Built in 1854 by Ebenezer Roberts, the house was purchased by Dr. Oliver Isham in 1896. A descendant of the locally prominent Isham and Terry families, he operated his doctor’s office out of the house while living there with his parents and three sisters. In the mid-20th century, as most of the houses in the neighborhood were torn down to make way for the highway, Julia and Charlotte Isham remained in the house and resisted the encroachment of I-84. Today, the house is prominently visible from I-84 East, which passes within a few dozen feet of the structure.
The footprint of the house remains the same as it was when it was built in 1854, with the three-story rectangular tower added in 1883. The 15-room mansion is adorned with crown moldings, ceiling medallions, Lincrusta wall coverings, hand-painted walls and ceilings, gilt mirrors and valances, stained glass windows, elaborate gas-light chandeliers and many original kitchen and bathroom appliances and fixtures.
It is filled with objects of historical, artistic and family significance including antique furnishings, decorative arts, rare books, the Terry clocks made famous by the last residents’ great great uncle Eli Terry, early Connecticut auto ephemera, and memorabilia from Hartford Public High School, the Ishams’ beloved alma mater. Dr. Isham’s medical office, with surgical instruments and medicines, has been left largely undisturbed since the 1940s.