Wethersfield, Connecticut

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Wethersfield, Connecticut
Town
Joseph Webb and Isaac Stevens Houses
Joseph Webb and Isaac Stevens Houses
Official seal of Wethersfield, Connecticut
Seal
Motto: Ye Most Auncient Towne in Connecticut [1]
Location within Hartford County, Connecticut
Location within Hartford County, Connecticut
Wethersfield is located in the US
Wethersfield
Wethersfield
Wethersfield is located in Connecticut
Wethersfield
Wethersfield
Location in the contiguous United States and Connecticut
Coordinates: 41°42′51″N 72°39′09″W / 41.71417°N 72.65250°W / 41.71417; -72.65250
WETHERSFIELD CONNECTICUT Latitude and Longitude:

41°42′51″N 72°39′09″W / 41.71417°N 72.65250°W / 41.71417; -72.65250
Country United States
State Connecticut
NECTA Hartford
Region Capitol Region
Settled 1634
Incorporated 1822
Government
 • Type Council-manager
 • Town manager

Jeff Bridges

Area
 • Total 13.1 sq mi (34.0 km2)
 • Land 12.3 sq mi (31.9 km2)
 • Water 0.8 sq mi (2.1 km2)
Elevation 43 ft (13 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 26,668
 • Density 2,000/sq mi (780/km2)
Time zone Eastern ( UTC-5)
 • Summer ( DST) Eastern ( UTC-4)
ZIP code 06109
Area code(s) 860
FIPS code 09-84900
GNIS feature ID 212042 [2]
Website www.wethersfieldct.com

Wethersfield is a town in Hartford County, Connecticut, United States. [2] It is located immediately south of Hartford along the Connecticut River. Its population was 26,668 in the 2010 census. [3]

Many records from colonial times spell the name "Weathersfield", while Native Americans called it "Pyquag". [4] "Watertown" is a variant name. [2]

The town is primarily served by Interstate 91. The neighborhood known as Old Wethersfield is the state's largest historic district, spanning 2 sq mi (5.2 km2) and 1,100 buildings, dating back to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

History

Founded in 1634 by a Puritan settlement party of "10 Men" including John Oldham, Robert Seeley, Thomas Topping and Nathaniel Foote, Wethersfield is arguably the oldest town in Connecticut, [5] [6] depending on one's interpretation of when a remote settlement qualifies as a "town". Along with Windsor and Hartford, Wethersfield is represented by one of the three grapevines on the Flag of Connecticut, signifying the state's three oldest European settlements. [7] [8] The town took its name from Wethersfield, a village in the English county of Essex.

During the Pequot War, on April 23, 1637, Wongunk chief Sequin attacked Wethersfield with Pequot help. They killed six men and three women, a number of cattle and horses, and took two young girls captive. They were daughters of Abraham Swain or William Swaine (sources vary) and were later ransomed by Dutch traders. [9]

Four witch trials and three executions for witchcraft occurred in the town in the 17th century. Mary Johnson was convicted of witchcraft and executed in 1648, Joan and John Carrington in 1651. [10] Landowner Katherine Harrison was convicted, and although her conviction was reversed, she was banished and her property seized by her neighbors. [11] [12]

From 1716 to 1718, Yale University was located in Wethersfield. [13] [14]

The Wethersfield elm, pictured in 1917, was the largest in New England at 27 ft (8.2 m) in circumference. [14]

Silas Deane, commissioner to France during the American Revolutionary War, lived in the town. His house is now part of the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum. In May 1781, at the Webb House on Main Street, General George Washington and French Lt. Gen. Rochambeau planned the Siege of Yorktown, which culminated in the independence of the then rebellious colonies.

