The Norwich Historical Society seeks to foster a greater sense of place and community by preserving and sharing its collections and stories from the past.
The long-term sustainability of the organization is of utmost priority and we plan to strengthen our core resources—financial, human, facilities, and collections through responsible financial planning, fundraising, board functioning, collections care, and programming.
The Lewis House and outbuildings are a core part of who we are. Located in the center of Norwich, we envision the property to continue to be a center for research, community building, and education. We want to make the entire Lewis House property into a history center that is visible, energetic, and vital to the Norwich community.
The Lewis House is the repository for Norwich’s archives and collections. The collections form the foundation of exhibits, programs, and publications. We will continue to care for and carefully grow our collection to be broadly representative of Norwich yesterday and today, developing engaging historical content.
We see technology transforming the ways in which the Historical Society connects to the community beyond the Lewis House, with a website featuring online exhibitions and research materials drawn from a newly digitized collection and new communications strategies using online publications and social media.
We recognize that the Norwich community values its history and sense of place. Community members value relationships and community spirit. Our intention is to continue to bring Norwich’s history out to the community through walking tours, collaborative programs, and participatory workshops. We will seek to cultivate ongoing relationships with audiences of all ages through participatory programs and exhibits.
The Norwich Historical Society was formed in 1951 and for its first 44 years, it met quarterly at the Library. In 1970, members raised funds to purchase the Hutchinson-Taylor House on Church Street to store the growing collection of Norwich artifacts. When the Lewis House at the corner of Main and Elm Streets in the heart of Norwich’s historic district came up for sale in 2003, the Historical Society saw an unique opportunity to increase exhibit, storage and programming space, to preserve an important landmark for the Town and to create a focus for community activities.
In addition to being home to generations of the Lewis family from 1846 until 2003, the house (circa 1807) was, for several years in the 19th century, where town residents came to pay taxes, attend to other town-related business and exchange news. General William E. Lewis, who served as town clerk from 1846 until 1892, had his office in the white clapboard federal house, whose simple classic architectural details also reflected the tastes and values of those who lived in this thriving rural community. During the Lewis family’s 157-year occupancy of this house only modest changes were made to its simple classical architecture.
Margaret Lewis sits on the south porch of the Lewis House with her cat, 1978
In the fall of 2008, the Historical Society began the final phase of its capital improvements to make Lewis House fully compliant with ADA requirements for accessibility, including a ramp and remodeled entrance, improved parking, and interior renovations to accommodate all visitors. We have reorganized our existing spaces to enhance exhibits, public programs and historical research. Cosmetic improvements on the first floor will make the Historical Society’s home a warm and inviting place to learn more about Norwich’s history.