About the 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 our goal to increase citizen and community awareness of the unique heritage of Colchester and the region.
- A Colchester Historical Society Collection's Committee member wrote and illustrated a comprehensive history of Colchester, published by Arcadia Publications.
- The Society partners with the Town of Colchester Historic District Commission to open to the public the replica School for Colored Children.
- Society members present educational history programs monthly to local seniors through the Colchester Senior Center.
- The Society partners with the Bacon Academy Board of Trustees to open to the public the Nathaniel Foote House.
- For 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 walking tour of historic sites for third grade students, teachers and chaperones.
- The Society purchases history books for both the Town of Colchester public schools and Cragin Memorial Library.
- The Society supports education with two scholarships for graduating Bacon Academy seniors.
Recognition for Our Preservation Efforts
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…”
On October 12, 2003, the Society opened our first public museum. The Colchester History Museum is located in the former Reverend John Ballard House in the center of Colchester. The restored mid-18th-century building presently showcases two new exhibits, Emerging from the Shadows: the Story of the School for Colored Children, 1803-1840 and Colchester's Roots in Agriculture: Then and Now. Additional exhibits include the History of the Bulkeley Family, including the discovery of the Gershom Bulkeley Tomb, the Hayward Rubber Company, Colonel Henry Champion, and our mini-exhibit, What the Doctor Ordered: A Century of Bottles from Colchester’s Pharmacies.
Membership & Donations
The Society is a non-profit organization and relies on donations and fundraising for our operating expenses. Income is generated through memberships, designated public events, and the sale of our annual calendar highlighting unique images from our vast collection of old photographs, Images of America: Colchester and Historical Landmarks: A Historical Tour of Colchester, a self-guided tour book.
We welcome new members! Society members participate in several private and public events throughout the year. The Society presents several programs of historic interest each year and most are offered 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, social media or mail of upcoming meetings and events. Refreshments are served at most programs, and all interested family members are welcome. Dues are $25 per household. Donations beyond membership are always needed and appreciated.
View the Colchester Historical Society 2020-2021 Annual Report here.
For additional information about the Colchester Historical Society, call (860) 537-4230 or contact us.