The Norwichtown Green

The Norwichtown Green

Plaque sponsored by The State of Connecticut

Located at the intersection on Town Street, West Town Street, & East Town Street

In 1659 the Mohegan chief Uncas sold to settlers led by Major John Mason and the Reverend James Fitch “nine miles square,” part of which became Norwich. According to Frances M. Caulkin’s History of Norwich, “At the end of the first century… the church no longer necessary as a look-out post of the town, came down from the hill, and took its position at the corner of the Green… the place where trades, merchandise, public business, military exercises, shows, sports, festivals, and the general enterprise of the town, found a center.”

“The County Jail stood on the north side at the foot of the hill; the Court House was in the open area; the Post Office not far from the meeting house… taverns, schools, and shops alternating with private dwellings around the border.”

Opposition to British rule increased over the next few years and the residents erected Liberty Tree, “a lofty pole… decked with standards and appropriate devices… Here almost daily, people assembled to hear the news, make speeches, and encourage each other in the determinations to resist the oppression.”

Diah Manning Home

Diah Manning House

The picture of a proud Irish Mary Collins Stanley with her three boys Bill, Jim and Chick, taken over 100 years ago.

Plaque sponsored by the Major J. D. Robertson Family

Located on 85 Town Street

Samuel Manning, born in 1723, married Anne Winship in 1746. He died in 1783 and his widow, Anne, daughter Eunice and son Diah inherited the house. Diah was born in 1760. In 1784 he married Anna Gifford, daughter of James and Susanna (Hubbard) Gifford. He and his brother, Roger, served as drummers in the Revolutionary War. In 1775 Roger was in Colonel Israel Putnam’s regiment and Diah in the 8th Regiment under Colonel Jedediah Huntington. At Valley Forge in 1778 both brothers were chosen to be in Washington’s Body Guard, Diah being designated Drum Major. Diah carried to Major Andrè his breakfast on the morning of his execution.

Diah’s family was extremely kind to a young mulatto from Haiti who was captured by the Americans. His name was Jean Pierre Boyer who became president of the Republic of Haiti and later sent a present of $400 each to the widows of Consider Sterry and Diah Manning in return for their kindness to him in his captivity.

John Mason Home Lot

The picture of a proud Irish Mary Collins Stanley with her three boys Bill, Jim and Chick, taken over 100 years ago.

Plaque sponsored by the Gernon Trust

Located on 90 Town Street

The early life of John Mason in England (born circa 1600-01) is obscure. A Puritan, he served as an officer under Sir Thomas Fairfax, in the Netherlands against Spain. He made the 63 day passage to the Massachusetts Bay colony with Reverent Wareham’s party in 1630. One of the few experienced military men, he was elected captain at Dorchester, and eventually helped found Windsor, Connecticut, where the Connecticut River Indians had invited settlement.

In 1636, the first Pequot war began in New England, between Indians and the English. The colony had but a few hundred English inhabitants. Mason commanded a contingent of 90 soldiers, and with the principal aid of Uncas and the Mohegans, he defeated the powerful Pequot nation in 1637. Disobeying orders, he made strategic decisions of his own, which helped gain victory over a more numerous enemy. He lost 2 dead and 20 wounded. The Pequots lost hundreds. Many warriors and noncombatants alike perished when one of their forts was burned by Mason. The Pequots then retreated from Connecticut. Mason said of Uncas… “He was a great friend and great service.”

Major Mason was the chief military officer in the colony for 35 years. He was magistrate and major at Windsor for 8 years. He married his second wife, Anne Peck, after the death of his first wife, and he had altogether 8 children. A son, John Jr., was mortally wounded in King Philip’s War (another English/Indian struggle) in 1675. For the next 12 years he was placed in charge of a fort in Saybrook. In 1660, with his son-in-law, the Rev. James Fitch, he founded Norwich. During the first eight years, he was made deputy governor while Gov. Winthrop was in England seeking Connecticut’s charter form King Charles. He died January 30, 1672.

Meeting House Rocks

The picture of a proud Irish Mary Collins Stanley with her three boys Bill, Jim and Chick, taken over 100 years ago.

Located on West Town Street

The rocky ledge west of the Norwichtown Congregational Church was the site in 1675 of the second meeting house in Norwich. The place served a three-fold purpose as a place of worship, as a watchtower against the Indians, and as a garrison post. It is now a site for outdoor worship by the First Congregational Church.

