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The Burning of West Street Buildings, 1886, black-and-white photograph. Courtesy of the Litchfield Historical Society, Litchfield, Connecticut.

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Burnt Buildings, 1886, black-and-white photograph. Courtesy of the Litchfield Historical Society, Litchfield, Connecticut.

 
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eautification efforts continued after the Civil War under the auspices of the Litchfield Village Improvement Society, formed in 1875. The Society's doings around town focused attention on the importance of the Litchfield's appearance and were the first in a long series of efforts to recast the increasingly Victorian village in a "more historic" Colonial image. That desire may have been bolstered by the devastation wrought by two fires, in the summers of 1886 and 1888, which twice destroyed the wooden buildings lining West Street on the south side of the green.

  Whatever could be salvaged after the fire was temporarily placed on the green.

  A plan to remodel the brick replacement structures with Colonial storefronts was put forth in 1902 as part of a scheme to create a homogenous architecture and raise real estate values. In 1913 Olmsted Brothers, the noted landscape architecture partnership of brothers John Charles Olmsted and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., drafted a report for the park's redesign along more simple and natural lines.

  By the 1930s the village looked more "Colonial" than it did in the Colonial era. Images of the Litchfield Green and the surrounding architecture were used to sell everything from white paint to high-quality building lumber.

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Shrubbery Park, Litchfield, color postcard, circa 1910. Courtesy of the Litchfield Historical Society, Litchfield, Connecticut.

 
 
 

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