This is a printer-friendly version of an article from

08/15/2022 04:54 PM

Bushnell House to Come Under Town Control

First Selectman John Hall announced that the owners of the David Bushnell House are working to donate the property to the town. No timetable has been set for the move yet. Photo by Eric O’Connell/Harbor News


One of the oldest houses in Connecticut, the David Bushnell House at 121 South Main Street, may soon have new ownership: the Town of Westbrook.

First Selectman John Hall told members of the Board of Selectmen (BOS) at an Aug. 9 meeting that Leighton Lee III, the current property owner, is willing to donate the historic building to the town.

“Mr. Lee and his attorney would like to move as quickly as possible with this,” Hall said during the meeting. As a condition of the donation, Hall said Lee was interested in a caveat that the building be housed for historic purposes.

In fact, it’s hard to find a building in Connecticut that has seen more history. Marcy Fuller, the president of the Westbrook Historical Society said that the house, originally built in 1678, “Is one of the five oldest houses in Connecticut.”

Fuller explained that the house was built by Captain Samuel Bushnell, the father of David Bushnell, the inventor of the submarine. However David never lived in the house – he was born in Westbrook in 1740 but grew up on farm near the intersection of Essex and McVeagh roads.

Instead, Fuller explained that in 1922 the Society of Dependents of Westbrook Settlers, a since disbanded organization, gained control of the property and dedicated the house to the memory of David Bushnell.

Future Unclear

One idea Hall tossed out was possibly moving the historical society into the house once it comes under town control.

“To think it could be located in the oldest house in town is something,” Fuller said during the meeting about the possibility.

At this point nothing is set in stone Hall said.

“We should get the property under town control and then figure it out,” Hall said.

According to Hall, “figuring it out” will include public hearings to gather residents’ input and a meeting with the historical society.

“I think it’s all great news. I think it’s all positive. It’s just a matter of how to work out the details,” Hall said.