At the corner of Old Colony Road and Westford Road in Eastford (one of the buildings at 245 Old Colony Road near Eastford Green) is a former inn. The earliest part of the building is the rear ell, erected c. 1790-1800. The front section was built c. 1820–1835–1843. The building served as an inn, originally called the Eastford House. For a time, starting in the 1840s, the inn was called the Temperance House. In 1918 the property was acquired by Waldo and Beatrice Kennedy, who renamed it the General Lyon Inn in honor of Gen. Nathaniel Lyon, an Eastford native who was the first Union general killed during the Civil War. He died at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek in Missouri on August 10, 1861. Many of those who attended Gen. Lyon’s funeral in Eastford stayed at the inn. Beatrice E. Kennedy continued to operate the inn and restaurant until 1975. The Inn finally closed in 1979 and is now the Gen. Lyon Apartments.
In the first half of the nineteenth century, Ashford Green was the active center of the Town of Ashford. Today, only one building survives from that time: the Ashford Academy, built in 1825. The first floor served as one of the town’s district schoolhouses (the Fifth School District). This schoolhouse was already being planned when a group of local citizens raised money by private subscription to add a second floor for use as a private academy for more advanced students. Academy sessions were held until 1875, after which the building served exclusively as a public school until 1949. Today the Ashford Historical Society uses the building for educational activities and to display some of their artifacts.
The Byles Homestead is an early eighteenth-century house at 125 Ashford Center Road in Ashford. It stands on part of what had been the 226 acre farm bought by Josias (or Josiah) Byles in 1726 (or 1718). Josias Byles (c.1682-1752) was a Boston shopkeeper who is buried in that city’s Granary Burying Ground. His half-brother, Rev. Mather Byles (1706-1788) was a famously witty clergyman, author and poet who was a loyalist during the Revolutionary War. Josias’ son, Ebenezer Byles (1723-1805), settled on his father’s property in Ashford in 1743. The Byles Homestead passed to Ebenezer’s son Josias, then to his grandson Elisha and then to his great-grandson Andrew H. Byles. As related in Genealogical and Biographical Record of New London County, Connecticut (1905):
Deacon Andrew Huntington Byles was born Oct. 3, 1820, on the old home farm in Ashford, which is located on the turnpike between Ashford Centre and Warrenville. He was brought up to a very practical knowledge of farm work, which, however, in his younger days did not appeal to him, as he had a great desire to enter the medical profession. This boon was denied him as his assistance was needed by his father at home. His education was acquired in the common schools, and for several years he taught school in Ashford and surrounding towns. The old farm continued to be his home, and he assisted very materially in its management until after the death of his father, when it became his by inheritance. He resided there until 1888, when he removed to Willimantic and made that city his home until his death May 17, 1894.
Today, 69 acres of the Byles family’s old property is the Josias Byles Sanctuary, given to Joshua’s Trust in 1988. The Byles House is now a bed and breakfast called Henrietta House. The sign for Henrietta House gives a date of circa 1722, around which time the oldest sections of the residence were built.
The Willington Baptist Church was organized on December 18, 1828 and the Baptist Meeting House was completed the following year. Albert Sharp, a local carpenter, was the builder. Members of an earlier Baptist church, established in the north part of town, joined the congregation of the new church. A conference room and Sunday school room were added to the building in 1842. Willington’s Baptist and Congregational Churches merged in 1911 to form the Federated Church of Willington. The federated congregation built the Clara Hall Elliott Memorial Church that same year and sold the old Congregational church building to the town in 1924. The Federated Church holds services in two buildings, from late September to Easter Sunday in the Hall Memorial Church and in the summer at the former Baptist Meeting House, now called the Hill Church.
The house at 101 State Street in Guilford was built in 1730 for Jabez Benton (1680-1756) and his wife Hannah Stone (1702-1773). They were married in 1726 and had seven children. In 1853 George Walter Hinckley, who would become a teacher and a minister, was born in the house. In 1889 he founded a farm school for homeless children in Fairfield, Maine called Good Will Farm. By the time Hinckley died in 1950, the school had a campus of 3,000 acres with 45 buildings and served more than 3,000 underprivileged and troubled youth.
The house at 1 Church Street in Roxbury was built in 1784 by Gen. Ephraim Hinman (1753-1829), a Revolutionary War veteran, merchant and prominent leader in the Connecticut Militia. Gen. Hinman also served in the state legislature and spearheaded the incorporation of the Town of Roxbury in 1796. He was born in Southbury and, as described in William Cothren’s History of Ancient Woodbury (1854):
Gen. Hinman removed to Roxbury about the year 1784, and built a house in the center of the village, which for a country residence at that period, was regarded as belonging to the first class. For about thirty years he was engaged in mercantile pursuits. During this time he became an extensive landholder, having in his possession at one time, about one thousand acres. He was not a practical farmer. but his love of real estate induced him to retain it, until the interest he paid, connected with losses he sustained, greatly embarrassed him in his declining years, and thus operated disastrously on the pecuniary interests of his son, who became involved in attempting to relieve his father.