Henry Whitfield State Museum, Guilford

Overview

Explore four centuries of Connecticut history through the evolution of the Henry Whitfield House. Reverend Henry Whitfield and his family were part of the group of English Puritans who founded Guilford in 1639 for religious freedom. Built of local granite and restored in the 1930s, the Whitfield House is now Connecticut’s oldest house, New England’s oldest stone house, and a National Historic Landmark.


Historical Significance

Construction of the Whitfield House began in 1639 — the same year the Taj Mahal was being built, three years before Isaac Newton was born, and 135 years before the American Revolution. Through the years, the "Old Stone House" has undergone many changes, and many families have called it home. Since 1900, it has been owned and operated by the State of Connecticut as a public museum. Restored by noted architects Norman Isham and J. Frederick Kelly in the early 1900s, the house is an important example of Colonial Revival restoration work. The site is a State Archaeological Preserve.

 

The Whitfield House stands not only as a tangible link to Guilford’s Colonial English origins, but as a testament to the generations that followed and to those who preserved this piece of America’s history.

 

You can explore these features on the site:

  • Whitfield House — Take a self-guided tour through three floors filled with furnishings and artifacts, tour the introductory exhibit The Old Stone House detailing the house’s history, and test your observational skills with an educational scavenger hunt.
  • Visitor Center:
      • Gift Shop – Browse a wide selection of gifts and souvenirs, including historical reproductions, toys and games, and books for adults and children.
      • Tourism Information Center – Pick up brochures and maps, learn about upcoming local events, and get answers to your travel questions about Guilford and throughout Connecticut.
      • Exhibit Galleries – Explore history exhibits and hands-on activities that change each year (included with museum admission).
      • Research Library – Make an appointment to research your family’s genealogy, local history, and the 1600s. There is no charge to use the library.
  • Education Building — Tour history displays and try hands-on activities in the site’s repurposed 1870s barn.
  • Grounds — Stroll the landscaped site that features extensive stone walls, a bronze statue representing Henry Whitfeld, a ship’s cannon from the War of 1812, and a spur of the New England Trail that runs from Long Island Sound in Guilford through New Hampshire.

Events & Exhibits

2019


May-October (Wednesday-Sunday) 10:00-4:30
Exhibit—For Wee Folk: Children’s Toys & Miniatures
These fun items are highlighted throughout the Whitfield House as part of a joint exhibit at each of the five Historic Guilford Museums. Included with admission.

May 19 (Sunday) 10:00-4:30
State Museum Sunday
Free admission for Connecticut residents at any of the four State Museums on the third Sunday of the month.

June 8 (Saturday) 10:00-4:30
Puritans at Play on Connecticut Open House Day
Free admission! Try all sorts of historical games and old-time toys, including knicker boxes, nine pins, rolling hoops, cups-and-balls, draughts, and more. The fun continues with scavenger hunts in the 1639 Whitfield House and building activities in the Visitor Center's hands-on galleries.

June 16 (Sunday) 10:00-4:30
State Museum Sunday
Free admission for Connecticut residents at any of the four State Museums on the third Sunday of the month.

June 21 (Friday) 4:00-8:00 pm
Make Music Day
Bring a blanket, chairs, and a picnic to enjoy an evening of free outdoor musical performances as we take part in this global celebration of music on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Food trucks will be available with a variety of refreshments for sale. Check the event listing on the museum’s Facebook page for the latest details on the performance schedule and list of food trucks. The event is free, but the Whitfield House will be open for self-guided tours ($6 admission, $5 for seniors, and free for children ages 12 and younger).

July 21 (Sunday) 10:00-4:30
State Museum Sunday
Free admission for Connecticut residents at any of the four State Museums on the third Sunday of the month.

August 11 (Sunday) 10:00-4:30
Kindness Rocks
Get creative and paint a message of kindness on a rock. Once it dries, place it somewhere outdoors for someone else to find and bring them a bit of happiness. Included with admission.

August 18 (Sunday) 10:00-4:30
State Museum Sunday
Free admission for Connecticut residents at any of the four State Museums on the third Sunday of the month.
 
September 15 (Sunday) 10:00-4:30
State Museum Sunday
Free admission for Connecticut residents at any of the four State Museums on the third Sunday of the month.
 
