The location of the town center has been the object of much discussion on this blog. I encountered this lovely little stanza in Sarah Jones book, ‘Sketches’ that relates the opinion of one person:
“The North End people make their brags
This town is just like saddle bags
The Center is the straps they say
We’ll cut them off some future day.”
It is a apparently a remnant of a much larger set of verses, one does wonder what was said about Nepaug (which tried to claim title) and Bakerville. From this short clip, it does seem that the author probably was not sympathetic to the North Village’s claim.
The Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation is currently running a survey designed to locate and inventory all industrial sites in Connecticut. The primary goal of the survey is to identify industrial sites for reuse. I doubt that there is anyone in Connecticut who is not familiar with the classic Ct town: acre, upon acre, of gorgeous red brick mill buildings (often with 14 or 16 foot ceilings and oak or chestnut flooring) standing vacant in the center of nearly every major town. These buildings are elegant monuments; if the financial, regulatory, and environmental hurdles can be overcome they are also incredible spaces for housing, offices, and light industry.
Ironically, the 1936 and 1955 Floods are often seen as having done New Hartford a favor. Most of our brick factory building were demolished following either fire or the Floods; we haven’t been burdened with these great vacant spaces. On the other hand we don’t have the business opportunities they could represent either.
In any event, two late 1800 factory remnants still survive in town, both much shrunken from their height. The old Greenwoods factory, the remaining third of which is now occupied by Hurley Manufacturing, Ovation Guitars, and several small businesses; and the small remnant of the old Chapin factory in Pine Meadow, now occupied by several small businesses, including the Collinsville bakery.
Early 1800′s industry is almost as well represented: the Blacksmith shop and the Gristmill, both in Bakerville date from this period.
Modern industry can be found at the Industrial park (as well as Greenwoods and Chapin) and is generally of the small, high value, specialty type.
The performing arts in New Hartford have a long and proud history supported not only by the various professional artists who have called the town home, but an enthusiastic group of volunteer amateurs, the people without whom no community theater can survive.
The groups have been varied in name and usually seem to have no clearly defined start or end date.
The Home Dramatic Club: circa 1900
The New Hartford Chorus: circa WWI through the mid 1920′s at least
The New Hartford Community Club: 1930′s, late 1940′s-1960?
The Village Players: circa WWII
The Pleasant Valley Players (Barkhamsted): circa 1966-1979
The Village Theatre Workshop: 1979-1995?
Other groups, such as the English literature club, the Women’s Club, various churches (in particular North Congregational), and schools sponsored various public concerts, plays, and recitals as well.
In Bakerville, the intersection with the stoplight, where Cedar, Cotton Hill, and Maple Hollow all come together with Route 202, there used to be a school (along with the Tannery, Blacksmith Shop, Post Office, and General Store). The school was in the narrow triangle formed between Maple Hollow and Route 202 (then the Litchfield Turnpike). Today, this is an overgrown area, but the foundation was located as late as the 1990′s.
The Bakerville school, also known as the Brick Schoolhouse, was first known as the Watson district schoolhouse. The building’s architectural style suggests that it was erected sometime around or after 1810, as it was a brick Greek Revival building. In 1837, the district was reformed as the Baker district; the building was old enough that repairs were also done to its windows at this time. The school district, and the building, continued in this use until 1870 when the building was sold to Franklin Watson. The district also ceased at this time, being reformed as the Bakersville district. The brick building was used as a house until the 1920′s. When the Litchfield Turnpike was paved, the house’s well was fouled. It was abandoned and razed shortly afterwards.
(information from ‘Where Walk the Souls of Heroes’ by Neal E. Yates.)
Filed under Roads, schools
We aren’t open tonight, thanks to New England’s regular winter weather!
Contrary to the popular media of today and the breathless coverage, major storms are nothing new. Town Hill, and all the other hills, regularly got cut off in the winter, especially once the hills were open pasture. The fields tended to create major drifts at any obstacle, such as a fence-line along a road. One account states that the drifts reached 15 feet in height in 1873/4 and that some people didn’t leave their farmyards between January and March.
One of the best known winter storms was the Great Blizzard of March, 1888. New Hartford got 42 inches in that storm, which also had high winds. See: http://www.courant.com/entertainment/hc-winter-storm031488,0,794681.story
In 1902, Connecticut held a General Convention to amend the state’s constitution. As part of this convention all of the towns received a Pin Oak.
New Hartford’s, although badly damaged by the October snowstorm of a few years ago, still stands. It is located to the Northwest of the driveway between the Town Hall and the yellow house, which houses (among other things) several doctors’ offices, including Dr. Douglas Gerard.
A full list of these Pin Oaks can be found at:
At the turn of the century, the North Village in New Hartford was lit by gas lights. These lights were powered, between the 1890′s and 1907, by gas produced at the Greenwoods Company’s gas plant. This plant had been installed to light the mills, which had gone to ten hour days in the late 1870′s and needed more artificial light. Another gas plant lit the cotton mills of D.B. Smith in Pine Meadow.
There were also at least two private plants generating gas in the North Village. Private gas plants were not unheard of; they tended to be built for large houses that were not close to industrial centers.
In 1907, the Greenwoods gas plant exploded due to faulty maintenance procedures. Two men were killed and a third severely burned. The gas plant was not rebuilt, since the mills were idle at that time. It is not know how the North Village was lit, or if it was, between 1907 and 1913 when electricity arrived. If anyone knows the location of the private gas plants, we would like to know.
Filed under Events, Industry