Explore the complex history of nearly four centuries through the evolution of the Henry Whitfield House. The museum is in the process of changing its interpretation – confronting the facts about the site’s history to acknowledge past injustice, recognizing how that injustice manifests in society today, and working toward an equitable future for all people. See the ‘Historical Significance’ section below for more information.
Buildings Re-Open in JuneWe're excited to welcome you back inside the Whitfield House and Visitor Center for a safe and engaging experience!
Take a self-guided tour of the Whitfield House with three floors of exhibits, furnishings, and artifacts. Purchase your tickets to tour the house in the Visitor Center — no registration is required. The Visitor Center also features a gift shop, research library (by appointment), and exhibit galleries. Masks are required inside the buildings, and reduced capacities are maintained to allow for social distancing. If a building’s capacity is reached, you can explore the museum grounds or another museum building until space is available.
- Explore the site’s history through interpretive signs with photos and links to online material
- Bring your own pen or pencil, pick up an outdoor scavenger hunt at the parking lot kiosk, puzzle out the clues, and submit your answers for a chance to win a prize
- Pick up the “I Spy” Bingo game at the parking lot kiosk and search the museum grounds for 5 in a row
- Decipher the rebus puzzles in the Visitor Center windows
- Picnic, play catch, read, paint, and more – there are over 8 acres of sunny and shady spots to enjoy!
- Take a virtual tour through the Whitfield House
- Explore objects from the museum collection on the website Connecticut Collections
- Solve digital jigsaw puzzles featuring images of the Whitfield House and objects from the museum collection
Construction of the Henry Whitfield House began in 1639 when a group of English Puritans, including Reverend Henry Whitfield and his family, entered into an agreement with the Menunkatuck band of the Quinnipiac tribe and renamed the area Guilford. Built of local granite, the house was one of the colonial settlement’s four stone houses that functioned as defensive buildings and private homes. It is now considered to be Connecticut’s oldest house and New England’s oldest stone house. Since 1900, it has been owned and operated by the State of Connecticut as a public museum, and the site is a State Archaeological Preserve.
The house underwent many structural changes over the course of its nearly 400 years. Restored by noted architects Norman Isham and J. Frederick Kelly in the early 1900s, it is an important example of Colonial Revival restoration work and was named a National Historic Landmark based on these historic preservation projects.
The Henry Whitfield House is a physical reminder of the European settler colonialism of the 1600s, as well as the Colonial Revival era of the 1800s-1900s that celebrated and glorified European ethnocentricity and superiority. The museum is striving to confront the facts about the site’s history in order to acknowledge past injustice, recognize how that injustice manifests in society today, and work towards an equitable future for all people.
The museum features:
- Whitfield House (admission charge)— 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 a 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 – Get answers to your travel questions about Guilford and throughout Connecticut.
- Exhibit Galleries – Explore history exhibits.
- Research Library – Make an appointment to research your family’s genealogy, local history, and the 1600s.
- 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.