Historic Homes & Gardens You Need to Tour Last Updated: August 2023
Old houses have treasures to find and secrets to uncover, and in Connecticut, there are over four centuries of homes to explore. Some were home to well-known historic figures, like Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Others were built by individuals who became larger than life, such as actor William Gillette’s “castle” on the Connecticut River and dictionary namesake Noah Webster’s West Hartford birthplace. Still others house amazing art collections or are surrounded by lush, expertly-tended gardens. You’ll find dozens of these historic houses, many of which are National Historic Landmarks, all over the state—and each has a story to tell.
The Earliest Settlements
When English colonists arrived in the 1630s, they set up settlements throughout the state. Some of these houses still survive today, and are open for tours and educational visits. Most offer detailed glimpses into the lives of the early American colonists, having been documented in carefully preserved journals and family letters.
The Colonial Days
In the 1700s, Connecticut was at the forefront of the new nation’s fight for independence. Nicknamed “the provision state” by General George Washington, Connecticut was the site of several decisive battles during the Revolutionary War. Today, there are homes throughout the state that have a fascinating military heritage, as well as others that blazed new trails in arts and culture.
The Civil War, Industry and the Victorians
During the Civil War, Connecticut once again played a role in provisioning, supplying everything from riddles to brass uniform buttons for the Union army. In this time, several homes in Connecticut played a role in fighting slavery, including sites along the Connecticut Freedom Trail. In the late 1800s, the Victoria era ushered in mansions of beauty and splendor, many of which still stand today as breathtaking reminders of a golden age.
20th Century Works of Art
Artists, and art collections, played a large role in early 20th century Connecticut. From wealthy industrialists looking to build a house for their collections to colonies of artists working and living together to create a distinctly American art form, estates and homesteads took on a distinctive look alongside this greater purpose. Today, many of these homes have been restored to their original, and often very unique glory.
Great Homes with Green Thumbs
It’s not just our historic houses that deserve a tour. Many of Connecticut’s house and estate gardens are the work of famous landscape architects and world renowned garden designers — and are today tended by experts and volunteers alike who are dedicated to sharing these works of art.
Stay for a Spell
Want to sleep in an old house? Check into one of our historic B&BS and Inns, many of which date back to colonial times and offer a cozy and uniquely Connecticut experience.