With its diamond-paned casement windows, clapboards weathered nearly black, and hewn overhangs, the Buttolph-Williams House harkens back to the Puritan era of New England during the 1600s. Although actually built around 1711, the house reflects the continuing popularity of the traditional architecture imported from England. The house is thought to have been constructed for local tavern keeper Benjamin Belden, who lived in the house with his wife, Anne Churchill and their family.
Connecticut Landmarks acquired the house in 1941 and, restored under the direction of pioneer architect, Frederick C. Palmer, opened it to the public in 1951. Many of the materials, such as the fireplaces and the original hewn-timber framing, are original to the house. The house interiors showcase an outstanding collection of late 17th-century decorative arts, many of which have Connecticut collections, including the best bed chamber, designed and decorated by Katherine Prentiss Murphy, one of the twentieth century’s most renowned antiques collector. The kitchen, another of the house’s highlights, features an enormous open hearth and a remarkable assortment of early colonial-era cooking utensils.
The Buttolph-Williams House’s medieval appearance served as source of inspiration, and the partial setting, for the Newberry Medal-winning book for young adults, The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Written by Elizabeth George Speare, the book tells the fictional account of a young orphaned girl and the prejudices she encounters in 17th-century Wethersfield. The Buttolph-Williams House is operated by the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum.