About Colchester Historical Society

Founded in 1963, the mission of the Colchester Historical Society is to enlighten the community to the rich history of Colchester.


It is the goal of the Colchester Historical Society to increase citizen and community awareness of the unique heritage of Colchester and the region. The Society owns and maintains the Reverend John Ballard House  as the Colchester History Museum.  The Colchester History Museum is a handicapped-accessible building.  In addition, the Society has been instrumental in the preservation of numerous buildings in Colchester, notably the Old Town hall, now the home of Colchester’s Youth Services Center, and in conjunction with the Bacon Academy Board of Trustees, the society helps to maintain the Nathaniel Foote House on Norwich Avenue and Old Bacon Academy. The Society has financially supported the restoration of the Colchester Burying Ground, and restoration of the gravestone of Revolutionary War patriot, Colonel Henry Champion.

In 1998 the Town of Colchester received the first ever Connecticut Local Government Achievement Award for historic preservation.  Paul Loether, the Connecticut Historic Commission’s local government coordinator stated that Colchester was the only town to be given the award because of the effort it has put into preservation.  “Colchester has done that extremely well,” Loether stated, “they have done it across the board to make sure preservation has a place.”  First Selectman Jenny Contois credited the Colchester Historical Society’s efforts toward the award by saying, “We have received tremendous support from the state and from the (Colchester) Historical Society…”

The Society is active in sponsoring educational opportunities for the community. For the town of Colchester’s Tricentennial celebration the Society sponsored a three day Colonial Encampment on the Town Green.  All of Colchester’s public school students participated in guided visits to the encampment.  Each spring Society members host a historical walking tour for classes from the Colchester Intermediate School.  The Society also purchases history books for both the school and public library. The Society supports the education with two scholarships for graduating Bacon Academy seniors.

On October 12, 2003 the Society opened our first public museum.  The Colchester History Museum formerly the Reverend John Ballard House at 24 Linwood Avenue, in the center of Colchester, is now open to the public on Saturdays during the hours of 1:00 to 4:00 pm.  The restored mid Eighteenth Century building presently showcases exhibitions highlighting the History of the Bulkeley Family, including the discovery of the Gershom Bulkeley Tomb.  Additional exhibits include the Hayward Rubber Company, Colonel Henry Champion, A Sense of Place: Postcards from the Past, and our newest exhibit, What the Doctor Ordered: A Century of Bottles from Colchester’s Pharmacies.

The Society is a non-profit organization and relies on donations and fund raising for operating expenses.  Income is generated through designated public events plus the sale of an annual calendar highlighting the most interesting images from our vast collection of old photographs, and A Walking Tour of Colchester, a self guided tour book of Colchester’s history.

We welcome new members. The Society membership participate in several events throughout the year. The Society presents several programs of historic interest each year.  Most programs are free and open to the public. All citizens are welcome to attend meetings and to become members.  There is no prerequisite for membership, simply an interest in history and preservation
Members are informed either by email or mail of upcoming meetings. Refreshments are served at programs, and all interested family members are welcome. Dues are $25 per household.  Donations beyond membership are always needed and appreciated.

To learn more information about the Society’s museum restoration, click here.
For additional information about the Colchester Historical Society call  537-4230 or send an email to: mail@colchesterhistory.org

 

Our mailing address is:

Colchester Historical Society
PO Box 13
Colchester, CT  06415

Current News!


 

 

Ghoulchester: A Graveyard Tour into the Past
Location: tour begins at Hayward Fire Company Museum on South Main Street
Friday, October 13, 6 pm to 7:30 pm
*(Rain Date: Sunday, October 15, 4 pm to 5:30 pm)*
$10 CHS members / $15 non-members / $25 families
Fortune-teller cost: $10 for 10-minute reading (optional; pay at Colchester History Museum)

Formerly known as the “Spooky Cemetery Tour,” the Colchester Historical Society’s newly-named “Ghoulchester” is still the same great popular program! During this tour of the Colchester Burying Ground, visitors will meet notable characters from Colchester’s past–as if they’ve just risen from their graves to share their stories!

Tours are guided and recommended for both adults and families with children. All children 16 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Please wear comfortable footwear, dress for the weather, and bring a flashlight to enhance your experience. Tour space is limited and advanced reservations are strongly recommended.

After your tour, meet a fortune-teller (extra cost; purchase tickets in advance of your tour, as tickets are limited) and enjoy free baked goods and apple cider refreshments at the nearby Colchester History Museum.

*If rain date is necessary, decision will be made by 12 noon on 10/13. Check Facebook and/or CHS E-Blast for notification. Event will be cancelled in event of heavy rains; light percipitation will not cause event to be cancelled; dress appropriately.*

The historic Colchester Burying Ground, located behind the Old Bacon Academy, is one of the finest graveyards in eastern Connecticut housing the remains of many prominent citizens, and featuring exquisitely carved historic headstones. For more information, email: mail@colchesterhistory.org.

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