History Preserved–A home steeped in history and daffodils
Come spring, visitors wending through Colebrook can’t help but gape at the prominent grassy slope bursting forth with thousands of daffodils—a whopping 3,800 bulbs at last count. “People will get out of their cars and take pictures,” says owner Carol Lord, who with her husband Edward purchased the Captain Samuel Rockwell House in the spring of 2018. Edward, who grew up on Pinney Street in a home his father built, was intent on keeping town ties in tact; Carol, an active member of the Colebrook Historical Society and the Colebrook Preservation Society, was keen on the home’s prominence and spaciousness. Together, the Lords were ultimately drawn to the exquisite attention to detail employed by the former owners during their extensive renovation and restoration of the historic property.
The Captain Samuel Rockwell House, situated on Colebrook Road, is a veritable cornerstone of the town’s early history. Built in 1766 by Erastus Wolcott, one of Colebrook’s original settlers, the home was sold to just two years later to Rockwell, a captain in the Revolutionary War. The property remained in his extended family for more than two centuries and has changed hands just three times in the past three decades.
“They really spared no expense,” says Carol, of the former owners, as she points out some key original features of the home’s oldest section. The original 1766 door, complete with bit key, opens into a parlor boasting original ceiling beams. Authentic raised wood panels create a cohesive element throughout the ground floor. Interior shutters, dating to 1792, flank all of the eastern facing windows in the home’s front section, both upstairs and down. Wood floorboards, in irregular widths, keep company with corner gun posts and most of the wrought iron hardware adorning both interior and exterior doors is original. Two Rumford fireplaces, identified by their shallow, angled sides designed to reflect heat into the room, grace the ground floor—including the home’s original kitchen fireplace, replete with Dutch oven and one of the Rockwell’s original cooking pots. Contents of the home, passed from one owner to the next, include a pair of Hitchcock four poster canopy beds, originating from Lambert Hitchcock’s chair company, launched in nearby Riverton in the early 19th century.
Today, the front parlor remains Carol Lord’s favorite space. Through the room’s front windows, triple glazed with antique glass, more history unfolds. Across the street, and dating back to 1816, is the former Seymour Inn which currently houses the historical society; adjacent, and situated upon the town green, stands the Colebrook Congregational Church, which dates to 1795; both the Colebrook General Store (1812) and the Woodbine Cottage (1792) sit on the Rockwell’s original lot. The store, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was the oldest continually operating store in Connecticut until it closed in 2007 (it has since been purchased by the Colebrook Preservation Society and is open for business).
The history with which the Rockwell House and its locale are infused is both rich and enduring. Soldiers from George Washington’s army, on assignment in October 1777, reputedly made an encampment on what is now the Lord’s south lawn; in December 1779, the first town meeting was held in the Rockwell House—a tradition that continued for 16 years until a town meeting house was built. In 1988, James and Shirley Draper purchased the home from a Rockwell descendant; in 2011, the property was purchased by Susan and Mark Caufield who were responsible for the most recent renovations, including the dizzying array of daffodils. “When we learned they were going to sell, we looked at each other and said, ‘Let’s think about this,’” says Carol Lord. Suffice it to say, there has been little backward glancing—save for through an historical lens.