Archive for the ‘Rocky Hill Early Houses’ Category

A New History of Rocky Hill by Rafaele Fierro

July 3, 2012

Just published on the Wethersfield Historical Society website:

Rocky Hill: A History by Rafaele Fierro

It was only a matter of time. Rocky Hill citizens since the 1820s had been petitioning the Connecticut General Assembly to become a separate town. Now in 1843 the residents of Wethersfield’s “Lower Community,” known since 1722 as Stepney Parish, took up the issue anew but with more vigor and in more numbers. Town leader Elias W. Robbins led this local independence movement, which succeeded by June of 1843. Rocky Hill would be the new town’s official name and henceforth would become known as the “political daughter of Wethersfield” to its north. Rocky Hill was not unique in its quest for and success in separation. Two other towns–Glastonbury and Newington–also emerged from Wethersfield.

And today, out of the 169 incorporated towns in Connecticut, more than half were created when they split from their “mothers.” Indeed, between 1820 and 1850, the state’s General Assembly incorporated 13 new towns, including Rocky Hill, one steeped in tradition and history, and created as much by nature’s fury as by the power of Connecticut’s legislative body…(left Philip Goffe House)

Men like Goffe found the land appealing because it stood high above the river whose flood plains narrowed down, just south of the long hill for which the town would be named ultimately. And because it seemed logical to these early settlers to cross the river along this tapered stretch, they helped establish a transport service in 1655. Later known as the Rocky Hill-Glastonbury ferry service, it remains the oldest ferry service in the United States. The settlers also realized that the land could be used for building ships and farming. A classic riverport was about to be born.

(read the rest of this interesting history on the “Rafaele Fierro..” Page in sidebar at the right)

North Brick School House – Rocky Hill

May 18, 2012

 Click on photo to enlarge

Judy Fleming of Atlanta GA writes: (May 15, 2012)

Came across the attached picture and trying to determine if this Schoolhouse still exists. My grandmother went to school there, it would have been in approx. 1893-1896. It only says “North Brick Schoolhouse” under the picture.

 My grandparents and great grandparents lived in Rocky Hill – Morton’s and Schoenborn’s with Aunt being married to Frank Robbins who had a farm there  in Rocky Hill.

 Any information you could share would be greatly appreciated.

Shoes Hidden in Old Houses to Ward off Evil Spirits…

August 22, 2011

From our Inquiries from Readers page (received today)

Early 19th c Shoe (Concealment Piece)

Chris M. from Indiana writes:

I am a graduate student at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. As part of my Master’s thesis, I am researching objects deliberately concealed in buildings for good luck. I am particularly interested in the practice of concealing old shoes or boots in buildings, which seems to have been brought to the U.S. from Great Britain.

It is my understanding that a shoe was found in a house in Rocky  Hill, CT. I am trying to find out more about the shoe, where exactly it was found in the building, when it might have been concealed and by whom. If you know anything about this object or any other unusual objects found in the walls, ceilings, floors, or chimneys of other historic buildings in the area (horseshoes, old garments, bottles with unusual contents, strange animal remains, iron tools, coins, etc.), I would greatly appreciate it if you would contact me or forward my email to someone who may be able to help.

I look forward to your reply.

We replied:

“You are in luck as I was one of the persons finding the old shoe hidden as a “concealment piece” (as such things were then known) in the Rocky Hill home where I lived until ten years ago. The shoe was found some 15 years or so ago and after examining, photographing, and exhibiting it to society members we replaced the shoe behind the panelling next the hall fireplace where we found it. (see attached photo 18C Parlor…) The room in the photograph is actually what is known as the hall and the shoe was found behind the panelling near the upper left side of the hearth. The date of the house is c 1750; here is a view from 2006.
The shoe may be viewed in this composite view made in 2009. Other, more detailed views (you can enlarge the images for greater detail) are here,here,and here. If you learned about this shoe from these photos on the web then  you may already have seen them. The shoe is made of leather and is fastened together with wooden pegs.”
Her followup message:

…would it be possible to use the photos of the shoe and house in my thesis? If so, how would you like me to credit them?

“I also wanted to let you know that I sent the photos of the shoe to the cobbler at Colonial Williamsburg and he identified the shoe as a “man’s or boy’s, 1820s-40ish, round toed w/pegged repairs. Waxed-calf with “dog-leg” side seam.” Which is interesting because it post-dates the house, suggesting the shoe was concealed at a later date, perhaps during an episode of repair or remodeling.”

Wall Stenciling-18th C House Rocky Hill (c. 1727)

May 15, 2011

This decoration found on the wall of a 2nd floor room in a house on Lower Pratt Street. Such stenciling decoration was a fairly common practice in the period but to find them intact and vibrant today is rare. It is unknown when this stenciling was added as the previous owners have passed on and the current owner does not occupy the house.

Wall Stenciling - 18th C House Rocky Hill (CT) (c 1727)

Wall Stenciling -  18th C House Rocky Hill (CT) (c. 1727) by Steadyjohn

This decoration found surrounding a parlor fireplace in a house on Lower Pratt Street.

Here is information from a review of the book “American Wall Stenciling 1790-1840″ by Ann Eckert Brown:

“For today’s owner of an antique house, the discovery of an early stenciled wall—even a fragment of one—is a revelation that offers a shard of a tangible past. In post-revolutionary America, the decoration of choice for a surprisingly large number of home owners from all social and economic groups was walls painted with intricate stenciled designs. Stenciled walls were cheaper and more sanitary than those covered with paper, but the most compelling reason for the widespread use of stenciling was that it was considered far more stylish than impersonal, mass-produced paper. Stencil artists freely borrowed wallpaper motifs and crossbred them. Successive generations of wallpaper, which became increasingly more affordable after the Industrial Revolution, covered stenciled walls, hiding them, obliterating some and preserving others.”


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