For 189 years the Butler-McCook House & Garden was home to four generations of a family who participated in, witnessed, and recorded the evolution of Main Street between the American Revolution and the mid-twentieth century. The house’s exterior looks much as it did when it was built in 1782. Behind the property is a restored Victorian ornamental garden, originally laid out in 1865. Inside are the original furnishings ranging from Connecticut-crafted colonial furniture to Victorian-era toys and paintings to samurai armor acquired during a trip to Japan. The objects were accumulated over the course of almost two centuries by members of this extraordinary clan, which included physicians, industrialists, missionaries, artists, globetrotters and pioneering educators and social reformers.
The Main Street History Center’s keystone exhibition, “Witnesses on Main Street,” uses the Butler and McCook families’ words and experiences to chronicle their neighborhood’s transformation from a clutch of clapboard dwellings, taverns, and artisans shops into a modern urban enclave of multi-story steel, brick, and stone structures housing major financial, industrial, governmental, and cultural institutions