Captured in Time - Living History in Connecticut Last Updated: September 2019

By Stephen Wood
Follow these links to Connecticut's past where history comes alive.

House Hunters

Connecticut has hundreds of historic house museums. All have their own idiosyncratic charms, but of course some stand out above the rest. The Noah Webster House in West Hartford serves as a great primer, but the early dictionary creator’s home is just one of many gems.

In Ridgefield, Keeler Tavern transports visitors through three centuries of history. From the British cannonball lodged in its wall during the Revolutionary War up through famed architect Cass Gilbert’s ingenious additions to the building, it’s tough to find a place with as varied and important a history as the Keeler Tavern.

Other unique buildings include Gillette Castle, the striking castle that rises high above the Connecticut River in East Haddam. Built for the slightly eccentric actor William Gillette, the building itself holds many secrets for you to discover.

If eccentricity is your thing, you’ll love Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan. The town, a hotbed of mid-century modern design, has embraced its most esteemed structure. A tour will surprise, as there are 13 structures on the property—each one as unique as the last. Many of them contain world-class art collections.

On the other end of the spectrum is Roseland Cottage in Woodstock. This shockingly pink Gothic Revival mansion and gardens add a spark to the Quiet Corner of the state. The interior is just as fanciful, retaining the principles of Andrew Jackson Downing, a prominent 19th-century tastemaker.

Another Quiet Corner resident who made a not-so-quiet mark on American history was Prudence Crandall, Connecticut’s State Heroine. Her house in Canterbury served as a school for African Americans at a time when such things were not looked on kindly. As important as she was heroic, Crandall’s former home is now
a museum.

The Lockwood-Matthews Mansion in Norwalk embodies Victorian beauty as much as any other surviving building in America. In the 1860s, it was more technologically advanced than the White House. Visitors can get lost in this museum—both metaphorically and in reality.

The Henry Whitfield House in Guilford is small, cozy and modest, exactly what you’d expect from Connecticut’s oldest surviving house. Built in 1639, it’s nearly 400 years of history pour out of every nook and cranny.