Albert A. Morse House – Circa 1890
Painted Lady is certainly an appropriate name for this charming cottage’s exterior, painted in four colors with Fine Wine and Anjou Pear predominate. The present owners have resided in the home for 30 years, slowly restoring it to its former state.
The first reference to the property appeared in town records in 1890. While the relationship of the grantor and the grantee was not clear, this much was recorded. Albert Morse sold the property to Elnor A. Benner for one dollar on September 21, 1894. The conditions of the sale mandated that the property would be Elnor Benner’s if, and only if, she met the following conditions: Elnor was to “comfortably and adequately support with proper food, raiment, apartments in the dwelling house on the land, medical attendance and nursing, the grantor, Albert A. Morse, and his daughter Ida Morse during their natural lives.” The document continues that “in case the grantee shall not, in every particular perform this condition, then this deed is to be void and of no effect.”
Elnor apparently met the conditions of the sale, residing at the property until 1935, when she in turn sold the house to Olive Benner Hall for one dollar. The house’s unusual setting, more than one hundred feet from the road, is often a topic of interest to visitors but is an unresolved question to date. The interior woodwork is characterized by pillars, cypress-accented windows and doors, staircases and moldings, lovingly restored over a period of years by the current and previous owners.
The home is the site of many summer garden parties and host to Willimantic Victorian Neighborhood Association meetings and galas where the owners expand their home into the garden. The garden is also the site of annual autumn dinner parties for Eastern’s incoming international students. More than 150 students representing 30 countries have experienced a typical Victorian era dinner party at this home.