56. Captain John Francis House Museum

O My! Captain! You’re Not a Captain!
(Google Maps Location)
June 14, 2008

mq56g.jpgO CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done; 

The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won; 

The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, 

While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring: 

    But O heart! heart! heart!

      O the bleeding drops of red, 

        Where on the deck my Captain lies, 

          Fallen cold and dead. 

Please appreciate the Whitman excerpt not only for being the only poet I can tolerate, but for the awesome formatting I presented it in. Fearful trip? Weathered every rack? Yes, for I did not drive on highways to get here, I took the oldest ferry in operation in the United States! It runs across the Connecticut River between Rocky Hill and Glastonbury – and I surived (Ferry Ride Here!).

Old bedroom.

Smack-dab in the middle of a day’s worth of museums and such, I made it a point to visit the Captain John Francis House in Wethersfield. For today was a special day – Connecticut Open House Day.

Old bedroom.

And what that meant for this house museum is that it was open! Yes, sadly, this place is only open now but once per year. According to the sweet lady explaining the few things we know about Captain Francis – notably, the fact that he wasn’t a Captain of any sort – the shut-down occurred when the property owners, the Wethersfield Historical Society (CTMQ Visits their museum here!) opened up the Hurlbut-Dunham House (CTMQ Visit here!) over on the Main historic drag.

Old office.

Being off of Main Street, this house sort of fell by the wayside. There may be some other reasons, too. Like the insane bump up to get to the little lot off the house. Or… how do I put this delicately… the fact that, well, it’s really just an old house with a few things in it and not much more.

Old piano.

As I write this, it really is true that the most (by far) interesting aspect about the Francis House is that it’s open once a year – and I made it. That’s not to say that Fake-Captain Francis wasn’t a good guy. He most certainly was! A surveyor and master builder, he constructed this house for himself on Hartford Avenue in Wethersfield in 1793.

Old Pantry.

In 1815, he expanded the original 1 1/2-story building with a gambrel roof to two stories with a gable roof. Francis also built a number of other brick houses in town during this period. The front and side porches were added by his granddaughter, Jane Francis, in the nineteenth century. (Thanks Historic Buildings of CT!)

This became sort of a theme on my long day of house museums, for absolutely no other reason then every CT house museum seems to have a wad of virgin wool. You’ll see this again… Sadly.

Alas, I have but one more story – and it’s a good one. Fake Captain Francis was a very proud man so when his son died young and in deep debt, Francis kept working into old age in order to pay off the creditors. He simply couldn’t stand to leave it outstanding. I, however, didn’t have much trouble leaving his house.


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Cost: Only open on free days!
Hours: Only open .0004 amount of the year. Forget about it.
Food & Drink? Nothing. Remember, you’re not on Main Street.
Children? There’s nothing to break!
You’ll like it if: You are related to Fake Capn. Francis
You won’t like it if: You drove really, really far for the one day opening and expected more.
Freebies: None


For the Curious:

Wethersfield Historical Society

5 responses to “56. Captain John Francis House Museum”

  1. Anita Page says:

    question: Who is Captain John Francis House and where did he live. Was his wife Susanna?

  2. Steve says:

    This blog gets at least one comment a day from someone who clearly does not read the post they are commenting on. I find this another clear sign of the Apocalypse.

  3. Carol Rizzo says:

    I am a direct descendent of Capt. John Francis, Wethersfield Connecticut, of the Rev War and active in the DAR. He later served in the Connecticut legislature. He started the war as an Ensign and finished a Captain. He is in the free DAR database which is open to all at DAR.org. I am so sorry his old house was such a disappointment to you!

  4. Carol Rizzo says:

    He married Rhoda Wright.

  5. Carol Rizzo says:

    THANK YOU for the great photos!

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