VERY BRIEF HISTORY OF NEWTON, CONNECTICUT
Fairfield County, Connecticut
Newtown is bordered on the south by Easton and Redding, on the north by Bridgewater and Southbury, on the east by Oxford and Monroe, and on the west by Bethel and Brookfield.
Newtown is comprised of:
The land of Newtown was rugged and had limited stretches of stream suitable for water power. It was these two factors that enabled the Town to preserve much of its rural character.
The Housatonic River follows a winding course that follows the 13 mile
eastern boundary of the town of Newtown.
Topography by region:
Northern (between Hawleyville and the Housatonic River) -- rugged terrain (e.g., ledges with thinner soils).
Eastern (near Sandy Hook) -- rugged terrain (e.g., ledges with thinner soils).
East (Botsford Hill and Osborn Hill) -- prominent glacially created ridges.
Southeast (between Botsford and the Housatonic River) rugged terrain (e.g., ledges with thinner soils).
Central -- modest ridges and small stream valleys.
Center (e.g., Mount Pleasant, the "Borough" and Walnut Tree Hill) prominent glacially created ridges.
West (e.g., Eden, Taunton and Great Hills) high ridges created by glaciers.
Western areas modest ridges and small stream valleys.
Southwestern section -- modest ridges and small stream valleys.
extensive gravel deposits left by the glaciers in the central Pootatuck valley
larger wetlands = Flat Swamp, Pine Swamp, the Hawleyville broad wetlands and those along Deep Brook and the North Branch Pootatuck, and Taunton Pond.
as well defined neighborhoods; areas such as Hattertown, Dodgingtown,
Taunton, Hawleyville, Hanover, Sandy Hook, Berkshire, Botsford, Palestine and
1708 Newtown's charter granted.
1708 Newtown settled on land purchased from Pootatuck Indians. It was located in the center of town on the crest of a gently sloping ridge. The "new town" was chartered by the General Court of Connecticut and kept the transitory name. 36 settlers from Stratford were granted lands. The Pootatuck Indians of the Mohican tribe, were generally friendly to the settlers. The 66 square mile territory was located between the original bounds of Stratford, Fairfield, Danbury, New Milford and Woodbury.
1711 Town government organized.
1712-1713 a treaty made with the local Indians.
1715 the first official Town highway outside the center laid out to the boundary of Stratford (now Monroe).
By 1715 saw mills set up on Deep Brook, Halfway River and at the mouth of the Pootatuck Brook, along with a fulling mill on Deep Brook.
1720 the original Newtown Meeting House built.
1732 Newtown's Congregational minister, the Reverend John Beach, converted to the Anglicanism, causing considerable turmoil in the town.
1733 a ferry operated on the Housatonic River, connecting to Woodbury (modern Southbury).
1746 a larger Trinity Episcopal Church building was built on the west side of Main Street.
By 1750 one room schoolhouses built in the North Center, Taunton, Zoar, Lands End and Palestine Districts.
By the 1760s most of the primeval forest reduced to scattered wood lots.
1763 Lt. Nathaniel Briscoe donated a 500 pound bell to the Meeting House. (It is still used today.)
1767 Lt. Briscoe donated the massive granite steps, quarried and delivered by slaves, to the Meeting House.
1770s -- the building that later became the Yankee Dover Inn built and located on Main Street.
1775-1783 Revolutionary War.
1781 and 1782 French soldiers, commanded by General Rochambeau, marched through Newtown on their way to and from the battle of Yorktown.
1781 the Housatonic River ferry service replaced by a "pole bridge" near the present-day Rochambeau (I-84) Bridge.
1782 the Rev. John Beach was a Tory during the war and escaped any retribution for that by conveniently dying.
1788 about seven square miles of Newton ceded to form a part of the new
Town of Brookfield.
late 1700s nineteen school districts in existence.
1792 the Meeting House church moved to the middle of West Street.
1793 Bishop Samuel Seabury consecrated a third Trinity Episcopal Church.
1800 town population 2,903.
1801 the Bridgeport and Newtown Turnpike established a route from
Bridgeport to New Milford.
Shortly after 1801 turnpike from Newtown to Norwalk built. Later a third turnpike was established and connected the village of Stepney to southern Brookfield.
1820-1871 Cyrenius H. Booth served as a physician in Newtown for fifty years.
Early 1800s numerous small industries arose clustered along the lower Pootatuck River with its water power resource.
Some of the small industries established were the Curtis Packaging Corporation, Newtown Savings Bank, The Red Brick Store and the Newtown General Store.
