Historical Society of Glastonbury CT

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History of the

Welles Shipman Ward House


This mansion house, as it was known in the 18th century, is traditionally believed to have been built by Col. Thomas Welles as a gift to his John, on the occasion of his marriage in 1753 to Jerusha Edwards of Hartford, a niece of Governor William Pitkin III. John Welles owned the John Welles and Company shipyard and merchant trading business located on the Connecticut River in Nayaug section of Glastonbury. In 1764, Welles became ill on a business trip to Philadelphia and died at the age of 34, leaving his widow, Jerusha, and five surviving children. Among her dower rights, she received land and a share of household furnishings, including a silver tankard valued at 9 pounds.


George Welles, second son of John and Jerusha Welles, inherited this property from his father, and sold the “house, barn, cowhouse, and other buildings”, plus the remaining 1 & 1/3 acres of the homelot, to Stephen Shipman Jr. in 1789. Shipman, a ship builder, merchant trader and storeowner, added neoclassical features to the house, such as the Palladian type crown moldings in the southwest room on the first floor, popular among the merchant elites in the Connecticut River Valley. The Shipman family owned and occupied the house for over 125 years.


In 1925 Mrs. Berdena Hart Ward, wife of Dr. James Ward purchased the property, decorating and furnishing the house in an English country house style. Mrs. Ward bequeathed the property to the Historical Society of Glastonbury in 1962.

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