The weather is warming and the snow is thawing. For many, that means a chance to do some exploring again, get great gardening ideas, and finally make some much needed plans with friends that don’t involve snow. A great way to do a bit of all three and try something new is to visit a historic home or site. The Greater Hartford region is steeped in New England history and that means lots of historic homes are in the area. Don’t just think of them as homes though. Visiting one can land you in anything from spring garden tours to murder mystery parties or just great intellectual discussions. You really haven’t enjoyed a good home tour until you’ve dressed up in an 18th century waist coat, baked your own hardtack biscuits, or seen the places where some of Americas greatest classics were written.
Check out a list of my personal, area favorites and be sure to sign-up for our 7-day newsletter to get a list of events happening each week in Hartford straight to your inbox.
Whether or not you find that perfect classic gardening idea or catch sight of the first Spring crocus on your tour, tag us on Instagram at #letsgoarts with snapshots of your arts and culture-filled weekend.
When you see [UA] in the heading, it means the organization is supported by the contributions made to the Arts Council’s Annual United Arts Campaign.
CT Landmarks [UA]
Where: 59 Prospect Street, Hartford [CT Landmarks owns 10 other properties located throughout the state.]
The Butler-McCook House & Garden has recorded the evolution of Main Street in Hartford from the American Revolution through the present and was home to four generations of a family who lived saw Hartford transform over this period. CT Landmarks is known for its captivating house tours, lovely historic gardens, history celebrations, and remarkable collections of art and antiques. Visitors to the Hartford site can enjoy regular tours, garden concerts, and even Spring and Summer cocktail hours.
Harriet Beecher Stowe Center [UA]
Where: 77 Forest Street, Hartford
A must-see for literature lovers, this charming, historic gem located in a neighborhood formerly known as Nook Farm, once housed famous 19th century author, Harriet Beecher Stowe. Stowe is best known for the writing the anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, in 1852 which helped change the world. Abolition became possible. Emancipation became law. The Stowe Center is located next door to the Mark Twain House and joint tours of both homes are offered. The Stowe Center’s programs continue Harriet Beecher Stowe’s focus on social justice and provides visitors with discussions about these issues in our world today.
Hill-Stead Museum [UA]
Where: 35 Mountain Road, Farmington
A colonial revival house, designed by one of the country’s first female architects, Theodate Pope Riddle, this home contains a world-class collection of French Impressionist paintings and fine art. You can find everything from Monet to ukiyo-e Japanese woodblock prints. (True story, I once went to Japan looking for a woodblock print copy that I could have seen in right in Farmington!) Visitors can also enjoy other events during the year including poetry festivals and walks along the wooded hiking trails that offer fantastic views.
Mark Twain House & Museum [UA]
Where: 351 Farmington Avenue, Hartford
Another must-see for any lover of literature, this house stands at the edge of Asylum Hill and the West End in the neighborhood formerly known as Nook Farm and was home to Samuel Clemens, the great American writer also known as Mark Twain. Visitors can see the handsome billiard room where Twain wrote his famous books including American literary classics like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Prince and The Pauper, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. The Mark Twain House & Museum is located next door to the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center and joint tours of both historic homes are offered.
Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society [UA]
Where: 351 Farmington Avenue, Hartford
This home is the birthplace of Noah Webster, the man who wrote An American Dictionary of the English Language also known as Webster’s Dictionary. Visitors can explore how one man’s vision impacted American culture and national identity. Tablet tours allow a multimedia experience that allows you to really explore the museum in a way Noah Webster would never have even dreamed. There’s even a hands-on discovery space that is equally geared for kids and adults.
Where: 37 High Street, Farmington
At the Stanley-Whitman House visitors are invited to explore Colonial New England and experience life as the early settlers lived it. Providing a view into colonial Farmington in the 1720s, this historic house museum allows you to touch and examine the objects of everyday life through their galleries and programs.
Where: 150 Main Street, Wethersfield
The Webb-Dean-Stevens Museum offers year-round programs using four 18th-century houses and Historic Wethersfield as a learning classroom for visitors. The museum also hosts number of annual events to entertain, educate and enlighten visitors including historical reenactments complete with Revolutionary War battles.
Wethersfield Historical Society [UA]
Where: 211 Main Street, Wethersfield
Committed to preserving the meadows and houses in Connecticut’s largest historic district, the Wethersfield Historical Society allows visitors to discover the crossroads of CT. Visitors can explore Wethersfield’s First Church, built in 1635, the ancient burying ground, and the Wethersfield Cove. The Lantern Light Tours held by the organization allow for some quiet night-time exploration and a whole new way to connect with history.
Windsor Historical Society [UA]
Where: 96 Palisado Avenue, Windsor
Take a guided tour and step into Windsor’s past as you walk the Palisado Green and cross the threshold into their two historic homes. History truly comes alive on the new tours at the Strong-Howard House where costumed actors portraying the historic couple, Captain and Mrs. Howard, welcome you into their newly renovated historic house where you CAN touch everything! You can even try on selected costume pieces and sit on the furniture!