Historic Litchfield Town

Litchfield, a charming historic town in the central part of the Litchfield Hills is one of the better-known gems of Connecticut. In the center of town, the streets are lined with magnificent colonial homes that have been restored to their original colonial glory. Founded in 1721, Litchfield thrived in the period between 1784 to 1834, when it became a growing urban center. During this ‘Golden Age’, it was an active commercial and intellectual center, centered on a law school, created by Tapping Reeve, a local lawyer, as well as an academy for girls. The latter half of the century became a period of decline, but the town was rediscovered in the late 1800s, and it has become a place for vacation, resort and summer homes. After the centennial in 1876, Litchfield became a leader in the colonial revival movement, and many of the stately colonial homes were restored, removing any non-period additions and now stand proud in their white paint and black shutters. The village green, which was redesigned by  Frederick Law Olmsted, a well-known landscape architect of the 19th century, is lined on one side with shops and restaurants. It houses a small information booth, open from May to mid-October.

A white frame colonial building in the town center, now an antique shop sports the white with black colonial revival updates.

A white frame colonial building in the town center, now an antique shop sports the white with black colonial revival updates.

 

What to Photograph

Start your day in the town green, and walk along the row of houses across from the green. There are numerous white clapboard homes, often framed by white picket fences, and beautifully maintained gardens along the main street. The old Congregational Church, overlooks the historic town, is a good subject. Several colonial homes line the town green; doors and details on the historic houses provide some interest for close-up detail shots.

Details on the door of St. Michael's Episcopal Church.

Details on the door of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church.

 

The Tapping Reeve House houses the Historic Society. The one room law school sits on the property beside the house. Look for details in the house or gardens to photograph.

The Tapping Reeve House houses the Historic Society. The one room law school sits on the property beside the house. Look for details in the house or gardens to photograph.

On the opposite side of the green, walk along the small row of shops and restaurants. Some of the store displays make for interesting shots, and be sure to explore the area behind the main row of shops where there are more shops along the cobblestone. Take a look toward the sky for details along the rooftops. In the early morning, the steeple and other rooftops might be lined with birds.

A short walk along South Street (Route 63) and you will come to the Tapping Reeve House and Law School (82 South Street) and a few other historic church buildings and homes. Many of these buildings are quite close to the street, and are quite photogenic. The Law School is open only on weekends, but the house and one-room school  building is easily accessible for outside views at anytime.

If you’re feeling adventurous, follow Route 63 (Goshen Road) towards Goshen and explore some of the roads that run off it. Drive throughout the hills surrounding the town to discover rambling farms and estates. While you won’t be able to walk on the properties, there might be a place to stop along the road to capture the scenery, the stone walls or the well-kept barns, dotted with horses.

When to go

Any season is good for the architecture, and each season brings with it a flavor of its own. In winter, the white and black houses stand crisply framed with picket fences in the white snow, while in spring and summer, they are often surrounded by green and colorful gardens that give them a freshness of their own.  In fall, the colorful maples stand proudly adorning the stately and comfortable houses. This is a popular time to visit, when the hills are covered in a patchwork of reds, oranges and yellows.

Tourist Tips

White Memorial Conservation Center is located just minutes from historic Litchfield. This 4000 acre natural area is a good place to see and photograph all kinds of birds, local plants and wildlife along the trails, or around Bantam Lake and Bantam River that run through the preserve. Check the website for recent sightings of birds, animals and plants in bloom along the 35 miles of hiking trails.

http://www.whitememorialcc.org/  Located off Route 202 between Litchfield and Bantam, Connecticut, approximately 2 miles west of Litchfield on Whitehall Road.

A few local restaurants are found in the historic center.  One of our favorites for a good breakfast or lunch is Patti’s Family Restaurant, just south of town on Bantam Road. The omelets are delicious and offerings change with the season. Try the butternut squash and brie cheese omelet for a filling, tasty treat.

Patti’s Family Restaurant
495 Bantam Road,
Litchfield, CT

860-567-3335

For tasty home-made breads, try Bantam Breads, located just a few miles south on Bantam Road. Try the holiday bread, made all year long, or the ‘Dirt Bombs’, a tasty snack that is part cake, part donut.

Bantam Breads
853 Bantam Road,
Bantam, CT 06750
860-567-2737

Hours: Wed.-Sat., 8:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Sun., 8:00 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Tue., closed.

Directions

The Town Green,
Route 202,
Litchfield, CT 06759
 

GPS Coordinates: (for the junction of Route 63 and Route 202, where you will find the Town Green):  Latitude: 41.697435 N, Longitude: -73.106586 W

Parking is available alongside the Town Green which is located at the junction of Route 63 and Route 202. Parking meters are located in the town center.

Northwest CT Convention & Visitors Bureau
PO Box 968
Litchfield, CT 06759
860-567-4506

Email: info@litchfieldhills.com

Website: http://www.northwestct.com/

This entry was posted in Litchfield Hills and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Historic Litchfield Town

  1. In the 19, Paul and Florence Litchfield built their beautiful winter estate, Rancho La Loma, on the hill overlooking the town site.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *