Past Exhibitions

Entertainments in Oysterponds

This exhibition looks at some of the entertainments that took place in Oysterponds during a hundred year period from about 1870 to about 1970. The exhibition is far from comprehensive, but does show a deep sense of community in the two somewhat isolated hamlets of East Marion and Orient. The exhibition focuses on just four aspects of leisure activities: social events organized in the late nineteenth century by the Orient Literary Society, concerts in the early years of the last century, amateur theatrical presentations, most of them organized by the Play Shop, and private entertainments at home

The earliest items in the exhibition are invitations to social events and parties organized by the Orient Literary Society. The Literary Society was founded in 1871 “having for its object the providing of entertainment for the public, and in time, the erection of a Town Hall.” The invitations on view are very descriptive of how each event was meant to unfold. The Literary Society in the 1880s was evidently an extremely spirited group of people with no lack of ideas for enterprising or amusing parties. Members are in costume in the photograph taken in front of Poquatuck Hall around 1888.

Once Poquatuck Hall was built (urged on by the Orient Literary Society), it was an excellent venue for concerts, lectures, and theatrical productions. The hall, established as the Poquatuck Lyceum Association, was completed in 1874. In 1920 the local branch of the Junior Order of United American Mechanics acquired the building after which it was mostly referred to as Mechanic’s Hall. It was bought by the OCA in 1962, and has been known ever since as Poquatuck Hall. The programs on view are indicative of the community spirit that kept the people of Oysterponds both involved and entertained in the past and which continues to the present day.

Exhibit Items

In 1932 the Suffolk Times wrote that “a group of young ladies of the Congregational Church have been organized by Mrs. Herbert Morrell [wife of the minister] into a club known as “The Play Shop.” The idea was to present plays, and for decades after – drawing their casts from the whole village – the Play Shop produced a wide variety of plays that were performed at Mechanic’s Hall.

In the days before television, private entertainments were not uncommon, and a hooked tapestry by Gail Horton is representative of one such event. It depicts a Sunday evening musical evening at the home of Martha and Lloyd Terry, when Mr. Terry played a one-stringed instrument called a vio. An example of this unusual type of musical instrument is on view.

This small exhibition complements the exhibition currently on view in the Schoolhouse next door which concerns an entertainment presented at Poquatuck Hall in August of 1949.  That well-documented event seems to have involved nearly the entire community. Fortunately, entertainments of all sorts – particularly musical events – still take place to this day, continuing the traditions that began more than one hundred and forty years ago.

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