Early houses on Town Hill

Although the Town Hill Church, and the original town center, was located on the very top of the hill*; the settlement extended partially down both sides almost immediately.

Two of the most important houses sat on the plateau just below the crest that marked the first break on the long hill up from the valley.  These two houses had a commanding view of the Farmington River.  One was Israel Loomis’ house, the site of the first Town meeting in New Hartford, which took place before the Town Hill Church was built.  The other was the home of the first reverend in New Hartford, Reverend Jonathan Marsh.  When Rev. Marsh built his house he told the men to cut down all of the white birches between his house and Loomis so that he could see his neighbours; a far cry from today’s preference for privacy screening.  He apparently turned it into something of a race, promising more rum as payment for faster work.  Rum was a standard form of barter currency at the time.

Today, Marsh’s house no longer stands, though part of the foundation is still visible.  The current house, an imposing and distinctive house with three massive center chimneys, is called Hillandale, a suitable name for a house that watches over both.

*It isn’t quite, the hill is ten feet taller a quarter mile to the north (back towards the Farmington) and a hundred feet taller a mile to the south on Yellow Mountain.  But they were close.  And the high point of Yellow Mountain has never been easily accessed.

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