A yellow painted house next to a road

The Thankful Arnold House in Haddam, Connecticut

By CT Humanities Staff

The Thankful Arnold House transports visitors back to the early 19th century, helping them to explore the lives of women under the constraints of English Common Law. In particular, it focuses on the life of the widow Thankful Arnold and her struggles over the lack of women’s rights to property in early America.

Because women, by law, were not allowed to own property, when Thankful’s husband Joseph Arnold died prematurely, she was allotted only a third of her husband’s property and the rest went up for sale. Luckily, her brother-in-law purchased the property and later sold it to her son, thus keeping it in the family. After Thankful’s death in 1849, the house passed down through the family—largely through her daughters and granddaughters.

The Thankful Arnold House Museum is a historic house museum located along the Connecticut River in Haddam. Distinguished by its gambrel roof with unusual bell-shaped profile, the house was built in three distinct stages between 1794 and 1810. Throughout its long life, the house has seen additions, renovations, and even historic restorations to remove previous changes.

Today the museum provides a glimpse of the life of the widow Thankful Arnold in the late 1820s, shortly after her husband’s untimely death. Arnold family descendants lived in the house until descendant Harriet Ingersoll Jones died in 1962. Amid renewed historical interest surrounding Haddam’s 300th anniversary, Thankful and Joseph’s great-great grandchild, Isaac Arnold of Houston, Texas, bought the house in March 1963 and provided for its restoration. The house opened to the public as a house museum in 1965 and upon Isaac Arnold’s death in 1973, ownership of the property transferred to the Haddam Historical Society.

This article was adapted from CT Humanities’ ConnTours Project.

Learn More


The Haddam Historical Society. “History of the House at 14 Hayden Hill Road,” n.d. Link.


The Haddam Historical Society. “Thankful Arnold House,” n.d. Link.

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