Connecticut Landmark’s Hempsted Houses and The Writer’s Block, InK will present Freedom Fair on Saturday and Sunday, August 11th and 12th from 1 to 5 pm. Freedom Fair is a two-day event with performances by The Writer’s Block, InK’s “Boys on the Block” entitled Wealth in Skin: Creative Historical Freedom Stories - a montage of poetry, singing, spoken word, and short scenes. The Writers Block, InK will also be debuting previews of their summer production, Breaking Ground, a work which grapples with issues of homelessness, abuse, divorce, and mending broken relationships. Food and novelties will be sold by local vendors throughout the weekend.
Connecticut Landmarks collaborated with the Writers Block, InK to create jobs for teens this summer, including six high school students—Kirshon Augmon, Isaiah General, Noah Jenkins, Ronnie Rogers, Jalen Sampeur, and Derrick Silvan, as well as one college student – David Williams. This summer, these students, known as “The Boys on the Block,” researched the life of enslaved African Adam Jackson, who lived in the Joshua Hempsted House from 1727-1758, as well as the lives of other prominent African American historical figures in the New London area, and the broader history of slavery in Connecticut during the 17th and 18th centuries. The program, supported in part by the Frank Loomis Palmer Fund, focuses on empowering high school students to use writing and performance as tools to address personal and social challenges. The culmination of the research has resulted in an original production entitled Wealth in Skin: Creative Historical Freedom Stories directed by Broadway veteran, Ron Bastine. On August 11th and 12th, this original production will be performed throughout the day during The Freedom Fair - a celebration of community in New London County both yesterday and today. Sunday, August 12th will include a Soul Food Barbeque from 4 to 5 pm.
The Hempsted Houses are located at 11 Hempstead Street in New London and will be open for regular tours from May to October. Hours are as follows: May and June, Saturday & Sunday, 1 – 4 pm; July and August, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 1 – 4 pm; September and October, Saturday & Sunday, 1 – 4 pm. Admission is $7 for adults; $6 for students, teachers, and seniors; $4 for children age 6-18; children under 6 and Connecticut Landmarks members are free. Families (2 adults with unlimited children) are $15, groups of 10 or more are $5 each. For school groups and special curriculum-based programming, please contact the education department at (860) 247-8996 x 14. For groups of 10 or more, please call the Hempsted Houses at (860) 443-7949.
About The Writer’s Block, Ink:The mission of The Writers Block, InK is to arm young voices with the power of pen, poetry and prose, reinforcing teamwork, accountability, and responsibility – igniting social change on the page and the stage. The Writers Block InK was started in 2003 as a 501c3 non-profit organization to encourage youth to use writing and performance as tools to address personal and social challenges on the community stage. Students from The Block create original plays with a strong emphasis on spoken word poetry and have performed on stages across Southeastern Connecticut. Courses are structured to guide students to improve skills in the performing arts including writing, acting, singing and dance, as well as to build self-confidence, leadership, and teamwork. The students conceive of an idea, develop a plot, create characters and evaluate character conflict, then write a final script, cast themselves, market, and ultimately perform their work for the community. The Writers Block, InK's overall purpose is to empower youth to advance key skills through all aspects of the performing arts in order to enhance their lives, communities and the world. For more information go to www.writersblockink.org
About The Hempsted Houses: The 1678 Joshua Hempsted House in New London is one of New England’s oldest and most well documented dwellings. Adjacent to the Joshua Hempsted House is a rare stone house built in 1759 by Nathaniel Hempsted. Both structures survived the 1781 burning of New London and stand today as testaments of 17th and 18th-century daily life. The Hempsted Houses are open from May to October for drop-in visitation and offer youth-based and public programs.
Joshua Hempsted the second was born in 1678 in the house that bears his name. From 1711 until his death in 1758, Joshua kept a diary, which today is one of the best sources about life in colonial New London. Joshua’s diary provides hundreds of pages of valuable information, as well as his insight about early New London people and activities, including the life of enslaved African-American, Adam Jackson. Tours of the Joshua Hempsted House bring to life this diary, engaging visitors with Joshua’s struggle to provide for his family and juggle his many responsibilities.
The stone Nathaniel Hempsted House was constructed for Joshua’s grandson Nathaniel Hempsted. He was a merchant and one of three rope makers in maritime New London.
About Connecticut Landmarks: Founded in 1936 as the Antiquarian & Landmarks Society, Connecticut Landmarks is the largest state-wide heritage museum organization in Connecticut. The historic, landmark properties span four centuries of Connecticut history and include: the Amasa Day House, Moodus; the Amos Bull House, Hartford; the Bellamy-Ferriday House & Garden, Bethlehem; the Butler-McCook House & Garden and Main Street History Center, Hartford; the Buttolph-Williams House, Wethersfield; the Hempsted Houses, New London; the Isham-Terry House, Hartford; the Nathan Hale Homestead, Coventry; the Phelps-Hatheway House & Garden, Suffield.
Connecticut Landmarks’ mission is to inspire interest and encourage learning about the American past by preserving selected historic properties, collections and stories and presenting programs that meaningfully engage the public and our communities. For more information, please visit www.ctlandmarks.org.