Behind the Congregational Church in Killingworth is a building known as the Old Town Hall. It was built in 1881, as described by William H. Buell in the chapter on Killingworth in the History of Middlesex County, Connecticut, published in 1884:
Several of the farmers of Killingworth, about eight years since, formed themselves into an association […]. In 1880, Deacon L. L. Nettleton, Washington E. Griswold, R. P. Stevens, Francis Turner, Nathan H. Evarts, and all others who had subscribed to the articles of association, petitioned the Legislature that they be constituted a body politic and corporate by the name of the “Killingworth Agricultural Society.” The petition was granted, the society organized under their charter […]
As the society had no building in which to hold their meetings and their fairs, they at once made arrangements to build an Agricultural Hall, and to this end appropriated their share of the State bounty to agricultural societies towards paying the expenses of the building their hall. But some evil minded persons brought the subject before the Legislature, and the society was debarred from having any further benefit of it for that purpose, and they, instead of letting the State have it, divided it among the rest of the agricultural societies. How rich it must have made them!
But the hall was built, and it is 33 by 56 feet, with basement, and by dint of perseverance and their annual fairs (without any further State aid), the society have paid their bills. The basement is now thoroughly cemented, and the society expect to pay this bill as they have their former ones.
Unfortunately, the Agricultural Society later failed and the building was sold in 1910 to the Killingworth Grange. The building became the Town Hall when the town purchased it from the Grange in 1923 for $1.00, with the Grange reserving the right to have its meeting in the building for a reasonable rental fee. In 1965, the town bought a new building to use as Town Hall and in 1966 sold the old Town Hall to the Congregational Church. Today, the restored building is used for various public functions, performances and events.
The Black Rock School in Killingworth is a one-room schoolhouse built around 1860. In the mid-nineteenth century, it was one of Killingworth’s eight district schoolhouses, which were in use until 1949. Originally located on Route 148, the school was later moved by the Killingworth Historical Society to its current address, on town property, at Route 81 and Recycle Way, where it is now a museum. The Society also owns the Union district school on Roast Meat Hill Road and recently accepted the donation of the Pine Orchard School, which has also been moved from Route 148 to town property, in this case, Parmelee Farm, where it will eventually be rebuilt.
In 1735, responding to a petition from the farmers residing in the north section of Killingworth, the town was divided into two separate Ecclesiastical Societies, north and south. The southern section of town was later incorporated as the town of Clinton in 1838. The northern society‘s first meeting house (1736) was located on “Stoney Hill, just north of the bridge across Bear Swamp,” (near the intersection of the present Routes 80 and 81). This initial building was replaced by a new one in 1743. The third and current house of worship of the Congregational Church in Killingworth, at 273 Route 81, was built between 1817 and 1820. The bell was installed in 1870 and the organ in 1875. The addition of the Parish Hall was begun in 1959 and was dedicated in 1961, the same year the church voted to join the United Church of Christ.
The Horace Parmelee House in Killingworth was built in 1847 and was the home of Horace L. Parmelee (1819-1898) and his wife Eunice (1822-1905). After her husband’s death, Eunice sold the farm to William Kathotka of New York in 1904, who then sold it to the Pavelka family in 1906. From 1948 to 1956, the property was owned by Edward and Martha McGrath, who ran it as a summer resort known as “Farm in the Dell.” It was then owned by the Bosco family and was known as Bosco’s Turkey Farm. The Parmelee Farm was purchased by the town of Killingworth in 2000 and it is operated as community open space, including trails and the Killingworth Community Gardens. The Municipal Land Use and Parmelee Farm Steering committees are exploring uses for the late Federal-style house and seeking grants for its restoration. The Killingworth Historical Scociety is interested in using the house to store and exhibit its collections.
Rufus Turner was born at Mansfield, Connecticut, September 1st 1790. With a good preliminary education, he entered the office of Dr. Joseph Palmer, of Ashford, and in 1813-14 attended the first course of lectures given at Yale College. Dr. Turner was licensed by the State Medical Society in 1814, and settled in Killingworth, where he continued in the practice of his profession for thirty-seven years, until his death, after an illness of four days, in November, 1851. As a practitioner he was a careful and conservative, but in cases where promptness was demanded, bold and fearless, faithful in attendance, giving freely of his time and thought to the case in hand, warding off unfavorable complications, and always striving to have the last blow at death. In the protracted fevers of those days he was particularly skillful, and was very frequently called to neighboring towns, in consultation.
[he] was born in Killingworth, Conn., March 12, 1822. He prepared for college at Hill’s Academy, Essex, Conn., and entered Yale, graduating in 1842.
In 1843 he studied medicine with his father in Killingworth; then he taught in a private school in Norwalk, Conn., was a private tutor in Newbern, Alabama, and for a part of one term taught the district school in Killingworth after the teacher had been driven out by the big boys.
He attended two courses of lectures in the Yale Medical School, graduating in 1846, and at once began to practice with his father in Killingworth.
In 1848 he located in Chester, Conn., remaining until 1858, was in Norwich, Conn., in 1859, then returned to Chester, and was in active practice until failing strength moved him to gradually relinquish his work. A fall, resulting in a permanent disability, compelled him to give up his practice entirely, and from that time he rapidly failed physically until his death in January of this year .
By the mid-twentieth century, the house had become the homestead of Herman and Bertha Heser, whose daughter sold it to the town for use as offices in 1965. The town library was on the second floor (it now has a separate building). Read the rest of this entry »