The Connecticut River Foundation at Steamboat Dock was established in 1974 as a small, all-volunteer organization dedicated to the dream of establishing a museum that would preserve the history of the Connecticut River and its people. The purchase of the 1878 Steamboat Warehouse building, docks and surrounding property was the beginning of that dream becoming a reality. Today, the Connecticut River Museum is a private, not-for-profit, education institution that is fully accredited by the American Association of Museums and is a member of the Council of American Maritime Museums and the International Congress of Maritime Museums. In 2012, the Museum expanded its ability to tell the stories of the Connecticut River and its people through the purchase of the historic Samuel Lay House, which adjoins the Museum campus.
Our mission is to lead in the study, preservation and celebration of the cultural and natural heritage of the Connecticut River and its valley. By deepening understanding of the River's importance to past generations, the Museum will inspire the stewardship of future generations.
The Connecticut River Museum currently plays an important role in collecting and protecting manuscripts, books, art and artifacts of regional significance. It also delivers high-quality exhibitions and educational programming to visitors and local residents alike, and each year introduces thousands of school children to the important stories of the River and its people. We maintain our National Registered buildings on Steamboat Dock in Essex, and provide a spectacular waterfront park as a venue for museum functions, community events and quiet reflection.