The Middlesex County Historical Society will celebrate Connecticut Open House Day on June 11 by unveiling its new exhibit, One House, One Family, Two Centuries. The exhibit depicts the story of the society’s headquarters, the General Joseph Mansfield House, a brick, five bay Federal home that has stood at 151 Main St. since 1817.
The house was built by Samuel Mather, an importer of rum, and his wife, Catharine Livingston Mather. Their oldest daughter, Louisa, married Joseph King Fenno Mansfield, a career military officer who was Inspector General of the U. S. Army and was placed in charge of the defenses of Washington, D.C. after the outbreak of the Civil War by President Abraham Lincoln. He was mortally wounded at the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862. Louisa Mansfield, who had inherited the home from her parents, continued to live in the home after his death as did the next 3 generations of the family.
The historical society purchased the home from Marietta Edgerton, the great-granddaughter of Joseph and Louisa Mansfield in 1959 saving it from demolition. The exhibit explores the lives and times of the Mather/Mansfield family and the evolution of the home on Main Street. The early days of maritime Middletown are depicted as well as the lives of the many women who called 151 Main Street home. Many personal items owned by members of the family are displayed.
The exhibit was guest-curated by Wesleyan University junior, Charlotte Cottier, who worked with Middlesex County Historical Society board member, David Wolfram, a graphic designer, and Society Executive Director, Deborah Shapiro. The society will be open on June 11 from 10 am to 4 pm. Regular hours for viewing One House, One Family, Two Centuries, as well as the Historical Society’s ongoing exhibit, Hard & Stirring Times, Middletown and the Civil War are Tuesday through Thursday, 10 to 3 and Friday, 10 to 12. Admission on Connecticut Open House Day is free. The General Joseph Mansfield House is handicapped accessible. For further information call 860-346-0746.