The Harrison House Purchase


The Harrison House Purchase

The purchase of the Harrison House property was a most wonderful opportunity to preserve a permanent piece of history in the Town of Branford.

We’ve done it ~ The Harrison House is saved!

As of Friday, May 13, 2016, the Branford Historical Society has closed on the purchase of the Harrison House. The ownership of our historic museum and property has returned to Branford! It’s a very happy and proud time for the Historical Society and the town.

The Board of Directors of the Branford Historical Society, sincerely thank you, and are so grateful for your support and generous donations, as BHS members. We also want to give special thanks to the Branford Community Foundation for their matching grant that allowed your individual donations to be doubled, to Summerhill Foundation and the Branford Rotary for their very generous donations, and to the many donors from the Branford Community, and throughout the state and country.

The Harrison House is saved, and will remain a historic museum, open to the public. We sincerely thank you and all that so generously helped us reach our goal so quickly. We hope to see you at the Harrison House and events in the very near future.

To review how we got here…
The Branford Historical Society founded in 1960, has been leasing the Harrison House for forty years, since 1974, from Historic New England, previously known as the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (SPNEA). They are headquartered in Boston, and are the oldest and largest regional non-profit historic preservation organization in the US.

They acquired the property J. Frederick Kelly, a prominent architectural historian, who had bought the Harrison House in 1938 and painstakingly restored it to its original condition. He left the property to SPNEA, to be kept and preserved.

Our agreement for forty years has been: In exchange for a lease payment of one dollar per year, the Historical Society has maintained the property to preservation standards. This agreement has worked perfectly well, but as our lease was coming to an end on Aug. 31, 2014, we were approached by Historic New England representatives explaining they are liquidating some of their properties, one of which is the Harrison House. They wanted us to purchase the property, as they considered us excellent custodians of the house and grounds, but further explained that if we could not make the purchase, the property would have to be sold.

The Harrison House has been the Historical Society’s home base. We all have supported and maintained the almost 300-year-old property as if it were our own. Over time it has continued to grow as a historic museum, brimming with Branford’s heritage, artifacts and hometown pride, reflecting our town’s rich history of strength, persistence and integrity. It serves as a community resource for all to learn from, experience and enjoy. If this property were to be sold to another entity, the Museum would be lost, its artifacts scattered, educational and community use discontinued, and the flavor of Main Street would change.

The decision was unanimously made, by the members of the Board of the Branford Historical Society, to purchase the Harrison House property, to keep this wonderful museum intact, and to continue our mission of preserving and sharing Branford’s history. We have worked diligently with Historic New England for the past six months, and agreed upon a fair negotiated purchase price of $132,500.

Our next step is funding this project. We simply cannot make enough strawberry shortcake! We need help to reach our goal, your help if you so choose. You may write a check and send it to P.O. Box 504 Branford, CT 06405 or you can donate here online with PayPal. Any amount is appreciated and you are thanked in advance.

*The Branford Historical Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization which allows all of your contribution to be tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Please note with your donation if you would like or need a donation tax acknowledgment sent to you.

With Much Thanks to the Branford Rotary Club

We are so grateful and so delighted to announce that the Branford Rotary Club has donated a most generous gift of $10,000 toward the purchase and
saving of the Harrison House. Hats off to the Rotary Club.
​Thank you!!!
Branford Community Foundation
Helps to Save the Harrison House

Pam Johnson, Senior Staff Writer

“In less than five months, individual donations have helped Branford Historical Society (BHS) match more than half of a $35,000 matching grant given by Branford Community Foundation (BCF) to help save Harrison House, built in 1724.
To celebrate, the BCF board recently presented BHS board members with a check for $17,500…”

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