Norm Needleman


Norm Needleman



March 31, 2022

Sen. Needleman, Gov. Lamont, State Leaders Support State Bond Commission Funding of Important LGBTQ+ Site in East Haddam

Today, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) gave his support to the State Bond Commission’s announced release of $1.5 million to support renovation and visitor improvements at the Palmer-Warner House, originally built in 1738. According to Connecticut Landmarks, the historic site was first the home of John and Mehitable Warner in the 1700s; it gained new relevance when Frederic Palmer, a preservation architect, purchased it in 1936. For decades, the property served as a safe space for Palmer’s friends and family, many of whom were members of the LGBTQ+ community.

“The Palmer-Warner House is a reminder of the hard-fought advances earned by the LGBTQ+ community and stands as living memory of the love and support so many experienced there,” said Sen. Needleman. “It’s an important part of local history not only because of its beauty and age but the storied selflessness represented by its later residents. I am proud that East Haddam will continue to have this storied landmark to remind us of the hard work put in by so many to push for inclusion and respect, and how those gains can be reversed if we are not careful.”

“Ensuring the Palmer-Warner House remains maintained and in a good state of repair will allow this historic property to serve as a landmark in East Haddam for many years to come, and I am glad that the state is able to partner with them on this project,” Governor Ned Lamont said.

“With this investment in the Palmer-Warner House, Connecticut Landmarks will be able to continue to preserve the home of Frederic Palmer and Howard Metzger and develop the infrastructure necessary for people to visit the site to learn about under-recognized history in their lives, their communities and the history of the property,” said Connecticut Landmarks Executive Director Aaron Marcavitch. “We will be able to tell a relevant 20th-century story of LGBTQ history and community through a beautiful 18th-century house and welcome visitors from throughout the region to experience it. Connecticut Landmarks is grateful for the support of our state senator, state representatives and the East Haddam community.”

Joe Grabarz, former state legislator and current Connecticut Landmarks Stewardship & Collections Chair, noted that “the ongoing preservation and development of the Palmer-Warner House is a critical goal of the organization. We welcome and thank our state legislators for seeing the importance of this important site for the history of Connecticut.”

“I want to thank Governor Lamont and the entire State Bond Commission for recognizing this project’s importance in preserving a piece of our state’s LGBTQ+ history. With very few accounts chronicling the ordinary lives of the LGBTQ+ community available across Connecticut, this is a revolutionary project that uncovers just some of that hidden history and offers local communities a chance to celebrate the contributions they have made. I am proud to have supported funding for this necessary project that will keep this history alive and accessible,” said State Representative Jeff Currey (D – East Hartford, Manchester, South Windsor).

“I am so excited to hear that Connecticut is helping to preserve this incredible LGBTQ+ cultural and historic site,” said Patrick J. Dunn, Executive Director of the New Haven Pride Center. “The role the Palmer-Warner House played as a safe haven for LGBTQ+ folks is an important part of our shared history. I look forward to the plans to renovate and grow the opportunities for the engage with this hub for LGBTQ+ culture and arts.”

The $1.5 million in slated improvements for the property include historically appropriate renovations to the building’s exterior, an environmentally friendly parking lot, development of the barn into a visitor center, and work to make the site more accessible under the Americans With Disabilities Act. Connecticut Landmarks will receive the grant funding.

When the Warner family built the house, they used it to farm and grow their family, according to Connecticut Landmarks. In later generations, the Warner family became renowned local blacksmiths, and many of their pieces were collected by Frederic Palmer and adorn the house. Frederic Palmer and his mother Mary Brennan Palmer later purchased the property. Palmer was responsible for acquiring, renovating and preserving a number of Connecticut Landmarks properties, and he lived at the Palmer-Warner House in East Haddam with his partner Howard Metzger until his death in 1971. Metzger remained in the house until his own passing in 2005. They welcomed friends and family to their home, and were active members of the East Haddam community. Their stories span the 20th century and connect to larger arcs of LGBTQ history, which Connecticut Landmarks will invite visitors to learn about at the site.