A terrible tragedy took place yesterday in Newtown, Connecticut. My thoughts go out to this devastated community, which is such a beautiful place. The house pictured above, at 46 Main Street in Newtown, was built around 1865 and was the home of David Johnson, who ran the Newtown General Store across the street. The picture was taken a few years ago, in the Spring during happier days. Read the rest of this entry »
According to one source, the Scudder-Smith (or Smith-Scudder) House at 17 Main Street in Newtown was built in 1905 as a two-family house for two sisters. It was also the home of Arthur J. Smith, publisher of the Newtown Bee newspaper which began in 1877.
The Colonial Revival house at 10 Main Street in Newtown was built 1930. Its first owner built it after selling his land to the state as part of the the parcel where the Fairfield Hills State Hospital was constructed. Later residents of the house included a Judge and a doctor who had his office and examination room in his home.
Newtown’s first meeting house was built in 1720 on Main Street, where the flagpole stands today. In 1792, this building was moved 132 feet to the middle of West Street. As explained in Newtown’s History and Historian, Ezra Levan Johnson (1917):
Nothing more appears on the society minutes about the meeting house, either for its adornment or repairs, until 1792, when the Church of England people having the consent of the town to build a church for public worship on the ground where the town house was standing, provided they would remove the Town house to some other site, without expense to the town. The meeting house standing near to. and in front of, the Town house made an objection to putting the Church of England house there without removing the meeting house also, and it was proposed to them that their house be removed to the opposite side of the north and south road
During the Rev. Jason Atwater’s ministry, between 1845 and 1852, the exterior of the building was very much improved, the belfry was closed in, a new steeple was built, the building newly covered and painted. Twelve hundred dollars were spent in renovating the exterior and in 1852 the basement was fitted up, the main floor raised to its present level, [and] new seats and a pulpit were provided for the audience room
By 1873, the meeting house looked much as it does today. In 1988, the Newtown Congregational Church moved to a new building and sold the old meeting house to the town. The Heritage Preservation Trust of Newtown, Inc. then restored and now maintains the Meeting House, which serves as a place for concerts, meetings, weddings and other events.
Happy Fourth of July! During the Revolutionary War, the French General Rochambeau’s army passed twice through Newtown: first in June, 1781, during the march to the Battle of Yorktown, and again in October, 1782, during the return march. On June 23, 1781, Claude Blanchard, the French commissary officer, arrived five days before the army to make arrangements for supplying the French camps. As Blanchard related in his diary (translated by William Duane, edited by Thomas Balch and published in 1876):
Newtown is on a hill surrounded by hills which are still higher. There are only a hundred houses with two temples [churches]. One of them was near the place where I lodged; and, as it was Sunday, I saw many people from the vicinity dismount there. As all the inhabitants of the country are proprietors and, consequently, in pretty easy circumstances, they had come on horseback, as well as their wives and daughters. In the neighborhood of Boston, they come in carriages; but here the country is mountainous and the horse is more suitable. The husband mounts his horse along with his wife; sometimes there are two women or two young girls together; they are all well clothed, wearing the little black hat in the English style, and making as good an appearance as the burghers in our cities. I counted more than a hundred horses at the door of the temple, where I heard singing before the preaching, in chorus or in parts. The singing was agreeable and well performed, not by hired priests and chaplains, but by men or women, young men or young girls whom the desire of praising God had assembled.
To-day I was rejoined at Newtown, where I spent the whole day, by M. de Sançcon, my secretary and some surgeons and apothecaries. I pointed out to them the site which I had selected for the hospital, and set out, on the 25th, to proceed to the American army.
Blanchard stayed in Newtown at the Caleb Baldwin Tavern, which had been built about 1763. Caleb Baldwin was a schoolmaster, postmaster and town clerk in Newtown. The tavern is where local farmers would drink sassafras beer after the sheep grazed in Ram Pasture. According to Newtown’s History and Historian, Ezra Levan Johnson (1917):
Caleb Baldwin’s Inn had the reputation of being the pattern of neatness, homelike in all surroundings and it was also claimed that there could be had the best broiled chicken or sirloin steak to be found in Fairfield county. The motherly reputation of the hostess made it a much sought place for restfulness.
The building remained in the Baldwin family until 1917. Still standing at 32 Main Street in Newtown, the former tavern was later remodeled twice, in the Federal and Victorian eras.
At 50 Main Street in Newtown is an 1869 mansard-roofed Second Empire-style house built in 1869 for Henry Beers Glover. He was a successful businessman and, in 1855, he became one of the founders of the Newtown Savings Bank, serving as the bank’s treasurer until his death in 1870, just after the completion of his house. Glover was on the building committee for Trinity Episcopal Church in Newtown and his house may have been designed by Silas N. Beers, a surveyor and mapmaker who was the architect of Trinity Church. Glover’s daughter, Mary B. Glover, married William J. Beecher, an attorney, who later had his office in the Glover House, where they lived. Their daughter, Florence Beecher, married Stephen E. Budd around 1918. After her husband’s death, she continued to live in the Glover House, which became known as the Budd House, until she died in 1977. Read the rest of this entry »