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 MuseumThe 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 Story of the Zagray Family, the Hayward Rubber Company, Colonel Henry Champion and our newest exhibit A Sense of Place: Postcards from the Past.

The Colchester Historical Society also owns and maintains the Zagray Homestead on Amston Road in Colchester.  The farm was owned by the three bachelor Zagray brothers, Harry, Willy and Stanley, and was operated as an organic farm.  The vast property is shared by the Colchester Historical Society, The Quinebaug Valley Engineers Association and the Colchester Fish and Game Club.  The museum on the farm is not yet open to the public on a regular basis.
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 $15. per year or $10 for seniors or students. 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!


Steps-logo

The Colchester Historical Society is proud to announce the successful completion of StEPS-CT, or Standards and Excellence Program for History Organizations (StEPs).

The Colchester Historical Society was one of 23 small cultural and heritage organizations which recently completed this intensive 2-year program.  CHS received support and training via curriculum-based workshops; coaching from a dedicated mentor; and access to a Connecticut Humanities grant fund earmarked for initiatives related to achieving StEPs-CT program standards.

Over the course of the program, the Colchester Historical Society achieved bronze and silver certificates in six areas of museum practice.  Through continued work on a self-study basis, CHS plans to continue to strive for gold certification in all StEPS Units.  “This is just the beginning,” said CHS Co-President Gigi Liverant, “we are so grateful for StEPS-CT for all that we’ve learned, and we plan to continue developing procedures and policies that establish Colchester Historical Society as the premier steward of Colchester’s history and heritage.”

“Our experience with StEPS-CT has been invaluable,” Angela George, Co-President of CHS added. “From improved signage that has increased visitation to the museum, to implementing current policies that guide our volunteers through daily operations, StEPS-CT has improved our organization.  We can now provide better programs to our community, and we are now better able to tell our audiences our local histories and preserve our heritage through our unique collections and images.”

StEPs-CT is a program of Connecticut Humanities and the Connecticut League of History Organizations, in partnership with Connecticut Historical Society, based on a curriculum of best practices developed by the American Association for State and Local History.  

Connecticut’s program was the first to integrate the national StEPs curriculum and is viewed as a model for similar programs across the country, according to Scott Wands, manager of grants and programs at Connecticut Humanities.

Connecticut Humanities, a nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, provides opportunities to explore the history, literature and the vibrant culture that make our state, cities and towns attractive places to live and work. Learn more by visiting www.cthumanities.org.

The Connecticut League of History Organizations (CLHO) builds connections among those who preserve and share the stories and objects of our past. Learn more by visiting www.clho.org

 

 

 

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