The Sarah Whitman Hooker Homestead is a documented 18th-Century Connecticut Valley Manor House. Construction began sometime between 1715 and 1720 by Ensign Timothy Seymour, who described it as, "My manor house on Four Mile Hill" in his will. He built one room "with chamber above" and a large soon-to-be central fireplace-and-chimney complex on the east side of the two-room house.
By 1730, his son, Captain Timothy Seymour, had added another room with a chamber above to the east. The paneling was used in the first floor east room, sometimes known as the "Tavern Room" because it had a separate entrance and alcoholic beverages were served along with food. The Tavern License was obtained by Captain Timothy Seymour to augment the family income from farming, probably because the house was situated on the main road running from Hartford to Farmington to New York City. Customers in the form of travelers were a frequent sight on what is now New Britain Avenue.
Captain Timothy Seymour also installed horizontal paneling in the upper east room and had it sponge-painted. The remains of this work can still be seen in one corner of the room and the adjacent closet created by the later renovations of 1800 - 1810. There are reasons to believe that by 1730, at least the east upper room was insulated with locally made bricks on the east and south sides. It is possible that the bricks extended all the way along the back to the west side of the house.
By 1750, a later owner added a one-story addition on the south side of the house and turned it into a saltbox. The central chimney and fireplace complex was still being used. The brick insulation was probably still in use for the second floor. If so, it was locally made brick — probably from a brickyard in nearby Elmwood. It is this house that General Rochambeau and his 4,000 troops marched by in 1781 (twice), first going to Yorktown to the aid of General Washington, and then returning to Newport, Rhode Island, to re-embark for France.
In the decade 1800 - 1810, the house was extensively remodeled in a Federal architecture style (in England, it would have been called "Georgian"). The one-story addition was removed and replaced by four rooms (two up, two down) and a back staircase. The central fireplace and chimney complex, which had been built on the east side of the first two rooms, was removed and replaced with a new central stairway. Two new chimney complexes with associated fireplaces were installed, one on the west and the other on the east side of the house. And in the remodeling, the original dimensions of the front rooms were reduced, creating spaces between the chimneys and the front and back rooms of the house. Any remaining brick insulation on the second floor south side was certainly removed at this time.
We would like to say that the renovation that took place from 1800 to 1810 returned the house to the original dimensions originally envisaged by Timothy Seymour. In fact, there is a possibility that if he envisioned the south rooms to be as large as the first ones that he and his eldest son built, then the finished house would be somewhat bigger than it is today.
Visitors today see a carefully restored, early 18th-Century mansion house, remodeled in the Federal style before 1810. Wallpapers are reproductions of originals found in the house. Paint colors have been reproduced. There are extensive collections of furniture, porcelain, glass, textiles, and clothing of the period, some pieces relating to the several families who lived here. All of the collections are of the period 1715 - 1830, the year in which Sarah Whitman Hooker left Connecticut.
There are numerous places throughout the house where the original fabric of the house was left exposed so that visitors can gain an appreciation of construction techniques. Miniaturized portraits of Colonel and Captain Skene, two prominent Tories held during the revolution, are on view as well.