House Description

The Jabez Bacon House

Woodbury, Connecticut

An Historical and Architectural Landmark

Offered by the Griswold Family

The Jabez Bacon House

The Jabez Bacon House is an architecturally significant three-story Georgian house built circa 1760 for the man reputed to be Connecticut’s first millionaire.  The approximately 4000 square foot house is individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is within the Town of Woodbury Historic District.  Preservation easements held by the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation protect the house.  Hollow Road, where the house is located, is remarkable for its degree of preservation of both the built and natural environment.  Two historic house museums anchor the street and help to preserve its remarkable historic integrity.

Rear of property showing summer kitchen & barn

Sitting on over two acres of lawn and garden, the property consists of the main house, a separate summer kitchen with a full cooking fireplace and original smoke room on the second floor, and an early two-story early barn.  A two-story ell off the back of the house, currently an in-law apartment, was built in the early 20th  century, probably on the footprint of an earlier shed or other workspace.

The house is unique for its original paneling in five formal rooms, each with its own elaborate design. The ceilings are higher than is normal for this period.  The unusually spacious paneled front hall is graced with an elegant staircase.  Three of the six working fireplaces in the main house are surrounded by striking 18th century English Delft polychrome tiles.

West Chamber, Second Floor

Six windows on the first  floor have paneled, recessed interior shutters which have never been painted or stained.The detached summer kitchen may be unique in Connecticut both for its form and its degree of preservation.  The smoke room on the second floor bears witness to Jabez Bacon’s commercial activity with its original meat hooks and old carbon residue on the walls.  The two-bay barn on the property also shows evidence of the commercial lives of earlier owners, with original stamps from the shipping trade burned into the wood walls.Jabez Bacon was a self-made merchant who bought the property in Woodbury in 1758 at the age of 28.  He was a partner in the Derby Fishing Company, which owned ships and traded along the eastern seaboard.  Bacon had a store, now a private home next door, and was said to have sold supplies to the yankee peddlers for all of western Connecticut and into New York and Massachusetts.

Summer Kitchen

In addition, he acted as a banker, lending money to towns-people and holding their property as collateral.  He reportedly controlled the pork market in New York at one period, and there are stories about his sharp business practices.  He speculated in land in the Western Reserve, owning 20,000 acres in the late 18thcentury.  It is clear thatBacon built and decorated his grand house as a testament to his considerable success.The house was featured in the “White Pine” series of books from the 1920s, and Wallace Nutting used the front hallway and staircase in one of his photographs.  Hand-painted, French wallpaper circa 1775 -1800 from an upstairs bedroom was sold to Winterthur Museum in the 1920s or 30s and until recently was on display there.  Original wallpaper from three rooms is preserved on the fireboards that remain in the house.Only four families have owned the property in the nearly 250 years of its existence.  In 1834, the house was sold to the Curtiss Family, who owned it until 1927.  Daniel Curtiss started the first bank in town in the store building next door and owned several factories and other properties.  Harlan Griswold, who purchased the house in 1953, and whose family has owned the house since then, was a well-known preservationist in Connecticut, having been for many years the Chairman of the Connecticut Historical Commission and co-founder and Chairman of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation.  The State of Connecticut’s highest award in historic preservation is the Harlan H. Griswold Award. Acknowledged as one of the finest 18th century houses in Connecticut, the Jabez Bacon house combines an extraordinary level of fine workmanship with well-preserved and uniquely beautiful features in superb original condition.

The property is offered by Klemm Real Estate.

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