story & photos
by Anne Pappalardo
On Saturday, June 14, CT Landmarks, formerly known as the Antiquarian & Landmarks Society, celebrated Nathan Hale’s 253rd birthday at the Nathan Hale Homestead on South Street in Coventry. The gala celebration featured 18th-century music by the Nathan Hale Fife and Drum Corps, talks by a local historian, house tours, a colonial encampment, demonstrations of candle making and wool spinning, activities for children, and of course, birthday cake and lemonade.
Officially known as CT’s state hero, Nathan Hale, is famous for uttering those famous words, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country,” moments before the British hanged him as a spy in 1776.
Nathan was born and raised on the 400-acre farm. He was a Yale-educated schoolteacher and was commissioned as a first lieutenant in the Continental Army in 1775. One of eight brothers, six of whom served in the Patriot Army, he volunteered to go behind British lines on Long Island to gather military intelligence for General George Washington but was captured by the British. When he was found to be a spy, he was executed. He was only 21.
The Georgian-style homestead was rebuilt by his father and since then remained largely unchanged. The home houses a number of Hale family possessions. George Dudley Seymour saved the house in the early 20th century, and the house was deeded to CT Landmarks in the 1940s.
Beverly York, site administrator for the Homestead, said, “People who visit Nathan Hale Homestead go away with a taste of 18th-century farm life and Hale family contributions to the Patriot cause. It is a great time to visit historic sites and bring the family. Actually visiting these sites is much more powerful than just looking at them online. We invite everyone to come and walk in the footsteps of history!”
Nathan Hale Homestead is open from May to October and features several special events, including a colonial camp for children and an encampment in July. Call 860.742.6917 for more information.