1930- The George and Ann Borodell Denison Society was created by Ann Borodell Denison Gates, affectionately referred to as Aunt Annie. She was the last Denison to live in the house after six generations. Annie gave the Society the 1717 house and about 125 acres, part of the original 200 acre land granted to Capt. George Denison for his service in the early Pequot militia in 1654. According to the Articles of Association, “The purpose is to maintain a museum and memorial in the town of Stonington, CT as a testimonial to the Denison Family” World War ll came so the 1717 house and land remained idle.
Today there are about 1000 Denison Descendant members across the country and world and a number of Friends.
In 1946 the name was officially changed to The Denison Society. “Friends of Pequot Sepos”were invited to join if they were not Denison descendants. J. Frederick Kelly, the notable Colonial Revival architect, was hired to restore the house as a museum. Each of the five main rooms were restored to meet a different period of history and the Denison family members that lived there at that time. Only family furniture was used in the house.
In 1946 The Denison Society also created the Pequotsepos Wildlife Sanctuary Inc. in honor of Ann Gates’ love of birds. The Mystic Garden Club, of which Mrs. Gates was a founding member, suggested the idea. The Sanctuary was purposely formed as a separate organization from the Society. Their original Board was all Society members. They were given a 25 year lease and an operating subsidy of $1.00 a year.
The Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center ( DPNC ) was created in 1972 with a new 25 year lease and another $1.00 a year operating subsidy (Controversy had developed over the previous Wildlife Sanctuary’s use of the land and buildings and role in the CT Conservation Corps. Their lease was not renewed.) A few years later DPNC wanted to expand so thier lease was extened to 2030.
In 1992 The Denison Fund was launched by The Society to purchase 50 acres below the house owned by family member Dr. Walter Morgan. (This land was part of the original land grant.) Bill Denison was instrumental in a capital campaign to buy this property and to stop a proposed development only a few hundred feet from the 1717 house. The majority of the money raised was from family members and the endowment, but the community also contributed money to conserve this land. DPNC manages the many miles of trails. The Denison Farm Market, created in 2007, is held Sundays in season on this land. Fiddlers play each week and about 200 people attend this popular seasonal event. The field is now being called The Militia Meadow. Each June archaeological digs are taking place looking for Capt. Denison’s 1600′s stockade and proof of the militia he trained on this land.
Restoration of Pequot Sepos Manor- Pequot Sepos Manor, the 1717 house museum, is the pride of the Homestead! However it still needs major restoration. Several assessments were undertaken, thanks to Helen Keith and Jane Preston, to start this process. Both a Museum Assessment Program and a Conservation Assessment Program were completed in ‘03 and ‘04 with a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. A Structural Engineer’s survey was also completed in ’06 with grants from The Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation and the Allyn Foundation. It was suggested we do the much needed repairs in three phases.
- Phase 1:Install a new roof on the north side of the Homestead and back ell and tie to the rear & front of the building to prevent further bowing out. The “Buy a Shingle” Sale and contributions for Jamie Floyd were used to complete this phase in 2007.
- Phase 2:Major structural repairs are needed. Many sills and beams supporting the house need to be replaced.
- Phase 3:Interior Restoration:electrical, plumbing and masonry, as well as room by room restoration. Exterior Restoration: windows, painting and power washing is also needed.
2009- The Society received a strategic plan grant from the Connecticut Humanities Council (CHC) All family members, friends and the community were invited to answer surveys asking for guidance on future planning. The title was also cleared on 28 acres on Mistuxet Ave and Cove Roads.
2010 -New Mission Statement - “The Denison Homestead connects the local community and descendants to experience the history, land and environment of our 300 year old family farm.” Also the new brand name, The Denison Homestead, was adopted.
2011–Pequotsepos Manor was power washed and the trim painted thanks to a matching grant from The 1772 Foundation. Land around the house was cleared with another grant and The Vogel Education Center was restored thanks to the Miller family.
2012: The Homestead recived an historic preservation technical assistance grant from the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation to do a structural survey of the barn.
Denison Cemetery: This yard on Route One was originally owned by Capt. George Denison and that the stones are made of gray slate, red sandstone and granite. One of many Denisons buried here, is Elisha Denison who died on the Prison Ship Jersey during the Revolutionary War. In 1907 a Civil War Parrot Cannon was placed here by the GAR pointing towards Long Island. Locals have claimed that the cannon was used in the War of 1812 to stop the British from landing land near by but this is not true.