2023: A Year in Review

Dear Friends of Connecticut Landmarks,

This has been an incredible year of forward momentum at Connecticut Landmarks. We have been thrilled to connect thousands of visitors with important local history, their favorite authors, their own ancestors, and a vibrant community of artists and musicians. We’ve been honored to receive grants that will allow us to better meet the needs of our sites, our collections, and you, our visitors.

Of course, none of this would be possible without the dedication of our staff, volunteers, and Board of Trustees. Trustees are helping to set the trajectory for our organization. Staff have taken on new roles in response to the priorities we’ve identified. The continuous support of our generous donors, members, and visitors enables our work and helps make history matter.

We’re eager to continue welcoming families, friends, and history-lovers to our programs—new additions and beloved favorites—and share with you the exciting preservation efforts to come in 2024 and beyond. In fact, we have already begun planning for the commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the founding of our country in 2026, which will be reflected at each of our sites.

With all the important programs, preservation work, collection updates, and more taking place across our sites this year, we have created this digital report to share even more of the work we’re proud of. Continue reading to explore all we’ve done this year and see what’s in store for next year.

Yours in History,

Aaron Marcavitch, Executive Director

Deborah Ullman, Chair, Board of Trustees

Connecticut Landmarks Board & Staff


Deborah Ullman, Chair

Margaret Steeves, Vice-Chair

Judie Saunders, Treasurer*

Joseph Grabarz, Secretary, Collections Stewardship Chair



Michael Arseneault

Deirdre DiCara*

Donna Lynn Hilton

Elsbeth Geldhof

Beth Iacampo, Personnel Chair

Cornelius O’Leary, Governance Chair

Douglas Shipman

Leonardo Suzio

Aaron Trahan

*New Trustees as of September 2023

Honorary Trustees

Douglas Anderson
Christel Ford Berry
James Bowers
Deborah Davis
Jared Edwards

James Parry
Patrick L. Pinnell, FAIA
Ronna Reynolds
David Rhinelander
The Honorable Robert R. Simmons
Tess Torrey
Jim Wu


Trustee Emeritus

Susan R. Kelly

Central Office Staff

Aaron Marcavitch, Executive Director

Robert Brock, Deputy Director

Shaelyn Amaio, Director of Public Engagement & Marketing

Aileen Bastos, Preservation Manager

Emma Bissell, Archives Intern

Erin Farley, Collections Manager & Palmer-Warner Project Manager

Olivia Grella, Marketing & Communications Associate

Jocelyn Weaver, Assistant Collections Manager


Landmarks Site Staff

Anne Marie Charland, Site Administrator, Nathan Hale Homestead

Jana Colacino, Assistant Site Administrator, North Central Region

Chelsea Echevarria,Assistant Site Administrator, Bellamy-Ferriday House & Garden

Lynette Fisher, Site Administrator, Southeast Region

Jessica Green, Assistant Site Administrator, Nathan Hale Homestead

Lynn Mervosh, Site Administrator, North Central Region

Peg Shimer, Site Administrator, Bellamy-Ferriday House & Garden

Nicole Thomas,Assistant Site Administrator, Southeast Region

In Conversation with History: 2023 Programs

This year’s programs and tours brought hundreds of visitors to our historic sites to explore the lives of Connecticut residents, connect with their ancestors, share historically marginalized stories, learn new skills, and feel empowered to use the lessons of the past to make the world a better place today. Below, read more about a sampling of our most beloved programs–returning favorites and new stars–that took place this year at our sites across the state.

Nursing students from the CT State Community College Capital visited the Isham-Terry House to learn about former resident Oliver K. Isham, who practiced medicine in Hartford from the late 19th to the mid-20th centuries.

CT Landmarks staff worked closely with program director Jeff Partridge to set goals for the program, highlighting the changes in nursing care over time, and discussing bioethics and medical law using primary sources that outline Dr. Isham’s controversial court cases. Students explored Isham’s medical tools and archives to understand treatments that were common when he practiced, and toured the house to better understand Hartford’s changing physical and cultural landscapes.

