Take a Step into Grand Americana at Roseland Cottage. Check out their Arts and Crafts Fair in October.

There was a time when a “cottage” was a euphemism for a really big countryside mansion that was used to escape the city in the summer – at least for the lucky few who were wealthy enough. Just like the famed “cottages” of Newport, Rhode Island, it is possible to visit one of the places where a great American family spent vacations in Northeast Connecticut (primarily during the warmer months).

Roseland Cottage, also known, for obvious reasons, as “The Pink House,” was built in 1846 for the large family of Henry C. and Lucy Bowen. Henry built the Gothic Revival style home in Woodstock after making his fortune in business in New York City. For his wife and kids, the house was summer dream come true and a retreat from the heat of Manhattan.

For Henry, the house was a stage for politics – and for influencing politicians the old-fashioned way. Four US presidents and many other distinguished Americans were extended houseguests at The Pink House. There were regaled nightly by the Bowens with lavish dinners – which were served without the benefit of alcohol, as Henry was a teetotaler. He made up for the inconvenience by arranging (and paying) for Fourth of July celebrations on the Town Common across the street, which drew huge crowds who came to hear what the Bowens’ famous guests had to say.

The house today is much the way it was when the Bowen family lived there. Managed by Historic New England, the house is a registered National Historic Landmark. With its steep gables and stained glass windows, Roseland Cottage exemplifies the Gothic Revival architecture of its time. Practically unaltered since the Victoria era, you will discover stunning furniture and Lincrusta Walton wall decorations. To add to its extravagance, this property encompasses an icehouse, aviary, and carriage barn. Don’t forget to check out the very cool old indoor bowling alley!

Roseland Cottage is one of eleven historic sites that form the Connecticut Historic Gardens, and it is not difficult to see why. The grounds of this household are home to over 21 flowerbeds that enclose over 3,500 annual and are bordered by 600 yards of boxwood. Visitors to Roseland Cottage are encouraged to enjoy a picnic in these spectacular gardens and experience the peace and tranquility in a way parallel to that of the Bowens over 160 years ago. While the flowers fade a bit come September, the fall foliage makes a stroll in the garden worth the trip.

Event alert: Every fall, in October, Roseland Cottage is also home to one of the leading juried fine arts and crafts shows in New England, attracting the artwork of 175 artisans and the attention of thousands of visitors from near and far. 2010, the festival takes place on Saturday, October 16, and Sunday, October 17 and will host a variety of artwork including woodwork, metalwork, pottery, jewelry, clothing, paintings, glass, and toys.

Please be sure to check the website for hours. This site is not open year round.

For dining in the area: Sweet Evalina’s Stand (for casual fare 860-928-4029), the Inn at Woodstock Hill and the Mansion at Bald Hill are all excellent.

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