Leffingwell House Museum History
The Leffingwell House is unique in illustrating the development from 17th century beginnings to a town house of the mid 18th century. The 6 acre lot was purchased by one of the founding fathers of Norwich, William Backus, who willed it to his son, Stephen. Built as a simple two room house in 1675 by Stephen Backus, the house later belonged to Thomas Leffingwell. In 1701, Thomas was granted permission to keep an inn. Benajah Leffingwell, Thomas’ son, was also an innkeeper. The first additions to the original house were made to accommodate its use as a “publique house of entertainment of strangers“.
The South door entrance hall is not of the 1675 structure, but added circa 1715. The Tavern Room to the right, however is inside the original building. The Great South Parlor was the first addition to the house, circa 1715, as is believe to have been a separate structure. The North Parlor was designed as a bedroom, but became a parlor circa 1765. The brown paint in the kitchen is a rare example of this color being used in the 18th century. The Summer kitchen in the basement is equipped with a clock-like mechanism for turning a spit. The 1675 Bedroom is in the upper chamber of the original house. Christopher Leffingwell inherited the house in 1756, and in 1956, two hundred years after he inherited it, the State of Connecticut announced plans to demolish the Leffingwell House for construction of Route 2. Individuals and historical societies across the state began an intensive campaign to save the historic site. The rescue of the Leffingwell House was one of the first victories of preservation over demolition in CT. The Society of the Founders acquired the house from the Department of Transportation and moved it to an adjacent portion of the original lot. Years of painstaking restoration followed. In 1967, the house was opened to the public, restored and furnished with period antiques.