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November 2, 2010 Record Courier editorial…

Nearly 40 years ago, the Kent Historical Society was formed by a small band of public-spirited community residents who realized the importance of safeguarding Kent’s heritage. Their efforts saved the Erie Depot from probable demolition, which would have been a civic tragedy; that landmark’s transformation into the Pufferbelly Restaurant in 1981 was an important turning point in the fortunes of downtown Kent. The society continues to demonstrate its commitment to its mission with its latest project, a formidable undertaking, but one that will ensure that another Kent landmark remains standing for future generations.
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Photo courtesy: Tim and Ruth Trowbridge
The Clapp – Woodward House as it appeared circa 1912
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The 127-year-old Clapp-Woodward House at 237 E. Main St., the home of the Kent Historical Society and Museum, is a Victorian structure that stands out among its neighbors because of the loving restoration efforts of its previous owners. It also represents a direct link to the Kent family because it was built for Harriet Kent Clapp, the daughter of Zenas Kent. Along with the Kent Masonic Center, which was built as the Marvin Kent homestead at around the same time — the early 1880s — the East Main Street structure is believed to be Kent only remaining residence with ties to the community’s leading family.
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The John Woodward family moved into the house in 1911 with their year-old daughter, Josephine, who grew up in the house and lived in it, or in an adjacent home, for almost 100 years. Josephine Woodward Solem, who passed away in 1997, is still fondly remembered by her many Kent friends and provides a modern day link to this historic property.
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Plans call for the transformation of the Clapp-Woodward House into a museum, with space for exhibits, children’s programming, and research areas. It also will be the first permanent home for the society and its archives. A carriage house on the property also will support Kent Historical Society’s expanded programming. Completion of the project will ensure the preservation of a showplace property that might otherwise have been put to a less desirable use, or possibly razed, one that can serve as the catalyst for similar restoration efforts in the neighborhood.
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The detailed carving found in the framing and bannister woodwork as well as the brass fittings throughout the building shows the detailed craftsmanship that went into the construction of this house. The Kent Historical Society is dedicated to preserving this Kent treasure.