Our Museums

DANIEL BENTON HOMESTEAD
Built in 1720 and occupied by the Benton family for 212 years, this is the earliest house museum in Tolland County.

OLD TOLLAND COUNTY JAIL AND MUSEUM
The oldest cellblock dates from 1856, jailer's home from 1893. Thousand of items used in Tolland homes, farms and businesses.

OLD TOLLAND COUNTY COURT HOUSE
Beautiful 1822 courthouse in a transitional Colonial to Federal style with original Palladian window. Courtroom restored to 19th Century appearance. Exhibits.

Become a Member

  • Become a Member

    BECOME A MEMBER OF THE TOLLAND HISTORICAL SOCIETY:
    Support your local society by your family, individual or business membership. Included is admission to all museums during open hours. Click here to view and print form.

    VOLUNTEER
    One or two hours of your time and talent can make a difference to our museums. Click here to view and print form.


We’ve launched a $100,000 capital campaign to restore the cupola on our Court House Museum

On Oct. 14, the Tolland Historical Society launched a capital campaign to repair and restore the cupola atop the Old Tolland County Court House Museum on the Tolland Green.

The Society is hoping to raise more than $100,000 toward this important project. When the project is completed, the bell in the tower will ring out across the green once again.

We are asking Society members, Tolland residents and supporters of local history to make a tax-deductible donation of any amount for the cupola project. Checks can be made out to the Tolland Historical Society, P.O. Box 107, Tolland, CT 06084. Thank you in advance for any gift you can make, and please tell your neighbors about the project, too.

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Lafayette was here on Sept. 4, 1824!

The American Friends of Lafayette recently contacted the Tolland Historical Society to say its research shows that Marquis de Lafayette visited Tolland on Sept. 4, 1824 as part of his return trip to America, where he met with soldiers who had served with him during the Revolutionary War. 
Our archivist, Barbara Cook, and members of the Society found secondary sources that indicated the Lafayette stopped at Smith’s Tavern on the Tolland Green, near the Old Tolland County Court House, on his way to Hartford that September day.
With its primary sources, the organization decided to include Tolland on the Lafayette Trail and donated this marker to reflect our town’s part in Lafayette’s extraordinary journey. Thank you to Mary-Pat Soucy and Keith Soucy for installing the marker at the Court House.

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Watch this PowerPoint for details on the cupola project

On Oct. 14, the Tolland Historical Society launched a capital campaign to repair and restore the cupola atop the Old Tolland County Court House Museum on the Tolland Green.

The Society is hoping to raise more than $100,000 toward this important project. When the project is completed, the bell in the tower will ring out across the green once again.

Here’s a PowerPoint that details the project. We are asking Society members, Tolland residents and supporters of local history to make a tax-deductible donation of any amount for the cupola project. Checks can be made out to the Tolland Historical Society, P.O. Box 107, Tolland, CT 06084. Thank you in advance for any gift you can make, and please tell your neighbors about the project, too.

Photo by Tom Calabrese

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President’s Report

By Kathy Bach
ANNUAL MEETING SUMMARY:

June 11, 2020 Annual Meeting met Via Zoom technology.
The 2020-2021 Budget, By-Law change and slate of officers passed unanimously.
Please read the following report for updates.

OFFICE COMPUTERS & TECH SUPPORT:

The society is long overdue in updating technology in the society office. We had Rob’s Computers out to review our uses and needs. Joining me in the meeting was our Collections Director, Allison Free, and our Technology Specialist, Benjamin Free. Our Archivist, Barbara Cook, had previously sent her overview and requirements by email and met with Rob at her home. Our collective decision is to purchase 2 new computers equipped with Windows 10, 1 new monitor, repurpose 1 monitor and reuse the current printer, providing it functions well with Windows 10. This purchase, with labor including that visit, would total $1,354.

BY-LAW CHANGE:

At our Annual Meeting, a long overdue addition was made to our By-Laws with the addition of a Technology Specialist under Article VII Standing Committees, Section 1 d.Technology Specialist – is responsible for overseeing technology in the society offices and facilities, making periodic reports and recommendations to the board. This person would be the board interface with technology vendors. The board voted to fill the position with Benjamin Free for the 2020-22 term.  