The Wethersfield Volunteer Fire Department was chartered by the Connecticut Legislature on May 12, 1803, making it the first formally chartered fire department in Connecticut, and is one of the oldest chartered volunteer fire department in continuous existence in the United States. [15]

Wethersfield was "for a century at least, the centre of the onion trade in New England", during the late 1700s and early to middle 1800s. [16] "Outsiders dubbed the Connecticut village 'Oniontown,' with a crosshatch of affection and derision, for this was home of the world-famous Wethersfield red onion." [17]

In addition, the town was home to William G. Comstock, a well-known 19th century gardening expert and author of the era's most prominent gardening book, Order of Spring Work. In 1820, Comstock founded what would become Comstock, Ferre & Company, [18] [19] currently America's oldest continuously operating seed company, pioneering the commercial sale of sealed packets of seeds as he had learned from the Amish. Other nationally prominent seed companies in and around the town are the offspring of this agricultural past. [17] [20]

A meteorite fell on Wethersfield on November 8, 1982. It was the second meteorite to fall in the town in the span of 11 years, and crashed through the roof of a house without injuring the occupants, as the first Wethersfield meteorite had also done. The 1971 meteorite was sold to the Smithsonian, and the 1982 meteorite was taken up as part of a collection at the Yale Peabody Museum. [21] [22]

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 13.1 square miles (34.0 km2), of which 12.3 square miles (31.9 km2) is land and 0.81 square miles (2.1 km2), or 6.10%, is water. [3]

Wethersfield is bordered by Hartford on the north, Rocky Hill on the south, Newington on the west, and across the Connecticut River by East Hartford on the northeast and Glastonbury on the east.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1820 3,825
1840 3,824
1850 2,523 −34.0%
1860 2,705 7.2%
1870 2,693 −0.4%
1880 2,173 −19.3%
1890 2,271 4.5%
1900 2,637 16.1%
1910 3,148 19.4%
1920 4,342 37.9%
1930 7,512 73.0%
1940 9,644 28.4%
1950 12,533 30.0%
1960 20,561 64.1%
1970 26,662 29.7%
1980 26,013 −2.4%
1990 25,651 −1.4%
2000 26,271 2.4%
2010 26,668 1.5%
Est. 2014 26,446 [23] −0.8%
U.S. Decennial Census [24]

As of the 2000 census, [25] there were 26,268 people, 11,214 households, and 7,412 families residing in the town. The population density was 2,119.9 people per square mile (818.7/km²). There were 11,454 housing units at an average density of 924.3 per square mile (356.9/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 93.19% White, 2.09% Black or African American, 0.08% Native American, 1.58% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.82% from other races, and 1.22% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.19% of the population.

There were 11,214 households, out of which 25.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.9% were married couples living together, 9.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.9% were non-families. 30.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.89.

The town population was distributed with 20.1% under the age of 18, 4.8% from 18 to 24, 26.6% from 25 to 44, 25.1% from 45 to 64, and 23.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. For every 100 females there were 86.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.4 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $53,289, and the median income for a family was $68,154. (These figures had risen to $66,044 and $86,432 respectively as of a 2007 estimate.) [26] Males had a median income of $43,998 versus $37,443 for females. The per capita income for the town was $28,930. About 2.4% of families and 4.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.8% of those under age 18 and 5.5% of those age 65 or over.

Economy

The Connecticut Department of Correction and the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles have their headquarters in Wethersfield. [27] [28]

Due to its proximity to Hartford, Wethersfield is home to a number of State of Connecticut agencies:

  • The Department of Motor Vehicles office and testing location at 60 State Street.
  • The Department of Labor is headquartered at 200 Folly Brook Boulevard.
  • The Department of Correction is headquartered at 24 Wolcott Hill Road.
  • The Superior Court Operations Unit is located at 225 Spring Street.
  • The Court Support Services Division is located at 936 Silas Deane Highway.

The Wethersfield Chamber of Commerce has over 150 member institutions [29] and hosts community events throughout the year. [30]

Arts and culture

Landmarks and historic district

Three buildings in Wethersfield are designated as historic landmarks by the National Register of Historic Places:

In 1970, Old Wethersfield, the district bounded by Hartford, the railroad tracks, I-91 and Rocky Hill, was added to the National Register of Historic Places. This is the largest historic district in Connecticut, with two square miles containing 1,100 buildings, many dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. [17]

Other points of interest

Wethersfield Cove

Music

The historic First Church of Christ, Wethersfield, is the home of the Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival USA,. [36]

The Wethersfield Historical Society sponsors free outdoor concerts throughout the summer. [37]

