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Historic homes in Hartford, Connecticut, bring state's past to life

Tea Room Notes - Harriet Beecher Stowe Center - Hartford, CT
Harriet Beecher Stowe Center

77 Forest Street Hartford, CT, 06105 Phone: 860-522-9258

Beecher Stowe’s Victorian-era home hosts educational center

Now a National Historic Landmark and a stop on the Connecticut Freedom Trail, the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center is based in the activist author’s meticulously preserved Victorian Gothic cottage, where she lived for 23 years. Among the center’s collections, which include letters, artifacts, paintings and memorabilia, is the dining room table where she wrote the most famous of her 30 books, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Outside, several Victorian-era gardens reveal Stowe’s interest in flower gardening. Visitors are encouraged by knowledgeable guides to engage in conversation as they tour the home, learning about how Stowe and her family lived, the issues of their time (and ours) and what inspired her. Salon, or parlor, conversations on those issues are held regularly.
kitchne of Webb Deane Stevens Musem-credit-charles Lyle
Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum

211 Main Street Wethersfield, CT, 06109 Phone: 860-529-0612

At the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum visitors are immersed in life of the 18th and 19th centuries. Three restored homes are included in the one-hour tour. The 1752 Joseph Webb House served as George Washington’s headquarters in May 1781; the Silas Deane House, circa 1770, was built for America’s Revolutionary War diplomat to France; the Isaac Stevens House, 1789, depicts the life of a middle class family in the 1820s and '30s. It has a Colonial Revival Garden.
Hours: May 1-October 31, daily, except Tuesdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sundays, 1-4 p.m. April and November weekends only. Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday, 1-4 p.m.
Admission for tour: Adults, $10; seniors over age 60, $9; for students and children age 5-18, $5; families, $25.
Gillette Castle in East Haddam-shutterstock
Gillette Castle State Park and Mansion

67 River Road, off Route 82 East Haddam, CT, 06423 Phone: 860-526-2336

This castle-like mansion was the eccentric home of William Gillette, a turn-of-the-century stage actor who was famous for his classic portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. The house is filled with fascinating architectural details and also includes exhibits about Gillette's career and his love of railroads and trains.
Hours: Memorial Day to Labor Day, Thursdays through Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tours of the castle are offered; call for schedule.
Admission: There are no fees for visiting the park grounds; there is a charge for castle tours.
See full description of Gilltte Castle State Park and Mansion
Connecticut Historical Society Museum

1 Elizabeth Street at Asylum Avenue Hartford, CT Phone: 860-236-5621

The society's museum has one of the largest collections of Connecticut furniture, silver, pewter, costumes, graphic materials and tavern signs in existence. A library holds 100,000 manuscripts and nearly 3 million volumes. Events and lectures are scheduled throughout the year. The interactive, multimedia exhibition features five galleries, historic artifacts, and special sound and light effects. Hours: Year-round, Tuesday - Friday, noon- 5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission: Adults, $8; seniors over age 64, $6; college students and youth age 6-17, $4. Information: www.chs.org.
Lock 12 Historical Park

487 North Brooksvale Road (Route 42) Cheshire, CT, 06410 Phone: 203-272-2743

Lock 12 Park is rich with history. Explore the restored section of Farmington Canal, built in the 19th century. Visit the park’s museum to learn more about the Canal and historical structures like the lockkeeper's house and helicoidal (or spiral) bridge.
Hill-Stead Museum

35 Mountain Road Farmington, CT, 06032 Phone: 860-677-4787

National Historic Landmark. Colonial Revival style house (1901) set on 150 acres with sunken garden. Collection of French Impressionist paintings, decorative arts and original furnishings. Hour-long guided tours begin every half-hour. Last tour of the day begins one hour before closing. Admission to Hill-Stead Museum is by GUIDED TOUR ONLY except the first Sunday of every month and certain other designated special occasions. Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Grounds are open daily, 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Free to the public. Admission: Adults, $12; seniors, $10; students, $8; children age 6-12, $5. Information www.hillstead.org/
Ancient Burying Ground

corner of Main and Gold streets Hartford, CT, 06103 Phone: 860-337-1640

The Ancient Burying Ground was the primary burying ground in the city from 1640 until the early 1800s. It contains extraordinary examples from the golden age of Puritan funerary art by dozens of carvers of New England. The oldest gravestone is believed to be for Timothy Stanley, who died in 1648. The property has an African-American memorial, a monument to the first settlers of Hartford, and graves of Revolutionary War veterans. The Ancient Burying Ground is an open-air museum. Due to the extreme fragility of the stones, gravestone rubbings are not permitted. Self-guided walking tour.
Hours: Gates are open year-round, daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Hatheway House

55 South Main Street Suffield, CT, 06078 Phone:

A three-century-old sycamore overhangs this house, built in the 1760s and expanded 1794. The neo-classical house is a window into prosperous life in the 18th century. The house is furnished with eighteenth-century furniture and landscaped with formal flower beds. House includes original French wallpapers. Open for afternoon tours on designated days from May 15 to October 15, or by appointment. Call for schedule. Information: suffield-library.org/localhistory/hatheway.htm
General William Hart House

350 Main Street Old Saybrook, CT, 06475 Phone: 860-388-2622

A Georgian-style Colonial built in 1767, featuring an herb garden and intricate decor. Of particular interest are the eight corner fireplaces. Notice the nine-window facade with 12 over 12 panes, the cornices, cornerboards and graduated clapboards.
Hours: June 12- September 13, Friday - Sunday, 12:30 - 4 p.m. Donation is requested.
Noah Webster House

227 South Main Street West Hartford, CT Phone: 860-521-5362

The Noah Webster House is located in the restored 18th-century birthplace and childhood home of Noah Webster, a teacher, lawyer, early abolitionist, and the creator of the first American dictionary. This national landmark explodes with activities that range from tours, youth programs, and award-winning exhibits to lively nights out, theatrical productions, and more. Tours last 45 minutes and are led by historical interpreters.
Hours: Thursday-Monday, 1-4 p.m.
Admission: Adults, $7; seniors, $5; youth age 6-18 and college students, $4; children age 5 and younger, free.
Information: www.noahwebsterhouse.org
Old State House of Connecticut

800 Main Street Hartford, CT Phone: 860-522-6766

Connecticut's original statehouse is the oldest in the U.S. Many historic events took place here, including the signing of the first written Constitution in the nation, and the Amistad and Prudence Crandall trials. The site contains a the restored, original Senate chamber and a Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington. Free admission.
Hours: Columbus Day to July 4, Monday-Friday; July 4 to Columbus Day weekend, Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (last ticket sold at 4 p.m.)
Admission: Adults, $6; children, $3. Information: ctoldstatehouse.org.