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Tolland Green

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Records dated April 18, 1713 report laying out a road 20 rods wide along the north-south axis on Meeting House Hill with eight lots on the east side and nine lots on the west side. These lots were long and narrow (40 rods by 160 rods), typical of the land use patterns of Colonial America. It is generally assumed that this entry describes the initial development of what is now the town center of Tolland, the street mentioned having evolved into the green surrounded by Route 195.

Tolland was incorporated in 1714 and allowed to form an Ecclesiastical Society in 1722. The first meetinghouse was raised that year. According to town records, the proprietors first voted to build a meetinghouse in 1719 but were unable to agree upon a site. After several meetings, it was decided to erect it on a knoll at the southern end of the present green. The second meetinghouse was constructed on the road to the west of the present church. (Again, location was an issue. Town records show that even though there were only 21 admitted inhabitants in Tolland, there were 110 votes regarding its location in a vote taken in 1751.)

Material prepared by the Tolland Historic District committee describes the evolution of the green. As early as 1723, the east-west Old Post Road passed through Tolland, just north of the first meetinghouse. In 1722, a "train-band" was formed and the common became a militia training ground. After the second meetinghouse was erected in 1755, a road was constructed on either side of the common starting at the Old Post Road at the south and continuing north a quarter of a mile where it merged into a single road, thus forming the general boundaries of the present green.

In 1785, Tolland became the county seat and the County Court House was built on the green complete with stocks and whipping posts just north of Route 74. At the turn of the century, a complex of turnpikes connected Tolland with outlying towns and Tolland was further transformed into a thriving crossroads community. The green was used for large political gatherings, fairs (during which the green was turned into a half-mile race track), sports, Fourth of July celebrations and dances.

A new Court House was constructed in 1822 and the third Congregational Church in 1838. The earlier buildings were removed from the green, leaving it without buildings. The railroad passed Tolland by in the mid 19th century and growth slowed. As was typical during the period, sometime between 1870 and 1880, a Village Improvement Society was created and, among other things, it improved the green by removing fifty wagon loads of stone beneath the surface at the south end. With the advent of the automobile, Tolland started to grow again. The roads around the green were widened and paved and traffic increased along the green.

The Tolland Green was included in the original town plat and has remained the civic and religious center since the first meetinghouse was constructed in 1722. The buildings around it are representative of the 18th and 19th century and provide a stately backdrop for the historic landscape.



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