Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Wethersfield Historical Society Pays It's Rent In Onions

Wethersfield Historical Society Pays Its Rent — In Onions

September 18, 2012|By CHRISTOPHER HOFFMAN, Special to the Courant, The Hartford Courant
WETHERSFIELD — — The rent will make you want to cry.

The Wethersfield Historical Society paid the town council its annual fee this week for the use of the historic Cove Warehouse on Wethersfield Cove: a rope of red onions.
Historical society Director Amy Wittorff presented Mayor Donna H. Hemmann with the braided dark red globes Monday night.

"We'll make sure that these are put to good use," Hemmann said. "In the past, we've donated them to the food pantry."

Wittorff said that the practice of paying red onions to rent the warehouse, which sits at the center of the town seal, stretches back decades. Three years ago, the society and the town signed a new lease renewing the red onion rent for another 50 years, she said.

"It's a cute, quaint little tradition," Wittorff said.

The society and town use red onions because of the central role they played in Wethersfield history, Wittorff said. They were grown as a cash crop in the early 19th century and shipped from the cove warehouse to the West Indies, she said.

Red onions are still grown in Wethersfield, as were the ones presented to the town. They are also sometimes used as a symbol of the town.

"Red onions are our bread and butter," said Candace Holmes, president of the historical society's governing board.

The warehouse's rent was due in June, but scheduling conflicts delayed payment until this week, Wittorff said.

The town demanded no extra onions in interest and penalties.

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