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Open House

Saturday, November 26
11am – 3pm 

Allis-Bushnell House
853 Boston Post Road

Storytelling is one of the most effective ways of connecting with peoples’ hearts and minds. At the MHS, we tell stories that connect people to the past and make history fun and accessible. On Saturday, November 26, the MHS will host an open house from 10 AM to 3 PM at the Allis-Bushnell House. Each room of the first floor has a theme and tells a unique story about a specific period in Madison’s past.  All visitors are invited to learn about five events from Madison history, including a special story about a native son whose efforts changed the course of naval warfare. 

In the colonial kitchen, visitors will learn about the patriotic women who hosted Liberty Teas during the Revolutionary War. In the Federal-style dining room, the heroics of Captain Frederick Lee and the role he played in the founding of the town are revealed. Civil War-era stories are told in the front parlors, while tales of women’s suffrage are recounted in the Victorian tea room. 

The highlight of the day will be a pop-up exhibit on the life of Madison native Cornelius Scranton Bushnell. Born during the age of sail, Bushnell left home at the age of fifteen to pursue a career as a merchant mariner. After five years at sea, he returned to New Haven to run a marine hardware store with his brother. An entrepreneur at heart, Bushnell later went on to become a railroad executive. In this role, he traveled to Washington, D.C., where he successfully lobbied politicians for protections for his small railroad. His effective lobbying skills–a form of storytelling–were noticed by members of the Lincoln administration. They enlisted his help to rally congressional support for the construction of ironclad ships–and the rest of Cornelius’s efforts made history.

The MHS Annual Open House has dovetailed with the town’s Small Business Saturday events for more than a decade. This unique opportunity allows residents and visitors to enjoy a guided tour of the museum and discover some of the collections preserved within the house. New this year, a selection of unique locally made holiday gifts will also be available for purchase.

Docents will tell stories of the many ways in which our shared past connects us. They will also answer questions and serve apple cider and cookies. This free event is open to all ages.

The Allis-Bushnell House

The Allis-Bushnell House was once home to Madison’s prominent Bushnell and Scranton families. Built in 1785, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Visitors to the Allis-Bushnell House can experience five historic days that unfolded within its rooms or in homes nearby.

The home’s lower-level rooms, each with distinct period architectural features, are decorated with period furniture, domestic implements, decorative arts, and paintings that illustrate how life was lived in Madison in five time periods from colonial days through the 1920s.

Each of these scenic “sets” is complemented by stories, shared by our guides, of life in the house as it was during colonial days, the Revolutionary War period, the Civil War period, and the Colonial Revival era.

The House is opened on occasion throughout the year for special events, talks, and exhibits. Public tours are given on CT Open House Day in early June and on the fourth Saturday in November, following Thanksgiving. Be sure to check our calendar for details.

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