When Molly Towne and her husband moved to from upstate New York to Hartford in 2010, she knew she needed to find a community. Molly, who was pregnant with her first child at the time, had left a job as a school administrator and knew she wanted to meet people and learn more about Hartford.

She joined the Junior League of Hartford new member group, which she credits with teaching her all about Hartford. Molly later sat on the board as the treasurer, became the president elect, and then president. She currently co-chairs the Junior League of Hartford Show House with Whitney Sweeney.

Over the years, the semi-annual fundraising event raised more than $1.6 million to support charitable projects and programs in the Greater Hartford community. MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price spoke with Molly to learn more.

NAN PRICE: Tell us a little about the Junior League of Hartford Show House and how it creates opportunities for local entrepreneurs and innovators.

MOLLY TOWNE: We host the show house every three years—we had a skip a year due to the pandemic. This is a volunteer organization and this entire show house is run by volunteers.

With the show house, we invite local designers to take over a room in a house and design it however they would like. The designers love the concept because they’re usually working for a client, so they can get creative and sometimes try something they’ve always wanted to try. It really showcases their work and it brings the community in to see their design.

We also have vendors in the house selling their goods, which provides the opportunity for people to learn about different shops. And this year we created the opportunity for a company to sponsor the show house for the day. It enabled them to showcase who they are with the profits going to the Junior League of Hartford.

Also, for the first time, we hired HERON Brand Design, a branding agency that helped us elevate our experience for the designers. We also have a media sponsor, Connecticut Cottages & Gardens.

NAN: How are you finding the designers and choosing the vendors?

MOLLY: This year, we did things little differently. We didn’t just get Hartford-area designers, we expanded our reach and had designers from Litchfield and Fairfield county and included a design from our honorary co-chair Anthony Baratta, who is from New York City.

We were able to do a lot of this through ideas from HERON Brand Design and contacts from Connecticut Cottages & Gardens. So, that’s been great.

NAN: How many people approximately view the show house?

MOLLY: At the last show house in 2018, there were about 2,700 people. This year for the first time we launched a virtual tour, which brought even more eyes into the show house.

NAN: Other than lifting up local designers and vendors, how else does the show house event impact the local community?

MOLLY: We’re partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hartford, which is our current impact focus. The money generated from this year’s show house goes directly back into impacting the Greater Hartford community.

NAN: What do you enjoy most about your involvement with the Junior League of Hartford Show House?

MOLLY: I love that we were actually able to have a show house this year. The show house committee had a lot stacked against us—the pandemic, a crazy housing market, the loss of the first house—and it turned out amazing with a wonderful house and the backing of a media sponsor. But when all is said and done, I’m most proud of the money we’ve raised for our committee partners.

Learn more about the Junior League of Hartford
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Junior League of Hartford Show House co-chairs Molly Towne (right) and Whitney Sweeney
House exterior courtesy Paul Bickford