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Haddam Historical Society/Thankful Arnold House Arbor project

Built in the early 1970s as part of the Wilhelmina Ann Arnold Barnhart Memorial Garden and repaired several times in the past decade, the grape arbor now needs to be replaced. The new arbor will be both wider and taller so that benches and tables can be set up underneath and will also be partially cantilevered in the front for easier access. The existing granite patio and paths will be repaired and extended to incorporate the area under the new arbor, which will create a safer and more level surface for walking and furniture placement. The garden is now part of Connecticut’s Historic Gardens program and is heavily used throughout the season for Haddam Historical Society events, including a summer camp program, class and scout visits, painting groups, garden tours, social events, etc. This year the society will be celebrating its 60th birthday and the museum will commemorate its golden 50th Anniversary. In order to showcase the house and garden at their best, we are hoping to have the arbor and stonework completed by the end of May 2015.


A local craftsman will design and build the new arbor from locally-grown cedar poles. The arbor will be 30 feet long, 10 feet wide and 8 feet tall. The existing stonework is Haddam granite, which is darker than most granite. In order for the new stone to blend with the original, we will need to find a local source or carefully select individual pieces of granite from a supplier. In addition, the existing fence will be extended to abut the fence on the adjoining property. We will use volunteers to remove the existing arbor, cut back and transplant the grapevines and paint the fence.

Breakdown of costs:

  • $1500 arbor design and build.
  • $500 cedar poles.
  • $1500 digging and setting poles.
  • $8,000 for granite.
  • $7,500 labor for stonework (includes repair and leveling of existing stone walkways, removal of excess materials and debris), plus processed stone, stone dust and joint stabilizing sand.
  • $700 for fence, one additional stone post and installation.

Total: $19,700

Arbor Project Sponsorship


Thankful Arnold House GardensWilhelmina Ann Arnold Barnhart Memorial Garden
Named after a direct descendent of Joseph and Thankful Arnold, the original garden was designed and dedicated in 1973. The garden was given in memory of Wilhelmina Ann Arnold Barnhart by her father Isaac Arnold, the benefactor of the Thankful Arnold House. The original garden design was created by Sally Marvin of Bloomfield, Connecticut and featured an orchard, berry beds and bench garden.

The gardens were redesigned in the late 1980's in the Colonial Revival style with granite-edged beds and gravel paths. In 2000 the Connecticut Herb Study Group conducted extensive research to select plants commonly grown in household gardens in the lower Connecticut River Valley in about 1830. Most of the garden is now devoted to herbs used for cooking, medicine, dyeing, fragrance and other household uses, with a small bed featuring vegetables common in gardens in the early 1800s and a few old-fashioned annuals. Over 50 varieties of herbs are planted in the garden, including many of the ones Thankful Arnold would have used in about 1830. Although Thankful's garden would have been larger and simpler in design the garden is an informative, pleasant, relaxing place for visitors. The garden, which has been recognized by t he National Home Gardening Club, was featured in the summer 2003 issue of People, Places and Plants magazine.

In 2009 the Thankful Arnold House Museum was invited to join Connecticut's Historic Gardens, a consortium of distinctive historic site and gardens throughout the "Nutmeg State." Membership is by invitation only and just three sites were asked to join in 2009. The site joins other distinguished and nationally recognized gardesn including Florence Griswold Museum, Harkness Memorial State Park and Hill-Stead Museum. For a complete list of Connecticut's Historic Gardens visit the Web site at


The Widow Arnold and Her Garden
“Now come out to the garden and I'll show you some of the plants we grew and used. I didn't have edged beds like you see here now, that style came after my time.. I had a big garden with plenty of vegetables to feed our family with useful herbs planted among them. The gardens are planted now with herbs used in my time for cooking, medicine, dyeing, fragrance and household uses.

I grew a lot of root vegetables, like potatoes, turnips, onions and carrots, because they would keep through the winter in our cold cellar. By the end of that long winter you can believe we were ready for some green vegetables and that made this pot herb popular because it was one of the first to begin to grow. We called it All Good, I believe in your time it is called Good King Henry, but who ever heard of a 'good king'. Sorrel is also an early green. We would usually cook them in soup and stews.”

Visit the Thankful Arnold House Museum to learn more about the Wilhelmina Ann Arnold Barnhart Memorial Garden

Visit Connecticut's Historic Gardens at

Garden Volunteers 2009
Amy Roper, Deb Rutter, Pat Hartman, Rogene Gilmor, Cindy Sullivan, Marta Moret

The garden at the Arnold House is overseen by a handful of dedicated volunteers, who maintain it from early spring to late fall. The garden is open daily during daylight hours. A guided tour of the garden is available during museum hours and by appointment. Below is an excerpt from the Widow Arnold's tour of the garden.

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