Thankful Arnold House
The Thankful Arnold house is an historical home that was built in stages from 1774 to 1810. It was originally owned by Joseph Arnold and his wife Thankful, and was passed on through their family for more than a century. The house remained generally unchanged and was not modernized much at all, thus effectively preserving the history within it. In 1963, the estate was purchased by Joseph and Thankful's great-great grandson, Isaac Arnold, who then funded a project to refurbish it for the Haddam Historical Society. Through this society, the house is now historically preserved and can even be toured.
Backstory and Context
The Thankful Arnold House was built in the late 18th century and still stands today, making it evidently a very historical part of the town of Haddam, Connecticut. It is named after a woman of the Arnold family, Thankful Arnold, who moved into the house with her husband Joseph in 1797. When they first purchased it, the house was not entirely complete as it can be seen today; as time went on and as the Arnold family developed more financial security, they were able to renovate and add to the house. These additions were completed in 1810, by which time the couple had six children; it is this stage of the building that persists as the house that can be seen and toured to this day.
In 1823, Joseph Arnold passed away, thus leaving the widowed Thankful with the house. Due to the sudden nature of Joseph’s death, there was a threat of the estate being liquidated; however, this was prevented due to protections for widows. This therefore allowed Thankful to keep one third of the house, but put the rest of the house up for sale. Her brother-in-law Samuel purchased the rest of the house, thus allowing for a trick way of keeping the estate entirely in the family. From then on, the house was passed down to Thankful’s daughter Nancy and beyond that to other descendants of the Arnold family.
This inheriting of the house went on for about a century until 1963, when Thankful and Joseph’s great-great grandson, Isaac Arnold, purchased the house and funded its renovation for the Haddam Historical Society. It is now preserved as an historical site and is an ever-present part of the town’s legacy. Many local schools bring children to tour the house, often annually, to provide a sense of historical roots at home.
Having such a strong and everlasting place of history and inheritance in such a small town really allows the members of the surrounding community to feel as though their home town has been a true place in the world for much longer than might initially be imagined. For children especially, having an historical site in town and visiting it often provides a stronger and greater sense of place within their community and even eventually goes on to help them realize their place in the world. Because of these components, the Thankful Arnold House is a great site of history, even though it may not have any extreme impact on the grand scheme of historical progress in the world. It is important to its small town, and thus is worth noticing and preserving.