Regan Miner a 'rising star' in promoting Norwich history

Norwich — For the past several years, Regan Miner has been making Norwich history come alive for residents and visitors, creating walking tours and leading guided walks, working on efforts to restore two 18th century schoolhouses, and turning one of them into a visitors center.

Earlier this month, Miner, 26, was named recipient of the Mimi Findlay Award for Young Preservationists by the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, her second statewide award. In 2016, she received the Governor’s Tourism Award for Rising Stars. And that came a few months after she was named one of the “40 Under 40” award recipients by a consortium of chambers of commerce in the region, honoring people who “consistently demonstrate excellence in their profession.”

The City Council added an official proclamation congratulating and thanking Miner “for her hard work and dedication on behalf of the City of Norwich.”

All this before Miner has even completed her studies to earn her master’s degree in public history, a specialty in interpreting history for the public. She is working on her thesis this weekend, and is on track to graduate from Central Connecticut State University in May. The 2010 Norwich Free Academy graduate earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Connecticut.

“I love the city of Norwich, and promoting its heritage is something I’m really passionate about,” Miner said. “It’s a privilege to receive the award, and I am humbled the city honored me with a proclamation.”

Miner is working as a grant-funded historical consultant for the city of Norwich on a project to create a heritage park at the historic Uncas Leap area on the Yantic River. She also works as a historical consultant for the nonprofit Norwich Historical Society, where she writes grant applications to fund projects, including the restoration of the city-owned East District Schoolhouse in Norwichtown and the Daniel Lathrop Schoolhouse on the Norwichtown Green.

The Lathrop Schoolhouse is now the Norwich Heritage Regional Visitors Center, staffed with volunteers coordinated by Miner and filled with exhibits and an eight-panel overview of Norwich history. Norwich Historical Society President William Champagne credited Miner’s work for completion of the “Discover Norwich” panels.

“What’s exciting to me is a number of us have known that Norwich has great historic resources, but finally Regan is bringing them to light for everyone,” Champagne said.

He cited her work on the Benedict Arnold walking tour in Norwichtown, the Uncas Leap walking tour, the visitor’s center and its exhibits.

“The Discover Norwich panels,” Champagne said. “We, the volunteers, struggled to put that together in eight years, and she did it in one year.”

The walking tours consist of physical brochures people can carry, street signs marking the way and interactive online components people can call up on smartphones to guide them.

Miner currently is working on two new walking tours, one on Norwich’s portion of the Freedom Trail recognizing key sites in African-American history and one on the so-called “Millionaires’ Triangle,” showcasing the homes of industrial and financial moguls in the Broadway-Washington Street areas.

She also is working on the Historical Society’s William B. Stanley lecture series in fall, Norwich’s many events for the annual Last Green Valley Walktober walking tours and the Sept. 30 Norwichtown History Day on the Norwichtown Green.

Separate from her consultant work, funded through grants that she mostly writes, Miner is a volunteer walk leader and vice chairwoman of the city’s Historic District Commission, which oversees two local historic districts. She also is a board member on the Society of the Founders, which oversees the Leffingwell House Museum.

Miner grew up in Norwich, daughter of Ron and Polly Miner, and still lives in the Norwichtown area. She attended the John M. Moriarty School and Kelly Middle School before attending Norwich Free Academy.

Asked to name her favorite period in Norwich history, Miner didn’t hesitate:

“Hands down, I love the colonial period,” Miner said, before adding, “I love everything about Norwich history. Every era is fascinating.”

c.bessette@theday.com

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