In 1675, Steven Backus built a simple two-room, side-chimney house. Over two centuries, it would be modified many times. Thomas Leffingwell, a founder of Norwich and friend of the Great Sachem, Uncas, bought the house in 1700 and acquired a license to operate an inn and tavern for the "publique entertainment of strangers." Taverns were hotbeds of the Revolution: places where people gathered for rum, tobacco and to discuss the news.
During the 18th century, Christopher Leffingwell, a prominent industrialist, inherited the Inn. His five mills helped Connecticut be self-sufficient during the Revolution. Christopher was an invaluable supplier of provisions for the Patriots. In 1776, General Washington visited the Inn to secure supplies.
Originally at the corner of Washington Street and Harland Road, the Inn was marked for demolition in 1957 to make way for relocation of state highways 2 and 32. It was purchased and preserved by The Society of the Founders of Norwich and moved to its present location.
This panel was produced by the Norwich Historical Society in cooperation with The Society of the Founders of Norwich, Norwich Community Development Corporation, the Norwich Heritage Groups, Norwich Historic District Commission, City of Norwich, and
Norwich Public Works Department. Research and writing by Regan Miner; panel design and oversight of fabrication by Geoff Steadman and Pam Ballard.
The Norwich Historical Society received support for this project from: the State Historic Preservation Office of the Department of Economic & Community Development with funds from: The Community Investment Act of the State of Connecticut; the Sachem Fund; Eastern Connecticut Association of Realtors; the R.S. Gernon Trust; and the Elsie A. Brown Fund.
( descriptive plaque )
Once upon a time in Norwich...
there was a two-room building owned by the Stephen Backus Family in 1675. It later passed to Thomas Leffingwell, the son of Lt. Thomas Leffingwell, and in 1701 he was given permission to open an inn. There followed two major additions to the original building to provide space that use. Thomas's son, Benajah, succeeded his father as an innkeeper and, in turn, Benajah's son, Christopher Leffingwell, continued in that business. Christopher Leffingwell, Norwich industrialist, entrepreneur, merchant and patriot distinguished himself for his contribution of provisions to the success of the American Revolution. Enroute to Providence during the war, General George Washington dined at the Leffingwell Inn and met with patriots from the region.
Leffingwell Inn originally was located at the corner of Harland Road and Washington Street. In 1957 it was doomed for demolition to make way for the new Connecticut Turnpike connector. Fortunately Philip A. Johnson, President of the Society of the Founders of Norwich, with the help of then Governor Abraham Ribicoff and State Highway Commissioner Newman E. Argraves, made possible its purchase by the State Highway Department. It was then deeded to the Society of the Founders of Norwich with the provision that the Society maintain the Inn as an historic site. At a cost of $100,000 it was moved to the present location at 348 Washington Street, where it is regularly opened to the public as one of New England's finest examples of colonial architecture and furnishings.
This memorial plaque is sponsored by
Mr. Thomas Leffingwell Pulling
of Oyster Bay New York