Connecticut's Historic Gardens Driving Tour
Formed in 2004, Connecticut's Historic Gardens hopes to bring recognition to various historic gardens and historic homes throughout the state.
Roseland Cottage was originally built in 1846 as the summer home of Henry Chandler Bowen and is now open to the public as a museum. Bowen had been a successful merchant in New York and during his time in New England, he supported the abolition of slavery and the formation of the Republican Party. Bowen was a Congregationalist and teetotaler, but his opposition to alcohol did not prevent him from hosting social events such as his famous Fourth of July parties that occurred at this mansion and included guests such as President Ulysses S. Grant. The house was built in the Gothic Revival style and the grounds were designed based on the work of influential horticulturalist Andrew Jackson Denning.
The Phelps-Hatheway House is a unique museum offering visitors a chance to engage with the lives and misfortunes of two former owners, Shem Burbank and Oliver Phelps. Burbank and Phelps both lived in the area and this house around the same time, but due to their views on the American Revolution, they experienced life very differently. The museum houses a range of eighteenth-century antiques, while the grounds are home to one of Connecticut's Historic Gardens.
This National Historic Landmark was the home of Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, for the last 23 years of her life. The house is part of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center which preserves the house and center's collections. The research library includes letters and documents from the family. The house includes original items from the family. In addition to the Stowe House, the historic site includes an 1873 carriage house (the visitor's center) and the Katharine Seymour Day House (1884).
Built in 1782, the Butler-McCook House is the last eighteenth-century home remaining on Hartford's Main Street. The historic home's exterior looks very similar to its original design. The Butlers and McCooks documented the growth of Main Street from the days of the American Revolution until the mid-twentieth century. The historic home operates as a museum and is available for tours by advance reservation.
Operated by the National Society of The Colonial Dames, the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum is a complex consisting of several historical homes and buildings available to tour. The Joseph Webb House, The Silas Deane House, and The Isaac Stevens House are the main attractions, but the complex is also home to the Buttolph-Williams House, The Webb Barn, and a Colonial Revival-style garden which is listed as one of Connecticut's Historic Gardens.
This Colonial Revival house was designed by Theodate Pope Riddle (1867-1946), one of the earliest registered female architects in the United States. Hill-Stead is now a museum offering visitors insight into life on an early 20th-century country estate. It retains many original furnishings and works of art, including pieces by Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, James M. Whistler, and Mary Cassatt.
The Stanley-Whitman House, located in the historic village of Farmington, was likely built around 1720, although it was originally thought to have been built circa 1660 because of its overhang construction. It is a National Historic Landmark and operates today as a house museum furnished with period antiques to reflect the everyday activities of colonial life in Connecticut. Surrounding the house are period raised-bed gardens, an apple orchard, and heritage stone walls. The house has been owned by farmers, a weaver, a shoemaker, and a justice of the peace. Descendants of the Whitman family inhabited the house until 1922. The museum also manages Memento Mori, Farmington’s historic cemetery on Main Street, and the Village Green. The public service areas of the museum, constructed in 2004, include a modern classroom, a period tavern room, post-and-beam Welcome Center, research library, exhibit gallery, and collection storage area. Digital projects include "Digital Farmington," a blog and map that highlight the history of the Farmington Valley, and "The History of Captive People," a project that documents the history of enslavement and bondage in Farmington.
Built around 1740, The Glebe House was home to Reverend John Rutgers Marshall and his family between 1771 to 1786. Marshall was one of the first Anglican ministers in the area. After the Revolutionary War, a group of Anglicans met at the Glebe House and voted Rev. Dr. Samuel Seabury as their representative, going to London to argue before Parliament in order to become the first Bishop in the new country. Today the house serves as a museum and is home to the Gertrude Jekyll Garden.
Spread across 68 acres, the Weir Farm National Historic Site honors the life and legacy of leading impressionist painter Julian Alden Weir (1852-1919) and other artists who created art here between 1882 and 1919. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990, the farm is the only historical site managed by the National Park Service dedicated to American Impressionist painting. The site features hiking trails and 16 buildings—the Weir House and other homes, studios, and other structures. NPS rangers give free guided tours of the site from May to October (visitors can take self-guided tours as well). Original works of art are displayed throughout the site and the visitor center gallery features changing exhibits throughout the year.
The Osborne Homestead Museum celebrates the life of Frances Osborne Kellogg, an accomplished businesswoman and conservationist who was dedicated to preserving land for future generations. The house itself was originally built in 1840. The Osbornes moved into the home around 1870, and after her father's death, Frances Osborne inherited the home. Upon her death, Frances Osborne Kellogg deeded her 350 acres to the state for use as a state park. The property, adjacent to Osbornedale State Park, now houses both the Osborne Homestead Museum and the Kellogg Environmental Center, which offers workshops, exhibits, nature activities, and lectures for the general public.
The Florence Griswold Museum is an art museum in Old Lyme, Connecticut centered around the family home of Florence Griswold. The home was used as a boardinghouse and in 1899 welcomed artist Henry Ward Ranger. Griswold's home soon blossomed into the most famous Impressionist artists' colony in the country. The Lyme Art Colony flourished for over thirty years.
Harkness Memorial State Park was once a large estate owned by wealthy philanthropists Edward and Mary Harkness. Its centerpiece is their large mansion called Eolia, which features 42 rooms and formal gardens. Named after the island home of the Greek god of winds, it was constructed in 1907 in the Classical Revival style and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. Edward and Mary lived here during the summer and operated it as a working farm. Visitors can tour the mansion, stroll in the gardens, go fishing, have picknicks, and walk on the various paths in the park. A portion of the park is a natural preserve area. For those interested, the mansion is available to rent for weddings and other events.
The Thankful Arnold House is a 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.