A BRIEF HISTORY OF WASHINGTON, CONNECTICUT
The Town of Washington encompasses the following Villages:
Washington (or Washington Green) -- the Old Judea
New Preston -- located on the Aspetuck River.
Marbledale (or Marble Dale)
Washington sits on Green Hill overlooking the winding Shepaug River. Washington Depot lies along the Shepaug River at the foot of Green Hill.
26 miles of the Shepaug River here are deemed "wild."
History: (information about Washington Depot overrepresented)
10,000 B.C. -- evidence of occupation along the banks of the Shepaug River.
1734 the eastern section of Washington was settled by Joseph Hurlbut. It was known as the Parish of Judea and belonged to Woodbury. The western section was known as the Parish of New Preston and belonged to New Milford. Nettleton Hollow, Romford and Smoky Hollow belong to Litchfield.
1740 -- the Titus family settled on Lower Church Hill.
1741 -- the western section, part of the New Milford North Purchase, was first settled.
1741 -- Judea Parish gathered.
1746 Edward Cogswell secured the right to mine iron ore in the New Milford North Purchase. The Iron Works, the first industry in the North Purchase, was established along the Aspetuck River, near the foot of the road leading to New Preston hill.
1746 land purchased from the Indians for the building of the Averill Homestead (on Baldwin Hill Road about 1.5 miles from New Preston). The Averill family still lives there.
as early as 1748 -- 1.5 miles downstream from Factory Hollow, the South Shepaug Factory Complex (consisting of a sawmill and gristmill and first known as Platt's Mills then Baldwin-Olmstead mills) built.
1753 the General Assembly of the Colony of Connecticut granted a petition to establish the New Milford North Purchase section as the Ecclesiastical Society of New Preston.
1758-1794 -- Judah Baldwin ran the South Shepaug Factory Complex.
1760 the Titus Homestead built.
1772 in Washington Village, the Old Red House built by two brothers Leman and Joel Stone, a Whig and a Tory.
1775-1783 American Revolution. General George Washington came through the area several times. He even spend a night in New Preston at Cogswell Tavern. Thirty Revolutionary soldiers were buried in the original Judea Cemetery.
1778 there were 270 families living in the area
1779 the Town of Washington incorporated. It was taken from Woodbury, Litchfield, Kent, and New Milford. The town was named in honor of General George Washington, who traveled through the area several times during wartime.
1780s -- Mallory Brook was named for Caleb Mallory and his family who were murdered at this time. Their hired hand, Davenport, was hanged for the crime.
1781 Major Cogswell owned a tavern along the "turnpike" at which General Washington dined. Justice of the Peace, Major William Cogswell, son of Edward, was elected the town's first selectman.
1790-1831 -- Moody ran the Moody Fulling Mill for 41 years. He was a leading citizen of Washington.
1794 -- in Romford, St. John's Episcopal Church built.
1801 on the Green in Washington Village, the Congregational Church built.
1802-1876 -- on New Preston Hill Rd., was the boyhood home of Horace Bushnell, Congregational clergyman. (His birthplace was at Bantam in Litchfield.) He was the pivotal American theologian who freed mainstream Protestant theology from its Puritanism, thus helped to clear the way for religious liberalism.
1815 -- the St. John's Episcopal Church was moved by oxen to a site on Green Hill.
1816 -- the dam at the South Shepaug Factory Complex rebuilt by brothers Levi S. and Ely Platt.
At first Washington was principally a farming community.
Some of the early industries were ironworks and quarries as well as small mills and factories run by waterpower along the Shepaug and Aspetuck Rivers.
1822 at Marbledale, where there were quarries in an earlier day, the brick St. Andrews Episcopal Church built.
1824 at the west end of New Preston, the native stone Congregational Church built.
1827 -- birth of the future Senator Orville Hitchcock Platt in Washington.
1832 -- Marvin Dimcock built a cotton-woolen plant, the third mill factory complex along the Shepaug River.
1835 -- Olmstead took over the South Shepaug Factory Complex.
1843 -- the Dimcock complex was sold at a loss.
1844 -- the old Dimcock mill sold and became the Washington Company (until 1851). Other owners included Herman Baldwin, Frank Kilbourn and Charles Dipple.
1844 -- Joseph W. Titus bought an area along the Shepaug River.
1846 -- Titus leased from John Northrup Gunn the right to a stretch of Shepaug River. He erected a weir dam and directed some of the river water to a sawmill built at the southern end of his channel.
1849 -- Orville Hitchcock Platt admitted to the Bar. (He had attended the Yale University Law School.)
1850 the Gunnery School, a preparatory school for boys, established by a remarkable teacher, Frederick W. Gunn (1816-1881.)
1854 map -- there were mills on the Shepaug River and the Kirby and Mallory Brooks.
Underground Railroad -- the Underground Railway stopped on Blackville Road at Mrs. Ney's barn.
1861-1865 the Civil War.
1866 -- Olmstead bought the old Moody Fulling Mill for $6.07 for non-payment of town taxes.
by 1871 -- Henry Woodruff gained control of the land and mill of Joseph W. Titus.
1871 -- Factory Hollow became Washington Depot.
1871 photo -- shows the Match Factory and Henry Woodruff's mill and factory in Factory Hollow.
1872 the Shepaug Railroad reached Washington.
