Then & Now
Ridgefield is a place where you can experience and enjoy over 300 years of history and culture. Settled in 1708 by 25 original proprietors, the Town has gracefully transitioned from a small British colonial farming outpost into today’s vibrant caring community intent on remembering its past. Documenting our community’s unique historical identity, encouraging preservation and promoting knowledge and respect of local culture & traditions is Ridgefield’s Museum in the Streets, a town wide heritage discovery trail for the education and enjoyment of our entire community and its visitors. Featuring permanent markers at 33 “stations of history,” it brings our past to life with stories and photographs linking our history to the present day, such as these:
Main Street Then
Ridgefield’s Main Street “Village” has been the Town’s historic cultural & business center since its founding in the early 1700’s. Town Hall, its churches, retailers and meeting houses were all located here; and the street remained unpaved for carriages and early “motorcars” into the 1900’s.
Main Street Now
Today, Main Street’s “Village” looks much the same as it did 100+ years ago, with many of the original buildings still present and continuing to support a vibrant and varied retailing community. Its historic nature is maintained by its status as a designated Connecticut Village District, but with the thoroughfare now paved!!
Lounsbury Mansion Then
On this site in 1786, the Town’s Proprietors built Ridgefield’s first independent schoolhouse. By 1896, Connecticut Governor Phineas Lounsbury had completed his estate, Grovelawn, on this same site. It was an exact copy of the 1894 Chicago World’s Fair Connecticut Exposition building.
Lounsbury Mansion Now
Today, Gov. Lounsbury’s Mansion is preserved almost exactly as it was in the 1890’s and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It now serves as Ridgefield’s Community Center, providing facilities for community meetings & formal events and also for private receptions & functions.
The c. 1710 Indian Trading Post,” “Tuppence,” is believed to be one of Ridgefield’s oldest surviving structures. It operated for almost 250 years as a retailing & warehousing business in the Village location, surviving centuries of surrounding modernization and the Great Fire of 1895.
In the 1940’s, in order to preserve it for future generations (as has been done for dozens of Ridgefield’s 500+ historic properties), “Tuppence” was picked up and moved intact to a Historic District residential location on Main Street. It was then converted to a private residence and remains so today.
Ridgefield’s Residents have served in all our Nation’s conflicts, from the American Revolution’s Battle of Ridgefield and the Civil War, through to the second World War. And throughout its history, the Town has honored it veterans with memorials & statues; and beginning in the early 1900’s, with an annual ceremony of remembrance parade.
Ridgefield continues its historic community spirit by honoring all its Veterans with the annual Memorial Day Parade, one of the largest & best attended in the State. Complete with marching bands, military equipment, re-enactors of our colonial history, politicians, every Town organization’s membership and thousands of onlookers.