September 28-October 31 (Wednesday-Sunday) 10:00-4:30
Exhibit—Holidaze: The Real Story of Halloween, Thanksgiving & Christmas
Explore the origins and myths of our most popular holidays. Hands-on activities include trying on Halloween costumes, a trivia challenge, and writing letters to Santa. Visitors are encouraged to bring donations for the Guilford Food Bank and Toys for Tots. Included with admission.

October 3 (Thursday) 7:00 pm
Talk—Great Myths & Simple Sayings

Discover the truth behind persistent historical myths and the origins of popular sayings that people have been using for centuries in this free talk at the Guilford Free Library by Henry Whitfield State Museum Curator and Site Administrator Michael McBride. Were New England’s English colonists religious, short people who dressed only in black and white clothes and died in their 40s? Why do we say ‘sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite’ when people go to bed? Bring your favorite myths and sayings to add to the fun. Register to attend on the library’s website: www.guilfordfreelibrary.org.

October 20 (Sunday) 10:00-4:30
State Museum Sunday
Free admission for Connecticut residents at any of the four State Museums on the third Sunday of the month.

October 26 (Saturday) 10:00-4:30
Halloween at Henry’s
The lights will be off in Connecticut’s oldest house, so bring a flashlight to explore — even the basement, which may have surprises for visitors brave enough to venture there. Admission includes crafting gravestones and gargoyles out of clay, displays on the Guilford Green graveyards and the Whitfield connection to the Salem witch trials, the origins of Halloween traditions in the Holidaze display, … and candy!

November 5 (Tuesday) 10:00-4:30
I Voted Free Admission Day
I Voted sticker required

November 29 (Friday) 10:00-4:30
Harvesting History
Thanksgiving Friday is the perfect time to visit Connecticut's own Pilgrim-era museum. Taste 17th-century English and Native American foods, touch 17th-century English and Native American reproductions, hear hourly readings of the Pilgrim Cat storybook, write with a quill pen to "Make Your Marke," learn about the myths and origins of our Thanksgiving traditions in the Holidaze display, and take a self-guided tour of the 1639 Whitfield House.

December 6 (Friday) 4:00-8:00 pm
Firelight Festival
Spend an evening at Connecticut’s oldest house with festive luminaria, lanterns, and outdoor fires. Enjoy roasted marshmallows and chestnuts, popcorn, hot cocoa, mulled cider, readings of The Night Before Christmas, self-guided tours of the 1639 Whitfield House after dark, the origins of Christmas traditions in the Holidaze display, and pine cone ornament crafts. No rain/snow date.

December 7-8 (Saturday & Sunday) 10:00-4:30
Puritan Past, Holiday Presents
Stop by the gift shop this weekend for all of your holiday shopping needs.

Address

248 Old Whitfield Street
Guilford, CT 06437

Free parking

Hours

  • May-October: Wednesday-Sunday, 10:00-4:30
  • November-April: Visitor Center and gift shop open 10:00-4:30 most weekdays; Whitfield House open weekdays by appointment

Admission

  • Adults: $6
  • Seniors: $5
  • Children (12 & younger): Free
  • Groups: $5 per person for 10 or more people by appointment
  • School Groups: $2 per person by appointment

As a Blue Star Museum, we offer free admission to active-duty military personnel and their families.

Plan Your Visit

Learn more about the museum and the surrounding area at CTvisit.com.

Contact

whitfieldmuseum@ct.gov
203-453-2457

Michael McBride, Museum Curator 2
203-453-2457, michael.mcbride@ct.gov

Michelle Parrish, Museum Curator 1
203-453-2457, michelle.parrish@ct.gov

Chris Collins, Museum Guide
203-453-2457, chris.collins@ct.gov

Related Resources

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Become a Volunteer

Connecticut Public Television featured the Whitfield Henry Whitfield State Museum as one of the 50 most notable cultural resources in the state. Watch this 5-minute video now.

Research Library Finding Aids help you explore some of the museum's collections through Connecticut Archives Online, thanks in part to a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to the Connecticut State Library on behalf of the State Archives and Conservation ConneCTion.

Schedule photography, filming, or other special events at the museum