It is a well-established fact that the centers of New Hartford and Pine Meadow were served by numerous daily trains at the turn of the (last) century. Additionally, daily stage-coaches traversed the Hartford-Collinsville-Bakerville-Torrington-Litchfield route, along what is now Route 202. Many of the surrounding New Hartford farms had access to either oxen or horses for private transport. However, people living in the industrial, village centers might not have had either the money or the space to house a horse. Additionally, unusually heavy loads might require draft horses or simply more horses than the individual owned. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that New Hartford had a livery stable.
Like all such stables it rented horses, along with wagons or carriages, made deliveries, and probably rented stall space to people with horses but nowhere to keep them. Working horses in those days were generally housed in standing stalls, about 3 and half feet wide and nine feet long, and were almost never put in a pasture, unless they needed to recuperate or were retired (hence: ‘Put out to pasture’ as a phrase). Consequently, the livery could fit a large number of horses into a small space in the middle of town.
The livery was run by H.J. (Howard James) Stanclift, after whom Stanclift Cove on the Reservoir is named. Stanclift was a well-known man, active in the town’s government, as well as being a successful businessman and farmer. He served on the board of selectmen for 16 terms, most of them as first selectman. He was also a deputy sheriff for Litchfield county for twenty years.
The livery building stood where Bridge Street crossed the Farmington, which not incidentally would have made watering the horses much easier. This area is now the parking lot and open meadow behind the Torrington Savings Bank building. As a livery, it had closed its doors by the 1920’s, due to the collapse of town’s industry combined with the rise of the automobile. The livery building was heavily modified during the 1920’s and served as the Star Theatre, which showed silent movies. Amazingly, this building survived the 1936 Flood, but was destroyed following the 1955 Flood. Today no trace remains in the green grass by the Farmington River. However, the numerous old bills made out to Stanclift for delivery services testify to the this vital part of the town’s life, as ubiquitous as today’s UPS truck.