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Center, CT History
Center today is much as it was when the town received Parish
status in 1729, the center of business affairs. The scenery
has certainly changed but the Center is still where all town
business takes place in the Town Hall building and at the
Old Town House.
in 1729, town meetings included discussions of where to place
first Society meeting was held June 5th, 1729 (less than a
month after the parish was organized). The first three committee
men of the parish, elected at this meeting, were John Read,
George Hull, and Samuel Sanford.
this time, too, the "places for setting up warnings for
Society meetings" were determined on as follows: "In
the lane by Ebenezer Hull, and a Chestnut tree by Mr. John
Read's, and a post set up by Moses Knapps:" These were
the first sign posts in the town."
the 1780's, town meetings included discussions of what to
do with Loyalists:
August 11, 1783, nine months after the Provisional Articles
of Peace had been signed in Paris. "Voted that select men
of this town be desired to move out of town: all those persons
that have been over and joined the enemy and have returned
the 1870's and 80's the town was in need of a high school:
1878, the Rev. Aaron S. Sanford of New Haven, but of a Redding
family, donated $5,000 for the endowment of a high school.
This was incorporated as the Hill Academy, and was in operation
probably around 1880. The stipulation was that only college
graduates could teach there."
Hill Academy continued at the junior high school level for
many years, finally becoming a school for all eight grades,
when the Center district school was abandoned prior to 1915,
it would eventually be converted into the town house. The
Hill Academy stood where Town Hall stands today.
May of 1948, schools again were the topic of discussion:
therefore, resolved, That the Town appropriate the sum of
Four Hundred Thirty-three Thousand Dollars ($433,000.00) for
the purpose of constructing , furninshing and equipping an
Elementary School Building, as per plans and specifications
as submitted and approved by Town Meeting called April 10,
1948, and to authorize the School Building Committee to expend
town meetings are much more diverse and somewhat complex:
20, 2006: Resolution regarding State of CT Department of Emergency
Management Homeland Security; Town of Redding mileage reimbursement
rates: discussion of town employees using municipal vehicle
compared with using a personal vehicle for conduction of town
business.; CL&P easement: the agreement to trade a parcel
of open space for another parcel must be approved at a Town
Meeting in lieu of monetary compensation.; The Commission
for the Elderly reported the Commission voted to change the
name to the Commission on Aging."
Center past and present also has similarities in terms of
Religion. Today the Congregational Society is located in Redding
Center as it was back in the early settlement period. The
present location of the Congregational Society building differs
from the early settlement period but only slightly. Actually
it's a pretty interesting timeline:
- The first Congregational
meeting house was completed in 1732, on the old town green
- a second meeting
house on Great Pasture Rd. replaced it in 1752,
- 1837 Methodists
build their own church on present location of Congregational
- a new Congregational
Meeting House was built in 1837 (location Great Pasture
- 1868 Methodist
Church numbers growing and church remodeled,
- 1893 Congregational
Meeting House remodeled,
- 1921 Methodists
and Congregationalists both suffering vacant pulpits, decling
memberships and financial difficulties start holding joint
services, Congregational Meeting house used in warm weather,
Methodist building used in the cold and wintery months,
- 1929, two churches
joined as one, enter 8th successful year together, becoming
Federated Church or Federation,
- 1938, indications
that Congregational building no longer in use,
- 1942, Congregational
Building on Great Pasture Rd. lost to fire, services continue
in Redding Center's Methodist building,
- 1948, questions
about who owns church building in Redding Center arise-
- 1952, storm
damages to the building in 1950 repaired,
- 1956 questions
of building ownership come up again,
- 1960, first
mention that the building will revert to Congregational
society after May 1961, and does...Federated Church becomes
1st Church of Christ Congregational.
So if you've ever
wondered why there is a burial ground on Great Pasture Rd.
or have seen an old postcard that has the Congregational Church
at Redding Center labeled as Methodist Church now you know
Now getting back
to the theme of past and present, we'll tackle another topic
that has similarities of interest: The Post Office. The Redding
Center Post Office is where I spent many afternoons as my
Grandfather, Harry L. Colley, was postmaster there for many
years. The location of the Center Post Office was not always
in that location.
On the back of
this great photo forwarded by Isabella Eredita-Johnson it
"Thomas B. Fanton home and store Redding, Ct.
William M. Fanton was born in Feb. 12, 1867"
Fanton and D.S. Johnson can be found on the
Beers 1867 map where Cross Highway intersects with Sanfordtown
road. Johnson & Nickerson is what the store's sign says.
The store also served as Redding's Post Office for some time.
The first Redding Center post office was said to be located
at the old Town house.
very first post office was located in the "Boston District"
on the corner of Umpawaug Road and Peaceable St., it was established
in 1810 by Billy Comstock and later moved to Darling's Tavern
across the street in 1823, it was discontinued in 1844.
second post office in Redding was established at Redding Center
in May of 1815, under the name "Redding Town House".
