Chris Hardisty & Inn History

Anthony Stoddard built what is now the Curtis House in 1735 as a home for his eldest son, Eliakim. The original structure included a second story ballroom, which served as a meeting hall and may have been known as the “tea room”.  In 1749 Eliakim willed the home to his son, Israel. In 1754 ownership transferred to Elizabeth and Asa, Israel’s wife and son.  Asa sold the property to the first owner outside of the Stoddard family in 1799. The house was first operated as an inn in 1754 by Anthony, Rev Anthony’s grandson, but he does not appear as an owner of record. Over the years the inn has had a number of structural additions and name changes. Ironically, Rev Anthony’s sons, Eliakim and Gideon, married two sisters whose maiden name was Curtis (spelled Curtiss in other records), but they were apparently not related to later Curtis/Curtiss owners. A Curtiss owned the property beginning in 1836, and, as five owners named Curtiss or Curtis are recorded, with possession as late as 1909, the inn has since been known as the Curtis House.


In October of 1954 Estella & Chester C. Hardisty purchased the Curtis House.  Estella Hardisty came to work for Sterling Dunn in 1947.  She was hired as a waitress, while having 5 children at home ages 2-17. Her oldest son left for the service, and when he returned, Sterling Dunn was ready to retire, and offered the inn to Estella.  She approached her oldest son Chester about purchasing the inn with her; he was a little hesitant, as he knew nothing of the restaurant business. He later told this story to his children. “I was driving down the road, and as I approached the Curtis House, I realized my initials were there on the sign. I decided then that I should purchase the business with my mother!” Chester and his mother took over the inn on Oct. 1, 1954. Chester’s brothers all pitched in and did various jobs at the inn.  His brother Raymond dug out the foundation for the “newer section”, his brother Gary ran the inn from 1972-1983, while his brother John was the bartender, and assistant to Gary. Chester’s wife Gertrude, “Trudy”, worked along side Chester and Estella. Eventually, all 6 of their children would work at various times at the inn while they were growing up.
There was always something for the children to do, and two remained to take over the business in 1991. Chet and Trudy’s daughter, T J Hardisty-Brennan came to work at the inn in 1981, while attending Post Junior College. Feeling she could learn more from the family directly she came to work at the inn full time in 1983. She took over as innkeeper in 1991.  Son Christopher, after graduating from Northeastern College in 1991 also returned to the inn, and went to work in the kitchen. He has attended many workshops at the CIA in Hyde Park, N.Y. Many of the staff working at the inn today are direct relatives of Estella and Chester.  Whether it be cousin or in-law, it remains a family business.






506 Main Street South

Woodbury, Ct. 06798