Sunny Ridge Historic District
The Sunny Ridge Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2010, The Gombach Group.
The Sunny Ridge Historic District in the Washington Depot area of the Town of Washington, Connecticut, consists of 10 properties grouped around the triangle formed by the intersections of Old Litchfield Road, Romford Road, Nettleton Hollow Road, and Sunny Ridge Road. In the 18th century the road intersections fostered the presence of two taverns which remain as the two oldest houses in the district (6 Romford Road and 20 Nettleton Hollow Road). Historically, Nettleton Hollow Road ran north-south from Woodbury as a link in the Cornwall-New Haven Turnpike through an area of early settlement just south of the Sunny Ridge Historic District called Nettleton Hollow, and connected to the north with the New York to Albany road.
The Rising Sun Inn (6 Romford Road) was built in 1748 by John Loggin/Logan as a 1-1/2-story five-bay lean-to house. In the first half of the 19th century Matthew Logan altered the house to its present configuration by increasing the width of the front elevation three bays to the left (north), raising the roof to two full stories thereby providing for a ballroom, and building an ell. Presumably, the present 12-over-8 sash and window and doorway cornices date from that time. When patronage of the inn declined toward the end of the 19th century, the road in front was moved away, creating the present spacious lawn. While the age of the accompanying barn is undocumented, it surely is old and with its weathered vertical siding and large size is a prominent presence in the Sunny Ridge Historic District. Historic photographs show additional barns that formerly stood behind the house.
The Rising Sun Inn was the larger of the two hostelries. A more modest post house was conducted in the five-bay clapboard central-entrance central-chimney house with 12-over-12 sash at 20 Nettleton Hollow Road. The chestnut framing with mortise-and-tenon joints of its barn is old, while the vertical red siding is new. The house is separated from Nettleton Hollow Road by a dry stone wall. Similar walls line both sides of Sunny Ridge Road, forming an important visual component of the Sunny Ridge Historic District.
The two similar, almost identical, five-bay Greek Revival style houses were built at the same time by the same builders (28 and 32 Sunny Ridge Road). Each has a recessed front entrance flanked by plain pilasters which support a plain architrave, frieze, and cornice. Similar two-story pilasters embellish the corners of the houses under plain friezes. The windows are 12-over-12, presumably replacements. Window surrounds are plain, with wider lintel boards at the 28 Sunny Ridge Road house.
The low-pitched gable roofs of the Greek Revival houses form pediments with recessed tympanums at the gable ends. Each pediment features a central rectangular window. The central chimney of the 28 Sunny Ridge Road house appears to be in its traditional size and location. In the 32 Sunny Ridge Road house a small chimney is off-center to the south and an exterior chimney has been added on the north side elevation. Both houses have extensive additions to the rear, that at 32 Sunny Ridge Road being 22' x 35' in plan and a full two stories high. 32 Sunny Ridge Road also is the location of a large weathered barn.
A Colonial Revival frame house of ca.1930 is located at 10 Sunny Ridge Road, with its gable end toward the street. It is considered contributing because it is more than 50 years old. The house at 18 Sunny Ridge Road is older but has been altered to the extent that its original appearance is uncertain. It is therefore classified as non-contributing, as is the 1977 Cape next door at 22 Sunny Ridge Road.
The two vacant parcels are woodlands with stone wall and stream. One parcel is protected by a conservation easement. As vacant land, they are non-contributing by definition.
The Sunny Ridge Historic District is significant historically and architecturally because of its place as the crossroads of a colonial community and because of the good examples of Colonial and Greek Revival style houses standing within its boundaries. A house built in the 20th century respects these antecedents.
The Sunny Ridge Historic District is significant historically because of the central role it played in the life of Nettleton Hollow. Nettleton Hollow was an area of early settlement in the town of Washington, bordering the major north-south thoroughfare called Nettleton Hollow Road. At the northern end of Nettleton Hollow, in the district, several roads intersected, forming a logical location for an inn. The district's two inns were the center of activity for visitors and local residents as well, who gathered there for social purposes. The activity as a center continued until well into the 19th century, when the advent of the railroad in the 1870s caused diminution in the use and importance of the highway for travelers. This change is reflected in the road pattern which was adjusted as usage declined.
The prominence of the Logan family in the Sunny Ridge Historic District's history is to be recognized. The first Logan, John, built the Rising Sun Inn; one of the several Matthew Logans enlarged its size; and the family continued to own and occupy the premises for 2-1/2 centuries, relinquishing ownership only at the end of the 20th century. Another Logan, Sheldon, built the Greek Revival house at 32 Sunny Ridge Road.
Several of the properties in the Sunny Ridge Historic District run to considerable acreage, which presumably was farmed, as indicated by the presence of the several large barns.
The Sunny Ridge Historic District is significant architecturally because of the age and quality of its two Colonial structures and the good state of preservation of its Greek Revival style examples. The Rising Sun Inn (6 Romford Road) is the oldest house in the Sunny Ridge Historic District, and may be the oldest house in the town (A. Gilchrist). It is unusual because of its combination of a standard five-bay front elevation with three bays added to the north. The addition both enhanced the operation of the property as an inn and, according to Logan family tradition, provided needed space for a growing family. The position of the building at the northern end of the Nettleton Hollow was a commanding one, reinforced by the fact that it was the largest structure in the Hollow, with a tall barn and imposing grounds.
The second Colonial house at 20 Nettleton Hollow Road, while not unusual in its design, is a good example of its type, complete in a variety of details, including the six-pane transom over the front door and historic accompanying barn.
The two Greek Revival style houses are unusual because they are a pair, in this remote location, built within a year or so of each other by Lewis and Daniel Canfield. Cost of construction for 28 Sunny Ridge Road was $1,250, exclusive of materials which were furnished by the owner, Russell Bloss. The owner also boarded the building crew during the period of construction. An earlier house was demolished to make room for the present building (a date of 1769 in its basement), for which drawings exist in the possession of the present owner.
Cost of the similar house at 32 Sunny Ridge Road is not recorded. The pair's five-bay facades with recessed central entrances are worthy of an urban location, and somewhat sophisticated for the rural ambience of this outlying area of Washington, Connecticut. Both houses are well-preserved and reflect a good state of current maintenance.
The Colonial Revival style house, ca.1930, at 18 Sunny Ridge Road, a five-bay central-entrance central-chimney design, is an appropriate addition to the Sunny Ridge Historic District, carrying forward in 20th-century terms the area's historic architecture.
Richard G. Dutton, owner of 28 Sunny Ridge Road, conversation, September 19, 1995.
Alison Gilchrist, Architectural Historian and Consultant to Washington Historic District Commission, conversation, March 22, 1995.
Report of the Historic District Study Commission, Washington, Connecticut, 1975.
Washington Land Records, volume 121, page 1,006, conservation easement to Steep Rock Association of Washington, a charitable non-profit corporation (land trust).
† David Ransom, consultant and John Herzan, Connecticut Historical Commission, New Preston Hill Historic District, Washington, CT, nomination document, 1995, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.