Woodbury Historic District 1
The Woodbury Historic District No. 1 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. Portions of the text below were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2010, The Gombach Group.
The Woodbury Historic District No. 1 is a residential community bounded by open fields and woods. It has a variety of Colonial and Federal houses within it and includes a number of Greek Revival and Victorian buildings as well. The impression that the town creates is that of the restraint and simplicity of the Federal period, perhaps because most of the structures have been painted white — a phenomenon which produces incongruous effects in some instances (for example, where the heavy decoration of some Victorian buildings has been made "inconspicuous"). However, the general effect of the white painted exteriors is to create a sense of unity and serenity.
Within the Woodbury Historic District No. 1 are one hundred forty-two houses, five public buildings, three greens, two schools, nine churches and religious properties and three privately supported historic structures. Some houses still stand which were built as early as 1680. In general a continuous series of houses exist which embody the history of the town from 1674 to the present.
The Woodbury Historic District No. 1 functions as a commercial area and serves approximately 5,000 people for their everyday needs. The most significant part of the town's commercial life are the antique dealers, at least twenty-seven shops exist in Woodbury and nineteen of these are located in Woodbury Historic District No. 1. Individuals skilled in related crafts and professions such as the restoration of furniture and paintings have been drawn to the area, and several nationally known artists now live in the town and surrounding countryside.
Some of the buildings in town deserving special mention are:
The Glebe House, built in 1746 and now owned by the Seabury Society, is open to the public. Located on Hollow Road. Here on March 25, 1783, ten of the fourteen Episcopal Clergymen in Connecticut met to choose their candidate to be head of an American episcopacy. They named Samuel Seabury who, failing to satisfy bishops in England, journeyed onto Scotland where he was cordially received and on November 14, 1764 was consecrated by three Scottish bishops. Thus he became the first bishop of the national church in the United States.
The Hurd House, oldest house in Woodbury and the oldest of the one-room over one-room construction in Connecticut, built in 1680 and now owned and being restored by the Old Woodbury Historical Society. Located on Hollow Road.
Old Blacksmith Shop, also the property now of the Old Woodbury Historical Society. This building dates from about 1825 and was the shop of a blacksmith until recent years. Located on Hollow Road.
King Solomon's Lodge Number 7 — In 1765 certain Free Masons in the Woodbury area were granted a charter by the Provincial Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, then the only Grand Lodge in Colonial America and there were few local lodges outside of Boston. These Woodbury Masons were contemporary with Paul Revere who, at age 25, was accepted into Saint Andrew's Lodge in Boston, 1756. Then in 1791 the Woodbury Lodge received a charter from the Grand Lodge of Connecticut and became King Solomon's Lodge Number 7. The building on Signal Rock was built in 1839. Located on Main Street.
St. Paul's Episcopal Church built 1785 by the Episcopal Parish of Woodbury, organized 1740. It has been suggested that St. Paul's steeple served as a model for the spires on churches built by David Hoadley between 1813 and 1830. Located on Main Street.
First Congregational Church built 1817 by the First Ecclesiastical Society of the First Congregational Church organized 1670. This, the third building of the Ecclesiastical Society of Woodbury, although apparently planned by Harmon Stoddard resembles St. Paul's spire and has been considered a Hoadley-type church. Located on Main Street.
North Congregational Church built in 1816 by the Strict Congregational Society organized 1816. The belfry tower on this church is said to be the only example of Asher Benjamin influence in Connecticut. The pilastered porch and spire reflect Hoadley influence. Located on Main Street.
Methodist Episcopal Church organized 1792 and built 1839 represents the late Federal Period with a pleasing simplicity of line and proportion. Located on Main Street.
St. Teresa's Roman Catholic Church dominates the Center Green in harmonious accord with the other churches yet it was not built until 1902. This accord we owe to Michael Skelly's insistence that this be so. He was the town's blacksmith but his influence as a townsman had been felt in many other ways for over half a century. Located on Main Street.
The Woodbury Historic District No. 1 is significant because its architecture and historic sites embody the history of the area since the seventeenth century. Nearly every type of house from the time of settlement to 1828 can be found in the area and it has some interesting Victorian houses as well. At present a considerable number of artists, authors, composers, photographers and skilled artisans with national reputations live in Woodbury and it is a community which provides a congenial atmosphere for people whose lives are devoted to the arts.
The town was founded in 1673 when fifteen families from Reverend Zechariah Walker's church in Stratford settled on land purchased from the Potatuck Indians. The home lots were laid out along Main Street which almost followed the Indian Trail. In 1674 the General Court gave the name of Woodbury to the plantation at Pomperaug; in 1779 a part of Woodbury was set off to Washington, in 1787 another part to Southbury; in 1796 another to Roxbury and in 1807 a fourth part to Middlebury.
During the revolution Woodbury was a prosperous town, fourth largest on the State's grand list with a population in 1776 of 5,325. According to Crofut about a half of Ethan Allen's men on the expedition to Ticonderoga came from Woodbury and some have believed that Woodbury contributed as many as 1,500 men and more than a half million dollars' worth of supplies to the Continental Army.
A Report of the Historic District Study Committee. Woodbury, Connecticut. (February, 1969)
P. J. Larcy Crofut. Guide to the History and the Historic Sites of Connecticut. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1937.
† Constance Luyster, Connecticut Historical Commission, Woodbury Historic District Number 1, Litchfield, CT, nomination document, 1970, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.