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.

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 silhouette fundraiser!

    Our successful silhouette portrait fundraiser, featuring beautiful hand-cut silhouettes from artist Marcella Comerford, returns Saturday, Nov. 16 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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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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Big Y Foods, Inc. Makes Generous Donation to Historical Society

The Tolland Historical Society is pleased to announce that Big Y Foods, Inc. has donated $1,500 to us from the proceeds of its Paul & Gerald D’Amour Memorial Charity Golf Outing.
Thank you very much, Big Y, for your generosity!

 

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Thank you for another great antiques show!

Despite the sloppy weather on Sunday, March 10, antiques lovers from across New England turned out to make the 53rd Annual Tolland Antiques show a success.

The many customers joined our dealers who traveled from New York, Pennsylvania and Maine for this high-quality show.

Thank you to Show Director Mary-Pat Soucy, Deputy Director Dr. Sharron Laplante and our many volunteers who made the event flow seamlessly.

 

 

 

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