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Greenfield Hill Historic District


The Greenfield Hill Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2010, The Gombach Group.

Description

Greenfield Hill is a rural community of charm and beauty set apart from the centers of industry, commerce, and politics. In the past it has been an agricultural community and a cultural center. There are 38 principal houses and structures within the Greenfield Hill Historic District and 20 separate subsidiary structures such as garages, sheds, and barns, and one old windmill. Analysis of the known or estimated ages of the principal structures reveals 13 buildings built prior to 1800 with the majority of these being pre-revolutionary, 6 structures built between 1800 and 1850, 9 structures built between 1850 and 1900 and 10 between 1900 and 1966.

Notable Houses and Sites in the Greenfield Hill Historic District

Timothy Dwight Park — located between Hillside Road, Old Academy and Bronson Roads, is the site of Timothy Dwight's famous Academy where young women and men were admitted to study Latin, Greek, Calculus, Surveying and Navigation.

Old Cemetery on Bronson Road; originally an Indian burial ground, this cemetery contains the graves of soldiers of the French and Indian Wars, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. The tradition of planting dogwoods along the road was begun by Revolutionary War hero, Dr. Isaac Bronson.

105 Meetinghouse Lane — now [1971] owned by Hubert Mandeville, this house was built about 1750 by Zalmon Bradley. Originally a salt-box, it was remodeled many years ago to its present handsome appearance, with a four-sided hip roof, four chimneys and exquisite doorway. In addition to its great architectural interest, it is important through the brief association with it of Abraham Baldwin, a key figure in the drafting of the Constitution, and of Joel Barlow, poet of the Revolution, one of the "Hartford Wits," and envoy and minister of the United States to Morocco and other countries.

Greenfield Hill Congregational Church — The present church building was built in 1855 in the same style as its predecessors. For almost 250 years this church has been the center about which the life of Greenfield Hill has revolved. The location of the church itself on the village green and its simple, typical New England village style typify the part it has played in the cultural and religious life of the community.

Old Salt Box at 1081 Hillside Road — now owned by John L. Peters, was built in 1751 by Gershom Hubbell, saddler and leather dresser. He carried on his trade in one room of the house when Timothy Dwight came to Greenfield Hill in 1783, it was in this room that he started his famous Academy.

3244 Bronson Road — W.T. Sampson Smith is the present owner of this house which was built before 1735. When Fairfield was a Port of Entry this property was the site of the Customs House where all shipments were cleared. At a later date, the Greenfield Hill Post office occupied what is now the library.

3171 Bronson Road — This gambrel-roofed, central chimney house built by Reverend Seth Pomeroy about the time of his ordination as pastor of the Greenfield Hill Church in 1757. At one time in its history, it served as an insurance office and it is presently owned by James P. Gillies.

2829 Bronson Road — While the original structure of which a substantial part remains is old, the interest arises from the fact that between 1901 and 1915 it served as the main building of the Greenfield Hill Country Club. The objectives of the club were: "to afford opportunity for the study of agriculture, music and literature, and to promote good fellowship and social improvement." There was a quarter-mile racetrack, cattle sheds, a vegetable building and a building for the display of agricultural implements. Four-day fairs were held in September of each year; in 1906, 52 yoke of oxen were shown, and there were prizes for sheep, cattle, poultry, field crops, bread, cakes and pies. A large room was added for dancing and another large room for dinners. Such activity exemplifies what may be overlooked, namely that Greenfield Hill grew out of an essentially agricultural background.

55 Meeting House Lane — This distinctly individual and attractive house eludes classification into any architectural period. Its long, steep pitched roof comes down to the level of the first story in front which permits a recessed veranda. With its four chimneys, dormer windows, its fan windows and quarter lunettes in the house ends, it is beautifully and delicately balanced. Traditionally it was designed by the young bride of Varick Dey, pastor of the church, who came to Greenfield Hill at the time the house was built (1823).

3015 Bronson Road — This huge windmill standing on property of Eugene Gallert was built in the third quarter of the 19th century, when it was necessary for the Bronson Family to find a source of water independent of rainfall. The well was the first deep-drilled well in the area. No longer in use, the windmill blades have been removed.

Although many structures have been altered over the years, Greenfield Hill has been fortunate in being able to command the services of expert architects who have worked with appreciation for the values and styles of the past. In these changes and restorations they have succeeded in capturing or retaining these values. Nor have the modern houses marred the general character and tone of the area, though several of them are very different from the traditional Colonial or Federal types that predominate.

Significance

Greenfield Hill Historic District is significant because it has been the intellectual and cultural center of the Town of Fairfield. It became famous as the location of the Academy founded by Timothy Dwight and conducted by him for 12 years immediately preceding his appointment as President of Yale. Abraham Baldwin, who lived in one of the houses within the Greenfield Hill Historic District, moved to Georgia in 1784 and there he not only became a delegate to the convention that drafted the Constitution of the United States, but also a key figure in the compromises that permitted its adoption by the various States. He founded the University of Georgia and became its first president. Scholars of note came from all over the United States and from abroad to Greenfield Hill: Joel Barlow, the poet, and Talleyrand were frequent visitors. Another who has played an important role in the political life of the nation was Gideon Tomlinson who served as U.S. Congressman and Senator and was governor of the State from 1827-1837.

References

Final Report: Establishment of Historic Districts in Greenfield Hill and Southport. Published by the Fairfield Historic District Commission, 1966.

F.S.M. Crofut, Guide to the History and the Historic Sites of Connecticut. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1937.

† Constance Luyster, Connecticut Historical Commission, Greenfield Hill Historic District, Fairfield, Connecticut. nomination document, 1970, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Greenfield Hill Historic District Map

Street Names
Bronson Road • Hillside Road • Hubbell Lane • Meeting House Lane • Old Academy Road • Verna Hill Road

**Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. You should independently verify any information you use for decision making.
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