Originally built by the Knapp family in the late 1600s, this bright red house on Boston Post Road was once the home of Timothy Knapp, his wife, and their children.
It was then used as a tavern in the mid-1700’s and served a number of troops and generals during the American Revolutionary War, including General Israel Putnam and General George Washington.
Now a public museum, Putnam Cottage offers tours, events, historical reenactments, and more.
Here’s why a trip to this historic home should be on your Greenwich to-do list.
History of Putnam Cottage – Knapp’s Tavern
Putnam Cottage was originally called Knapp Tavern but was given Putnam’s name because it was the site of his daring escape from the redcoats.
Timothy Knapp was the builder of the Knapp’s Tavern. Captain Israel Knapp, his son, inherited the house in 1729 and turned it into a tavern in 1754.
It was this tavern that General George Washington stopped for lunch with his troops in 1776. It was also still known as Knapp’s Tavern on February 26, 1779, when General Israel Putnam made his famous ride down Put’s Hill.
While being chased by the British, General Israel Putnam rode down a steep hill (now known as Putnam Hill) before jumping his horse off a cliff. He and his horse survived the ride, and the historic scene is now depicted on the seal of the town of Greenwich. The name Putnam can be found throughout the state of Connecticut.
Despite the folklore, it’s more likely that General Israel Putnam achieved his heroic feat further east. Many believe that the cottage’s name was actually changed from Knapp’s Tavern because Timothy Knapp was discovered to be a spy for the British. What a plot twist!
The other major accolade of Putnam Cottage is that George Washington slept here. No, seriously. He stayed here when it was a tavern while marching through town during the American Revolution.
Later History of Putnam Cottage
In 1783, Israel Knapp Jr. took over the tavern. When he died in 1790, his widow, Margaret, moved in.
Members of the Putnam Hill Chapter DAR donated $7,125.00 to purchase the historic Knapp Tavern property in 1901. Colonel H. H. Adams signed the deed to the newly formed Israel Putnam House Association in 1902, pledging to preserve and maintain the property as a Chapter House for the use and benefit of the Putnam Hill Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.
Visit the Museum
Putnam Cottage underwent an extensive restoration in 1976, as did the property’s barn, carriage shed, and colonial gardens. Today, the home is furnished with 18th-century pieces and holds an extensive collection of General Putnam memorabilia. The updates make it one of the top things to do in Greenwich, Connecticut, with kids.
Volunteer members from the Putnam Hill DAR conduct group tours by appointment. The Putnam Hill chapter of the DAR also hosts a number of public events throughout the year. This Revolutionary Era tavern museum is open on Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m.
Explore Putnam Hill
Putnam Cottage is part of the Putnam Hill Historic District, a nationally recognized 36-acre district that offers a number of fascinating historic Connecticut sites. Guests can explore the Second Congregational Church, which was built in 1856 and features a beautiful 220-foot stone tower. Or, visit the spectacular Tomes-Higgins House, the only remaining house in Connecticut designed by famed architect Calvert Vaux.
The Putnam Hill Historic District would have also included the Seaman-Brush House had more modern buildings not been constructed in between to separate the land. Stanford White designed the last major update of the Seaman-Brush House, also known as Stanton House Inn.
Hotels, Inns, & Places to Stay Near Putnam Cottage
Of the best hotels in Greenwich, CT, only two are within walking distance:
- Stanton House Inn, our downtown Greenwich, CT, bed and breakfast, a 10-minute walk away
- Delamar Greenwich Harbor Hotel, which is a 6-minute drive, or 36-minute, uphill walk from its location on Greenwich Harbor
Find More Things to Do Near Putnam Cottage
After you finish-up at Putnam Cottage, it’s an easy walk to Stanton House Inn and downtown Greenwich.
Some other famous examples of historic architecture in the area include:
- The Bush-Holley House, in Cos Cob, CT
You can also check-out the full list of things to do in Greenwich, and even download our free Greenwich, CT, Visitor’s Guide.
Updated and republished: October 2, 2023