Knowlton Memorial Hall, located at 25 Pompey Hollow Road in Ashford, was built in 1924 to serve as a town hall and library. These facilities are located on the second floor, while a large hallway and auditorium occupy the first floor. The building was the gift of Charles C. Knowlton (1844-1924), a native of Ashford who was a partner in a Putnam silk mill. He resided in New York City, where he marketed the firm’s silk, but he would spend summers in his home town of Ashford. He gifted Knowlton Memorial Hall in honor of his father, Jonathan W. Knowlton, and his ancestor, Col. Thomas Knowlton (1740-1776), who had served in the Revolutionary War. Col. Knowlton led a company of men who fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill and was killed the following year in fighting in New York. Knowlton Memorial Hall was designed by Herbert Loud and is constructed of local fieldstone, reflecting a rustic aesthetic associated with the Craftsman movement. The Babcock Library, originally opened in 1866, was established through a gift of $3,000 from Archibald Babcock (1780-1862), another successful Ashford native who became a brewer in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Initially located in the Warrenville General Store, the library had for many years been housed in the residence of librarian Peter Platt before finding a permanent home in Knowlton Memorial Hall. Babcock also gave $3,000 to establish the Babcock Band, which is the nation’s oldest civilian cornet band.
The building at the corner of Myrtle and Linden Streets (63 Linden Street) in Manchester was built in 1940 by Temple Beth Shalom. The synagogue added a school wing in 1946. The Temple later moved to a larger building at 400 Middle Turnpike East and in 2009 merged with Temple B’nai Israel of Rockville to form Beth Shalom B’nai Isreal, which is one of the largest Conservative Jewish congregations east of the Connecticut River. The former Temple Beth Shalom building was purchased by the Town of Manchester in 1965 and was remodeled to become the Manchester Senior Center. Today it houses the Manchester Youth Service Bureau.
The building which know houses the Rowayton Community Center in Norwalk was originally built in 1912 as the carriage house and stables for the Rock Ledge estate. The estate’s original mansion, built on the other side of Highland Street in 1911, burned down and was rebuilt in 1913. The carriage house and U-shaped stables wings are constructed with a rough stone first floor and a half-timbered upper story with jerkinhead roofs in the Tudor Revival style.
The Community Center also houses the Rowayton Library. After an brief early attempt to establish a library in Rowayton in 1867, locals established what would become today’s Rowayton Library in 1903. Originally located in the former Craw Store, Craw Hall, at 101 Rowayton Avenue, the library moved into the former home of the Rowayton Fire Department in 1926 and finally into the former stables in the 1960s.
Southbury‘s first Town Hall was built in 1873 in the South Britain section of town. In the preceding years South Britain had developed as an industrial center and come to rival Southbury’s town center in importance. Annual town meetings had alternated between the two until South Britain used its influence to have the Town Hall erected at 624 South Britain Road, just before a period of industrial decline set in. The building continued to serve as the center of town government until 1964. It is now operated as a museum by the Southbury Historical Society.
The small brick structure at 6 Main Street South in Woodbury was built in 1888 on land sold to the town by Charles Hurd with the stipulation that the town would retain use of it or ownership would revert to his heirs. The building served as the Town Clerk’s office from 1888 until 1952. It was renovated in 1986 by the Old Woodbury Historical Society, which uses it as a library and archive of old town records.
The Nathaniel White School, named in honor of an original settler of Cromwell who had left land in his will to be used for school purposes, was erected at 41 West Street in Cromwell in 1901 and dedicated in 1902. The original portion of the building was supplemented with a nearly identical southern block in 1925. Other additions were made to building over the years, which served as a high school until 1956 when a new Cromwell High School opened. The Nathaniel White School was then used as a middle school and, since c. 1985, the building has been the Town Hall of Cromwell.
The building at 15 Center Street in Andover, built c. 1860, was originally the house and store of Jasper A. Fitch. Fitch’s father was a shoemaker, so he may have apprenticed to his uncle, William (or was it Henry?), a merchant in Hebron. Frederick A. Sackett, who came to Andover from Rhode Island, was a later storekeeper. F. A. Sackett also served as town clerk, treasurer and judge of the Andover Probate District. In 1938 the Andover Volunteer Fire Department was formed and the town acquired the Sackett store, which was remodeled to become a fire house. A third bay for vehicles was added to the existing two in 1955. Another bay was added in 1982. The Fire Department later moved to Andover’s new Public Safety Complex.