Meeting House Rocks

The picture of a proud Irish Mary Collins Stanley with her three boys Bill, Jim and Chick, taken over 100 years ago.

First Congregational Church

First Congregational Church

The picture of a proud Irish Mary Collins Stanley with her three boys Bill, Jim and Chick, taken over 100 years ago.

Located on 81 East Town Street

This Church is the fifth meeting house erected in Norwich. The first meeting house, built around 1660, stood near the southeast corner of the Green. The second meeting house, erected in 1675, was on the summit of Meeting House Rocks and served as a lookout against Indian raids during King Philip’s War. The third meeting house was built on the hill near the site of the old one and completed in 1713.

The fourth Church was built at the corner of the Green, completed in 1770 and consumed to ashes in 1801 by a fire of incendiary origin. The cornerstone of the present Church, the fifth, was laid on June 18, 1801, by General Ebenezer Huntington.

The existing building is representative of the period when the huge, barn-like structures of the 18th century were becoming more ornate. This is evidenced by the square two-story tower and projecting portico which repeats the rather flat lines of the roof and the corner quoins of the main building. The structure was extensively remodeled in 1845 and in later years.

Jesse Brown Tavern

Jesse Brown Tavern

The picture of a proud Irish Mary Collins Stanley with her three boys Bill, Jim and Chick, taken over 100 years ago.

Located on 77 East Town Street

Jesse Brown married Anna Rudd, daughter of Nethaniel and Mary (Backus) Rudd of Franklin, Connecticut in 1769. They had six children. He participated in the Revolution by officiating as the Governor’s Post. As express agent and confidential messenger, he relayed the news of the occupation of Philadelphia by the British under Lord Howe. In 1781 he married his wife’s cousin, Lucy Rudd, daughter of Daniel and Mary (Metcalf) Rudd.

In 1790 he was licensed to open a tavern. He became the stage contractor and established lines between Boston and New York via Providence and Norwich.

On Wednesday evening, August 1, 1797 President John Adams and his wife were guests at the Jesse Brown Tavern. He was welcomed by the Matross Company in full uniform and honored with a sixteen-gun salute.

On of his daughters, Ann, married John Vernet who built the lovely home located at 118 Washington Street. The famous Vernet grape was first cultivated in the garden of Jesse Brown’s Tavern. Mr. Brown died in 1818 in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, where he lived with the Vernet family.

Extensively altered, it has been known as the Rock Nook Home for Children. The United Workers, the present owner, constitute the organized charities of Norwich and serve as The Public Health Agency. It is now home to the United Community and Family Services.

Silversmith & Schoolhouse on the Green

The picture of a proud Irish Mary Collins Stanley with her three boys Bill, Jim and Chick, taken over 100 years ago.

Plaque sponsored by Margot Hacker Gibbs

Located on 73 (Silversmith) & 69 (Schoolhouse) East Town Street

Once upon a time in Norwich, about 1773, Joseph Carpenter, II, a clockmaker and goldsmith, has this building constructed. It served him and his brother, Gardner, in jewelry, clocks, engravings and mercantile. It is thought to be the only remaining wooden silversmith/goldsmith structure surviving in New England.

At the close of the American Revolution, in the same year that Paris Treaty was signed, 1783, this brick schoolhouse was constructed on the Green. It was named for Dr. Daniel Lathrop who left a legacy of 500 pounds for an endowed free grammar school. Later it was occupied by the Noah Webster Literary Association and is one of the earliest brick schoolhouses still standing in the state.

The picture of a proud Irish Mary Collins Stanley with her three boys Bill, Jim and Chick, taken over 100 years ago.


Jedehiah Huntington Home

Jedediah Huntington Home

The picture of a proud Irish Mary Collins Stanley with her three boys Bill, Jim and Chick, taken over 100 years ago.

Located on 23 East Town Street

General Jedediah Huntington was born in 1743, the son of General Jabez and Elizabeth (Backus) Huntington. He graduated from Harvard College with honors, and then went into business with his father. He became a valiant soldier during the Revolution and fought courageously during the Battle of Bunker Hill, from which he emerged a Colonel.

After the Battle of Bunker Hill he fought in New York and Pennsylvania. He endured the hardships of Valley Forge and helped repulse the British at Danbury, Connecticut, in 1776. In 1777, at General Washington’s request, he was made a Brigadier General and at the end of the war received the commission of Major General. After the war he served many important positions such as High Sheriff for the County of New London, Judge of Probate for the district of Norwich, First Alderman of the city of Norwich, one of the representatives of the town in the State Legislature. He was one of the founders of the Order of Cincinnati.

