When Richard Boothe laid the foundation for his farmhouse in 1663, he could have never predicted what would become of his property in the 20th century. The 34-acre homestead in Stratford, Connecticut is now home to an unexpected collection of 28 buildings, including a 44-sided blacksmith shop, a miniature lighthouse, and the state’s last remaining highway tollbooth.
These curious structures were built by two of Richard’s descendants: brothers David Beach Boothe, born in 1867, and Stephen Nichols Boothe, born in 1869. David and Stephen worked in agriculture, insurance, and real estate before turning their attention to the property’s first building endeavor—expanding the family’s main house, an 1840 Greek Revival, in 1914. They installed stained-glass windows with inscriptions claiming their house was “the oldest homestead in America.” (It likely isn’t.)
They constructed a local history museum, housed in a barn with a clocktower that formerly topped a Massachusetts church (the brothers traded an electric carpet sweeper for it).
The brothers also designed and built their very own cathedral in 1932. It’s known as the Technocratic Cathedral. The cathedral was constructed without nails using California redwood beams stacked on top of each other. The final effect is very Lego-like. The cathedral is perhaps an early monument to the Technocratic movement, which called for a government run by engineers and scientists—a movement the brothers supported.
The eccentric siblings weren’t always welcomed in Stratford. After their clocktower chimes disturbed a neighbor’s chickens, they vowed to “never give the town the time of day” again.
Stephen and David, who died three months apart from each other in 1948 and 1949, willed the property to Stratford and the park was opened to the public in 1955. In addition to the Boothe’s original structures, the property now includes an observatory, an amateur radio club, a model train museum, and a tollbooth, which formerly stood on the nearby Merritt Parkway.
Know Before You Go
The park is free and open year-round to the public.