Town of Bethlehem Connecticut
THE BELLAMY-FERRIDAY HOUSE & GARDEN
9 Main Street North, Bethlehem, CT 06751 - 203-266-7596
photo courtesy M. Balash
I-84 East: Take Exit 15 & turn left onto Rte 6 East. Follow for 13 miles to Rte 61 & take left onto Rte 61 North. Follow about 4 miles, House on left after intersection of Routes 61 & 132
I-84 West: Take Exit 17 & follow Rte 64 to Woodbury. Right onto Rte 6. Left onto Rte 61 North. Follow about 4 miles, House on left after the intersection of Routes 61 & 132.
From Rte 202: At the intersection of Routes 202 & 63. South on Rte 63. Follow for about five miles. Right onto Route 61 South, House on right.
Brief History of the Bellamy-Ferriday House & Garden
In 1738 young Joseph Bellamy was called to preach during "winter privileges". Separate "society privileges" were granted in October, 1739. Bellamy was requested to continue as pastor, and so remained until his death in 1790, as the settlers established their own Bethlem Church and school. Doctor Bellamy became a most distinguished author, preacher and teacher, conducting the first theological school in America. Young men lived in the Bellamy home while he grounded them in his brand of scriptural interpretation and preaching methods. Among future leaders who studied there were Aaron Burr, Jonathan Edwards II, and James Morris.
On April 27, 1744, the Reverend Joseph Bellamy, pastor of the First Church of Bethlehem, acquired land in the North Purchase of Woodbury, which was to become the nucleus of his farm and the site of the manse, his residence until his death. In this house, imposing as befitted the home of "The Pope of Litchfield County", Bellamy instructed students in Theology and wrote his great tract, True Religion Delineated.
Rev. Bellamy's son and heir, David, a farmer and legislator more interested in temporal pursuits, embellished the stately though austere house by the addition of the Palladian pavilion on the south front, c. 1790.
The farmstead, with its numerous outbuildings, remained in the Bellamy family and substantially as Joseph had known it until 1860. In 1880 the Hull family of New York introduced the amenities of Victorian country life with the addition of bay windows, veranda and a porte cochere over the Palladian south facade. The Bellamy Place remained a working farm, while the outbuildings increased in number or were modified to accommodate the needs of the day.
Henry McKeen Ferriday purchased the property as a summer home for his family (his wife and then nine year old daughter, Caroline) in 1912. Following the advice of Edson Gage, a prominent proponent of Colonial Revival Architecture, interior plumbing was added. A service wing containing a "modern" kitchen pantry and servants' rooms replaced the wash house, buttery, and wood shed. The carriage shed to the north of the dwelling became a summer kitchen and laundry and the former schoolhouse was relocated to the orchard as a playhouse for Caroline.
After Mr. Ferriday's death in 1914, his widow and daughter continued to summer in Bethlehem and to make improvements to the house and grounds. The porte cochere was replaced by a porch and Caroline's room enlarged to include the bay window which overlooks the formal garden. This garden, begun by Eliza Mitchell Ferriday as the culmination of her planning for the property, was to hold a lifelong interest for both her and her daughter.
Mrs. Ferriday began her reshaping of the acreage around the farmstead by creating sweeping lawns and an evergreen planting to provide privacy from the road. Though farming was still carried on, providing the household with milk, eggs, vegetables and fruit, the meadows to the north of the house reverted to wood lots and the gardens took precedence.
Following the end of World War II and her mother's death in 1953, Caroline Ferriday "realized that I had Bethlehem under my skin. In the midst of the delights of Paris, I would stop to wonder if the rose bugs were under control, or how the new regale lilies were doing."
She began to plan for the future of the property and her interest in Rev. Bellamy led her to "restore" architectural features altered through the years with the help of Frederic Palmer, architect for The Antiquarian and Landmarks Society. In 1969, the south porch was removed to reveal the Bellamy pavilion once more. Greek revival and Victorian mantels were replaced by appropriate eighteenth century examples and the interiors were painted in Williamsburg colors.
Caroline Ferriday continued stewardship of the property, recording its history and that of its furnishings, caring for the garden and its collections of lilacs, old roses, specimen trees and shrubs and herbaceous plants, and noting changes in its form and content. Thus, when the Antiquarian and Landmarks Society received the property by her bequest in 1990, the continuum of its history was preserved by her generosity and foresight.
The interiors of the home are as they were when Miss Ferriday was chatelaine, and reflect her heritage and interests. Family furniture, looking glasses, works of art and ornaments are mingled with a collection of Litchfield County vernacular furnishings chosen with a discerning eye by Miss Ferriday and her mother. These elements are joined in rooms which reflect the appreciation for color, vitality and harmony which characterize the taste of Caroline Woolsey Ferriday.
For more information about tours or to receive a brochure or calendar of events, please call 203-266-7596 or send e-mail to: email@example.com
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