After pausing this program during the pandemic, our staff was excited to welcome nearly 100 people this April to investigate, reflect, and discuss medical history and ethics, historical instruments, and Hartford heritage. We’re thrilled to continue this collaboration to share the fascinating story of Oliver Isham’s work with future students.

Our Hartford, New London, and Suffield properties were enlivened by music this season, bringing over 1000 visitors to enjoy Sunset Sounds, Make Music Day, and Music in the Hatheway Barn.  

Make Music Day 

In June, the Hempsted Houses celebrated with Ol' Possum's Dixieland Jazz Band. Guests enjoyed listening to songs from the Great American Songbook and Dixieland standards and participated in singing, dancing, and music-making. At the Butler-McCook House & Garden, perennial favorite Ed Fast & Congabop took to the Garmany Music Terrace and filled the garden with their Latin rhythms.   


Sunset Sounds and Renaissance Gyal 

Close to 700 visitors joined us at the Butler-McCook House & Garden for another amazing summer of Sunset Sounds. Performers in the series included: Kris Allen Quintet, Nicole Zuraitis Quintet, Atla & Matt DeChamplain Quintet, and esteemed New Haven musician and educator Jesse Hameen II & Elevation. We were also thrilled to host two dance performances with live music through our collaboration with Renaissance Gyal in June and July, resulting in close to an additional 400 guests.   

This season, the Amos Bull Community Room came alive with the colorful paintings of Hartford artist, Miguel Jose Matos, in an exhibit titled Raw Flow II, celebrating his Afro-Latin heritage, while the Aetna Gallery in the Butler-McCook House hosted an exhibition on the contributions of Frederick Law Olmsted and the Olmsted Brothers firms on Hartford parks.

Music in the Hatheway Barn  

Pizzazz Strings, an international ensemble of celebrated professional musicians, filled the Hatheway Barn with elegant music on a late summer day in September. Over 20 visitors enjoyed the classical music of Mozart, Dvorak, and an encore of Parisian music—in honor of Phelps-Hatheway's wallpaper!—amidst the soaring timbers of the barn.

This season, we offered a total of five walking tours, including two new offerings for 2023: 

  1. "Hartford's Bridges & Walkways" focused on an exploration of the unique histories of Hartford's numerous historic bridges and walkways, many of them engineering marvels of their time. 
  2. "Beyond Main Street” ventured to the streets east and west of Main to appreciate their histories and architectural treasures. 

With three sold-out above capacity walking tours, a total of 89 guests participated in the five walking tours, which included FL Olmsted’s Hartford, Hartford’s Historic South End, and the ever-popular CT Forest & Park Trails Day walk, Discovering Historic Main Street Hartford. Not even inclement weather for two tour dates deterred people from attending! Plans for the 2024 season include a walk tracing the history of sport in Hartford, along with another tour celebrating Hartford women. 

At Connecticut Landmarks, we work to understand how the history of slavery and the fight for freedom and equality continue to impact us today. In 2023, staff worked with local students and representatives of the Witness Stones Project™ to research the lives of people who were enslaved at the houses we now operate as museums. At the Phelps-Hatheway House & Garden, students from Suffield Academy researched Lewis and Barbara Butler, who were listed as enslaved people under Oliver Phelps’ 1790 census record. They later moved to Canandaigua, NY, where they helped their daughter Patience and her husband Austin Steward establish deep ties to the Underground Railroad network in the Rochester area.

In Bethlehem, students at The Woodhall School learned to untangle historical fact from historical legend as they researched enslavement at the Bellamy-Ferriday House & Garden. They identified an enslaved man whose name is currently unknown, who was conscripted into the Continental Army during the American Revolution. This work will continue in the Spring of 2024 as the Hempsted Houses collaborate with students from The Williams School in New London to memorialize the life of Adam Jackson, enslaved by Joshua Hempsted for more than three decades. Thirty sixth and seventh graders will conduct research through primary documents and develop projects culminating in presentations at the installation ceremony.

