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Sharon Cures

Centuries of Medicine in One Small Town

The memorable “Dr. Jo” Evarts will be remembered Saturday, February 16th, at 2PM when the Sharon Historical Society & Museum hosts a free guided tour of its new three-room exhibit entitled, Sharon Cures: Centuries of Medicine in One Small Town.

Following the tour, guests are invited to share recollections of the local legend. Evarts, who practiced in Sharon and surrounding towns from 1929 to 1979, was the first woman physician at Sharon Hospital and a force to be reckoned with throughout the Northwest Corner and Dutchess County NY. She had offices in Kent and Millerton, saw patients at four institutions, worked six days a week, welcomed walk-ins and made house calls well into her 70s.

She was also a strong advocate for patient and family health and championed causes with government in Connecticut and New York. Tributes and anecdotes from her patients and their families are shared in the exhibit.

Evarts was not the only stellar physician to serve the town. Dr. William Coley, now recognized as the father of cancer immunotherapy, was a Sharon resident. His life’s work was preserved by his daughter, Helen Nauts of Sharon, founder of the Cancer Research Institute. Their story is also explored in the exhibit.

Visitors will also learn about founding of the Sharon Clinic in 1947 and the impact that all the clinic doctors had on their patients for decades. Today the medical industry is the largest employer in Sharon but the story of its evolution has never been told before in one place.

The exhibit tells the history of medicine in Sharon, starting in 1738 when the town was founded. Words, images and objects from the 18thh century through today tell the tale of the very first doctors and their methods, including the little-known story of a small pox epidemic in 1784. An 1830s doctor’s ledger detailing his daily calls and patient treatments is on display as are the contents of the 1900 medical bag of Sharon Hospital founder Dr. Jerome Chaffee. Common quack medicines that people used are also exhibited.

The exhibit has been co-curated by Marge Smith and Susan Shepard and was developed using the historical society’s collections, original town documents and with advice from Connecticut medical specialists.

The Sharon Historical Society & Museum is located at 18 Main Street; 860-364-5688 or visit the link below. Regular museum hours are Wednesday through Friday, noon to 4PM, and Saturday, 10AM to 2PM.