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, open each Saturday from mid-June through August, for changing exhibitions. The Madison Historical Society’s modest library and portions of its archival collection are also housed in Lee's Academy. Other portions of the collection are stored at the Charlotte Evarts Memorial Archives in the neighboring Memorial Town Hall. The collection 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, decorative arts, and textiles. Toys, costumes, and medical implements are among the extensive holdings in the house. Nautical and agricultural tools and implements are among the intriguing items on display in the 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. Guided hikes to the site are offered at varied times throughout the year.
The Society offers educational programs and entertainments throughout the year for adults of all ages, elementary school students, members, and visitors. The MHS Education Programs include special curriculum-aligned tours for schoolchildren eager to learn the history and lifeways of people in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. 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.