The mission of the Haddam Historical Society is to collect, interpret and promote the history and heritage of Haddam
for present and future generations.
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.
In 2001, the Society participated in Middletown's 350th Anniversary celebratory parade with a replica of its
historic courthouse, commemorating Haddam's 100-year history as a half-shire town with Middletown.
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
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 2, 3, 5, and 7 and 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
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 2012-13
Terry Smith, Co-President
Kathy Sullivan, Vice-President
David Neal, Secretary
Joanne Nesti, Treasurer
Anne Farrow Taylor
Elizabeth Hart Malloy, Executive Director
Sarah Neal, Education Coordinator
Antiques Show - Tracy LaComb
Collections - Jan Sweet
Development/Major Gifts - Gloria Gorton
Finance - Joanne Nesti/Carl Conrad
Gardens - Deb Rutter & Amy Roper
Genealogy - Al and Helen Deag
House Maintenance- Robert Reynolds
Newsletter - Barbara Glista and Elizabeth Malloy
Nominations- Amy Roper, Jan Sweet, Marge DeBold
Office Support - Carol Smith
Products- Bill Schneider
Programs - Lynn MacLennan
Social/Events - Carol Smith, Sue Costa and Amy Roper
Volunteers- Amy Roper