This center-chimney saltbox, located prominently next to the Town House, was built by Stephen Hanford, a weaver and New Canaan’s first licensed tavern keeper (at a time when Connecticut law mandated “ordinary” taverns and inns for travelers.)
It is noteworthy that several generations of the Silliman family occupied the home until the 1920s. During that time, a Greek Revival facade and a rear dining room were added. The Sillimans served the town in many capacities through the years: they were clergy, lawyers, farmers, businessmen and government officials.
In 1957, about to lose its headquarters in the New Canaan Library, the Society raised the funds necessary to acquire and restore the historic building to its period luster.
The house is now central to the Society’s education program: Its well-kept period furnishings and household items accurately reflect both the ambiance of a colonial inn and the details appropriate to family life at the time. In fact, a few of the antique pieces date back to the original owners, including a working loom that was possibly owned by Stephen Hanford himself.
A renovated “Doll Museum” opened on the second floor in 1986 to display and protect the Society’s collection of some 40 rare antique dolls, with miniature accessories and fashionable costumes.