Community events

Community Events
Event Time of Year Location Organizer
Cove Park Fireworks [30] Early June Cove Park Wethersfield Chamber of Commerce
Wethersfield Farmers Market [38] Summer Thursdays 220 Hartford Avenue Wethersfield EDIC & Tourism Commission
Wethersfield Cornfest [30] Mid-September Broad Street Green Wethersfield Chamber of Commerce
Scarecrows Along Main Street [30] Early Fall Main Street Wethersfield Chamber of Commerce
Cove Side Carnival [39] Mid-October Cove Park Keane Foundation
Holidays on Main [30] Early December Broad Street Green Wethersfield Chamber of Commerce

Sports

Running

The Old Wethersfield 5K & 10K is an annual road race that takes place in the Old Wethersfield section of town. Both races begin and end at Cove Park on Hartford Avenue. [40] The event is put on by the Hartford Marathon Foundation and typically takes place at the end of August. The 2017 edition of the 10K is the state championship race for the USATF Connecticut Grand Prix Series [41] as well as the final event of the HMF 10K Challenge Series. [42]

Education

The Wethersfield public school system encompasses Wethersfield High School, Silas Deane Middle School, and five elementary schools: Highcrest School, Charles Wright School, Emerson-Williams School, Alfred W. Hanmer School, and Samuel B. Webb School.

In addition to traditional public schools, Wethersfield also offers parochial and magnet school choices. The CREC Discovery Academy is a Pre-Kindergarten through 5th grade magnet school designed with a focus on STEM education. The Corpus Christi School is a Catholic school of approximately 400 students from Pre-Kindergarten through 8th grade. It was one of only fifty private schools named as a 2012 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Secretary of Education, in the category of "Exemplary High Performing." [43]

Government

Federal

Congressional Representatives [44] [45]
Representative Chamber Party
Richard Blumenthal Senate Dem
Chris Murphy Senate Dem
John Larson House of Representatives Dem

State

General Assembly Representatives [45]
Representative Chamber District Party
John Fonfara Senate 1st Dem
Paul Doyle Senate 9th Dem
Russ Morin House of Representatives 28th Dem
Anthonio Guerrera House of Representatives 29th Dem

Municipal

Town Council Representatives [46]
Representative Position Party
Paul Montinieri Mayor Dem
Steve Barry Deputy Mayor Dem
Donna Hemmann Council-member Rep
Mike Hurley Council-member Rep
Michael Rell Council-member Rep
Tony Martino Council-member Dem
Amy Bello Council-member Dem
Jodi Latina Council-member Rep
Anthony Spinella Council-member Dem

Infrastructure and services

Transportation

Bus

Greater Hartford's major system of public transportation is currently Connecticut Transit (CT Transit), a Connecticut Department of Transportation-owned bus service operating routes throughout the New Haven, Stamford, Hartford and other metro areas. Wethersfield is served by route numbers 20, 43, 47, 53, 55, 61, and 91. [47]

Roads

Major roads include:

Rail

Wethersfield was once connected to Hartford by streetcar [48] [49] and by passenger service on the Valley Railroad. Its tracks still provide a route for sporadic freight trains between Hartford and Old Saybrook. Currently, the Hartford station serves the town.

Police

The Wethersfield Police Department is headquartered at 250 Silas Deane highway. In addition to normal police service, the department maintains a Marine Patrol Unit, a Special Response Dive Team, a Special Response Tactics Team, a DARE youth drug awareness program, and a Police Explorer program. [50]

Fire services

The town has three volunteer fire stations. [51] The year 2003 marked the formal 200th Anniversary of the Wethersfield Volunteer Fire Department. Wethersfield has the oldest volunteer fire company in Connecticut, and in New England.

Postal services

The United States Postal Service operates the Wethersfield Post Office at 67 Beaver Rd. The Town zip code is 06109. [52] The Wethersfield Post Office is a fully trained United States Passport acceptance facility. [53]

Notable people

In popular culture

Wethersfield was the setting for the children's novel The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, as well as the setting of the one-act play The Valiant by Holworthy Hall and Robert Middlemass.

Actor-turned-author Thomas Tryon used his native Wethersfield as the setting for his action/romance novels The Wings of the Morning and In the Fire of Spring, as well as a mystery/horror novel and film The Other.

The short film Disneyland Dream features the Barstow family from Wethersfield, including footage of their neighborhood.

The novel Parrot and Olivier in America by two-time Booker Prize-winning Australian author Peter Carey was largely set in the town of Wethersfield. The novel touches on some hallmarks of its history including the predominance of onion farming and the old state prison.


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