The first thing you notice about the quirky Victorian Roseland Cottage/Bowen House (556 Rte. 169, Woodstock, 860/928-4074, www.historicnewengland.org , tours hourly 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Wed.–Sun. June–mid-Oct., $8) is the color: bright rose pink. In fact, that was the original shade that Henry Bowen painted the cottage, which he gave as a gift to his wife, a lover of roses. The building is now the country’s best surviving model of the Gothic Revival architecture that was all the rage for a brief period of time in the mid-19th century. The exterior is all quatrefoils and balustrades, and the interior feels more like a cathedral, with high ceilings and stained glass in the parlors.
Bowen grew up in Woodstock, and later became a wealthy printer in New York ; but he never forgot where he came from. He returned to this cottage every summer with his wife and ten children(!), and virtually built the town of Woodstock through his philanthropy. Among his efforts was a July Fourth celebration in the neighboring park that was renowned as the best in the country; several presidents, including Taft and Theodore Roosevelt, stayed at the cottage for the celebration.
Today the Roseland Cottage/Bowen House is owned by Historic New England, which has done a bang-up job of restoring the house, including an unusual embossed wallpaper known as lincrusta Walton, which a tour guide describes as “linoleum for your wall.” Because the home was continuously in the hands of the family, all of the furniture and artwork is original to the house—a rarity in house museums. As a special treat, don’t miss the 19th-century bowling alley, with wooden pins and balls, in a barn on the property.