MUSEUM OPENINGS AND 2020 SEASON:

First, I’d like to thank everyone who is working for the society in this environment we call the “new normal.” All indications are we will never go back to the old ways but rather adopt some new protocols going forward. That is why our museums are not yet ready to open. We previously had reached a satisfactory level of service whereby visitors of all ages could interact with volunteers of all ages to have a well-rounded “hands-on” museum and learning experience.

At this time, we cannot meet the safety, social distancing and other standards that make it possible to offer that experience. I have spent time with some of our engaged interns and board members to get a sense of what we might offer and the input has led to a mix of virtual educational experiences with demonstrations and perhaps some “do it yourself” activities. These will take some time to organize and videotape.

In the meantime, Barbara Cook, Kate Farrish and I will continue to photograph and provide historic dialogue on Facebook. June’s theme is “where am I?” as we offer a behind-the-scenes peek at historic locations. July and August will venture to the more historic sites, highlight our volunteers and video demonstrations (if they are ready). For sure, we will have a feature on the Old Tolland County Court House Museum cupola project with the emphasis on fundraising once the button is on our Facebook page.

MERCHANDISE SALES:

The sale of merchandise continues and has had an uptick since it has been discussed on social media. I will be featuring a few publications over the summer, highlighting our inventory found on the webpage and at the Tolland Red & White and also doing a brisk business from my porch.

Thanks for thinking of the Tolland Historical Society. Have a restful summer.
Kathy

 

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Museums Temporarily Closed

Special note posted on June 1, 2020: The museums of the Tolland Historical Society are closed for the foreseeable future due to the restrictions placed on us resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Unfortunately, we can’t give personal tours by appointment-only right now either.
Please follow us on Facebook and on this website for weekly activities and fun facts.
We do need your support more than ever during this difficult time, so please consider becoming a member of the Tolland Historical Society by using this form. Thank you!

 

 

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Help Restore the Bell Tower on The Court House Museum and Let History Ring!

The Tolland Historical Society recently held a contest to choose a slogan to raise awareness about our need to raise $150,000 this year to restore the bell tower on the Old Tolland County Court House Museum.
Our aim is to repair the structure that holds up the bell and to be able to ring it again.
Our winning slogan is “Let History Ring!”
Tolland student Kate Reinard has donated a lovely drawing of the bell tower and cupola on the court house for us to use during the fundraising drive. Thank you, Kate!
The winning slogan was suggested by a society member who wishes to remain anonymous.
The runners-up were Sandy Willis, who suggested “The Bell Tolls for Tolland” and Patricia Nelson, who suggested “An apPEAL for Tolland.”
Thank you to Sandy and Patricia and everyone who entered the contest.
To support the project, tax-deductible donations may be mailed to the Tolland Historical Society, P.O. Box 107, Tolland, CT 06084.

 

Design by Kate Reinard

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Tolland Historical Society holds slogan contest for Tolland residents

     In 2020, the Tolland Historical Society is undertaking a major fundraising drive to restore the bell tower on the 1822 Old Tolland County Court House Museum, and it’s asking for help from Tolland residents of all ages.
     The society must raise $150,000 to restore the interior structure that cradles the bell as well as restoring and replacing some interior and exterior parts of the bell tower itself on the stately building that graces the historic Tolland Green. At the end of the project, the society will be able to once again ring the bell.
     To build excitement for the project, the society is asking Tolland residents to suggest a catchy slogan for the fundraising campaign. The winner will receive a $50 gift card and a book of Tolland history written by a local author, and the runner-up will receive a $25 gift card.
     Entries should be emailed to society@tollandhistorical.org or mailed to Tolland Historical Society, P.O. Box 107, Tolland, CT 06084 no later than Feb. 21. Please include suggested slogan, name and email address or phone number.
     The existing courthouse replaced an earlier building built in 1785 to satisfy the state’s requirement that the town provide a courthouse and a jail in order to be designated as the Tolland County seat.
 All court sessions in Tolland County were held in the building until about 1890.
     From 1899 to 1985, the town’s public library operated in the building.
 The Tolland Public Library Association gave the courthouse to the society in 2001, when it became the society’s third museum.
     The first floor is home to the French Canadian Genealogical Society of Connecticut, and the top floor includes a beautiful courtroom that has been restored to look as it did in the 19th century.

