Photograph of a house

Keeler's Tavern in Ridgefield, Connecticut

By CT Humanities Staff

In 1772, Timothy Keeler and his wife, Esther, opened T. Keeler’s Inn in what had once been a private home in Ridgefield (built by Keeler’s grandfather, Benjamin Hoyt). Keeler’s tavern had only served weary travelers and sociable locals for a few years before the town of Ridgefield played host to the only inland battle fought in Connecticut during the Revolutionary War.

In April 1777, British troops commanded by the governor of New York, Major General William Tryon, sailed to the mouth of the Saugatuck River and marched to Danbury where they destroyed provisions and munitions being stored for the Continental army. When Brigadier General Benedict Arnold of the Continental army heard of the raid, he anticipated Tryon’s return march to Long Island Sound and, along with Brigadier General Gold Selleck Silliman, commander of the militia from Fairfield, took up positions en route to Ridgefield with roughly five hundred troops. Simultaneously, General David Wooster hurried to Danbury from New Haven to face Tryon, but arrived too late. While on his way to Ridgefield, Wooster and his army of two hundred harassed the British from the rear, when Wooster was shot and killed.

Arnold and Silliman’s troops set up a barricade made from stones, wagons, earth, and timber at the north end of Ridgefield’s broad mile-long “Town Street.” Although their force was small, it was well-positioned. The British force, which outnumbered the Patriots three to one, arrived around noon and attacked head-on, while also working their way around the edges of the barricade. The militiamen were soon overwhelmed. As they left victorious, the British troops fired at Timothy Keeler’s tavern. One of the cannonballs they used remains lodged in the corner post of the building to this day.

Although the Battle of Ridgefield was a victory for the British, it galvanized Connecticut patriots, and it marked the last British attempt to venture inland in Connecticut during the American Revolution. The tavern stayed in the Keeler family until 1907 when famous architect Cass Gilbert bought the property and transformed it into a private home. In 1965, the Keeler Tavern Preservation Society, Inc., made up of local Ridgefield residents, bought the tavern and opened it a year later as the Keeler Tavern Museum.

This article was adapted from CT Humanities’ ConnTours Project.

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“Keeler Tavern Museum,” n.d. Link.

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