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The Welles-Shipman-Ward House

The pre-Revolutionary War Home Is Maintained by the Historical Society of Glastonbury

You don’t have to walk into the Welles-Shipman-Ward House Museum to get a sense of its deep history. 

The home, which dates to pre-Revolutionary times, is set along a stretch of South Main Street, just a few hundred feet north of South Glastonbury Center, an area steeped in local history and architecture. 

From its huge double-door front entry that faces Main Street to the outbuildings that surround it, the Welles-Shipman-Ward house is a classic center chimney Colonial that, along with several outbuildings and barns, exudes the essence of 18th century charm.

The house is named after a succession of Glastonbury families that built and lived in the 2560-square-foot house at 972 South Main St. It was constructed in 1755 by the shipbuilder, Col. Thomas Welles for his son, John Welles and John’s wife, Jerusha Edwards Welles. 

The family owned the property until 1789, when business losses forced them to sell it to two creditors, Stephen Shipman, Jr. and Nathaniel Talcott, Jr. 

“Shipman eventually bought the entire property and added neoclassical, Federal-style features. His family owned the house for over a century. In 1925, it was purchased by Berdena Hart Ward, who restored the home and gave it to the Historical Society (of Glastonbury) in 1962,” according to Historicbuildingsct.com. 

The society has a 99-year lease from the town on the property. 

After years of care and upgrades by the society the house and property have become one of the main exhibit and event spaces owned by the nonprofit group. The Connecticut River Valley mansion is often open in the spring, summer and fall for historical tours - given by docents in period garb - as well as for special events.

The 10 rooms in the house have antique furnishings and the home features one of the largest known original period fireplaces in the state. 

Other historic properties HSG owns include The Museum on the Green building, at 1944 Main St., and the Welles Chapman Tavern at 2400 Main St., which houses the offices of the Connecticut River Valley Chamber of Commerce and The Curated House shop.   

Historical Society of Glastonbury, Welles-Shipman-Ward House

972 South Main St.

Online: Hsgct.org

On Facebook: @HistoricalSocietyofGlastonbury

On Instagram: @Glastonburycthistory

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