HISTORY OF BRIDGEWATER, CONNECTICUT

 


Geology:

The town is placed on top of  a high plateau that rise in the north to 950 feet .  This plateau  is broken by brook valleys.  Some of the stream that drain the plateau ae principally Second Hill, Hop, Wewaka, Hitchcock Mill, and Clapboard Oak Brooks.  There are superb views of the Housatonic Valley below from the northwest by Rt. 25.  The Housatonic River forms the western and southern boundary.

about 1.5 miles south of the village on Hut Hill Road. is Hut Hill with a complete horizon.

Bridgewater was originally called "The Neck" of southern New Milford because of its peninsular location in the hills above the confluence of the Housatonic and Shepaug Rivers.


 History:

1644  --  Stephen Goodyear operated his island, Goodyearís Island (located in the river below Loverís Leap), as a trading post with the Indians.

about 1722  --  Bridgewater settled.

1807  --  the Congregational Church built.

1810-1840  --  Captain Nathaniel Randall maintained a circulating library in his house with his own book collection.  A smaller collection was established by Augusta Lyon, who established a district library (housed in the original Bridgewater post office).

1847  --  the future Captain William Dixon Burnham born in Litchfield.  He lived in Bridgewater and Sharon as a boy.  

1856  --  Bridgewater made a separate town (with a population of 1,000 people)

1860s  --  Bridgewater was bypassed by the railroad, like many other hill towns, and it  began a long population decline.

1861  --  at the age of 14, William Dixon Burnham went to sea.  He ultimately became a shipmaster.

late 18th or early 19th century  --  Bridgewater has a number of good Colonial houses in the village and surrounding country built in this era.

1898  --  the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands; Captain Burnham was instrumental in establishing the American-Hawaiian Steamship Company. He later was the general manager of the company.  He left his estate to the town for a school and library.

1904  --  the Bridgewater Library Association established.

l909  --  the town's first public library established in a room in the recently built town hall.  Mabelle Sanford, was a driving force in the effort.

C. B. Thompson of Bridgewater established the first mail order business in the U.S.

Bridgewater residents saw the lift-off of the first lighter-than-air glider flight.

1926  --  dedication of the new Greek Revival style library.  It was made using Mine Hill granite from nearby Roxbury.  (The building committee was composed of such notables as David C. Sanford, Charles G. Sanford, and Burton E. Canfield.)

about 1930  --  the town's population had declined to a low of 432 persons

1934  --  Bridgewater had many summer homes.

by 1950  -   with the era of postwar prosperity, the town's population had rebounded to 639.

1955  --  the Housatonic River was dammed in the area, creating Lake Lillinonah. A new bridge over the lake was built for Route 133.

1963  --  death of Van Wyck Brooks, biographer, critic and esteemed resident of Bridgewater.  A new library wing was dedicated to him. 

1973 --the passage of Connecticut's 1973 wetland protection law exempted most of the wetlands available for development (about 8%).

1980  --  dedication of the Van Wyck Brooks Memorial Wing to the library. 

The Historical Society (open on Saturdays and by appointment) is housed in two buildings, Peck House and Captainís House. Captain Burnham, for which the townís library and school are named, resided at Captainís House as a youngster. At Peck House is a replica of the old country store in Bridgewater, and exhibits of farm tools and other artifacts.

The annual Bridgewater Country Fair, sponsored by the Bridgewater Fire Department, is held in late August.

Today  -- the population is about 1,740 residents

The two commercial zones in town are the Town Green and a section of approx. one- and-a-half miles along both aides of Route 67.

The Village Store on Main Street South has an ice cream parlor and handmade chocolates. 

The Town Park lies on the shores of Lake Lillinonah.


Sources:

The Connecticut Guide, 1935

http://www.newmilford-chamber.com/towns/bridgewater.htm

http://www.newmilford-chamber.com/community/history.htm

http://www.bridgewaterct.org/library/history.htm

http://www.hvceo.org/luchange_bridgewater.php


Back to the w. Connecticut Page
Back to the Main Page



 

.