Please join us for a presentation and Q & A with local author Stuart Vyse and his book, Stonington’s Steamboat Hotel. Many local people are familiar with Otto Seidner of Westerly, who ran a number of delicatessens and manufactured Seidner’s Mayonnaise, which was marketed nationwide. But the Seidner family first came to this area when Otto’s father, Jacob Seidner, opened a tailor shop in Stonington Borough, which for a time was located in Stonington’s Steamboat Hotel. In this presentation, local author Stuart Vyse, who recently published a book on the hotel, will give an account of three generations of the Seidner family, focusing on their lives in Westerly and Stonington. The presentation will include many photographs and other materials drawn from the Westerly Library and Wilcox Park Seidner collection. Copies of Vyse’s book, Stonington’s Steamboat Hotel, which includes a chapter on the Seidner family, will be available for sale and signing.

About the book:

Stonington's Steamboat Hotel Book Cover Image

From 1837 to 1900, the tiny borough of Stonington, Connecticut, was a major transportation hub on the route between New York and Boston. Steamboats leaving Manhattan followed Long Island Sound to Stonington Harbor, where passengers boarded trains for the rest of the journey to Providence or Boston. Stonington’s Steamboat Hotel, built in 1838 near the piers and railroad yard, was home to saloons, restaurants, a pool hall, a cigar shop, a tailor and a barber shop. Merchants, hotel keepers and saloon workers passed through the building, each with their own unique story. Many of them were immigrants or first-generation Americans, and they are a window on a late nineteenth-century class of merchants and service workers. Join local author Stuart Vyse as he reveals a lively portrait of remarkable harmony in a small village that was far more diverse than it is today.

About Stuart Vyse:

Stuart Vyse is a psychologist and writer. He is the author of Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition (Oxford, 2014), which won the William James Book Award of the American Psychological Association; Going Broke: Why Americans (Still) Can’t Hold On to Their Money (Oxford 2018); Superstition: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2020); and, most recently, The Uses of Delusion: Why It’s Not Always Rational to Be Rational (Oxford, 2022). He has lived in Stonington, Connecticut, for more than twenty years. All author proceeds from this book will be donated to the Stonington Historical Society (