Ready to step back in time?
The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum in Norwalk, CT, gives you an unparalleled opportunity. Here, you’ll experience the unique character of old Gilded Age luxury.
Built between 1864 and 1868 by LeGrand Lockwood, this structure is worth exploring for anyone passionate about the Gilded Age.
Through its many halls and rooms filled with exquisite historical design components such as:
- Carved fireplaces
- Decorated ceilings
- And walls adorned with paintings and rare artifacts
The mansion museum provides an interactive educational experience. It’s a truly enriching private guided tour!
Map design by Stanton House Inn
The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion and its history
The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum is a national historic landmark, located in Norwalk, Connecticut. The house is now regarded as one of the country’s finest surviving and most important examples of Second Empire architecture.
Visitors can explore this treasure and discover the opulence of America’s Gilded Age. It offers an immersive experience that transports visitors back to 1868. It also offers an appreciation for the luxury of the early industrial age.
The Lockwood Family
Built in the mid-19th century by Legrand Lockwood and his family, this magnificent estate is a time capsule of the Victorian Era. Legrand Lockwood was:
- A railroad magnate
- One of the country’s first millionaires
- The New York Stock Exchange’s treasurer
- An avid art collector
- And the personification of the country’s emerging aristocracy
The four-year construction of the mansion, designed by German immigrant Detlef Lienau, involved American and immigrant craftsmen. It had cutting-edge technologies at the time, like:
- Indoor plumbing
- Gas lighting
- And central heating
The mansion is also Mr Lienau’s most significant surviving work.
Lockwood and his wife Ann Louisa moved into their “Elm Park” vacation home in 1868. A year later, on the day that would become known as Black Friday, Lockwood declared bankruptcy. He took out a mortgage on the Norwalk mansion and began working to reestablish his reputation on Wall Street. He died before completing his plan in 1872, and Ann Louisa lost the house to foreclosure two years after his death.
The Mathews Family
Prominent New York importer Charles D. Mathews and his spouse Rebecca purchased the Lockwood mansion in 1876. In June of that year, the family, which included the couple’s four children as well as Rebecca’s father and brother, moved into the vacation home.
Fun fact: the “D” stood for Charles Drelincourt Mathews. One of the more unique names this writer has stumbled upon. And perhaps due to the subject matter, it drips with opulence.
Unfortunately, Charles died three years later. His family continued to enjoy the mansion every summer until they eventually sold it to the City of Norwalk in 1941.
The 20th Century at the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion
The mansion was almost demolished in the 1950s, though local preservationists were able to stop it. In 1971, the site was designated a National Historic Landmark. The mansion museum was used as the Men’s Association building in both versions of the Stepford Wives. It was also featured in the horror film House of Dark Shadows, released in 1970.
This wonderfully preserved landmark has been carefully restored with both its history and future in mind.
The Mansion’s architectural splendor
This National Historic Landmark is a magnificent example of Second Empire country houses. Visitors to the Mansion can take in its carefully landscaped grounds as well as its grand architectural elements:
- Intricate interior parlors
- A formal dining room with paintings from the gallery
- A skylight rotunda
- And more
The beauty of this historic treasure will transport any visitor into another world for one memorable experience.
The antiques and art throughout the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum
As you explore this historic treasure, you’ll find art and antiques from the mid to late 1800s that have been carefully preserved over time. Unique pieces such as:
- Intricate marble fireplaces
- Grand grandfather clocks
- And ornate wall sconces
Show visitors the opulence of a different era.
A few items scattered throughout that add a bit more sparkle include:
- Gilded frames around mirrors and portraits
- Antique furniture pieces
- Various objets d’art
This collection not only tells stories of one-time owners but offers an appreciation for timeless beauty.
Exploring the lush gardens & grounds
Elm Park’s lush lawns and sweeping gardens provide a perfect oasis for a stroll. It’s easy to see why the mansion was chosen as a filming location for the remake of The Stepford Wives. This magnificent estate provides an unparalleled experience that brings history alive.
Fun activities to do: guided tours and lectures
The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum offers a variety of fun activities on-site. They help visitors gain an in-depth look at the grandeur and opulence of the Gilded Age. A great way to get started is by joining one of their guided tours. They provide an overview of the mansion’s history, architecture, and art collections.
Or, for something more immersive, sit in on lectures on how styles have changed over time. You can even take part in educational workshops and seasonal festivities throughout the year.
Tips for visiting, including parking info, and more things to do nearby in Norwalk, CT
Visiting the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum is an easy and enjoyable experience! And, on top of that, Norwalk is a great destination for a CT day trip.
Parking is available at Mathews Park on West Avenue. It sits close to the junction of I-95 and Route 7, the project that threatened the building with demolition. The mansion and nearby Norwalk attractions are easy to reach.
Once you’re at the museum, you can explore the opulence of the Gilded Age at your leisure on the 90-minute tour.
And if you’re looking to go a bit farther afield in Connecticut, some more fantastic CT museums, include:
- The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
Afterward, Norwalk offers plenty of other attractions nearby, including:
- The Norwalk River Valley Trail, which passes through Mathews Park
Norwalk is also home to many restaurants and boutiques on Washington Street in South Norwalk. There are so many things to do in Norwalk, CT, be sure to read our full guide!