The Hempsted Houses hosted around 75 students from the Integrated Day Charter School in Norwich, Saint Joseph Catholic School, and The Williams School in New London studying colonial living and Northern slavery.  

Students participated in candle dipping, rope making, quill writing, and other period-specific activities, while students studying Northern slavery participated in a day-in-the-life of Adam Jackson and Joshua Hempsted to give them an idea of the difference between the roles of the enslaved and the enslaver. The students also experienced time in the garret, where Adam slept, and took part in the labor-intensive tasks Adam was responsible for, such as water and wood fetching. They also learned how Joshua built privilege and generational wealth because of Adam's place in the household. 

Additionally, after a lengthy hiatus, we’re excited to announce that New London public schools will return to our site for field trips. The Hempsted Houses will partner with other Heritage sites in New London to welcome back over 300 third graders to participate in our educational programs.  


This year, Nathan Hale Homestead hosted 27 field trips from 13 towns across Connecticut, as well as a homeschool group.

Students engaged in several activities covering themes such as the American Revolution, what it means to be a spy throughout history, and life on a colonial farm. Group favorite activities include:

  • Hearth and Health: Young scholars learn about 18th century food ways and the use of herbal medicines in the 18th century home.
  • Visit a Soldier Encampment: Our costumed guide takes students through a show and tell of equipment used in the encampment of a soldier or camp follower and teaches them how to march to the commands of an officer.
  • Schoolhouse: Young scholars step back in time to learn about the life of an 18th century student by participating in 18th century lessons of reading, writing, and arithmetic before taking part in recess with wooden hoops, graces, balls and cups and Jacob's ladders (wooden toys).

Stories in Focus: 2023 Site Spotlights


Connecticut Landmarks cares for twelve historic properties, six of which are open regularly as museums for public tours and programs. In order to understand the operations of our organization, it can be helpful to look at the story of one site holistically, including education and interpretation, collections stewardship, and historic preservation. Below, we share some highlights of our seasons at the Phelps-Hatheway House & Garden and in our Southeast Region, which encompasses the Hempsted Houses and the Palmer-Warner House.

A Season of Discovery at the Phelps-Hatheway House & Garden in Suffield

Visitors from near and far enjoyed a season of exciting events, new acquisitions, and workshops at the Phelps-Hatheway House & Garden. In June, Michiel Brouns of Brouns & Co. led a workshop demonstrating the use of linseed oil paint, which had recently been used to restore the property’s fence.

A Members’ reception in June marked the inaugural viewing of a collection of furniture pieces originally collected for the house by Sumner Fuller and his mother Emma, who owned the house in the early 20th century. Emma Fuller’s great-granddaughter, Caroline d’Otreppe de Bouvette, donated the pieces to the museum in 2022. At the event, she shared her first-hand retelling of Mrs. Fuller’s fascinating life and reflected on her family’s connection to the property.

In October, scholars from around the country gathered in the historic Hatheway barn to celebrate the 250th birth anniversary of early American architect Asher Benjamin, who designed and carved the entry to the Phelps addition of the house, his first formal commission in 1795. Attendees dove into the significance of Benjamin’s architectural work and legacy in shaping a new national identity.

Benjamin’s entrance provided passage to Oliver Phelps’ richly-decorated new rooms, where he hung intricate hand-blocked Parisian wallpaper. Today, it is the largest collection of 18th-century wallpaper in situ in the world. We are proud to have received a Save America’s Treasures Grant for $146,500 to stabilize and conserve the paper for the next 200 years of its life. This is just one of the exciting projects we’re expecting over the next few years at the Phelps-Hatheway House & Garden and our other historic sites with support from the Good to Great grant awarded to us by Connecticut Humanities, funding received from the State of CT, and our generous donors.

A City in Context at New London’s Hempsted Houses

Boat Tours

This season, 150 visitors joined us as we continued our boat tours in partnership with the Thames River Heritage Park Water Taxi. In addition to our existing tours, “White Sails, Black Hands” and “Exploring the Thames: Stories from a Colonial Diary & Growth Along the River,” we added a third, new tour, “The Captivating Books & Stories Inspired by Sites Along the Thames River,” which allowed participants to hear about the sites along the Thames that sparked authors’ imaginations to write their stories. Highlights included The Mysterious Saga of Gallows Road, Venture Smith: The First Slave Narrative, and Ice Diaries, the incredible true story of Capt. William R. Anderson and his crew’s harrowing top-secret mission aboard the USS Nautilus. The interest in the Hempsted Houses garnered from the boat tours resulted in increased visitation as many of those who enjoyed the time on the water wanted to see the houses and hear our stories.


In June, the Hempsted Houses held our 8th annual Juneteenth celebration, also known as Emancipation Day. The oldest celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, Juneteenth marks the day that Union troops arrived at Galveston Bay, Texas, to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed a full two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation on June 19th, 1865.

In keeping with modern celebration traditions, we emphasized education and achievement with speakers, performances, and educational events that welcomed over 200 people through virtual and in-person programming. In partnership with Joseph McGill of the Slave Dwelling Project and Tammy Denease of Hidden Women Productions, we presented programs that promoted history through the lens of the enslaved in a tangible and authentic way to local senior centers, students, and the community on Friday and Saturday.

The Friday night Campfire Conversation centered around artist Jazzmen Lee-Johnson’s pieces illustrating Adam Jackson, his family, and New London historical events. It sparked in-depth conversations about Northern Slavery and its roots, inspiring participants to think honestly about Northern complicity in the slave trade. Students, NAACP, community leaders, and clergy participated in the three-day event, culminating in Sunday church services and an afternoon of music with the New London High School Jazz Band and The Jim Hunter Group Jazz Ensemble.

Next year, in partnership with the New London Historical Society, we will host an overnight conversation program with Joseph McGill and the Slave Dwelling Project. Guests will have the opportunity to further the conversation with Joe and other historians by sleeping in the Shaw Mansion, which housed several enslaved people.

Bridging Histories in East Haddam: The Palmer-Warner House

Woodworkers Workshop

The Palmer-Warner House barn invited visitors to build a replica of a wall cabinet from the 1678 kitchen of the Joshua Hempsted House in New London this May. Participants enjoyed a furniture-focused tour of the house led by interpreter and historic woodworker John Baron, who highlighted similarities in the techniques participants learned to build their cabinets. The workshop was full, with eight participants who expressed an interest in future activities related to woodworking. We plan to offer another workshop with a presentation next year that will delve deeper into furniture-making techniques and the decorative aspects of historic furniture.

NPS-RTCA at the Palmer Warner House

The National Park Service – Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program (NPS-RTCA) provided Connecticut Landmarks with technical assistance in planning a trailhead at the Palmer-Warner House in partnership with the East Haddam Economic Development Commission to help develop a plan for a pedestrian-bicycle way on Route 82. Our portion of the project involved the creation of outdoor signage for a walking path around the property. We are thrilled to welcome visitors to visit the Palmer-Warner House and the walking path to engage with history and the outdoors. As part of the plan, we also participated in a community forum, surveys of the townsfolk, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

As a collaborative partner, NPS-RTCA provides their services to support locally led conservation and outdoor recreation projects across the USA to create spaces that will engage future generations in the outdoors. Learn more here.

Caring for Culture: Collections

While the historic houses in our care are the largest items in our collections, Connecticut Landmarks is also responsible for all of the household items, decorative arts materials, furniture, and other objects on display in our museums, as well as a significant collection of archival materials that help us tell the stories of life in our properties over the decades.

Return of the Bella Lyon Pratt Nathan Hale Statue to the Nathan Hale Homestead

For decades, a bronze statue of a young Nathan Hale stood by the flagpole welcoming visitors to the Nathan Hale Homestead. In the early 2000s, the statue was cut off at the ankles and stolen from the property. It was missing for years. Amazingly, in April of 2007, an anonymous call to the Connecticut State Police led to the discovery of the statue at a fishing hole about 13 miles away.