1824 the Borough of Newtown (second oldest in the state) established.
1824 The Borough was incorporated by an act of the Connecticut General Assembly.
1836 the State chartered the Housatonic Railroad to head northward to
Newtown and thence via the Still River and Housatonic valleys to a connection to
1839 Charles Goodyear invented vulcanizing rubber at a shop in the glen in Sandy Hook. This gave rise to the American rubber industry (as well as a rubber factory in Rocky Glen).
prior to the Civil War S. Curtis & Sons Company manufactured paperboard
boxes at the mill pond in Berkshire, two miles upriver on the Pootatuck. The New
York Belting and Packing Company built large mills on the lower Pootatuck in
Later, the Fabric Fire Hose Company established.
1840 the first train passed through Newtown. Depots were established at Cold Spring (Botsford), Newtown (Borough), North Newtown, Hanover Springs and Hawleyville.
1840 population of 3,189.
The Derby and New Haven Railroad completed a link through Stevenson and the
Halfway River Valley to the Housatonic line. The New York and New England
Railroad pushed a line eastward from Danbury to Hawleyville.
Dairy farming grew.
Manufacturing grew throughout the Sandy Hook-Rocky Glen area, at Berkshire
and near the rail depot on Church Hill Road.
after 1850 the rural population declined, while the population in manufacturing areas grew.
1855 Newtown Savings Bank founded.
1861-1865 Civil War.
post-Civil War era summer visitors started coming to enjoy the bucolic charm of Newtown's countryside.
1870 -- Death of Judge Samuel Blackman. The 1770s building that would later become the Yankee Dover Inn, was a residence last lived in by Judge Samuel Blackman. After Judge Blackman's death, the house was purchased by Marcus Hawley and his brother-in-law, Henry Sanford, and extensively rebuilt.
1870 a fourth Trinity Episcopal Church built. (It still stands.)
1871 -- the old 1770s residence (later the Yanker Dover Inn) on Main Street converted into a hotel.
1873 building of the new Meeting House completed.
1876 -- 1770s residence owner Douglas Fairchild named the Hotel the Central House.
1877 -- the name of the Central House changed to Grand Central Hotel. Later, it was purchased by M.J. Houlihan, a bartender in the restaurant and later a state senator. Under his ownership, it was a headquarters for cattle and turkey drovers who auctioned off the animals in the yard. It was known as the Yankee Dovers Inn.
1880 population was 4,013. From a high of over 4,000 residents in 1880, the town's population dropped steadily for 50 years.
1880 the peak of the town's nineteenth century development
During the 1880s two hotels on Main Street, Dick's Hotel (at the present library site, later the "Newtown Inn") and the Grand Central Hotel (near the crossroads, later the "Parker House") built to handle the summer boarders.
1880s -- the Grand Central Hotel became the Brown's Hotel under the stewardship of proprietor George H. Brown and manager F.R.M. Chapman.
1888 "Castle Ronald" built on Castle Hill by Peter Lorillard Ronald of England.
Late 1880s, 1890s and early 1900s the summer boarders started buying old farmhouses and built cottages and stayed for longer and longer periods.
Small villages existed at Sandy Hook, Berkshire, Hattertown and Dodgingtown as well as in the Borough.
1905 -- Peter Lorillard Ronald lived in Castle Ronald until his death this year. The Castle was used for a series of unsuccessful enterprises.
1914 electricity came to the Meeting House.
1915 the automobile achieved widespread use.
Before World War I the telephone reached the community.
Late 1910s and early 1920s Routes 6 and 34 from Sandy Hook to New Haven
1915-20 period completion of the Connecticut Light & Power hydroelectric dam on the Housatonic River to form Lake Zoar at Stevenson.
1920s and 1930s Shady Rest, Pootatuck Park, Riverside and Cedarhurst
developed along the eastern shore in Newton.
1920s and 1930s electric service extended throughout rural areas.
1923 -- the Newtown Forest Association was started when Dr. Howard Peck presented a gift of 7.2 acres of land to nine Newtown neighbors forming "Newtown Forester's Association." Additional lands from concerned citizens, formed the 15.5-acre "Newtown Town Forest".
By 1925 Newtown was well connected to the rest of Connecticut.
1927 -- Castle Ronald, one of the most widely known pieces of property in New England, deeded over to Raymond Krusasnik of the "Masse" Country School for Boys.
1930 population reached a low point of 2,635.
1930-1952 -- the Central Hotel named changed to Parker House when the old hotel was purchased by Edith and William Parker from the Sanford estate.
