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Plymouth Green

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The Ecclesiastical Society of Northbury was formed in 1739, which included present day Plymouth and Thomaston. Common land was set aside for the Society in 1747 on what was privately owned land that was acquired by the church. It was deeded to the society to be "used for a Public Green or Parade Ground and Burial Ground to be kept forever for the use and purpose." The green today encompasses the church, the Stoughton building next to it and the open green in front of and to the north of these buildings; about half of the original four acres of common land set aside. In 1895, the green was officially transferred to the First Congregational Church. It still owns and maintains the green as a public Common.

The present Congregational Church is the third such building constructed on the green. The first one is said to be built on the east side near the highway. The present one, built in 1838, is just about on the site of the second one which was erected in 1792. The Stoughton building was moved to its present site from North Street about where St. Peter's Episcopal Church now stands. St. Peter's was originally built on the green in the northwest corner in 1796 where it was destroyed by fire in 1915. School buildings were also constructed on the green but none exist today.

Early on, the green was used by the military for practicing drills. In 1792 when the second church was built, there was discussion of constructing it at the head of the street rather than on the green because it was swampy. In the mid-19th century, the green began its transformation from a common to a park. Elm and sycamore trees were planted in rows, a two-rail fence was erected around it, and the grass was allowed to grow and sold for hay. A late 19th century photograph shows it heavily planted with trees. Today, it serves a commemorative function and is still used as a gathering place for town events although the civic center of Plymouth has moved to Terryville.

The majority of the buildings framing the green are from the 19th century, but the 18th century is represented as well. Two of the oldest houses in Plymouth face the green, both dating from the mid-19th century. One served as a girls seminary for a few years in the mid-19th century and the other as a tavern on a popular stagecoach stop between Hartford and Litchfield.

The change in use of the buildings around the green is typical as is the case with the town hall, now used by the historical society, and the buildings on either side of it. The older building to its east has been used as a grocery store, luncheonette and post office over the years. Today the first floor is used as a furniture store. The building on the other side of the old Town Hall was used as a general store on the first floor for many years, and a place for public fathering and social events on the second floor. Presently, it is being used as a tool and die company factory. This change of use of the buildings around the green reflects the slow evolution of the function of the Plymouth Green. Initially, as the center of town, it served the civic and religious needs of the community. Gradually, it became the educational center as well as a place where people came to buy goods and socialize at the tavern, post office or general store. Today, the religious function is still important, but it is primarily the focus of a residential neighborhood bordered by a short commercial block.

The Plymouth Green is important as the historic center of town that initially and much of its history was the focus of civic and religious life. It still functions as religious center and as a gathering place. It maintains much of its 19th century flavor, despite intrusion of 20th century commercial-strip development.

 

 
 

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