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Willington Town Common

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Present day Willington was purchased from the General Assembly by land speculators in 1720. It was incorporated as Wellington in 1727. That same year it was decided to approve the road presently known as Route 44 that was originally surveyed under the direction of Major Roger Wolcott in 1723 who later became governor of the Connecticut Colony.

It was also voted that the meetinghouse should be located "in most convenient place near center of town." The meetinghouse was not erected until about 1735 on what is now the green which, according to the report of the Local Historic District Study Committee, was on land then owned by John Watson. He was not one of the original proprietors but an assignee of George Clark who was. The Study Committee's report indicates that land deeded to the town in 1757 by Nathaniel Hovey and again in 1762 by Moses Holmes included property that has become the present common.

A new meetinghouse was built south of the original one in 1796 and for three years they both stood on the east end of the green before the older one was removed.

Willington developed as the center of a rural crossroads village as exemplified by the David Glazier Tavern (1815) where town meetings were held in the winter months during the second quarter of the 19th century, and the Miner Grant Store l(1797), a rare survival of an 18th century commercial building located at the southeast corner of the green.

By the time the Congregational Church and Town Hall were built in 1876, the present streetscape was established, as all the buildings predate the construction of these two important buildings. In 1926, the Congregational Church was converted to the town hall. The Baptist Meetinghouse (1829) later became the Federated Church of Willington when the Baptist and Congregational churches merged. In 1974, the focus of civic life of the community was changed when the town offices were moved from the Congregational Church to a converted factory building on Old Farms Road south of the green.

Traffic across the common was relatively unregulated (again, according to the Study Committee report) until 1920 when a road that provided a shortcut across it was discontinued in order to make room for the World War One monument. In 1925, Common Road was recognized as a public highway which further served to keep traffic off the green.

The Willington Green and the buildings surrounding it are representative of the crossroad community as it existed in the last half of the 19th century. The green itself is the location of the first and second meetinghouses and today remains the religious center of the community. It was the civic center as well until 1974 when town offices were moved to the converted Parizek button factory south of the green on Old Farms Road.

 

 
 

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