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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Virtual Tour of Historic Wethersfield, Connecticut

historic wethersfield sign

It is always interesting when various parts of life come together. One of the things I had found interesting while reading The Witch of Blackbird Pond was discovering that it took place in Wethersfield, Connecticut, which has never been more than an hour from anywhere I have lived and is about 10 minutes from where I work. Every day on my way home I pass a small sign that says “Welcome to Historic Wethersfield” – and never thought anymore about it. I assumed it was just one of those historic districts that pepper New England where there are a few old houses that have a plaque on them and that are now privately owned. However, Historic Wethersfield is a little bit different – you can actually tour several of the historic houses, visit the historical society, and learn a thing or two. I learned all of this from one of my friends who actually toured the area around Halloween. So, while I haven’t been there yet, here is a little virtual tour of Historic Wethersfield.

Wethersfield is one of the oldest towns in Connecticut – hence the importance of the historic nature of this town. It was settled in 1632, just a few short years after the founding of Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Visitor’s Center

If you plan on visiting Historic Wethersfield you probably should start out at the visitor’s center to gather your bearings. There is a free parking lot here and you can pick up some maps and information before setting out. There is also a gift shop – which might be worth checking out before heading back to your car after you are done with your day.

Historical Homes and Places

  • Open Spaces – Broad Street Green and Cove Park are public open spaces that you can visit at your leisure. The Broad Street Green used to be a grazing place for local animals and the Cove, which is now a public boat launch, used to house various shipyards. If it is a beautiful day you could consider picnicking on the Green or aboard your boat in the cove.
  • Cove Warehouse – this is the current site of the Wethersfield Historical Society maritime exhibit and how appropriate a location. The warehouse was one of likely many that participated in the West Indies trade. This trade is exactly what characters in The Witch of Blackbird Pond engaged in. $1.00 admission for adults and free for children.

cove warehouse

  • First Church – Built in 1764 this beautiful church still holds services every week. If you are interested in architecture, a look around might suffice. If you want the authentic church experience, you may want to sit it on a service. The church is a Congregational Church.

first-church-wethersfield

  • Burying Ground – One of the areas that I always find most interesting is burial grounds. The old tombstones can be so beautiful. Tours of this location are available, especially during the Halloween season. There is an online digitization project of the burial ground which you can check out even if you can’t visit the site. Among other things, there is an interactive map with index of burials.
  • Houses to Tour – The Hurlbut Dunham House, Buttolph-Williams House, Webb Deane Stevens Houses, and the Francis House are all open at various times for touring. Each have their own nominal fees. They are all stellar examples of colonial homes. However the one of most interest to literary fans is the Buttolph-Williams House, because this house was the home where Kit resided in The Witch of Blackbird Pond. They actually speak about the book during tours of the house. Many of these homes host events based on seasonal activities etc. – currently several are dressed for the Christmas season.

wethersfield houses

From L to R: Francis House, Hurlbut Dunham House, Buttolph-Williams House, Webb Deane and Stevens Houses

Don’t want to actually go to any of the museums? That’s ok – take a stroll down the main street and just “window shop” the old buildings and actually shop in some of the local stores (here is a list of some of the stores). Or take in a meal at a restaurant.

You can read more about Historic Wethersfield or plan your trip by visiting their website. If you want to set up a walking tour for your group/family or find one to join up with you can check out the various tours they offer. Yankee Magazine put together a visually beautiful photo collection of the historical district you might be interested in checking out.

This is one of those places that I have to visit, especially because it is so local. Have any of you been to this location?

 

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