Wadsworth Mansion at Long Hill Estate is an impressive historic estate located in Middletown near the bordering town of Middlefield. The Mansion itself has an unconventional past, both with decades of grandeur, as well as unfortunate disrepair. Today the mansion sits as a symbol of the hard work the local community put forwards to retain the estate and honor it’s local significance.
In 1900, Colonel Clarence S. Wadsworth began preparing plans for Wadsworth Mansion, the site of a future country summer residence, “Long Hill” in the rolling hills of western Middletown, Connecticut. An authority on the emerging science of forestry and conservation, Colonel Wadsworth had a concern and passion for the environment far ahead of his time. Working with the renowned landscape architectural firm, the Olmsted Brothers, 500 acres of Long Hill were designed as a working landscape. The New York architecture firm of Hoppin and Koen designed the mansion that fit in with other grand New England estates at the time. For over 30 years, Long Hill was the center of ceremonial life for the Wadsworth family.
After the Colonel’s death in 1941, a portion of the land was willed to the State of Connecticut for use as a public park, which is now known as Wadsworth Falls State Park. The remainder of the estate was managed by the Rockfall Corporation, a charitable foundation created by Colonel Wadsworth, to further his interests in conservation and forestry.
Starting in 1947 and continuing for the following forty years, the Mansion was a retreat and welcoming presence in its private setting for those visiting its next owners, the Religious of our Lady of the Cenacle. The property became known simply as “The Cenacle” to many local Middletown and Middlefield residents. During this era, several parcels of land were sold off, and the size of the estate was reduced to the current 103.5 acres.
In 1986 The Religious of our Lady of the Cenacle sold the property to a developer, who then sold it to another developer. The Mansion was considered a negative asset, and the land also turned out to be unsuitable for smaller community lot development. Eventually, both land and buildings fell to decay, vandalism, and extreme overgrowth as the banks took ownership of the property. The disrepair of the Estate was taken up by preservationists and conservationists, who urged the city of Middletown to salvage the property for a variety of different uses.
The City of Middletown now owns the 103 acre estate today, however, the Long Hill Estate Authority, a nine member volunteer board appointed by the Mayor and approved by the Com-mon Council, is responsible for its stewardship. The Long Hill Estate Authority is financially self-sufficient and fully maintains the buildings and grounds. A small staff administers the day-to-day operations. Each year, approximately 65 weddings are hosted on the estate. The Mansion is also rented for corporate events, and other celebrations. The Long Hill Estate Authority hosts many public events throughout the year. They include a summer outdoor music series, the Open Air Market, and a New Year’s Day Open House. The Mansion is open for tours on Wednesdays from 2:00-4:00. Additionally, the grounds and Parkland trails are open daily from sunrise to sunset. The Mansion is considered to be one of the jewels of Middletown. For more information or to contact the staff of Wadsworth Mansion please use the link below to visit their website.