GPHS Moorings Newsletters - page 169

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My Work as a Docent
Nancy Pacitto has been a docent with the Grosse Pointe Historical Society for the past two years, though she’s been
involved with the Society for much longer through her work with the Questers. A secondary school teacher of English,
creative writing, and history and former tour guide with Perservation Wayne, Pacitto has been helping out with the Second
Saturdays Pastime events since they began about a year ago.
The Moorings
caught up with her recently to find out about
her work as a docent.
What do you like about being a docent?
The children. Several come back all the time and they’ve become my little friends. I’ve
seen them grow a lot.
One Saturday a particular child named Cailtin said to her mother, “Mom, this was the
best day of my life.” She wants to come back and dress up in period costume some time
and be a reenactor.
Another time I heard two sisters, Brooke and Abigail, who had been making yule logs
and paper dolls with me telling their mother, “Mom, this is a regular. We’re coming here
every single time.”
Sounds like Saturday events at the Provencal-Weir House are great for kids.
I get a lot of positive feed back from the parents. It’s a terrific place for fathers to bring
their children. One time, we had about nine dads participate in the scavenger hunt and
they were really into it—they were like little boys again.
How do you engage the children?
I ask them questions; try to learn from them and in turn they learn from me. I insist on
respect. When I’ve worn my school marm costume from 1900 it’s much easier to get their respect and attention.
They’re really in another era.
Why do you think this work is important?
I hope the people who come will develop a sense of community and a sense of belonging to a place that has a history.
That connection will give them an understanding of the larger picture of history. And a love of history.
I know busy families are trying to fit it in between soccer and other activities. We can give them just enough to get their
attention and get them to come back. Like the little girl who wants to come back to learn about Indians with her Native
American Girl Doll and the little boy who wants to learn about farmers. That is their connection to history. We need to
take that and make it seem relevant to the future. You have to start someplace.
I really think the Provencal-Weir House is changing from being just a historic house to a becoming a home for these
kids and their families. They’ll come all the time. I’m beginning to see it and I’m very proud of it.
Anyone interested in becoming a docent can call the Society at 884-7010.
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From the Archives
The Historical Society has recently acquired nearly 100 digital copies of photos from the Grosse Pointe Academy
archives, showing a fascinating account of the early days of the school, when it was Sacred Heart Academy, more than
100 years ago. The pictures show young students at school and at play on the grounds of the school and in the area.
These photos are available for to view for research or personal interest. Contact the Society at 884-7010.
The pictures below show young women in rowboat by a dock in front of the convent and cows grazing on Kenwood
Road. The nuns owned the property all the way to Ridge Road and this property was used for farming. They sold the
property in 1929 and used the money to build the main school building on Moran Road. Kenwood was the name of the
mother house in Albany, New York, where all the nuns in the New York province (which Grosse Pointe was a part of at
the time) went to become a postulant then a novice, then a nun. The nuns probably named the road after this house.
Nancy Pacitto
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