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.


Join the Tolland Historical Society in taking part in the 2020 Virtual Celebrate Tolland Festival!

Taking place from Sept. 6 to 12

 

 

Design by Kate Reinard

 

*Consider becoming a member or volunteering with us!
 *Visit the Tolland Red and White store at 46 Tolland Green or contact President Kathy Bach at
kwbach@gmail.comto purchase Tolland history books or wooden buildings or ornaments, to benefit the society.
 *Buy one book and get the second for half price.
 *Support our Let History Ring! Fund to restore the bell tower and cupola on the Old Tolland County Court House Museum. Tax-deductible donations can be made to Tolland Historical Society, P.O. Box 107, Tolland, CT 06084.

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Tolland Historical Society Benefitted from the Tolland Together Campaign

Thank you to Sean and Beth Banning, owners of Banner Water LLC of Tolland, for including the Tolland Historical Society in its recent, successful Tolland Together campaign.
Pictured here are Sean and Beth passing a donation check to President Kathy Bach, center, and Society Vice President Celeste Senechal. Thank you, as well, to the Tolland residents who donated to Tolland Together.

Sean and Beth Banning at left with Society President Kathy Bach, center, and Vice President Celeste Senechal.

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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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A Difficult, but Appropriate Decision to Cancel the 2020 Tolland Antiques Show

     Our thoughtful and deliberate Antiques Show director, Mary-Pat Soucy, in consultation with the Tolland Historical Society board, has made the appropriate decision to cancel the 2020 show.
     In a letter to past dealers, she wrote that “with declining markets and unpredictable income, the prudent decision for this year is to focus all of our efforts on our Court House.”     
     She was referring to the large capital project the society is undertaking to restore its 1822 Court House Museum cupola and bell tower. Soucy, who also handles major fundraising events for the society, is planning fundraising opportunities to raise about $150,000 for the project in 2020.
     This was a difficult decision after running a successful show for 53 years, but we have to focus on preserving our beautiful museum on the Tolland Green.
     Kathy Bach
     President
     Tolland Historical Society

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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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While appointments last: sign up for our Nov. 16, 2019 silhouette fundraiser!

    Our successful silhouette portrait fundraiser, featuring beautiful hand-cut silhouettes from artist Marcella Comerford, returns Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019 at the Old Tolland County Court House Museum at 53 Tolland Green.
     These lovely portraits make unique holiday gifts and treasured mementos.  A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Tolland Historical Society. All work is done free-hand, and even wiggly children are welcome. 
     
     Sessions are by appointment only. To make an appointment, go to Tolland Historical Society Sign-up at  https://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f0549aaa723a7f49-silhouette66 and select a time. 
     A single silhouette costs $37, with a duplicate costing $15. A 5×7 frame for one silhouette is $35, and an 8×10 frame for two to three silhouettes is $45. Each silhouette is mounted on an acid-free museum board. 
   
     Baby bump and pet silhouettes created from photos are also available by special order. For more information on that option, email portraitsinsilhouette@gmail.com, and don’t forget to mention the Tolland Historical Society.
     For more information on the event, email Ni-Ni Reinard at nkjtr@sbcglobal.net.

Silhouette 2019 FLYER

 

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Major Quilt Show Set for Sept. 28 and 29

     The Tolland Historical Society will hold a show featuring 30 handmade quilts, both modern and antique, at the Old Tolland County Court House Museum at 53 Tolland Green on Saturday, Sept. 28 and Sunday, Sept. 29 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
     The oldest quilt in the show dates to the mid 19th-century. Admission is $5 each day.
     The show will take place in the beautifully restored upstairs courtroom in the 1822 courthouse. Please note that there is no elevator to access the second floor.
     Quilts will be on display and not for sale. The show, which benefits the Tolland Historical Society, will feature Tolland history books and society merchandise for sale.
      Please note: this will be the last weekend of the season that the court house museum will be open for the season. Tours after Sept. 29 will be available by appointment only, and appointments can be made by calling Historical Society President Kathy Bach at 860-872-7716 or by emailing her at kwbach@gmail.com.

One of the Tolland Historical Society quilts that will be on display at the 2019 quilt show

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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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