The Keep Homestead Museum
When Myra Keep Lovell Moulton died in 1988, the last of a long line of Keeps in Monson, MA, she willed her property, its contents, and an endowment fund to the town with two stipulations:
“It must be opened to the public on one day during the first year after acceptance of the property.”
“It must be named The Keep Homestead Museum.”
In 1990, the Town of Monson opened the doors of the Keep Homestead Museum to share her family story, local history, and button collection, considered one of the largest in the U.S., with the public.
Myra’s family home, built around 1749 (the ell on the left side of the house) and purchased by her grandfather in 1854, sits atop a hill overlooking the town, with a view from the front lawn considerably improved as a result of a tornado that swept through Monson in 2011.
Each public room in the Keep Homestead Museum is staged with well-preserved family heirlooms, Myra’s personal effects, generations of household tools and period furniture to represent and recreate the history of the house and its generations of Keep Family descendants, and to showcase Myra’s interests, personal possessions, and extensive collection of buttons, Norman Rockwell plates, and rocks and shells acquired over a lifetime by Myra and her father, Charles Chapin Keep.
Myra was an avid collector of many things as evidenced by what is seen and on display, what is not, and what we are told has yet to be unearthed. Her interest in buttons in particular can be traced back to the 1940s when she became a member of the Monson Button Club. Myra went on to acquire Colonial, Golden Age, Antique and Vintage Mosaic, Uniform, Political, Mother of Pearl, Sterling Silver, and every other form of buttons that ever existed from around the world, and displayed them at the Massachusetts Society of Button Collectors and the National Button Society’s conventions, where her cards of buttons often won ribbons. Button collecting, and her passion for needlework, was something she continued to share with especially young people after her retirement as a local school teacher, opening her home to instruct them in arts and crafts, especially needlework.
Myra’s home, personal possessions, and beloved collections are being lovingly preserved, curated, and showcased by a small but dedicated group of volunteers, many who personally knew Myra and her family. The Keep Homestead Museum, located on 35 Ely Road in Monson, MA, is open the first Sunday of each month from 1-3:30pm from early April to December. For more information, go to keephomesteadmuseum.org.