The Madison Historical Society opens its doors to both members and visitors from its headquarters at Lee's Academy, located at the eastern end of the town green, at 14 Meetinghouse Lane, just off the historic Boston Post Road in the heart of the charming coastal Connecticut town of Madison.
Owned and maintained by the MHS, Lee's Academy was once a country schoolhouse located elsewhere in town. Today the recently restored schoolhouse with its handsome cupola and bell houses the MHS administrative offices on its upper level. On its lower level is its exhibition hall, which offers special seasonal exhibits. The Madison Historical Society’s modest library and archival collection, also housed in Lee's Academy, specializes in local history and genealogy related to the towns of East Guilford, Guilford, Madison, and Killingworth, from the colonial period and onward to the present. This collection is available to researchers and scholars by appointment.
Built circa 1785, the Allis-Bushnell House is named for the two families who lived in the house in its early years. The most famous of its inhabitants was Cornelius Scranton Bushnell, born in the Bushnell homestead in 1828. Later the first sponsor of the building of the famed Civil War-era ironclad ship, the USS Monitor, Bushnell was also among the original organizers of the Union Pacific Railway.
The Allis-Bushnell House is situated on a lovely vest-pocket-sized acre that also includes an annex to the house, a corn crib, and an herb garden planted and maintained by the Garden Club of Madison. The house is open on occasion for special Open House Day tours that focus on five intriguing periods in Madison history. Tours vividly illustrate both exciting and poignant events that occurred in or near the house and reflect on local, regional, and national moments of importance. On these special tours, often guided by costumed reenactors, visitors can enjoy the home's architectural and decorative features as well as the history and contributions of the people who lived here or nearby. The house contains period furniture, decoartive arts, and textiles. Toys, costumes, and medical, nautical, and agricultural implements are among the extensive holdings in the house and in its annex.
In addition, the Madison Historical Society owns and maintains the secluded Smallpox Cemetery, located a short distance from the west bank of the East River in Guilford.
The Society offers educational programs and entertainments throughout the year for adults of all ages, elementary school students, members, and visitors. A history book group meets monthly at Lee's Academy, the Frederick Lee Lectures are offered in the winter months, and varied open houses, receptions, special exhibitions, and conversations with the curator are among the events that help make the MHS a Madison hub. The annual Madison Historical Society Antiques Fair, always the fourth Saturday in August, is one of the most popular events held each summer on the town green. The MHS Education Programs include special tours for schoolchildren eager to learn the history and lifeways of people in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
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