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REVOLUTIONARY DESIGN

        By Max H. Peters

  Looking east from the green in Lebanon, farmlands roll on almost  to the horizon. Dozens of historical buildings surround the mile long green, and for miles in every direction the world looks much the same today as it did when George Washington spent the night here, on March 4, 1781.  Lebanon offers history buffs  authentic atmosphere in abundance.

  Alicia Wayland is on the board of directors of the Jonathan Trumbull, Junior House Museum, which is owned by the town of Lebanon. She also wrote the text for the excellent guidebook,  Around the Lebanon Green.  Alicia made it possible for CTOldHouse.com to visit the house in November and photograph the stairway, corner fireplaces and moldings carved by Isaac Fitch during 1780-81, years when Jonathan Trumbull Junior became the first Comptroller of the U.S.  Treasury and then military secretary to Washington and was present at the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown.  In 1797 Jonathan Trumbull Junior was elected Governor of Connecticut. Isaac Fitch
This over-mantle at the Jonathan Trumbull, Jr. house is rich in detail yet retains its simple elegance.

  Jonathan Trumbull’s father, General Jonathan Trumbull , the only royal governor to support independence, was at the center of the Revolutionary war effort.   Washington wrote in his diary ”Except for Jonathan Trumbull, the war could not have been carried to a successful conclusion.” The Governor Jonathan Trumbull House, which sits on the opposite side of the green from the home he built for his son, is owned and operated by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Isaac Fitch Corner
Isaac Fitch's work in the late 1700's typifies the elegance and the artistry Connecticut woodcraftsmen have ben known for since Pilgrim times.
 Architect-builder Isaac Fitch is considered a major figure in Connecticut decorative arts history.  At least two of the houses he designed and built are still in use. “Redwood,” is a two story house built in  Lebanon in 1778-1779 for David Trumbull, third son of General Jonathan Trumbull, Sr. The New London County Courthouse has been in continuous use since it was built. The Yale Art Gallery has a secretary it attributes to Fitch, who was known to make everything of wood that was called for, including wheels, axles, coffins, gunstocks, picture frames and sleighs.

  Candice Brashears, Director of the Jonathan Tumble, Jr. House Museum, has spent many hours researching the house and the history of the Trumbull family. Searching through papers at the Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford, she found a receipt made out to Fitch by Jonathan Trumbull , Sr. for work done on the Jonathan Trumbull, Jr. house. Candice feels that a big part of her job is communicating the history of the Revolutionary era to young people in a meaningful way.  “Sometimes you can see a kid’s eyes light up,” she told me. “Then you know they’re getting it.”

John Turnbull Jr. House
Jonathan Trumbull, Jr. House
Isaac Fitch Isaac Fitch Handrail
Fitch carved the rail of the staircase out of cherry, the rest from pine.

Isaac Fitch Stairs

Right - the view from this second story window today is much the same as it was in Jonathan Trumbull, Jr.'s day.

Window view

  On my way out to my car I talked to Bill Wollenberg, who was putting in a new sidewalk.  Bill is a concrete contractor from Farmington who told me that he recently put a new foundation under the barn behind the house. “I grew up on a farm,” he said, “so I got a little bit of a passion for what’s old.”

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Early New England Homes - Country Carpenters
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RG Bettcher Period Architecture Components


Mansfield Drive-in and Marketplace

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