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Libby Kellogg Green

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This small but significant space was Bethel's first public green, created a few decades after Bethel was constituted a town by the General Assembly in 1855. The nucleus of the original settlement of the Eastbury parish of Danbury was the Congregational meetinghouse, located east of this site on Main Street. In 1871 the Shepaug Railroad was completed through the town, its tracks descending Main Street to a roundhouse west of this site where the Bethel Town Hall is presently located. Earlier maps in 1852 and 1867 show no green, only a very wide Main Street. By the 1880s, however, this green was in existence. Sporting an ornate bandstand (see attached photocopy of Eureka Hose Company standing in front of the green, c. 1890). The bandstand was gone by the early 1900s, but the green survived. Its continued existence was jeopardized in the town's 1958 master plan, which called for eliminating it as a traffic hazard and for the creation of a four-way intersection in its place. No action was taken on the recommendation, however, until 1984 when town selectmen called for its implementation. Residents, led by Elizabeth Kellogg of the Bethel Historical Society and the Bethel Conservation Commission, mounted a petition drive and forced a referendum in October 1984 that ended the threat temporarily. In April 1986 the Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission recommended that the selectmen again look at the intersection. The selectmen again called for the elimination of the green and creation of a traffic light. But with no money available for the project, First Selectman Clifford Hurgin created a traffic committee and a series of meetings were held with residents in which a number of proposals, including reducing the size of the green and making Main Street one-way on either side of the green, were discussed. In October 1986 a one-way traffic pattern was put into effect and in 1988 the green was reshaped as part of the work on municipal water mains. Elizabeth Kellogg, who led the original fight to save the green because of its New England flavor, died in 1989 and subsequently the town erected a memorial marker to her years of public service and placed it on this spot along with plantings. Hurgin reportedly refers to this spot as "the Libby Kellog Green."

This small green is significant for its historical associations with Bethel and, along with P.T. Barnum Square, as a part of a sequence of public spaces along Wooster Street, which should be included in any National Register Historic District in downtown Bethel.

 

 
 

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