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The Simsbury Historical Society is a non-profit educational corporation founded in 1911 through a bequest of Abbie Sexton Barber, widow of noted Simsbury physician and historian Lucius Israel Barber, which included her late husband’s impressive collection of documents, artifacts, and manuscripts and articles to begin a "Historical Room" in Simsbury.
Early meetings of the Society were held in members' homes until space was arranged in the Simsbury Free Library. In 1932, the completion of Eno Memorial Hall provided the Society with a regular location for meetings, events, and exhibitions. The Society found a permanent home in 1962 when it received the Phelps Homestead at 800 Hopmeadow from Mary (Ensign) Lovejoy, daughter of Joseph and Mary (Phelps) Ensign and granddaughter of Jeffery Phelps, II. The home and tavern, dating to the late eighteenth century, and a barn dating to the late nineteenth century were original to the two-acre site. A number of historic buildings were moved to the location; these include a mid-nineteenth century school house, a late eighteenth century family home and a late nineteenth century probate building. New structures include the reproduction seventeenth century meeting house, the Ensign-Bickford Exhibition Building and the Ellsworth Visitors Center. Inspired by existing flower beds, a number of gardens with period plantings and appropriate historic herbs were added to the site.
Today the Simsbury Historical Society continues its stewardship of period and modern buildings, artifact and manuscript collections, and special events and workshops, which afford the general and professional public the opportunity to research and enjoy Simsbury’s past and present.