William Sanford was appointed postmaster at the town center.
appears that the U.S. Post Office Department had planned to
change the site of Redding's Post Office from the Boston District
to Redding Center in May of 1815. However, because of poor
road conditions between the stage coach route and Redding
Center (3.5 miles) it was promptly re-decided to retain two
offices temporarily...which turned into 28 years, 11 months.
at Redding Center from 1815 to 1940:
Sanford May 8, 1815
Sanford April 26, 1825
Olmstead March 29, 1833
Duncomb May 29, 1849
B. Fanton January 30, 1851
Olmstead July 2, 1853
B. Fanton June 20, 1861
S. Johnson March 3, 1871
C. Johnson April 30, 1876
T. Gregory March 20, 1882
E. Sanford October 16, 1913
D. Sanford August 23, 1924
D. Sanford October 25, 1933
W. Smith March 1, 1940
Name of the Redding Post Office was officially changed by
the U.S. Postal Service from Reading to Redding
on May 30, 1844.
Center Remembered- Oral History Project
Interview With Stuart Chase "I am a Generalist..."
at the turn of the 20th Century, in the days of Mark Twain
and Charles Ives, Redding became a haven for a number of creative
writers and artists in search of a quieter life, away from
the pressures of the big city. Stuart Chase was a late comer
in that group. A writer of books and articles, he found a
remodeled barn, with an apple orchard, a garden, and open
fields, which seemed ideal for a writer. When in 1930 he drove
up to the village green at the Center, with its over-arching
elms and charming white New England church, he promptly returned
and bought the remodeled barn. Redding was where he wanted
to live, and with his wife Marian, a musician, has lived for
almost 50 years. Redding is where most of his ideas have germinated,
and where most of his writing has been done. Trips, yes, to
lecture around the country (in every state except Mississippi)
and visits to London, Paris, Russia, Egypt, Mexico, and the
Caribbean. But the real work has been done in the remodeled
asked Mr. Chase if he would summerize his outlook on life,
and how it might apply to Redding. He said he considered himslef
a philosophic "generalist". A generalist, he said,
is an observer who tries to see all the major angles before
he comes to a conclusion. He is not a one-party man. He is
particularly interested today in the planning of a human community,
and the conservation of its natural resources. Redding has
an urgent need for both if it is to continue to be a comely
rural town in a beautiful natural setting.
one of his columns for the Pilot, the weekly local paper,
Mr. Chase wrote an article addressed to children in general
and to children of Redding in particular. He wrote: "You
have two homes: the house where you live here in Redding,
and the planet earth on whose surface you walk, whose air
you breathe, whose water you drink, and that provides all
your food from its fields, forests and waters. Your house
must be kept aired and clean or you may get sick from poisons
and infections. "Your planet," he continued, "which
is your other home, must also be kept healthy, clean and livable.
If this effort fails, we shall all get sick before too long.
Presently (1978), on an unhealthy planet, with failing resources,
there will be little future for you, and certainly no future
for your children. It may take longer for this to happen,
but it is as bad to make a mess of your planet as to make
a mess of your living room. Indeed, it may be worse; you can
get out of your living room in an emergency-say a fire- but
you can't get off your planet and hope to survive for long.
How many people can a space ship carry? Where can it land
and find adequate soil, water and air?
say I am a generalist," Chase went on to say, "but
I have three specialties-economics, communication, and accounting.
My father wanted me to follow his footsteps in the accounting
profession. I passed my CPA examinations in Boston and practiced
for about ten years, part of the time with the Federal Trade
Commission in Washington, D.C.
discovered that accounting was not my cup of tea, and turned
more to writing, especially about economic problems and convervation.
My book Rich Land, Poor Land was praised by President
Roosevelt, and there was even some talk that he might write
an introduction-which did not materialize. I also became greatly
interested in how word behave, and have written three books
on semantics, a specialty that deals with language and meaning.
At the same time I have been concerned with the state of the
world in general, and what hard technology is doing to it,
and especially what atomic energy may do to us- not only in
war, but in peace as well. Where are we going to put the deadly
poisonous wastes that are produced in nuclear energy plants?
You see, a generalist is concerned with the condition of human
life on this planet, above and beyond his particular specialties.
We need the physical sciences, like chemistry; the social
sciences, like economics; and the human studies, like philosophy
and history, to understand our place in the universe. Man
became homo sapiens, the thinking creature, when he
learned to talk, thousands of years ago.
we humans are in a second great transformation, which began
on August 5, 1945, the day when Hiroshima in Japan was wiped
out by an atomic bomb. Let one generalist qoute another generalist,
Dr. Victor Weisskopf, professor of physics at M.I.T.: 'Today
we physicists have found a cosmic process, one in which
millions of electron volts per atom are exchanged, rather
than the few electron volts that are customary here on earth.'
