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Ellington Town Green

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Ellington was originally part of Windsor and known as East Farms/the Great Marsh. In 1735, a separate parish named Ellington, was established in Windsor to serve the settlers. In 1768, when East Windsor (formerly Windsor Farms) was incorporated, Ellington Parish became part of it. In 1786, Ellington was incorporated as a town. An early settler was Reverend John McKinistry upon whose property the first meetinghouse was apparently built in 1739, on what is now the West Green. Only 2 acres out of the original 50 acres was purchased, in 1900 by Francis Hall for a library site in honor of his father, John Hall and brother Edward, local educators and founders of the Hall Schools. The site was purchased from Chauncey C. Chapman, and donated to the town to be used for a library, with the understanding that the remainder of the site would be curbed and maintained as a green.

The East Green became property of the Ecclesiastical Society in 1806 when it was purchased from Levi Wells for the site of the second meetinghouse which was dedicated in that year. It stood facing south on the green until 1867 (when it was moved to Rockville and converted to an opera house).

A map of that period dated 1857 is readily recognizable as Ellington today. Maple Street (Route 140) coming from the northwest and Main Street (Route 286) coming from the southwest converge at the green. But just before they meet they turn toward the northeast and southeast and continue on their way. The East Green with the church erected upon it is readily apparent on the map. The West Green, however, appears as part of the larger intersection and not as a separate entity. Many of the buildings that lined the street then are still standing, reflecting the most prosperous era of Ellington as a farming community.

Cole describes events relating to the green when the second meetinghouse stood upon it. Early on, it was used as a place for military training when the attendant crowd would "frequently become intoxicated." After the state militia was disbanded, the green was turned over to the hogs and cattle as pasture, which often made use of the shaded side of the meetinghouse during hot days. Reverend Nathaniel Eggleston brought this problem before the congregation in a "scathing sermon on the desecration of the House of God." The result was the creation of "Church Park". Trees were planted and the area was fenced to keep the animals out. According to Cole, this took place about 1845. If the date is accurate, the fence he mentioned would not be the present fence around the green.

The third church was erected in 1868 on the site of the present church which was built in 1915 after the previous one was destroyed by fire. The present green and streetscape represent the town center very much as it appeared at the end of the 19th century.

Four Congregational churches have stood on or near the present day green in Ellington since the first one was constructed in 1739. The erection of the meetinghouse established the green as the center of civic and religious life of the community and the visual focus of the town of Ellington. It still functions as the town center today and appears much as it did at the end of the 19th century.



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