1873-1877 -- Henry Woodruff's three-story factory building housed the Match Factory.
1877-1881 -- Henry Woodruff's three-story factory building housed part of his carriage making venture.
1879-1905 -- Orville Hitchcock Platt became a U.S. Senator.
1879 -- birth of the future Major General Benjamin D. Foulois (1879-1967). He would serve in the Spanish-American War.
shortly before 1880 -- shortly before Olmstead's death, the South Shepaug Factory Complex was foreclosed.
1881 -- death of Frederick W. Gunn.
1881-1908 -- Henry Woodruff's factory building housed Kingman Mills.
1881 -- Carl Bader (1853-1924) entered the U.S. from Alsace-Lorraine.
1882 -- Carl Bader arrived in Washington Depot. He would eventually establish a meat market and run it for 40 year. The store was known variously as Carl Bader, Bader & Sons and Bader's Market.
c. 1887 photo -- the marshalling yard and the Washington Market building.
1888 -- notorious Blizzard of 1888.
late 1880s -- the mills of the South Shepaug Factory Complex run by various owners until ice jams and flooding destroyed the dam.
1893-1918 -- the home farm for Holiday House was in existence. Holiday House was a summer vacation home for the Working Girls' Club. The club was associated with Saint Bartholomew's Episcopal Church, New York City.
Edward Hook Van Ingen, a man grown wealthy from the woolen imports business, had architect Ehrick K. Rossiter design a house in memory of their oldest daughter Jeannine, who died of scarlet fever at the age of 16. The house was on a promontory overlooking the Shepaug River valley.
c. 1900 photo -- the mill in Factory Hollow.
c. 1900 photo -- Ezra Hull's blacksmith shop.
1902 about 3/4 mile northeast of Washington Village, Wykeham Rise, a preparatory school for girls, established.
1908 the Gunn Memorial Library, named for abolitionist and Gunnery School founder Frederick William and his wife, Abigail Brinsmade Gunn, dedicated.
1909 -- Lt. Foulois accompanied the Wright brothers on their flight tests for the U.S. Army. He would become the first living person to be enshrined in the Air Force Museum.
1910 photo -- looking down river from the Green Hill bridge.
1912 -- St. John's Episcopal Church (of wood) burned; Ehrick Rossiter designed the present church (of stone).
1919 -- architect Ehrick Rossiter and family moved to Edgewood. He brought his New York caretaker, Ed Coll, up to Washington to look after his first and second house. Ed Coll's sister Anne married an artist named deValera and had a child named Emon. When deValera died, Ed Coll send his sister and nephew back to Ireland to grow up with close relatives. Emon deValera grew up to be a prime mover of Irish independence and later prime minister of Ireland.
1925 Ehrick Rossiter gave the town its first preserve, the Steep Rock Reservation.
1928 -- Borden's Cremery closed.
1929 Pavilion Hall erected in New Preston as a cultural club.
1930s -- in Washington Depot, Borden's Creamery torn down to build Bryan Memorial Town Hall. It was named for hometown boy Gregory Seeley Bryan, owner of the Weed Chain Company in Bridgeport and donator of the money for the new town hall. The old town hall was taken down and the area became the town park. The World War I memorial placed here.
1930s -- Bob's Diner sold out to bouncer Jack Williams who built Jack's Grill.
1930 -- passenger trains stopped running to the aea.
1930 -- the Romford School for children established in Washington Depot. It is now Rumsey Hall.
1932 -- the new town hall finished.
1936 -- the Bader Brothers sold the old Titus/Woodruff mill to Thomas Rosford who ran it until 1952.
1941-1945 -- World War II.
1941 -- Americans set up the Emergency Rescue Committee to help artists escape from the Nazis to the USA. The committee arranged for French artist Andrι Masson (whose wife Rose was Jewish) to travel to the Caribbean island of Martinique, and from there to enter the United States. The Masson family settled in New Preston, Connecticut. After the war he returned to France.
after World War II -- in Washington Depot, Jack's Grill, the working man's bar, became the Shepaug Club.
1947 -- the old Dimcock mill ended as Dipple's cider mill.
1947 -- Irish hero Emon deValera came to Washington to see his American relatives.
1948 the Shepaug Railroads freight line closed.
1952 -- the old Titus/Woodruff/Bader/Rosford mill turned into an egg candling factory.
1955 a flood destroyed many homes and businesses in Washington Depot.
closed 1964 -- Robert Woodruff, a descendent of Henry Woodruff, was the last man to run a mill on the Aspetuck River. He ran a machine shop out of the old Beeman mill in New Preston. (He was also the last man to run a mill on the Shepaug River.) After leaving the mill, Robert was struck with MS and was never able to stand again.
1967 -- death of Major General Fulois.
1990s -- the Shepaug Club closed down as a bar and restaurant.
1999 -- the designer Bill Blass sold his company for $50 million and retired to his home in New Preston.
Today the population exceeds 4,000.
William C. Bader (with Pamela M. Redmer). 1998. An American Village: The Light at the North End of the Tunnel. Washington Depot, CT: Design to Printing.
The Town of Washington, Connecticut: About Washington. http://www.washingtonct.org/about.html
Washington, Connecticut from the Connecticut Guide, 1935. http://members.skyweb.net/~channy/CTGuideWash.html
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