The Torrington Historical Society, located at 192 Main Street, is open for the season and will remain open through October 31st. The Society is home to three cultural attractions: the Hotchkiss-Fyler House Museum, the permanent exhibit, No Place Like Home: The History of Torrington, and the Hendey Machine Shop exhibit Pursuit of Precision: The Hendey Machine Shop 1870-1954. The Hotchkiss-Fyler House Museum and the two exhibit areas are open to the public Wednesday – Saturday, 12-4 p.m.
Fodor’s Guide to New England described the Hotchkiss-Fyler House Museum as “one of the better house museums in Connecticut”. Built in 1900, this grand Victorian mansion was commissioned by Orsamus and Mary Fyler and was designed by New Haven architect William H. Allen. The house was built by Hotchkiss Brothers Company, a Torrington firm. The Torrington Historical Society acquired the home in 1956 when Gertrude Fyler Hotchkiss, daughter of the original owners, bequeathed the house and its contents to the Society.
Today, visitors to the Hotchkiss-Fyler House Museum can see the home as it was when last occupied by Gertrude Fyler Hotchkiss. This grand home is rich in details: mahogany paneling, ornate carvings, stenciled walls, murals, parquet floors and ornamental plaster. Family furnishings include impressive collections of porcelain, glass and oriental carpets as well as paintings by Ammi Phillips, Winfield Scott Clime, E. I. Couse, George Lawrence Nelson and Albert Herter. Guided tours of the house museum are available for $5 per person; children 12 and under are free. Hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 12-4; the last tour is at 3:30 p.m.
The Torrington History Museum, adjacent to the Hotchkiss-Fyler House Museum, contains an award-winning permanent exhibit, No Place Like Home: The History of Torrington. This self-guided exhibit explores the city’s history while showcasing photographs and artifacts from the Society’s collection. Audio and video components and hands-on interactive stations are featured in this exhibit. Admission is $2; children 12 and under are free. Another exhibit, Pursuit of Precision: The Hendey Machine Company 1870-1954, is located in the Carriage House. This exhibit features an operational belt-driven machine shop, a video kiosk, and a photographic history of the Hendey Machine Company, a former Torrington manufacturer of lathes, shapers and milling machines. Admission is free.
The John H. Thompson Memorial Library houses archives pertaining to Torrington history. Researchers may visit the library Wednesday-Friday 1-4, or by appointment. For more information about the Society or to become a member, please visit www.torringtonhistoricalsociety.org or contact the Society at (860) 482-8260.