About the Middlesex County Historical Society

The Middlesex County Historical Society is currently closed to visitors due to COVID-19. We are monitoring Connecticut health and safety guidelines and will re-open when it is safe to do so. Please check back here for updated hours of operation once the society re-opens.

Founded in 1901, the Middlesex County Historical Society is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving the history of Middletown and Middlesex County, and providing programs for adults and children to increase their understanding of the area’s past.  Museum exhibits, walking tours, re-enactments, and a lecture series are among its many annual events.

The Historical Society is headquartered at General Mansfield House, one of the few residential structures still standing on Middletown’s Main Street. Once the home of General Joseph K.F. Mansfield, a Civil War hero who died at the battle of Antietam in 1862, the Federal brick mansion has been the home of the Historical Society since 1959.

At the museum at General Mansfield House, visitors can explore the community’s past through major exhibits, which showcase artifacts from the Historical Society’s permanent collection. Recent exhibits have examined artifacts from World War I, Middletown’s 19th century women’s clothing, varied immigrant groups; the rise and fall of manufacturing in Middlesex County; and, death and dying from Colonial times to the present. A Vanished Port, our current exhibition, explores Middletown’s history as a colonial port.

In the meantime, the society is pleased to announce the hiring of Jesse Nasta, Ph.D., as our new Executive Director, effective May 5, 2020. Jesse is a Middletown native, a MCHS board member, and he also teaches history in Wesleyan University’s African American Studies Department.

The Benefits of Membership

Events, webinars, virtual presentations of local history

The Middlesex County Historical Society is growing and expanding its outreach with new dynamic programs, exhibits, and educational services. As a member, you enjoy reduced/free admission to Historical Society functions, a free subscription to our e-newsletter, and timely notices of upcoming events. You also benefit from supporting the activities of the Society as we celebrate and preserve our past and plan for our future. Learn more

 

History of Middletown

 Wangunks, Native Americans of the Mattabeseck

The Wangunks lived at the great bend in the Connecticut River for countless generations when the first English settlers arrived in 1650.  The Wangunks called the area “Mattabeseck,” which was incorporated by the Connecticut General Court in 1651 and encompassed the present day towns of Middletown, Middlefield, Cromwell, Portland, East Hampton, and part Berlin.  In 1653,  Mattabeseck was renamed Middletown, probably because of its location midway between Hartford and Saybrook. Learn More