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Bolton Center Green

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Bolton was first settled in 1716 and incorporated in 1721 following a petition to General Court. Fifty house lots were created containing 100 acres each. Forty-nine of these went to the settlers and the 50th lot to the minister.

In a town meeting one year before the incorporation, it was voted to build a meetinghouse a little north of the town pound in the center of the present green. It was built in 1721. In 1768 a second meetinghouse was erected on the same site.

In 1796 the Hartford to Norwich Turnpike was built from Bolton to Franklin just to the east of the meetinghouse along the east side of the present green. The Turnpike cut through the common. This was the route taken by General Rochambeau and his army heading for Lebanon in the Winter of 1781. They camped nearby.

The brick house (c. 1800) in the Federal style at the northeast corner of the green became a stage coach stop and later a tavern on the Turnpike. In 1837 Jabez L. White established a post office and general store facing the green on the northwest corner. It remained in use as such until 1919 and is now a private residence. The common at the time was traversed by footpaths and extended in front of the post office/general store and tavern.

In 1848 a third and present meetinghouse was built on the east side of the Turnpike and Elisha K. Williams established a general store facing the green. The second meetinghouse in the center of the green was removed in 1050 and it became an open space. In 1852, S.P. Sumner & Co. cigar makers established a cigar making shop facing the green, Where the present Town Hall is located. Bolton also produced cider brandy and a stone quarry was founded there.

The development of the turnpike as a major route and access to the new railroad in the 1840s gradually affected major changes to the common and it became a clearly delineated green by the traffic routes around it. The 1865 map from the Tolland County Atlas shows the Bolton Center Green as a triangle much as it is today, with the boundaries of common land clearly marked and all these significant buildings located around it.

In 1881 the Bolton Library Association was created with donated books and located at the Williams General Store. In 1912 telephone service was extended to Bolton Center and utility poles were erected on the green.

The Community Hall and Library were built in 1914 with a large hall for local functions. Annual town meetings were held in the Congregational Church until the Community Hall was converted to the Town Hall in the 1950s.

With the claiming of land by the State Highway Department the old stage coach route, Bolton Centre Road, was realigned in the 1930s and part of the green was paved over. Common ground on either side of the road was maintained by the State Department of Transportation. In 1962 the road was given back to the town and hence the isolated strip of land to the northwest of the green, in front of the previous General Store, reverted to public use though it is maintained by the owner of the present residence.

Bolton Center green is an important place to the community and there is a sense of civic pride in its neat appearance and display of memorials. Historically it is the original center of Bolton and it is still the center of much activity with the schools nearby and the town offices and church facing west on to the green. The community tradition of singing Christmas carols around the fir tree is carried on.



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