Formed in 2001, the Norwich Historical Society seeks to preserve, protect, and promote the rich history of Norwich, CT. Over the past five years, the Norwich Historical Society launched a number of initiatives designed to strengthen Norwich’s heritage tourism efforts such as opening the Norwich Heritage & Regional Visitors’ Center and launching the Walk Norwich Trail system which is a series of historically themed self-guided walking tours. In addition, the Norwich Historical Society supports our mission through programming such as guided walking tours, lectures, and historical reenactments. Further, NHS is involved with the restoration and rehabilitation of numerous historic buildings with the ultimate goal of completing successful adaptive reuse of the properties.
Carpenter Shop (left) and Visitors’ Center (right)
Norwich has remarkable history from every century. When presented well, the stories of our history are important to visitors and residents alike. Our plan is to create and market a “Heritage Triangle”, to include a group of heritage and cultural destinations, while positioning the Norwich Heritage & Regional Visitors’ Center as the “gateway” to sites such as Slater Memorial Museum and the Uncas Leap Heritage Park. The long-range goal is to create a vibrant collection of sites and exhibits enriched by programs and events and nearby dining and retail opportunities, thus enabling us to keep visitors occupied in Norwich for several hours, if not a full day.
Our long-range goal is to establish an outdoor museum within the authentic “living neighborhood” of Norwichtown, dedicated to interpreting the history of Norwich. Norwichtown is an incredible asset and has a distinctive physical character, tangible sense of place and recognizable boundaries. It is also a real, “living” neighborhood, with an inherent authenticity that sets it apart from “created” heritage destinations like Mystic Seaport Museum and Sturbridge Village—another existing asset.
The goal is to use our existing assets more efficiently by formulating a well-conceived, coordinated plan for buildings and sites whose operations currently lack a comprehensive vision and drawing on previously established relationships. Simultaneously, we can attract visitors effectively with related programming at these sites, and plan efficiently for building rehabilitation and conservation in the future.
The NHS envisions this endeavor as an inclusive, collaborative initiative intended to lead and encourage a variety of partnerships with municipal offices, area museums and cultural organizations, schools, businesspeople and entrepreneurs and state and local tourism groups.
Our objective is to build the capacity of existing resources and ensure relevance for the historical society by emphasizing diversity, by engaging a broad cross-section of the Norwich community in planning and implementation stages and by engaging audiences from both in- and outside the city. NHS is committed to attracting visitors and program participants with the objective of emphasizing diversity. Although we view this initiative as a chance to reach travelers, it is an opportunity to ask ourselves how the NHS might reach segments of the Norwich community that are traditionally overlooked and underserved while staying true to our mission.
Our target date for a “visitor ready” Historic Norwichtown is 2025. This is a significant date for heritage tourism, marking the 250th anniversary of the start of the Revolutionary War and the 350th anniversary of the original building of Norwichtown’s landmark Leffingwell Inn. The United States will commemorate its 250th (or “Semiquincentennial”) anniversary in 2026. Time is of the essence in preparing for participation in local and statewide celebrations.
Heritage tourism can be a vehicle to address a host of issues affecting Norwich’s competitiveness, identity, quality of life, and prosperity. Stay tuned for more updates.
Continue our collaboration with the Society of the Founders of Norwich to rehabilitate the c.1763 David Greenleaf House located at 2 Town St. We received major ARPA funding from the State of Connecticut to accomplish this goal, so stay tuned for more updates!
In collaboration with the Society of the Founders of Norwich (SFN) and the City of Norwich, NHS was awarded a $7,000 grant from the Tenney Foundation to restore gravestones in the Colonial Norwichtown Burying Ground. The Tenney Foundation supports organizations and efforts that preserve history. Our focus will be restoring stones that are in the oldest section of the burying ground. NHS has contracted with Rediscovering History, Inc. to perform this important preservation work.
Coordinate and schedule programming such as field trips/in class presentations, historical reenactments, walking tours, and special events.
Work on strategic planning and ensuring NHS is a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization (and into 2024).
Implement areas of our Historic Norwich Tourism plan.
Begin planning for upcoming milestone anniversaries such as the Bicentennial of the Marquis de Lafayette’s Farewell Tour (2024), the 350th anniversary of the construction of the c.1675 Leffingwell House Museum (2025), and the Bicentennial of the American Revolution (2026).