Tolland is twenty miles east of Hartford on Interstate 84, roughly halfway between Hartford and Sturbridge, MA. The town was named in 1713 and settled by families from Windsor, CT. Tolland grew first as a collection of small farms but then formed a village center around an intersection of the New York to Boston, and Norwich to Springfield post roads. As the old county seat, and with the post road crossing, travelers have found shelter in Tolland for most of its long history. Taverns, inns, and hotels have at various times offered accommodations on the village Green. The last of these, the Steele House, began taking guests in January of 1914. Their guest register that first year showed guests from New York, Boulder, Colorado, and Changli, China. The Steeles ran the guest house until 1942, and owned the place until 1959. Susan and Steve Beeching bought the property in 1985 from a couple who were the last registered guests of the old Steele House. An extensive restoration and updating of the inn began, and two years later, 1987, we opened as the Tolland Inn.
We don’t have an original build date for the inn, but the oldest features of the house are from the end of the 1700’s. Interior lathing in the second floor looks right for a “salt-box” style structure–a typical, early, lean-to style house. There is also anecdotal history of the house across the parking lot from us (a sister property originally,) to have been a salt-box. A mid 1800’s up-date to our architecture enlarged the house, added the third floor, decorative bracketing with the deep soffet, and the large living room bay window. The large center chimney was removed when central heat finally arrived, the front stairs removed and a straight flight made off the dining room. and in 1914 the second floor was added over the original kitchen and wood shed. The building was then fairly set until we arrived and set out to make an inn comfortable for today’s travelers. The Innkeepers are Susan and Steve Beeching. Susan is a Nantucket native and third generation innkeeper. Her grandmother owned Haddon Hall and her mother owned Eighteen Gardner Street Guest House. Susan is a teacher with a career in Special Education. She moved to teaching second grade in Coventry, CT, for many years. She retired (?) and immediately took a faculty position at Goodwin College in East Hartford.
Steve is a designer and builder of fine furniture. His furniture pieces are in homes across this country. His work can also be seen throughout the inn mixed with the inn’s antiques, and in the hand-tooled raised paneling and coffered ceiling of the sunporch. His touch is evident in hundreds of features of the inn: our canopy beds, diningroom table, the “fainting couch”, pierced tin lighting fixtures, mirrored wall sconces in the upstairs hall, bedside shelves, the design of our t-shirts and mugs, down to the tissue holders in the bathrooms… not to mention a few of the paintings.
We continue to upgrade the features of the inn, take advantage of current technology and maintain the historical details in and outside the building to try to create a relaxing, romantic lodging for guests traveling Interstate 84, visiting UConn, or just getting away from it all.