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Rare opportunity to see inside the 19th-century carriage house at Dorchester Historical Society

The 19th-century carriage house built by the Clapp family, one of the original settlers of Dorchester in 1630, is the site of the centerpiece event at this year’s Dorchester Descendants Celebration, this Friday and Saturday. The Dorchester Historical Society presents the National Black Doll Museum (NBDM) at 1 and 3:15 p.m. on Saturday inside the carriage house at the Clapp estate, 195 Boston St. NBDM representatives will give a brief talk about the history of dolls, and conduct a hands-on workshop for boys, girls, and adults who can create their own action figure or doll.

Preceding the NBDM, Patty Violette, executive director of the Shirley Eustis House in Roxbury, will give a lecture on midwifery at 10 a.m. in the William Clapp House (1804).

Violette’s talk will be followed at 11:30 a.m. by a walk from the James Blake House to the Dorchester Old North Cemetery in Uphams Corner, one of the oldest burial grounds in the city. To see the cemetery is also a rare treat, since its gates are always locked.
All DHS properties will be open to the public for tours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, including the James Blake House (1661) at 735 Columbia Road, and the Captain Lemuel Clap House (1765) at 199 Boston St. The Lem, as it is affectionately referred to, houses a new exhibit of Dorchester postcards. Curated by historical society president Earl Taylor and constructed by vice-president Paul Delorey, the exhibit is an outgrowth of Taylor’s wildly popular Dorchester Illustration of the Day e-mail series. A small portion of the collection, which comprises hundreds of cards depicting images of Dorchester buildings and locations, will be on display. Those who receive the daily e-mail from the series will be delighted to see some of the cards up-close and personal.

Also at the Lem, the very popular needlepoint exhibit has been relocated to a more intimate space on the second floor. Visitors can stand within inches of hand-stitched samplers wrought by Dorchester daughters from the 18th and 19th centuries to gain a renewed appreciation for the richness of detail in each textile.

And last, but most certainly not least, the Clapp Family barn will be open for tours. What makes this extra-special are the new doors that were built only weeks ago as part of the ongoing effort to restore the barn. Paul Delorey, who assisted cabinet and carpentry expert Dan Luker, will be on hand to talk about the restoration efforts in general, and the new doors in particular. Those who have donated to the cause should not miss this opportunity to see the substantial progress that has been made on the structure.

The historical society is holding a free kick-off reception tomorrow from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Commonwealth Museum on Columbia Point. The public is cordially invited to attend.

There is limited seating for both sessions by the National Black Doll Museum, and children must be accompanied by an adult. Register at dhsdolls.eventbrite.com.

For more information about Dorchester Descendants Celebration 2013, go to dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org.