Litchfield helped shape Connecticut's history - WFSB 3 Connecticut


Litchfield helped shape Connecticut's history

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The Litchfield Historical Society. (WFSB photo) The Litchfield Historical Society. (WFSB photo)

Litchfield is a beautiful community that's tucked away in the northwest hills.

It helped shape not only the state, but the country.

"It's a great town to live in," said Paul Scionti of Litchfield. "It's beautiful, it's historic, [it has] a lot of nice shops [and] a lot of nice restaurants. It's just a great place to live."

Many people told Eyewitness News that they like to venture from near and far to see what the town has to offer.

About 8,500 people live in Litchfield, which also encompasses the villages of Northfield, Bantam, East Litchfield and Milton. It was founded in 1719.

"Really the quintessential New England town," said Catherine Fields, Litchfield Historical Society. "White houses, black shutters, village green, Congregational Church, we have it all."

The town's inland location made it unique during the American Revolutionary War, making it a "safe town."

George Washington's spymaster, Benjamin Talmadge, settled in Litchfield.

"If anybody watched the TV show Turn [Washington's Spies on AMC], you can see Benjamin Tallmadge in action," Fields said.

Then there's the Litchfield female academy which had alumnus like Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin.

"The Litchfield Female Academy was not the first, but one of the largest schools for girls in this country," Fields said. "We've identified over 3,000 students who attended the female academy."

After the war, the town saw tremendous growth and prosperity economically and agriculturally.

It's urban center had become the fourth largest in the state.

During this time, it became home to two pioneering educational institutions, including the Litchfield Law School, founded by Tapping Reeve.

By the 1840s, water power and railroads came and industries bypassed Litchfield's hilltop location in favor of the valley towns, but it has developed other attractions like the Litchfield Hills Road Race, which began in the 1970s.

"We have a very fun loving group of people that throughout the year have various either road races to raise money for our local events and charities," said Denise Raap, The Village, owner. "We constantly have some new event going on at the green, or our park and rec which is a lot of fun."

Its historic significance and landscape attracts travelers from all over the world.

"We love coming back," said Darcy Proctor of Granby. "I have some ancestors all over Wolcott House here so we feel a connection to the town."

Check out more sights from around Litchfield here.

The Litchfield  Community Center was Eyewitness News' recipient of the 20 Towns $1,000 charity donation.

From teaching classes on a variety of subjects to the elderly to providing a place for youth to come and enjoy to hosting birthday parties at the community center, it has established itself as a positive influence on the town.

The Litchfield Community Center executive director Berta Andrulis Mette accepted the check on the group's behalf.

She said more than 1,000 classes were provided at the community center in the last year alone. She said the money will help keep them going.

For more 20 Towns in 20 Days stories, click here.

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