The statue, originally designed by Connecticut-born artist Bella Lyon Pratt, needed conservation before it could be returned to the property where Nathan Hale was raised. The Town of Coventry provided grant funding to conserve the statue. Susan Holbrook of Holbrook and Hawes LLC, in Bethany, CT, was contracted for the project. Resin was set within the statue’s legs to reattach the statue’s feet, with steel threaded rods attached to washers and bolts to secure the base. The feet were repainted, and the statue given an overall clean, wax, and buff.

Nathan Hale is now on display in the Visitor Center at the Nathan Hale Homestead – with no plans to go swimming any time in the future!

New Tools for Managing our Collections

Connecticut Landmarks is implementing a new Collections Management System custom made for us from Argus, by Lucidea. It will help us streamline our database, making it much more user-friendly, assist with upcoming inventory projects, and provide the organization with a public-facing web-based portal to allow the public and staff to access our collections. We currently have a demo database we are working with while the final version is being built to our specifications. The Collections Department has participated in six training sessions to learn the ins and outs of the system, both from a front-end and back-end user perspective. We are excited to expand the reach of our properties and collections to visitors across the world.

Emma Fuller Collection at Phelps-Hatheway House & Garden

June marked the inaugural viewing of the newly acquired Emma Fuller pieces donated to the Phelps-Hatheway House & Garden in 2022. Members in attendance were treated to Mrs. Fuller’s great-granddaughter Caroline d’Otreppe’s first-hand retelling of Mrs. Fuller’s fascinating life, and of her long and intimate connection to Phelps-Hatheway.  

In 1923, Suffield native Sumner Fuller purchased the Phelps-Hatheway House & Garden with the intention of restoring it. He worked with his mother (Caroline’s great-grandmother), Emma Fuller, to source building materials from other Suffield houses of the period that were facing demolition.  

Unfortunately, Sumner Fuller was not able to see his vision fulfilled, passing away unexpectedly from pneumonia in 1928 at the age of 37. Emma continued to work on the house in his memory, collaborating with contemporaries, like Delphina Clark and Wallace Nutting, to restore and furnish the house based on the plans she and Sumner discussed. Caroline’s father, Charles Spencer Bissell, Jr. (Mrs. Fuller’s grandson) found the pieces of furniture now on view in the Phelps-Hatheway House. 

The restoration of the house gave Emma purpose after the loss of her two sons, her husband, and her mother. In the winter, she would live across the street, but would return to the house in the summer to enjoy the serenity of the beautiful gardens. After her passing, the Wallace Nutting gate-leg table and chairs, along with the Tiger Maple bed that Sumner had used in his bedroom, were passed on to Caroline’s father by his mother (Emma Fuller’s daughter), Dorothy Adelaide Fuller Bissell.  

That table and bed became a daily part of Caroline’s family’s lives over the past 60 years in Suffield. The table was a place where countless meals and stories were shared and will now come full circle as it rekindles memories of Suffield’s South Main Street history. Sumner Fuller’s bed, now returned to what used to be his room, has a similar significance. Once a place where Caroline and her brothers listened to her father’s ghost stories, it is now a tribute to Caroline d’Otreppe’s ancestors and to their passions for furniture, architecture, landscaping, and history. 

In Perpetuity: Preserving our Historic Sites

Encounters with history at Connecticut Landmarks sites are more poignant because visitors are standing in the places where people of the past lived: where they cooked meals, fell in love, raised children, cared for sick family members, and even did yardwork. The stories we tell are made possible by the structures we care for, and we take our responsibility to steward these sites seriously. Our preservation team works with local craftspeople and tradespeople to make sure that our properties are maintained according to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. Below, learn about a few of the projects that we took on this year to help preserve our sites so future generations can learn from them.

Use arrows to navigate through a selection of images from preservation projects.

Window and Chimney Restoration at the Butler-McCook House & Garden

This summer, Fink & Son removed, restored, and reinstalled four windows on the second floor of the Butler-McCook House. This type of preservation work ensures the safety and longevity of our historic house museums and their collections through restoration that provides airtight, water resistant, and environmentally sustainable insulation.

