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Naugatuck Green

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Naugatuck was established as the Salem Society in 1773. The first meetinghouse was constructed on the east side of the Borough C. 1782. This church was moved across the Naugatuck River in 1831 and situated on the northeast corner of the present green on property donated by a prominent local inn keeper, Daniel Beecher. That same year, the Episcopalian congregation moved its Millville church to the northeast corner. The area between the churches was reserved for public use and it was here on a summer day in 1844 that the first town meeting was held on the green during which the public officials were elected.

In 1852, a two-story school house (the Naugatuck High School was located on the second floor) was built on the green near the present location on Meadow Street. When the Episcopal Church built its present church (c. 1876), the first church was moved to the west end of the green and used as the school house. The Congregational Church was replaced by a second church in 1854. (The first one was moved across the street and used as a store.)

In 1888, the focal point of the green was established when funds were raised partially by private subscription for a Civil War monument erected near the center of the green between the two churches facing Church Street.

Major changes occurred to the green and streetscape around the turn of the century, mainly through the influence of John Howard Whittmore, a civic minded industrialist who made his fortune in a partnership with Bronson Turrle manufacturing small items of malleable iron. Between 1893 and 1905, he contracted with the firm of McKim Mead & White to design the Howard Whitmore Memorial Library, the Salem School, the Congregational Church, the First Naugatuck National Bank, and the Hillside High School. With the exception of the bank, all are standing and three of them face the green. The old school was removed from the green, as was the Congregational Church. As part of the overall plan, the firm also landscaped the green. At the same time, the property owned by the Congregational Church at the northwest corner (where the first two churches were located), and a strip of property along the southern edge owned by the Episcopal Church, was leased to the town on a long term basis to ensure that it is "kept and maintained as a public park by the town, in good condition."

The Naugatuck Green is the result of the generosity of a private individual who set aside the property in 1831 as a site for the Congregational and Episcopal churches, and later a school house. The green appears today very much as it did at the end of the 19th century when the architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White landscaped the open space and designed several of the institutional buildings presently facing it. As such, it is the only green in Connecticut designed by a major American architectural firm as the focal point of a larger scheme that includes several of the institutional buildings presently facing the green.

 

 
 

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