Haddam Historical Society
Thankful Arnold House Museum
March 30, 2021
News and Updates
Demolition of the Leverett Spencer House
The owner of 140 Dublin Hill Road has reapplied to Planning and Zoning to demolish the Leverett Spencer House. The hearing will be on APRIL 22, 2021 at Haddam Elementary School at 7 pm.

Last fall the Haddam Historical Society submitted an objection to the demo application which launched the Delay of Demolition Ordinance. This gave us a few months to look for options. Also, the Planning and Zoning Commission denied the application to demolish on September 3, 2021 as no feasible alternatives had been proposed by the owner.

Working with Preservation Connecticut, we had the property listed on the their “Historic Properties Exchange” and had a few parties interested in it. Unfortunately, the interior had been completely stripped and interest evaporated.

A group of local citizens then got together to see if they could formulate a plan to save the building and highlight the environmental and historic importance of Higganum Cove as a destination. After numerous meetings with contractors and moving professionals, the group (Friends of Higganum Cove) developed a tentative plan to relocate the Spencer House just down the street to Higganum Cove to be used for a number of purposes including nature/heritage center, hiking/canoeing base, or possible rental. The idea was to fundraise and use as locally donated talent and services.

The Friends of the Cove goals:

Save an important piece of Higganum’s architectural & cultural history; relocate The Leverett Spencer House (The House) to Higganum Cove (The Cove) & repurpose it to establish a Higganum Heritage & Nature Center (The Center) –a destination that will stimulate tourism & new business to our town.
  • Achieving 1st phase of our community vision -- “Higganum Plan of Conservation & Development” (POCD) & 2019 charrette recommendations for growing cultural & and eco-tourism
  • Putting Haddam/Higganum on the map for its mill town history & beautiful landscape; over time, link The Cove to other mills, historical sites & nature sites around town with signs & self-guided tours.
  • Deterring vandalism on the Higganum Cove property with increased Cove activity & appropriate street/center lighting 

For the complete Vision Statement for Friends of the Cove: Click Here

 Town officials indicated they supported the idea in plan but would need to see “a ground swell of public support” before advocating for it financially.

However, a project of this magnitude takes time. Volunteers gave their time freely and spent many hours researching, developing budgets and strategies and meeting via Zoom or at the site. Those involved felt this could be a unique solution, for not only saving a piece of local history, but an opportunity to showcase and interpret Higganum Cove.

Regrettably, the owner 140 Dublin Hill, who was initially supportive of relocating the house to the Cove, has decided to move forward with the demolition swiftly before the Friends of the Cove could promote the idea and gain backing.

If you support the Friends of the Cove idea of relocating the Leverett Spencer House to Higganum Cove and establishing the Cove as a local destination for various activities including outdoor recreation and arts and culture please email the following:

Good News!
Haddam Historical Society Awarded grant from Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office

The Haddam Historical Society has recently been awarded a grant to hire a consultant to nominate the Dublin Hill Road area and Higganum Cove to the State Register of Historic Places by the Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office (a division of DECD).

The impetus for the nomination was the proposed demolition of the 1875 Leverett Spencer House at 140 Dublin Hill Road. Listing the area on the State Register will shed light on the under appreciated industrial history of the area and the architecture of the factory worker. The designation will also celebrate the early workers and immigrants to Higganum and honor an important period in our community’s and state’s history. We hope that designating the area will instill and pride of place and encourage preservation of these historically overlooked assets.

Listing on the State Register is primarily an honorary designation. It DOES NOT restrict the rights of private property owners in the use, development or sale of their property. It does not require that the property be maintained, repaired or restored and does not force federal, state, local or private projects to be stopped.

A number of areas in Haddam are already listed on either the National Register or State Register of Historic Places including Haddam Center, Higganum Landing and portions of Higganum Village along Route 154 between High Street and the Fire Station.

We hope the residents of the area and of Haddam will embrace this recognition of our community’s heritage and the value it holds for making Higganum a special place.
Connecticut’s Historic Gardens
 Announces Winner of 2021 Poster Contest

Connecticut’s Historic Gardens is pleased to announce artist Peter Kokoszka of Meriden, CT as the winner of the eighth annual Historic Gardens Day Poster Art Contest.

 “The Magnificent Garden” is a 16” x 20” acrylic and oil painting. Mr. Kokoszka states: “The painting is a tribute to the Historical Florence Griswold House, Barn, Garden and the flowers and wild life found within Gardens of Connecticut that have inspired artists throughout generations to express their creative ideas of our beautiful state.”

This contest gives local artists a chance to showcase their talents while advertising CT Historic Gardens Day, an important, statewide event. The group began the contest to encourage Connecticut artists to visit and capture these historically significant homes with beautiful gardens. They hope that these sites will provide inspiring subjects for their art. 

Along with a cash prize, the winning artist receives widespread exposure – at each of the 15 Connecticut’s Historic Gardens throughout the year and at Connecticut’s Historic Gardens Day, an event that attracts garden lovers from throughout the state and beyond. This year’s Historic Gardens Day takes place on Sunday, June 27, 2021 from 12-4 pm; visit cthistoricgardens.org for details on activities offered at each site.

Mostly a self-taught artist from central Connecticut, Peter graduated from Waterbury State Tech with degrees in Computer Aided Drafting and Design. Peter has worked as an aerospace draftsman, mechanical process engineer, plant manager and inspector but his true passion in life has always been creating artwork. Peter states: “In an attempt to break away from the usual things I drew and to expand my horizons I began meddling with oil paints and other mediums such as acrylic, pastel and watercolors. I love the use of color and I love the spring and summer time so my current art tends to reflect this. Some of my favorite subjects to create are nature, ships, architecture, animals, abstract and technical illustrations. I like to do works of extreme detail as well as impressionistic works of art.”

The Thankful Arnold House Museum is a proud member of Connecticut’s Historic Gardens
Shad Museum Opens on April 4, 2021
Haddam Shad Museum, 212 Saybrook Road, Higganum, CT
2021 Season

The Haddam Shad Museum will be open on Sundays from 10 am to 3 pm from April 4, 2021 to June 13, 2021. The Shad Museum, founded by Dr. Joseph Zaientz of Haddam Neck, focuses on the importance of the Shad fishing industry to Haddam and the lower Connecticut River Valley. Housed in the former Bill Maynard Shad Shack, the museum features many important and unique artifacts related to this once important local industry and is the only museum in the country solely devoted to shad fishing.

Shad Museum directors, who are knowledgeable with both commercial and sport shad fishing will be available to answer questions. For safety reasons, appointments are required by calling 860-345-2400. Social distancing and masks are also required.

The museum is located at 212 Saybrook Road, Higganum, CT behind the gas station. Free admission. For additional information or to set up an appointment visit www.haddamshadmuseum.com or www.haddamhistory.org. The contact phone number is 860-345-2400.

Who lived on Dublin Hill?
Pictured: Four generations of Higganum Family. Left to Right: Mrs. Emma Johnson, her great granddaughter, Jean Ann Planeta, her daughter Mrs. Carl Johnson and her granddaughter Mrs. Andrew Planeta.

This photograph was featured in the Hartford Courant in October of 1934. Mrs Emma Johnson and her husband, Axel lived in the house at 130 Dublin Hill Road. They were Swedish immigrants. Axel who was a blacksmith worked for Scovil Hoe before he died in 1917. Mrs. Johnson remained in the house until 1943 with family members living nearby. The Johnson Family were one of the many immigrant families who worked in the Higganum factories in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and whose descendants still reside here today.