J.P. Bachand completed corrective repair work on the south chimney of Butler-McCook. The stone caps were inadequately supported due to significant deterioration of the brick wythe. The missing bricks were replaced, interior repairs were made to stabilize the wythes and the chimney, and minor external masonry repointing was completed of the brick mortar joints.

Amasa Day House Roof Repairs

J.P. Bachand completed repairs to Amasa Day’s roof, gutter, and flashing that had caused leaking and significant deterioration to the plaster ceiling on the second floor of the house. Restoration of the roof was completed, and all holes were sealed, and seams lapped with premium heavy-body roof cement. Similar work was also completed on the east side of the roof as a preventative measure for future damage to the house.

Tree Management at Amasa Day House, Palmer-Warner House, and Forge Farm

To help preserve and restore the landscape, as well as maintain the safety of our historic sites, Connecticut Landmarks removed 62 dead or dying ash and maple trees off the Amasa Day and Forge Farm properties. In addition to tree removal and fallen tree clean-up, Bartlett Tree Experts applied foliage treatment to the beech tree at the Palmer-Warner House to help suppress Beech Leaf Disease, while also performing an infestation treatment to the boxwoods to help prevent and mitigate the current issue of boxwood leafminer.

Wallpaper Restoration Project at the Bellamy-Ferriday House & Garden

The 269-year-old Bellamy-Ferriday House & Garden has seen several owners and thousands of visitors pass through its halls. As a result, water damage, wear-and-tear from visitation, and fading from light exposure have caused the wallpaper in the house to deteriorate. After evaluating the damage, the decision was made to completely replace the existing wallpaper in three main areas of the house with reproductions. A three-phase restoration project was created, each phase designed to restore the paper in a different area: the entryway and landing, Caroline’s bedroom, and finally the back hallway and stairs. Rather than simply replacing these papers with similar prints, the decision to reproduce the early 20th-century wallpapers demonstrates our commitment to honoring Caroline Ferriday’s legacy and preserving her original design choices.

In 2022, Connecticut Landmarks’ collections team completed Phases I and II of the project. In Phase I, Laura McCoy Designs Inc. reproduced the original 1950s yellow pillar and arch paper designs for the front entryway and landing. Remarkably, the second phase’s 1920s pale yellow, bird, and flower wallpaper in Caroline’s bedroom is still being produced by Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wallpapers, who color matched the original design for us. Installation for both phases was completed by the Ives Brothers Company.

We are thrilled to announce that as of Fall 2023, the third and final phase of the restoration project has been completed. The back hallway and stairs held the oldest wallpaper of the project, dating back to the 1910s. For this phase, Laura McCoy Designs Inc. reproduced and digitally printed the original design, while the Ives Brothers Company completed the installation. Thanks to their work and the dedication of our collections team, Caroline’s legacy will live on through the preservation of her original design choices. All-in-all, our team replaced over 2,500 square feet of wallpaper!

Creating Community: Visitors, Members & Donors

Connecticut Landmarks’ visitors, members, and donors come together to find inspiration in our state’s heritage. Whether you’re taking a tour of the Isham-Terry House for the first time or stopping into the Nathan Hale Homestead’s museum store during your 10th trip to the state’s largest farmer’s market in Coventry, we are always happy to see you, and honored to be in conversation with you about our state’s rich past.

This map shows where Connecticut Landmarks’ visitors live by ZIP code. The darker the shaded region, the more of our visitors live there

Suffield, Coventry, and Hartford are the top three Connecticut cities where our visitors live. 55% of visitors to CT Landmarks’ historic sites live in Connecticut, while New York and Massachusetts follow in second and third place.

Welcome to our 119 New Members!

Membership support is the foundation of our work and your gateway to exploring Connecticut history. Experience the richness of all of our historic properties as often as you wish; choose from more than 85 programs, special events, and behind-the-scenes tours each season; and enjoy discounts on program tickets and in our museum stores. Your support helps Connecticut Landmarks remain an integral part of our communities, opening our doors to thousands of school children and visitors from around the world. If you’re not already a member, consider joining today to unlock a full year’s worth of benefits.

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