Thankful Arnold House The Haddam Historical Society
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The mission of the Haddam Historical Society is to collect, interpret and promote the history and heritage of Haddam for present and future generations.

History of the Society

In 1955, eighteen women founded the Haddam Historical Society to preserve the rich and diverse history of Haddam. The early mission called for the Society "to preserve whatever may relate to the civil, military, literary, ecclesiastical history of the town; to investigate such traditions as now exist only in the memory of aged persons; to maintain collections of books, newspapers, maps, art, manuscripts, furniture, archaeology, natural history, curiosities and antiquities of every kind as may illustrate the local history of the Town and to encourage historical and antiquarian investigation and disseminate historical information." The early constitution also called for the Society "to instill in our fellow citizens an understanding of the past, knowledge and pride in our heritage; the preservation of records and monuments still remaining and to promote and encourage civic undertakings to that end." During the first decade members met in private homes and local public buildings. Early activities focused on local history programs and community outreach. The organization was one of the area groups who worked to save the Goodspeed Opera House and protect historic homes and sites during the construction of Route 9.

In 1962 Haddam celebrated its Tercentenary and the Historical Society played a leading role in the commemoration. The Society produced an exhibition covering 300 years of Haddam history and invited honored guests from around the world to attend festivities. One of the honored guests was Mr. Isaac Arnold of Houston Texas a great-great grandson of Thankful and Joseph Arnold. He toured the family's historic homestead in the center of Haddam village and purchased it with intent of providing the Haddam Historical Society with a permanent home.

After two years of painstaking restoration work, the Thankful Arnold House was dedicated on May 29, 1965 as a community museum and headquarters of the Society. The property was leased to the organization for $1.00 a year until the death of Mr. Arnold in 1973 at which time it was transferred to Society. The house was restored to its circa 1794-1810 appearance and opened for tours. The house has recently been reinterpreted as the home of Widow Thankful Arnold during the 1820's. For a complete tour of the house please refer to the section on the Thankful Arnold House.

In 1973 the Wilhelmina Ann Arnold Barnhart Garden was dedicated and since then has been awarded a Connecticut League of Historical Societies Award of Merit. Today the garden displays herbs and vegetables Thankful Arnold would have used c. 1825. Learn more about the Garden.

Since the early 1970s the Society has been the sponsor of the Connecticut Spring Antiques Show, one of the country' most important venues for authentic early American furniture and accessories. In 1987 the Society purchased the rights of the show and it continues to be the organization's largest fundraiser. Learn more about the Connecticut Spring Antiques Show.

The Society assisted with the State Historic Resource Inventory conducted by the Greater Middletown Preservation Trust in the early 1980's and provided material for the publication "Portrait of A River Town". The Society also sponsored the Haddam Center Historic District, which was listed to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

In the last decade, the Society has conducted an architectural and conservation assessment of the Thankful Arnold House and its contents, a study of the genealogy of the Arnold Family and a new interpretation of the museum and its collections. The Society has also expanded education programs, and reinterpreted the herb garden. We are now a proud member of Connecticut's Historic Gardens.

Today, the Society continues to offer programs, tours and lectures on local history. Recently the Society has conducted tours of Haddam's Historic Churches, industrial sites along Candlewood Hill and a Connecticut River Boat Tour. Local history programs have included Haddam's Historic Railroad Stations, the CCC at Camp Filley in Cockaponset State Forest, the shards found in the Thankful Arnold House, Higganum Reservoir Dam and the Shailer and Knowles Factory in Shailerville. The Society also sponsors programs on variety of historical subjects and recent topics have included Wallace Nutting, daguerreotypes, and Theorum painting to name a few. Hands on workshops are also a popular activity and the Society has demonstrated how to dip candles, make clothes pin dolls and felting.

During the cold winter months the Arnold House hosts Winter Woolies where knitters bring unfinished projects and enjoy the company of others with no modern day intrusions. In the spring the Arnold House opens its doors to display the collections of members, neighbors and friends. In the past Community Collections has exhibited toys of our childhood, needlework and historic tools. This event takes place in early April. Click on Events to see the latest schedule of programs.

The Society regularly participates in town wide events such as Haddam River Days and the Haddam Neck Fair.

Social events include the Annual Founders Day Dinner in November when the Society honors the town's founding fathers and mothers as well as the Native Americans who sold "Thirty Mile Plantation" in 1662. The institution also pays tribute to a volunteer who has performed an outstanding service to the Haddam Historical Society and has contributed to furthering the mission of the organization. Other social events include our January teenth night party, Merry Machines Antique Car parade, May Tea and Halloween Party. In the past the Society has hosted a harvest dinner and 4th of July Lobster Bake. For upcoming social events click on Events.

The Society continues to expand its collection of artifacts related to the history of Haddam and the Arnold Family and acquire period appropriate items to display in the house. Over the years the collections have been carefully documented, catalogued and stored and are available for use by researchers, historians and interested parties. Learn more about our Collections.

The Society has installed small exhibits around town, in the Library, Town Hall and local businesses, which have featured such subjects as Granite Rock Springs/ Undina Beverage Company, Higganum's Industrial Past, Historic Schoolhouses in Haddam and Haddam during the Civil War. The Society's newsletter, Past and Present, published bi-annually and page in the "Haddam Bulletin" provide the membership and community with local history pieces and activities.

The Haddam Historical Society is most proud of its award winning Educational Programs. The Society currently hosts over 800 students from Regional District #17 and since 1994 has provided students with hands on learning experiences that have been designed to be age appropriate, fun, and correlate with and enhance the school curriculum. The Society offers programs for grades 3 and 5 as well as home schooled students. The goal is to enrich students' understanding of, and appreciation for, history and the heritage of our town. Learn more on our education programs.

The Historical Society has many dedicated volunteers supporting a variety of programs to meet the organization's current mission. Over 80 volunteers help with the Connecticut Spring Antiques Show and over 60 volunteers help with the Education Programs. The Haddam Historical Society has volunteer opportunities for everyone and every skill level. Should you like to garden or would like to help out with office support, the Society has a position for you. Please see Volunteer Opportunities for further information.

If you are interested in becoming a member please see the membership page. Should you want additional information please contact the Society at 860.345.2400.

The mission of the Haddam Historical Society is to "preserve, collect, interpret and promote the history and heritage of Haddam for present and future generations." The Society is the only organization devoted solely to preserving Haddam's history and safeguarding the historic richness of its communities.


Board of Directors & Staff

Board of Directors 2021-2022

Terry Smith, President
Gloria Gorton, Vice-President
Robert Waller, Secretary
Tim Jarrell, Treasurer

Gloria Gorton
Rob Harlow
Tim Jarrell
Mike Karam
Lynn MacLennan
Dianne McHutchison
Cindy O'Neill
Lindamae Peck
Terry Smith
Cindy MacNeil Sola
Tim Teran
Rober Waller

Elizabeth Hart Malloy, Executive Director
Sarah Neal, Education Coordinator

Committee Chairs

Antiques Show - Committee
Development/Major Gifts - Gloria Gorton
Collections- Vacant
Finance - Tim Jarrell
Gardens - Deb Rutter & Cindy Sullivan
Genealogy - Staff
House Maintenance- Bob Reynolds
Newsletter - Staff
Nominations- Sue Costa
Programs - Lynn MacLennan
Scholarship-Sue Costa
Social/Events - Committee
Store-Lynn MacLennan
Volunteers- Vacant

Haddam Historical Society By-Laws

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