Photo of the Old Tolland County Court House Museum by Tom Calabrese

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Big Y Donates $1,500 to the Tolland Historical Society

     The Tolland Historical Society is grateful to Big Y Foods, Inc. for its donation of $1,500 to the society from the proceeds of its Paul & Gerald D’Amour Memorial Charity Golf Outing.
     Members of the society board visited the store Sept. 6 to thank Store Director Tom Socha and Employees Services Representative Chelsea Kelleher for the generous donation.
     President Kathy Bach said the funds will be dedicated to repairs needed on the cupola of the Old Tolland County Court House Museum.
     Pictured are, left to right, board member Dave Geissler, Bach, Socha, Kelleher, board member Dr. Sharron Laplante and Vice President Celeste Senechal. Missing from photo is Treasurer Katie Fratoni.
 

 
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History Explorers Program in July was a Success!

In its second year, the Tolland Historical Society’s History Explorers program, held during a hot week in July, was a success as eight local girls learned about leisure activities of the 1800s at the Old Tolland County Jail and Museum.

Led by Museum Director Kathy Bach, with help from Talie Lyon and Emma and Julia Condos, the explorers had a great adventure.

Here’s a write-up from Kathy:
“In several craft activities, the explorers incorporated modern conveniences into the skills of days of old. Sewing a fine seam of 8 stitches per inch was fine in 1865, but we wanted to finish our lingerie bags to travel during the week, so the explorers learned the art of the 20th-century sewing machine. And an electric iron was much more handy than building a fire in the wood stove during the hottest week of the summer!
Their nature art from the flowers in the museum garden on photo paper exposed to the sun, scratch art, painted pencil cases and decorated personal journals all used ideas and patterns we gathered from quilts, china and cut glass found in the museum…and some from our imaginations. Making kaleidoscopes was a challenge, but what a fun result.
There was still time to learn a little history, etiquette, tour the museum, do an attic crawl, and of course, have our famous end-of-the-week tea party. I think the highlight was our trip to the Tolland Inn, where we saw a real pantry, and were the first students to meet the new town manager, Michael Rosen. Susan and Steve Beeching, the inn’s owners, are so much fun and showed us all around their beautiful bed and breakfast. 
And did anyone mention Bob? The explorers even named the famed museum jail occupant (our dummy), who resides in cell #22.”

The Explorers who took part were Abbie Poulin, Mia Santini, Avery Marcroft, Kaylee Hansen Edgar, Grace Condos, Ava Sapere, Sophia Ash and Julia Pizzi.

Group photos in the jail and at the Tolland Inn by Kathy Bach. Other photos by Perne Maynard of the Tolland Historical Society.

2019 History Explorers

Jail Museum Director Kathy Bach leading an activity

It was hot in the cellblock!

Explorer Kaylee Hansen Edgar made a slap bracelet for Bob, the occupant of cell #22.

The History Explorers at the lovely Tolland Inn

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Historical Society Intern Orientation Session Set for June 8

     For the past decade, the Tolland Historical Society has been training 7th through 12th graders on all aspects of how museums run.
     Through this successful internship program, students learn how to research and set up exhibits, accession artifacts donated to the society and give museum tours.
     It’s time to sign up new interns for this summer. An orientation session for interested 7ththrough 12thgraders will be held on Saturday, June 8 at 11 a.m. in the shed area of the Old Tolland County Jail and Museum at 52 Tolland Green in Tolland.
     The session lasts about an hour and includes a museum tour. For those unable to attend on June 8, please come to museum hours on Sunday, June 9 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. or contact Museum Director Kathy Bach at kwbach@gmail.com.

 

Intern Jaden Delgobbo, at right, gives visitors to the Old Tolland County Jail and Museum a tour.

 

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