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Cannon Square

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Stonington was settled by a group of colonists from Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1649. First named Souther Towne in 1658, it was renamed Stonington in 1666. The name is descriptive, as the stony soil in the area made farming unprofitable.

Stonington Borough quickly became known as a maritime center, building and outfitting whaling and sealing ships and sending out fleets of cod-fishermen. One of the first whaling franchises ever granted in America was issued in Stonington in 1647.

In 1842 Stonington was established as a customhouse district, with the customhouse being active until 1913. From 1837 to 1904, Stonington Borough was the western terminus for the New York, Providence, and Boston Railroad. Travelers going from Boston to New York connected at Stonington and picked up a steamship that carried them on to New York. Stonington Borough today retains its 19th century character and ambience.

Cannon Square was assured of a prominent place in history by events of the War of 1812. From August 9 to 12, 1814, the village was bombarded by a British fleet made up of the ships Ramillies, Terror, Pactolus, Despatch, and Nimrod. From Cannon Square, two 18 pound cannons manned by the Connecticut militia defended the village. British casualties totaled 94, with only three militiamen wounded. After the war, the cannons were stored at the Stonington arsenal. In 1876, 130 citizens petitioned Congress to donate the cannons to the town. Congress released the cannons and they were removed to Cannon Square, where they remain today.

An 1851 map of the Borough of Stonington shows a Liberty Pole at the southern end of the square, and a 1905 photograph shows the square much as it is today but without the pine trees or flagpole. An ornate iron fountain for animals and people is shown opposite the southern end.

The significance of Cannon Square is derived form the events of August 9 to 12, 1914, when the Borough was defended against British attack. Today Cannon Square is hallowed ground and is an integral part of the Stonington Borough National Register District.



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