Phelps-Hatheway House & Garden
The Phelps-Hatheway House & Garden highlights the luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by two wealthy 18th-century Connecticut Valley families until their fortunes collapsed. Suffield native Shem Burbank built the center chimney structure in 1761 where he and his wife Anna Fitch Burbank raised nine children. A merchant of British goods, Burbank’s business suffered during the American Revolution. In 1788, he sold the house to Oliver Phelps originally of Windsor, who served as Deputy Commissary under George Washington and later a successful land speculator. In 1794, Phelps commissioned the addition of a substantial wing decorated with imported Parisian wallpaper. A depressed real estate market forced Phelps to foreclose on the property in 1802 and move to Canandaigua, NY where he died in 1809. The Hatheway family took possession of the house from the early 1800s to 1914, accumulating an attic full of artifacts that document life from that time. Sumner Fuller and his mother Emma carefully preserved the property which was donated to the Antiquarian & Landmarks Society (now CTL) upon Mrs. Fuller’s death in 1956. Today, the museum boasts an extensive collection of 18th-century antiques while the grounds feature a formal parterre garden designed by landscape architect Mary Wells Edwards, a large herb bed, and scattered flowering shrubs, all lovingly maintained by the Suffield Garden Club.
Visitors to the Phelps-Hatheway House are encouraged to engage in dialogue on the central theme of “Two Families, Two Stories, One New Nation”. The life stories of the Burbank and Phelps families offer a glimpse into the deceptively simple nature of 18th-century life and work. Topics for discourse and contemplation include the role of Connecticut in the American Revolution, trade and commercial exchange, land and real estate speculation, and the display of wealth and status.
Open for tours May through October, additional open hours during December (as listen under “Events”).
Sat. & Sun., 1 – 4 pm
For school groups and special curriculum-based programming, to reserve tours for groups of 10 or more, or to rent the facility, please call the Phelps-Hatheway House at (860) 668-0055.
Students with ID, Seniors 65+, AAA members & Teachers: $10
Town Residents & Children age 6-17: $5
Children 5 and under & CTL Members: Free
Family Price (2 adults & unlimited number of children): $30
Enjoy a guided tour of the Phelps-Hatheway House that examines the lives and experiences of the first two owners, Shem Burbank and Oliver Phelps. Although the two lived during the same period, they experienced the events of the late 18th century in very different ways and their fortunes, or lack thereof, resulting from their political views on The American Revolution.
Guests will also explore the House’s outstanding architecture. The two architectural periods of the Phelps-Hatheway House further demonstrate the differences in Burbank’s and Phelp’s personalities, experiences, and times. They also enable us to see the changes in taste, style, and availability of goods that took place between the colonial and federal periods.
Phelps-Hatheway House & Garden
55 South Main Street
Suffield, CT 06078
Northbound on I-91: Exit #40 toward Bradley Airport to Rte. 20 West to Rte. 75 North about 3 miles to Main Street Suffield, turn left, house about 1 mile north on the left.
Southbound on I-91: Exit 47 W across CT River to Suffield, left onto Rte. 159, first right on to Thrall Ave., 2+ miles to right onto Bridge St., about 1 mile to left onto South Main St., first big house on the right with a fence.