Swans—a symbol of Silvermine—on the millpond upstream from the Silvermine Tavern.
Discover the rich history of Silvermine during this celebratory presentation, “Silvermine: Celebrating Its Art, History, and Beauty,” by author and CSF Executive Director Samuel A. Schmitt on Wednesday, July 12, 2017 at 6:30 pm at the Norwalk Historical Society in Norwalk, Connecticut.
The building that became known as the Silvermine Tavern has stood at the crossroads of the community for over 200 years. Long thought of as an authentic colonial inn, it was originally around built 1810 as part of a complex of commercial buildings that included mills along the river, a blacksmith shop, and store. The building was transformed into a inn and restaurant less than a century ago, and has served as the community gathering place, landmark, and center of gracious hospitality ever since.
Silvermine, home to Carl Schmitt for over 70 years, is known today for its natural beauty, the Silvermine Guild Arts Center, and the Silvermine Tavern. Few, however, are aware of its rich history. Encompassing sections of New Canaan, Norwalk, and Wilton, Connecticut, Silvermine went from a small mill town during the 18th and 19th centuries to a vibrant artist colony in the early 20th century. Numerous artists, including Carl Schmitt, attracted by the scenery and proximity to the art scene in New York, flocked to the area, using the old mills and barns for their studios.
Carl Schmitt stands proudly outside his new studio on Borglum Road in this photograph from 1919. Local contractor Bill Lyons completed the building at cost for his artist friend. It featured Flemish bond brickwork and a red tile roof outside, and handmade tiles on the floor inside. The single room and loft were heated by a potbelly stove which proved barely adequate when the artist worked late on chilly winter nights. Schmitt sold the building when he moved his family to Europe in the late 1930s. In 2004, after being used as a house and falling into disrepair, the studio was purchased by the Carl Schmitt Foundation, which restored it to its original condition. It now serves as one of the Foundation’s galleries.
These artists formed the Silvermine Group of Artists and later the Silvermine Guild, a haven for art of all kinds. The high quality of the work of the early Silvermine artists compares favorably with the members of the better known colonies in Old Lyme and Cos Cob. On view in the 1835 Town House at Mill Hill, where the lecture will be presented, is a new salon-style art exhibit, “Preserving and Observing: Two Centuries of Norwalk Art,” featuring the works of many Silvermine Guild artists from the early to mid-20th century.
Through dozens of historic photographs the new book Silvermine tells the story of the bucolic hamlet Carl Schmitt called home for over 70 years. CSF director Samuel Schmitt recounts how the picturesque valley, once buzzing with sawmills, was transformed into a cultural hub with the coming of the artists, including Carl Schmitt, who formed the Silvermine Guild in 1922. It’s part of the well-known “Images of America” series from Arcadia Publishing. See a preview and order here from Amazon.com. Your purchase benefits the Carl Schmitt Foundation.
Join us Wednesday, July 12, 2017 at 6:30 pm at Mill Hill Historic Park, located at 2 East Wall Street in Norwalk, Connecticut. Follow signs for parking. Signed copies of Schmitt’s new book Silvermine, will be for sale during the presentation. Admission is $5.00 and tickets can be purchased here or at the door. Light refreshments will be served. This event is sponsored in part by the Norwalk Association of Silvermine Homeowners and the Silvermine Community Association.
We look forward to seeing you there! (Light refreshments will be served.)
In this etching for the cover of a booklet for the Silvermine Guild of Artists, Carl Schmitt pokes gentle fun at the sometimes frenetic pace of social life in the artist colony during the summer season Both artists and patrons relished any excuse for getting together at picnics and other gatherings. At one time Silvermine was as well known for its calendar of theatrical productions and social events as for its art exhibits.