Way Back When … 1639
As the Fairfield Museum, the Town of Fairfield, many local businesses and hundreds of families get excited for this Sunday’s Halloween on the Green, let’s take a look back at the historic Town Green and Museum Commons, on which the festivities will take place.
The Green was first laid out in 1639 on the land purchased from the native Unquowa, who had maintained season camps on the site for centuries. At that time, Roger Ludlow, the Connecticut Colony’s first lieutenant governor, divided the land into four squares. The town court and jail occupied one square, the parsonage another, and residences filled the other two squares. The town’s Congregational Meeting house was the hub of religious, social and political activity.
Even though Fairfield quickly expanded beyond this center, the Green continued to be the focal point of the community. The Declaration of Independence was read aloud there in 1776, a feast was held there to celebrate the end of the War of 1812, and two presidents, George Washington and Ronald Reagan, stood there. In the mid-1800s citizens graced their livestock on the Green, giving it an unkempt appearance and stench. This motivated the town to transform it into a pleasant “common” space.
Today, visitors can walk on the Town Green and Museum Commons and take self-guided tours, following interpretive signs that point out nine important landmarks. The signage provides information about Fairfield’s fascinating past. Visitors can learn about Wolves Swamp and Fairfield’s Native American legacy, the Old Burying Ground (where the town’s founders were laid to rest), the Victorian Cottage & Barn, Sun Tavern (where George Washington once visited), Edward’s Pond (where Fairfield’s witch trials took place), the Old Academy Schoolhouse, Burr Mansion (the site of the wedding of John Hancock and Dorothy Quincy) and Old Town Hall.
As ghosts, superheroes, witches, and princesses walk on the Town Green on Sunday for Halloween on the Green, keep in mind that this is the same land where Native Americans, suspected “witches,” some of our nation’s founders, British soldiers, and Revolutionary War spies all walked as well. Happy Halloween!
The Fairfield Museum & History Center and Museum Shop, located at 370 Beach Road, is open seven days a week, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Members of the Museum and children under 5 are admitted free. For more information, call 203-259-1598 or visit Fairfieldhistory.org.