The First Congregational Church of Lebanon was organized in 1700. Its first two meeting houses were built in 1706 and 1732. These were followed by a brick meeting house on the green, designed by the Revolutionary War-era artist John Trumbull, which was built in 1804-1809. It is the only surviving example of Trumbull’s architectural work. The historic building was nearly destroyed in the hurricane of 1938. The church decided to restore the meeting house in its original form. Work began in 1938 and, delayed by the Second World War, was completed in 1954.
In 1711, Reverend Samuel Welles became the second pastor of the Congregational Church in Lebanon. In 1712, he built a house on what is now route 87, across from where William A. Buckingham Birthplace House would be built in 1804. According to a biography of Jonathan Trumbull, the governor of Connecticut who as a boy had been tutored by Welles, “If there were any exceptions to the rule of social equality which existed in the town at this time, one exception might be found in the case of this same Reverend Samuel Welles, whose aristocratic Boston connections had enabled him to build the handsomest house in Lebanon.” In 1719, Rev. Welles had married Hannah Arnold, whose family owned extensive property in Boston. Her parents wanted the couple to move to Boston, so Welles left Lebanon in 1722, looking after his wife’s property after her parents’ deaths and, according to Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College (1885), in Boston, “he accumulated more wealth, becoming one of the richest men of the town, and highly respected.” On leaving Lebanon, Welles sold his house to his successor as pastor, the Rev. Solomon Williams, son of the Rev. William Williams of Hatfield. Rev. Solomon Williams’ son, William Williams, was born in the house in 1731 and later went on to become a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Another son of Rev. Williams was Ezekiel Williams, who moved to Wethersfield and was a merchant and sheriff of Hartford County during the Revolutionary War. The Williams family later moved to another house on the other side of the street in 1748, which was later inherited by William Williams. Their former home came to be owned by David S. Woodworth. In 1857, Charles Lyman Pitcher began working for Woodworth, eventually gaining possession of the farm after Woodworth’s death. Pitcher served in the Civil War and later the farm was managed by his two sons after his retirement.
William Alfred Buckingham, governor of Connecticut during the Civil War and later a U.S. Senator until his death in 1875, was born in 1804 in a house in Lebanon, which was later moved (see comment below) by his father, Deacon Samuel Buckingham, who built a new house on the location between 1808 and 1817. The new Federal-style Buckingham house was later altered through the addition of Victorianizing features, like the bay windows on the front facade.
Dr. William Beaumont (1785-1853) was a U.S. Army surgeon who became famous as the “Father of Gastric Physiology.” His pioneering investigations of human digestion were published in his 1838 work, Experiments and Observations on the Gastric Juice and the Physiology of Digestion. Dr. Beaumont was born in a small c. 1750 farm house, built by his father, Samuel Beaumont, in the Village Hill section of Lebanon. In 1973, the house was acquired by the Beaumont Homestead Preservation Trust and moved to a new site on Lebanon Green, behind the Gov. Jonathan Trumbull House. The house is now a museum, owned and maintained by the Lebanon Historical Society.
George Washington slept many places, but where did George Washington’s horse sleep? In the Wadsworth Stable in Hartford, which was on the estate of Jeremiah Wadsworth, in whose house Washington, Rochambeau and Governor Trumbull had their first meeting in 1780. The original stable, built in 1730, later burned down. It was rebuilt around 1820 in the Palladian style, unusual for an outbuilding, to suit the pretensions of the Federal era. The stable was probably designed by Daniel Wadsworth, Jeremiah Wadsworth’s son. In 1842, the Wadsworth House was moved to a new location (it was torn down in 1887) when the Wadsworth Atheneum was constructed. The stable, which was owned for a time by the Hartford Public Library, remained on its original site, adjacent to the Atheneum, until 1954, when it was saved from demolition and moved to Lebanon. Its original location is now the Travelers Tower plaza. The new home of the Wadsworth Stable was provided by the Connecticut DAR and is adjacent to the Governor Jonathan Trumbull House. A plaque on the stable recognizes the generosity of Katharine Seymour Day, who also established what is now the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, for the restoration of the building.
David Trumbull, a brother of Jonathan Trumbull, Jr and the artist John Trumbull, hired the builder Isaac Fitch to construct his house in Lebanon. Known as “Redwood,” the David Trumbull House was built in 1778-1779. He also had Fitch make reproductions of expensive English furniture for the house. Serving as commissary of the Colony of Connecticut during the Revolutionary War, David Trumbull provided supplies for General Rochambeau‘s army at Newport, Rhode Island in 1780 and supplied food and housing for the Duke de Lauzun‘s cavalry legion during their 1780-81 encampment in Lebanon. Redwood became Lazun’s headquarters during this period. David Trumbull’s son, Joseph Trumbull, was born in the house in 1782. He would later become the governor of Connecticut from 1849-1850.
The building known as the Revolutionary War Office, in Lebanon, was originally built around 1727 for Joseph Trumbull, and has been moved several times over the years to different sites on the town green. At the start of the Revolutionary War, it was located closer to Jonathan Trumbull’s house and was serving as a store and office for his merchant business. Trumbull was Governor of Connecticut during the war and he used the office to plan the state’s defense with the Council of Safety from 1775-1784. Notable figures who conferred with Trumbull in the office include George Washington, Henry Knox and Israel Putnam, as well as Rochambeau and Lafayette. In 1891, the building was acquired by the Connecticut Sons of the American Revolution and restored. A bronze tablet was placed in 1896. Today it is open to the public as a museum.