Pride in one’s home is a deeply held New England conviction. Now imagine if that home gave shelter to nine successive generations, making it the longest continuously inhabited home by one family in Connecticut?
That’s the history of Cheshire’s Enos Brooks House, built in 1733 on South Brooksvale Road. Residents will be able to revel in the home’s longevity on Saturday afternoon from 1 to 5 p.m. during an open house event sponsored by the Lady Fenwick Chapter DAR.
Jean McKee is this generation’s keeper of the flame for the nearly 300-year-old home. She has become the family’s historian and archivist, inventorying the home’s contents and researching an ancestor's diaries written from 1860 to 1905.
“My great-great Uncle Samuel Hull Brooks complained (in his diary) about the heat. They put on a full story attic and raised the ceilings in two upstairs bedrooms to reduce the heat,” McKee said.
That attic held many family memories, McKee recalls. “My sister (Betty McKee Lewis) and I went in trunks in the attic looking for old clothes and papers. We found 70 pictures,” McKee said. One large ambrotype picture dates to 1858, she said.
McKee’s niece, Elizabeth (Betsy) Panke, grew up in St. Louis but spent every summer at the Brooksvale home. She, her sister and brother will the 10th generation of family to live in the homestead.
“My aunt has been very dedicated to the history. I’m cognizant of that and not too casual,” about the legacy, Panke, said during a recent Cheshire visit. “I’m very honored and excited. It is a real honor and duty,” she added.
“We’re keeping the open land, the barn and the beautiful old home,” Panke said. Nearly 50 acres of the family’s historic Brooksvale farmlands are protected against development through a conservation easement established in 1992 with the Cheshire Land Trust.
Tickets to the open house tour may be purchased at the door at 532 South Brooksvale Rd. on Saturday for $15 for one or $25 for two. McKee said visitors will tour the dining room, parlor, living room and front entryway. Proceeds from the event support DAR scholarships projects.