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.


Great news: our two museums will be opening to the public on Sundays

The Tolland Historical Society is pleased to announce that after being closed for more than a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, two of its museums will be reopening to the public.

The Old Tolland County Jail and Museum be open Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. beginning on Sunday, June 6. Located at 52 Tolland Green, it will be open Sundays through the fall except on July 4 for Independence Day and on Sept. 5 for Labor Day.

Visitors will be required to wear masks while on the museum grounds and practice social distancing.

The Daniel Benton Homestead Museum at 154 Metcalf Road will be open on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. beginning on Sunday, July 11. It will be open on Sundays through October, except for Sept. 5 for Labor Day.

Visitors to the Benton will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing. Only four people will be allowed inside the museum at a time, and restrooms are not available.

The museum openings are always subject to change if COVID-19 numbers rise again in Connecticut.

Admission to the museums is free, but donations are always appreciated. They can be made at the museum, through the website or by sending a check to the Tolland Historical Society, P.O. Box 107, Tolland, CT 06084.

The jail museum welcome visitors for the first time in more than a year on Sunday, May 30 to observe Memorial Day, and also featured members of the Connecticut Re-enactors Guild, who portrayed members of the military from different eras.

In photo 1, Historical Society President Kathy Bach, center, welcomed visitors with the help of members of the Board of Directors, Dr. Sharron Laplante and David Geissler.
In photo 2, members of the Connecticut Re-enactors Guild spoke with visitors.
In photo 3, Historical Society intern Jillian Freeto was one of several interns who led visitors on a tour Sunday, May 30.
In photo 4, Society Director Cathy Wilcox showed off examples of her weaving and demonstrated use of a loom.
In the final photo, more members of the guild spoke with a visitor about World War II uniforms and weaponry.

Photos by Kate Farrish

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Great news: our two museums will be opening to the public on Sundays

In Flanders Fields

Here’s an appropriate poem for Memorial Day as we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect all of us.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on In Flanders Fields

The Old Tolland County Jail and Museum is open today, Sunday, May 30 from Noon to 3 p.m.

     The Tolland Historical Society is inviting the public to visit the Old Tolland County Jail and Museum from noon to 3 p.m. today, Sunday, May 30.
There will be ample ventilation, but visitors are asked to wear a mask.
The museum at 52 Tolland Green in Tolland will hold some demonstrations to coincide with the Memorial Day events being sponsored on the Green that day by the town’s Permanent Celebration Committee. Drop by and learn some Tolland history.
      Admission to the museum is free, but tax-deductible donations to support the Historical Society are always appreciated. They can be made in person or mailed to Tolland Historical Society, P.O. Box 107, Tolland, CT 06084.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on The Old Tolland County Jail and Museum is open today, Sunday, May 30 from Noon to 3 p.m.

Sad news about the passing of our archivist, Barbara Cook

We are sorry to report that our beloved Tolland Historical Society archivist, Barbara Cook, passed away on Tuesday, March 23.She was an active member in the Society for decades, including spending 15 years as director the Old Tolland County Court House Museum. Barbara also served as the appointed town historian from 2007 until 2015 and was honored as the parade marshal at the town’s 300th Anniversary Celebration in 2015.

It was her wish that donations be made in her memory to support the “Let’s History Ring!” fundraising drive to restore the cupola atop the Court House Museum, and on Sunday, the Historical Society’s governing board decided to grant her personal wish to restore a fan window above the Court House door.Donations can be made out to the Tolland Historical Society and mailed to the Society at P.O. Box 107, Tolland, CT 06084. Please indicate on the memo line of the check if you wish to support the cupola fund and/or the window fund.

Here is Barbara’s obituary: Barbara F. Cook (87) died March 23, 2021 at home in Tolland surrounded by family. Born in Tolland, the daughter of the late George E. and Mabel (Luhrsen) Cook, she lived in the area all her life. Barbara retired from Northeast Utilities after 41 years of service. After retirement, she joined the Tolland Historical Society and became an active volunteer, serving as director of the museum in the Old Tolland County Court House for fifteen years and most recently as the historical society archivist. She also was the appointed town historian from 2007 until 2015, and in that year was marshal of Tolland’s 300th Anniversary Parade. Barbara was predeceased by a brother, Lucius J. Cook, and leaves a brother, David G. (Catherine) Cook of Ware, MA, and a sister-in-law Marjorie Cook of (FL, MA and VT). She also leaves nieces Lisa (Jim) Lamothe and Cindy (Jim) Donovan, of Brimfield, MA, and nephews David (Amy) Cook and Simeon (Jennifer) Cook of VT and Justin (Bonnie) Cook of MA, and many beloved grand and great-grand nieces and grandnephews, as well as two cousins and her kind and caring neighbors and friends Michelle and Jim Graham and their children. As she requested, there are no calling hours and burial will be private. Memorial contributions may be made to the Tolland Historical Society, Old Court House Cupola Fund, or a charity of choice.

Here are some photos of Barbara Cook at the 2015 Tolland 300th Anniversary parade in 2015, the dedication of the Tolland Founders Monument in 2015 and speaking to members of the public after a history talk at the Old Tolland County Jail Museum.

Parade and dedication photos by Perne Maynard

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Sad news about the passing of our archivist, Barbara Cook

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.

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on We’ve launched a $100,000 capital campaign to restore the cupola on our Court House Museum

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Lafayette was here on Sept. 4, 1824!

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Watch this PowerPoint for details on the cupola project

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

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on President’s Report

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!

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Museums Temporarily Closed

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Help Restore the Bell Tower on The Court House Museum and Let History Ring!