The Cromwell Historical Society was founded in 1964 by a group of individuals interested in the history of Cromwell, Connecticut and the surrounding area. The membership is open to anyone interested in the history of Cromwell. Specifically, the society serves to collect, research, interpret, preserve, and disseminate information related to the history of Cromwell.
The Cromwell Historical Society maintains the Stevens-Frisbie House and three out-buildings located at 395 Main Street in Cromwell, Connecticut. The house serves as a museum of town history and a memorial to the Frisbie family. The buildings house a substantial collection of historical materials and artifacts which is preserved, maintained and displayed by the Society. The public is welcome to visit the house during museum hours which are held each weekend between Memorial Day and Labor Day and then on monthly first Sundays throughout the year. Visits to the Stevens-Frisbie House are also arranged by appointment. While there is no admission charge to the museum, the Society welcomes donations at the door. Members of the Society serve as tour guides and docents on a volunteer basis.
The Stevens-Frisbie House serves as the meeting place for the members of the Cromwell Historical Society, the elected Executive Board, and several committees. The general membership meets seven times a year on the fourth Monday of the month and the Executive board during the previous week. The Cromwell Junior Women’s Club is an organizational member of the Cromwell Historical Society and also holds its meetings in the Stevens-Frisbie House. The American Legion Carlson Sjovall Post 105 houses its archives and equipment in the buildings. The Society also allows other cultural organizations to utilize its facilities for meetings.
In the spirit of disseminating history, the Society presents an annual program series consisting of seven historical lectures. Each series features a mixture of local and general history related to a specific theme. Program series themes have included the American Civil War, eras in American history, and, most recently, the eponymous places of Cromwell. Presenters range from volunteer members of the Society to paid professional experts. These programs are paid for out of our general operating budget and are open to the public at no charge. The Society has a tour program specially designed for scout troops through which scouts can earn their “Go See It” and “History” badges.
In addition to lecture programs, the Society holds several "Open House" events throughout the year. These events are designed to bring people into the Stevens-Frisbie House to partake in the offerings of the Society and museum. Often, there is a living history element wherein various aspects of historical life in Cromwell are demonstrated. Some of these events are annual such as the May Day Tea and the Christmas Open House. The Society holds special events such as living history days, student art shows and community receptions. Some Society events take place throughout the town of Cromwell, such as our Sixth Night Christmas Caroling during which historically dressed members of the society sing Christmas carols door-to-door and in the town center. All of these events are open to the public and are free of charge with support coming from donations.
The Society often performs educational programs in the Cromwell community. At different times of the year, the Society presents walking tours of the historic neighborhoods and cemeteries of the town. Several members of the Society serve as volunteer historians and present lecture programs on the history of Cromwell for schools, retirement communities, and town's library. Juleps & Viragoes, the Society’s group of living historians, participates in the town’s annual Memorial Day ceremony and parade, wearing early 1860s costumes and distributing information regarding the history of the holiday.
The Cromwell Historical Society also disseminates the history of Cromwell through publications and the internet. The Society’s membership newsletter, the Cromwell Courier, features articles of historical interest as well as details of the society’s operations. Similarly, the Society’s website, www.cromwellhistory.org, features historical information and the Society’s schedule. In 1991, the Society published a history of Cromwell called Cromwell Connecticut 1650-1990 the History of a River Port Town by Robert Owen Decker. The research, authorship and publishing of the book were funded between individual donors listed in the book and the asking price. The book is currently available in the Society’s gift shop for $15.00.
The Cromwell Historical Society receives an average of 60 research requests annually which are processed by our volunteer historians. Research requests are received by telephone, electronic and U.S. mail, through the Society’s website, through social media, and in person during museum hours. Through these requests, the public has access to our collection of historical information and images. This service is provided free of charge.
The financial support of the Cromwell Historical Society comes from donations, membership dues, interest from an endowment fund, and fundraising activities. Donations are received on a free-will basis at all events and on occasion, as one-time contributions. Regular Society members are categorized as Individual, Business or Student and pay annual dues of $25.00, $30.00 and $5.00 respectively. The Society’s endowment is made up of funds collected from Life members over the past 40 years. Currently, the price for a Life membership is $500.00.
Vice-President: Barbara Grotheer
Recording Secretary: Gerald Seagrave
Corresponding Secretary: Cynthia Delaney
Treasurer: Barbara Lesi
Directors: Ruthann Kiley, Olivia Delaney, Buddy Goodrich
Grounds Chair: Rebecca Bayreuther Donohue
Membership Chair: Sarah Hopley
Acquisitions Chair: Barbara Grotheer
House Chair: Peter Lesi
Town Counsel Representative: Allan Waters
Ways & Means Chair: Maria VanGeystelen