The Hurlbut-Dunham House is a late 18th century dwelling set apart by its brick construction and Italianate features. When it was built, it was the largest home in Wethersfield. The structure was modernized in the mid-19th century in the Victorian fashion to adapt to contemporary architectural trends. This building has been the home of two notable local figures: Captain John Hurlbut who captained the first American ship to circumnavigate the globe, and Howard Dunham, who served as Commissioner of Insurance for the State of Connecticut.
The house was built between 1786 when Elisha and Mary Boardman purchased the property, and 1792 when Thomas Chester purchased the property for 255 pounds. Chester sold the property to John Hurlbut in 1804 for $3200. In 1825, the property was purchased by merchant Stephen Buckland Goodwin as a family home. Ownership eventually passed to his son Levi who made major alterations to the house between 1865 and 1873, including the construction of the ell addition and the addition of the porches. Silas Robbins purchased the property for $10,000 in 1875 for his son Elisha who married Ida Adams in 1879. Their daughter Jane was born in 1882. Elisha died in 1894 and Ida and Jane lived there together until 1907 when Jane married Howard Dunham.
Wethersfield Historical Society took possession of the house in 1970/71. Jane had requested that the house and contents “be used to encourage general interest in history and to promote the study, appreciation and understanding of the history and traditions of my town, state and country.” WHS made repairs to the belvedere and porches in the 1980s, and approved the plan to interpret the house as the early 20th century home of the Dunhams, a time period that was not already highlighted by other Wethersfield museums. The museum is open free of charge on weekends May through October and during special events. It is used for school programs and adult group tours throughout the year.
Will you help us this #GivingTuesday? Today, and through the end of the year, we ask that you make your tax deductible donation to help us obtain a matching grant for preservation improvements at the Hurlbut-Dunham House, to make sure that the house will continue to be open and available as a resource to our community. We hope to raise $3500 to help with these improvements.
You can donate online by clicking the “Donate” button below. Fill out the form and write Hurlbut-Dunham House in the “Notes” box.
You can also mail a check to:
Wethersfield Historical Society
150 Main Street
Wethersfield, CT 06109
Please be sure to write “Hurlbut-Dunham House” on the memo line.
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