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. In 1794, Phelps commissioned the addition of a substantial wing decorated with imported Parisian wallpaper. The contrasts between the two sections of the house further highlight the differences between Burbank’s and Phelps’ personalities, experiences, and times. Later, Phelps attempted to sell significant swaths of land that had belonged to members of the Seneca Nation as part of Connecticut’s Western Reserve. When a precarious market made him lose his property in 1802, he moved 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 Colonial Revival garden installed by landscape architect Mary Wells Edwards in 1964, a large herb bed, and scattered flowering shrubs, all lovingly maintained by the Suffield Garden Club.