1932 the Fairfield State Hospital (more recently "Fairfield Hills"), an institution for mental patients, opened at the edge of the Borough.
1932 the Cyrenius H. Booth Library opened. The architect for the building was Philip Sutherland who also designed Newtowns Edmond Town Hall. The Library was a posthumous gift of Mary Elizabeth Hawley, who named the library after her maternal grandfather.
Early 1940s Town growth ceased.
Before WWII rail passenger service ceased.
World War II 1941-1945.
Post World War II Newton picked up in population with the coming of the war veterans.
1947 -- Castle Ronald torn down or Castle Hill overlooks Main Street (Route 25) and the flag pole at the intersection with Church Hill Road in the center of the Borough of Newtown. ?
1949 the Hawley School on Church Hill Road was doubled in size.
1950 Newtown's population was 7,448 persons and still largely rural.
Over 1,350 acres of land set aside as open space, primarily Rocky Glen State Park and the southerly section of Paugusset State Forest.
Until 1950 most Town roads were gravel or dirt roads.
1950 the Town began a major program to improved the roads.
1950s a large retail shopping center became the Town's first. A well-defined commercial and industrial corridor emerged along Route 25 from the Borough to the Monroe line.
1950s the first Town recreational park, Dickenson Park, was established on Elm Drive. The
1950s the Newtown Forest Association organized as a land trust.
1952 -- William and Nicholas Tamburri purchased the 1770s building on Main Street and named it the Yankee Drover Inn.
1953 a new senior high school constructed on Queen Street.
1955 Lake Lillinonah, created.
1955 the Newtown Planning Commission formally established.
1956 an elementary school constructed near Riverside Road in Sandy Hook.
1957 the Planning and Zoning Commission established.
1958-61 the State constructed Interstate 84 expressway that crossed north central section of Newtown.
1959 the new high school enlarged and converted to a combined junior-senior
1959 the completed Town Plan of Development adopted.
1961 the Town adopted a charter to streamline Town government.
1961 a Charter adopted under which Newtown operates.
1963 the first sewer study completed.
1968 HVCEO, the regional planning agency for Newtown, formed.
1969 the Town's second Plan of Development adopted.
1970 a newly built high school near Route 34 in Sandy Hook opened.
1973 Connecticut's1973 wetlands protection law reduced the amount of land available to be developed in Newton.
1974 the Town created a Town Legislative Council in place of the traditional Board of Selectman and Town Meeting.
1976 -- Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner won the decathlon event. In his youth, he attended Newtown High School.
1977 -- Caltaldo Liquigli and his wife Lorraine, as Lor-Al Inc, purchased the Inn from William and Nicholas Tamburri.
until the early 1980s the taxpayers of Newtown paid nothing for their library.
1980 the population reached 19,107.
1981 -- old Yankee Dover Inn burned down. Caltaldo Liquigli and his wife Lorraine, as Lor-Al Inc, owned the inn.
1980s building boom. Old industries often replaced with new research, office and technology, such as biomedical research instruments.
at the end of the 1980s the Fairfield Hills State Hospital.
early 1990s the Town undertook installed sanitary sewers and a sewage
1990 town population was 20,779.
By the early 1990s -- only four or five farms remained.
1991 the renovations of the Meeting House received a merit award from the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation. The Newtown Meeting House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
1996 construction began on an addition to the rear of the old library building that would double the available floor space.
1998 the new library addition dedicated.
2001 the Charter was revised.
2000 population of 25,031, the highest amongst the ten towns of the Housatonic Valley Region.
2004 -- Jane and John Vouros started the building of a Bed and Breakfast Inn on the vacant lot where once stood the old Yankee Drover Inn.
Today -- Newtown is home to Anthony Edwards, star of Revenge of the Nerds and Top Gun, as well as TV's ER.
HVECO (Greater Danbury's Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials): Changing Land Use in Newton, Connecticut. http://www.hvceo.org/luchange_newtown.php
A History of the Cyrenius H. Booth Library by Dan Cruson. http://www.biblio.org/chbooth/history.htm
A Brief History of the Newtown Meeting House by Dan Cruson. http://newtownmeetinghouse.com/history.htm
Unknown Castle: http://www.dupontcastle.com/castles/ct_unk4.htm
Jan Howard. A New Inn to Rise from the Ashes of the Yankee Dover. The Newton Bee. http://www.newtownbee.com/Features.asp?s=Features-2004-03-25-13-24-45p1.htm
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