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Canterbury Green

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Settlement of the area later known as Canterbury began in the last decade of the 17th century. In 1703 it was separated from Plainfield and incorporated as Canterbury. In 1705, Robert Green sold 3.5 acres of land "to build and erect a meeting house on, or for training, or any other use the said inhabitants of Canterbury shall see a use for." However, construction did not begin on a meetinghouse until at least 1711. It was erected on the green at its highest point where the present church now stands.

Presently the green comprises an area of about 1.5 acres. Additional research is needed to determine the original shape of the green and the disbursement of those pieces that were originally common land. It is speculated that the original portions were sold to finance construction of earlier churches. It was assumed that the Congregational Church owned the green until 1991 when controversy over a children's play set on the green initiated the search. It was confirmed that it is owned by the Town of Canterbury.

The green is primarily surrounded by houses dating from the last half of the 18th century and the early 19th century. The most significant is the Prudence Crandall House (1805) a private school that in 1833 was opened to "young ladies and misses of color." The structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the controversey that ensued is described therein. The house across the street and to the north of the green was also an academy for a while. The library at the southwest corner is the only non-residential building facing the green.

The present church, built in 1960, replaces an earlier church that was burned in the 1950s.

Although the Canterbury Green has grown smaller over the years, it represents the original site of the Canterbury meetinghouse and the center of the community which formed around it. It still maintains much of its late-18th and early-19th century character.



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