Back in the days before air conditioning, anyone who could afford it would escape the confines of the sweltering city in the summer months. This gorgeous Gothic Revival home, Roseland Cottage in Woodstock, Conn., was the getaway of one 19th century Brooklyn Heights family.
Built for Henry and Lucy Bowen in 1846, now it’s a house museum open to the public and one of many historic sites operated by Historic New England. A native of Woodstock, Henry Bowen had moved to New York to seek his fortune and managed to establish a successful dry goods business, become publisher and editor of the antislavery newspaper The Independent and was an active congregant at Plymouth Church in Brooklyn Heights.
In the Heights, the Bowen family lived in an “impressive” house at 90 Willow Street, according to Historic New England — it’s now long gone.
Bowen turned to Joseph C. Wells, the architect of Plymouth Church, when he and Lucy were ready for a summer retreat for their young family. Wells built them a picturesque “cottage” of 6,000 square feet. In addition to the five-bedroom house, the property included a carriage barn with a bowling alley (!) and a 3,000-square-foot garden.
The bowling alley was constructed at the same time as the house, and is believed to be the oldest surviving indoor alley in the U.S.
The house stayed in the Bowen family until it was purchased by Historic New England in 1970 and subsequently opened to the public.
Getting there: Woodstock is approximately three hours from Brooklyn. There is no direct public transit route, and the closest Metro-North Railroad station is in New Haven, Conn., about an hour and a half from Woodstock.
Visiting hours: Summer hours for Roseland are currently Wednesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tours are given on the hour with the last tour at 4 p.m.
For more information: Visit Historic New England for more information about special events and winter hours at Roseland Cottage as well as details on the organization’s other historic sites in the Northeast.
- Last Connecticut Installment: Roseland Cottage
- Past and Present: The Henry C. Bowen Mansion
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