I believe, may be as important to mankind as the day we first
learned to talk. This is a 'cosmic process,' like what goes
on in outer space, and in the interior of the sun. A generalist
must be aware of these two cosmic episodes in the history
of mankind; he hopes that we can deal with them.
my desk is a motto given to me by my friend Beardsley Ruml
when he lived down the road a little way. He was an excellent
generalist. The motto reads: 'Reasonable men always agree
if they understand what they are talking about.' I wish this
motto might be on a number of desks in the Middle East right
now in 1978!
and conservation are major interests of a generalist on a
world-wide scale. How do they apply to a small community?
I have been trying to apply them here in Redding for many
years; first as a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, then
as Secretary of the Planning Commission, where I served for
20 years. Open space areas to keep the town rural and green
was a major goal of the Planning, Zoning and Conservation
Commissions, supported by the Selectmen and by the Board of
Finance. When they policy was first introduced in the 1960's
there were some 1.3 acres of town owned open space, at the
Green. Now there are more than 3,000 acres of all types of
Open Space! The policy seems to be working.
had not been on the Planning Commission long before I discovered
the following formula: The more open space we can save,
the lower our future taxes will be, and the pleasanter the
town. My training as a CPA helped to give the formula
a firm foundation.
works like this: If a parcel of 100 acres is bought by the
town for open space, taxpayers of course must pay for it (sometimes
with State and Federal Aid), and also pay for any recreation
facilities which may be put on it, like tennis courts. Income
will be zero. But if the 100 acres are bought by a subdivider,
and 30 or 40 houses are built on 2-acres lots, the cost to
taxpayers in providing roads, fire, police and other services,
and especially education in the public schools for the new
children, usually comes to a much greater cost. As a CPA,
I have verified this in case after case. Often the cost to
taxpayers of a subdivision development on 100 acreas, is twice
the cost of buying the land as open space. The cost to taxpayers
is thus not a burden but the reverse-when compared to all
the costs of a new subdivision.
physical topography of Redding is another cogent reason for
holding open space rather than developing subdivisions. The
town has three steep hills- Little Boston, The Center, The
Ridge- which prevent the construction of economic water and
sewage pipe lines. We must live on individual driven wells
and septic tanks. Also our preponderance of clay soils makes
even septic tanks a special problem (ask David Thompson of
the U.S. Soil Conservation Service).
sound reason for holding opening space is that Connecticut
is the second worst state in the Union suffering from air
pollution. My glass rain gauge supports this government report
by turning black at the bottom in about two months of operation!
The pollution comes from industrial operations in NY and NJ,
the expects say. the Tri-State Commission has nominated Redding
a kind of fresh air haven. If it can be kept open all of Western
Connecticut will benefit.
Saugatuck Reservoir, which is partly in Redding, not only
provides some town open space in the form of water, but more
important, demands a lot of undeveloped land. Its watersheds
must be kept clear and underdeveloped if pure water is to
be supplied to Bridgeport, Westport and other towns. Just
to keep the record straight I must admit that I opposed the
building of the Saugatuck Reservoir because of its elimination
of some good farmland. This was before we had developed the
open space formula. A generalist lives and learns like everybody
Planning Commission for these and other reasons is aiming
at a quarter of the town of Redding, some 5,000 acres, to
be held forever open. So in Redding we have in full display
two of the major goals of a philosophic generalist-careful
planning, and the conservation of natural resources. It has
been a great privilege for me to to work with my fellow citizens
on these goals over the years here in this beautiful, unspoiled
New England town...May it never become 'Levittown-on-the-Saugatuck!'"
Chris Aruza, Rona Neri
Read bought a tract of land in 1711 from the Indian, Chicken
Warrups. This tract now makes up the 300 acre farm of Betty
& Sam Hill. Thus the farm was christened Warrups Farm
(across from Redding Country Club).
Warrups Farm stands a lovely white house. The house has quite
a history . John Lee Hill, the 5th child of Colonel John Read,*
built the house in 1841, a year after his marriage to Harriet
Duncomb. Their child, William Hill, married Althea Hotchkiss
and had four children. Among them was Ernest Hill, the father
of Sam Hill.
house remained in the Hill family until 1907. For the next
22 years, there was a succession of owners. In 1929, Ernest
Hill purchased the house and the homestead was back in the
family. Today, Samuel Ervin Hill, the son of Ernest and his
wife Betty, own the house now. They restored the home to its
former beauty in the late fifties.
recent years some overgrown fields have been cleared for farm
and pastureland. With their son, William, acting as farm manager,
the Hills raise Scottish Highland Cattle, hay, cut flowers
and produce. They also make maple syrup in the spring.
is hoped the Hill Homestead can be passed on from generation
to generation and will always be part of the hertitage of
John Read was the grandson of John Read for whom the town
back for updates. 06/04/07 BMC.
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