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Explore a West Hartford Mansion of a By-Gone Era

Charles E. Beach Mansion. Courtesy photo

A Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society fundraiser offers exclusive access to a unique and historic home.

Game room of the Charles E. Beach Mansion. Courtesy photo

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On Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society will offer an opportunity to tour one of West Hartford’s most significant historic homes. For this one day only, the owners of the Charles E. Beach House, 18 Brightwood Lane, West Hartford, are generously opening up their 8,426 square foot National Historic Landmark home.

The Charles E. Beach House was one of two homes on West Hartford’s old Vine Hill Farm, which put the town on the map through its production of “hygienic” pasteurized milk that was shipped across the country. In its heyday, more than 30 men worked on the dairy farm, pasteurizing and bottling milk, and producing cream and butter. Besides the creamery, the farm boasted a grist mill, ice pond, and a blacksmith shop. Beach’s father, Charles M. Beach, was the original proprietor of the farm, having first bought land along South Main Street in 1859. Charles M. Beach was the head of a chemical and dye making company in Hartford, but he summered in West Hartford at the farm, in a house that still stands a stone’s throw away at 11 Winthrop Lane.

In 1900, his son, Charles E. Beach began construction of a home for his young family. His home at 18 Brightwood Lane is a warm and welcoming historical work of art. The house is a shining example of Shingle Style architecture and deemed one of the finest examples of wood craftsmanship in the state with 17 different kinds of wood used throughout the house. Other exquisite details inside the home include intricate designs on the radiators, original stenciled silk screen walls, coffered ceilings, suspended staircases, claw foot tubs, and secret compartments.

The house has three floors with a separate servants’ wing and features seven bedrooms and seven bathrooms. Each of the six fireplaces in the house has a unique mantle and tiled design. The kitchen contains a fully restored and functioning vintage 1950s Garland stove and the original (and still functioning) servants’ call system. The third floor, with its cathedral ceiling, was originally built as a ballroom, but today functions as a game room. A 21st-century addition to the lower level contains a cedar spa room with exercise pool, hot tub, and Italian marble steam shower.

Vine Hill Farm was one of the finest dairying enterprises in the region, known for its high-grade cows that produced superior grade milk. In the 1880s, Charles E. Beach ran the farm with West Hartford native Frank H. Stadtmueller. Together, they created the “certified” milk business in Connecticut, producing hygienic milk through careful daily cleaning of the over 200 cows, milking tools, pails, and barns.

Don’t miss this exclusive opportunity to see all three floors of this magnificent work of art. The Charles E. Beach House Tour will be offered from 1-4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019. Tickets are $12 ($10 for museum members) and are available at www.noahwebster.yapsody.com or by calling 860-521-5362 x 10. Tickets will be available at the door, subject to availability. Advance purchase recommended.

A special thank you to homeowners Jeffrey and Laurie Tishler and to realtor Debra Ortega, for making this fundraiser possible. For more information about the home, which is currently for sale, please contact Debra at (860) 977-6004 or [email protected]

The museum would like to thank the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and the Greater Hartford Arts Council for their continued support.

Dining room of the Charles E. Beach Mansion. Courtesy photo

The Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society is a cultural destination where citizens can learn to understand and appreciate the past. The museum preserves the birthplace of Noah Webster, the founding father, educator, author, and lexicographer who taught generations of Americans what it means to be American. This National Historic Landmark is also a repository for West Hartford history, the community that molded Noah Webster’s future and is still thriving over 250 years later. The historic house and exhibit spaces are open daily 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. For information on the museum’s extensive school and public programs, please visit www.noahwebsterhouse.org or call 860-521-5362.

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