The 165-foot-tall Heublein Tower is a historic structure located in Talcott Mountain State Park in Simsbury, Connecticut. The structure was erected for Gilbert Heublein, a food and beverage entrepreneur who created Heublein Inc. and was best known for producing A.1. Steak Sauce and Smirnoff vodka. In the early 1900s, he told his then-fiancée Louise M. Gundlach that one day he would construct her a castle on Talcott Mountain while trekking with her.
The Heublein Tower, designed by Smith and Bassette to withstand 100 mph winds and completed by T. R. Fox and Son in 1914, was Gilbert Heublein’s vacation house and refuge. In 1916, Smith and Bassette also designed the Governor’s Mansion’s north and south wings. Mr. Heublein fashioned this structure after buildings in his native Bavaria, making it a true architectural marvel. From the top floor viewing lounge, which stands 165 feet tall and 1,000 feet above the Farmington Valley, one can see for several dozen miles in all directions.
The Hartford Times bought the tower in 1943, and Heublein Tower became known as the Times Tower. The goal had been to use the tower as a broadcasting point for their radio station, WTHT, but it was quickly discovered that the tower couldn’t withstand the strain of the transmitting antenna. For nearly two decades, the Times used it as a venue for parties and social meetings.
On August 16, 1966, the State of Connecticut purchased the Tower and 557 surrounding acres for $500,000. The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection now manages Heublein Tower and the surrounding acres as Talcott Mountain State Park. The Friends of Heublein Tower, a non-profit group, contributes significantly to the restoration and maintenance of the Tower’s interior. The Friends of the Heublein Tower and its Estate was founded in 1985 with the goal of preserving and renovating the Heublein Tower and its surrounding estate. The installation of a white wood parquet floor in the observation room (known as the ballroom in Gilbert Heublein’s day) in the same pattern as the original was one of the most recent restoration efforts. The tower was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.
A walk is required to reach the tower and museum. The Tower Trail is a 1.25-mile well-maintained trail that takes 30–40 minutes to reach the Tower. From Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend, the museum is open Thursday through Monday. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from Labor Day weekend through October 31st. Learn more about visiting HERE.
Looking for more great spots to explore nearby? Check out the GoXplr Connecticut Map at goxplr.com/map/connecticut!
- Opened: 1914
- Original function: The Heublein Tower served as Gilbert Heublein’s summer home and retreat.
- Architect(s): Smith & Bassette
- Year added to NRHP: 1983
- NRHP number: 83001260
- Status: Public
- Admission cost: Free
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