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    Friday, February 03, 2023

    Historically Speaking: Pease-Calkins House open Aug. 13 to view restoration

    The house at 232 W. Town St. in Norwich
    Calkins House, circa 1982. Photo submitted
    Historic photo of the Pease-Calkins House. Photo submitted

    In 2020, the Calkins Family Association purchased the Pease-Calkins House at 232 W. Town St. in Norwich. The Pease-Calkins House is one of the few houses remaining in Norwich with connections to the original European settlers of the town.

    The house, with its stone foundation, dirt cellar floor, and chestnut and oak beams, is located at the western boundary of the original town plot.

    Originally owned by John Pease and then his son John Jr. when Norwich was first plotted in 1659, this house was mentioned in Pease’s will dated 1674. John Sr. is credited with adding potatoes to clam chowder, hence our New England recipe for that soup.

    Around 1683 the house was owned by Hugh Calkins II (son of European founder John Calkins), and his wife Sarah Sluman. Hugh’s second wife was Lois Standish, granddaughter of Cpt. Miles Standish of the Mayflower.

    At least six generations of Calkinses have lived there and have served their country from the Revolutionary War to the War of 1812 to the Civil War.

    Hugh Calkins III and wife Phebe Abel were part of the Separatist religious movement, and the first meetings were held at that house. Besides serving as a church, the house was once a grocery and a tailor shop. It has housed many farmers, a mariner, carpenters, and a dress maker to name a few.

    They raised cows, sheep and honey bees on that plot. Think of all the families living within those walls!

    The Calkins Family Association is a public genealogy organization and has been around for 25 years. The Calkins Family Association visited the house in 2000 during a family reunion held in Norwich, and Mrs. O’Connell, the prior owner, invited them inside. Purchasing the property is a giant leap of faith for such a small group. The CFA is delighted to honor their ancestors and preserve this house for all to enjoy.

    The Norwich Historical Society will be a resource for the association to help bring the home back to its original structure to make it a public research library, education center, and small museum run by volunteers. The group is excited to preserve an important architectural landmark in Norwich with strong connections to their family heritage and Norwich’s rich history.

    The association hopes everyone will visit when the house is open to the public.

    Please join the Norwich Historical Society and the Calkins Family Association on Saturday, Aug.13, at 10 a.m. for an exclusive behind the scenes look at the restoration work of the circa 1659 Calkins House which was saved from demolition in 2020. Melissa Calkins, president of the association, will explain the history of the house, provide an update regarding the restoration of the house, and share plans for the future.

    For registration and more information about this event, visit the NHS website at norwichhistoricalsociety.org. Further, if you are unable to attend the tour in August, it will be repeated on Oct. 1 at 2 p.m.

    The Calkins Family Association has hosted some local fundraisers to raise awareness of their intent to restore the building and make it an educational center and small museum. Please visit the Calkins Family Association’s website at www.calkinsworld.org to learn how you can donate to this worthy cause.

    Please like the Calkins Family Association on Facebook for updates on the restoration of the building. The Norwich Historical Society is so pleased that this historic house is being restored!

    Nanette Armstrong is the vice president of the Calkins Family Association. Regan Miner is the executive director of the Norwich Historical Society.

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