Simsbury, Connecticut’s Amos Eno House was built in 1822 by Elisha Phelps, who had been given the land by his father, Noah Phelps a prominent Simsbury judge, lawyer, and graduate of Yale University. The house is a late Georgian style residence which has had many additions in the late 1800s by Amos Eno in a Beaux Arts Classicism style. The Amos Eno House occupies a prominent position on the main north-south road through Simsbury village and is an important visual landmark in the town.
Elisha Phelps and his wife had three children: John, Mary and Lucy. John Phelps grew up to be the Governor of Missouri and a United States Senator. Mary’s son became a Congressman.
Lucy married Amos Richards Eno of Simsbury. They moved to New York City where they established a profitable dry-goods business. Lucy and Amos Eno made very successful real estate investments building the Fifth Avenue Hotel and founded with relatives the Second National Bank of New York with offices in the hotel.
The Eno family used the Amos Eno house in Simsbury as their summer vacation home during this time. One of their grandchildren born in the house was Gifford Pinchot, future landscape architect and conservationist, Pinchot became the first chief of the United States Forest Service and eventually went on to become Governor of Pennsylvania.
However, scandal hit the family in 1884 when one of Amos’ sons, John Chester, embezzled millions of dollars from the bank for Wall Street investments and fled to Canada to avoid being prosecuted. The New York Tribune, May 14, 1884 describes what happened.
“Mr. Amos Eno was overwhelmed with astonishment and indignation when he learned his son had sunk $3,000,000 of the bank assets in Wall Street. At first, it was said, he was for having his son arrested and treated as a common criminal. In his excitement he lost sight entirely of the bank itself and visited his wrath only upon its president, his son. The directors finally led him to consider the position in which they themselves and the officers of the bank were placed, and prevailed upon him to make good a part of the deficit. Amos Eno agreed to sustain the burden of the bulk of the deficiency and the directors supplied the rest.”
After settling his son’s debts and the bank was deemed solvent, Amos Eno retreated to the privacy of the house and spent his last days making many additions to the home in the late 1800s.
The ground floor contains a central hallway and kitchen, with a breakfast nook and parlor. The second floor also has a central hall flanked by two rooms on each side. The house contains exquisitely detailed woodwork and glass throughout that attests to the wealth of the occupants.
The town of Simsbury purchased the house in 1960, and in 1985 extensive restoration was done to both the interior and exterior. Today, the house is an inn, cafe and reception hall that hosts wedding parties up to 120 people. Located off U. S. 202 on Hopmeadow road, the Amos Eno House is one of Simsbury, Connecticut’s most important historic homes.