connection to the former bolt factory, even if it’s a few generations removed.
“There’s a lot of history in the building,” “There are people who still come in who say, ‘I worked here or my grandparents worked here,’” Carvalho said. “There’s a lot of local love for that building.”Preserving local history
The Barnes Museum falls under the Southington Public Library. Tina Riccio, library board chairwoman, said she was impressed with Volpe’s efforts as museum curator in bringing history to local residents.
“I think Christina is amazing. When someone has passion for what they do, it’s contagious. She has a passion for Southington’s history and history in general,” Riccio said.
Volpe became curator in 2021, following long-time museum curator Marie Secondo.
Riccio attended the previous talk at Kinsmen Brewing and said Volpe had an engaging and interesting way of presenting local history.
“She brings history to life. You want to listen to her, you want to hear the stories,” Riccio said. “I’m not sure if anybody could pull this off. Christina can. She pulls you in, she engages you… She takes these historical people and brings them to life and makes them relevant to today.”
In addition to events like History Pints, Volpe said she wants more residents to use the Barnes Museum grounds and has a movie showing scheduled for June 17 to encourage that. The museum recently had more benches installed at its 85 N. Main St. location.
“This is a micropark in town. We want people to come and hang out here and we’ve been seeing it, which has been awesome,” Volpe said.