He married Faith Trumbull in 1766, daughter of Governor Jonathan Trumbull of Lebanon, Connecticut. They had one son, Jabez. After her death he married Ann Moore of New York. They had seven children.

General Jedediah Huntington was the first collector of U.S. Customs under the Federal Constitution. He was appointed in 1789 by General Washington, removed to New London and built a home there at the corner of Broad and Washington Streets. He died in New London in 1818 at the age of 75. He was initially buried in New London but his remains were later removed to Norwich and buried in the old burying grounds near the Green.

This house contains a very handsome staircase with mahogany rail and rope balusters.

Bradford-Huntington Home

Bradford-Huntington Home

The picture of a proud Irish Mary Collins Stanley with her three boys Bill, Jim and Chick, taken over 100 years ago.

Located on 16 Huntington Lane

Thought to be Norwich’s oldest house, this house is one of the three remaining structures built by a founder. It was built in different sections at various periods. In 1691 Simon Huntington Jr., purchased the land and “new dwelling house.” Additions to the house were attributed to him. In 1719 Simon’s son, Joshua, obtained the homestead. The heavy, plain, box cornice, the attic over hang, and the pediments over the end windows are all primitive features of the 1719 addition.

The broad rear ell along Huntington Lane was built by Joshua’s son, General Jabez Huntington, a wealthy West Indian trader who came into possession of the property in 1745. He installed much of the fine paneling. Some of the shutters have heart-shaped openings, and the double door on the ell is studded with nails in diamond patters. The interior hardware is notable. Leaden sash weights from this old house were cast into bullets during the Revolution.

General Jabez Huntington was born in 1719. After graduating from college in 1741 he entered into commercial life in Norwich, added largely to his father’s ample fortune, and at the beginning of the Revolution, owned a large number of vessels engaged in foreign trade. Though fully aware of the risk in his business, he was an ardent participant in the War of Independence. He gave largely of his fortune for the cause.

General Jedediah Huntington was one of their sons, born August 4, 1743. In 1741-2 he married Elizabeth, daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth (Tracy) Backus. She died in 1745. He then married Hannah, daughter of the Reverend Ebenezer Williams of Pomfret.

According to Crofut’s Guide to Historic Sites, George Washington spent the night of April 8, 1775 at this house. Lafayette is said to have been entertained here during some of visits to Norwich.

Samuel Huntington Home

Samuel Huntington Home

The picture of a proud Irish Mary Collins Stanley with her three boys Bill, Jim and Chick, taken over 100 years ago.

Plaque sponsored by the Gernon Trust

Located on 34 East Town Street

Lawyer, judge, diplomat, and President of the Continental Congress, Samuel Huntington left an indelible mark on the history of Norwich and the United States. His life reflected the independence and ambition of a growing nation. He saw Norwich change from a colonial possession to membership within a republic larger than any nation in Europe.

A descendent of Norwich’s founding fathers, Huntington was born in Scotland, Connecticut in 1731. From an early age, Huntington displayed intelligence and a desire to do more than was expected of him. While apprenticed as a cooper, he made time to teach himself Latin. This zest for learning caught the attention of Rev. Ebenezer Devotion, who urged young Samuel to continue his education, by allowing him access to his extensive library and introducing him to Eliphalet Dyer and Jedediah Elderkin. Prominent lawyers and patriots, these men shaped Huntington’s future by schooling him in the law. Passing the bar exam in 1758, Huntington soon married Martha Devotion (daughter of Re. Ebenezer), and moved to Norwich in 1760. Four short years later, he was elected as Norwich’s representative to the Connecticut General Assembly. A year later, he rallied his constituents to stand firm against the dreaded Stamp Act.

Over the next twenty years Huntington’s reputation for fairness and integrity grew. He was appointed superior court judge and justice of the peace. In 1775, he was named a delegate to the Continental Congress. Professional growth was matched by personal growth when he adopted three of his relative’s children and raised them as his own.

The many years of dedicated service resulted in Huntington being elected President of the second Continental Congress from 1779-1781. His service as President of the Continental Congress coincided with the ratifications with the Articles of the Confederation and Perpetual Union, our first Constitution, which declared that whoever is President of the Continental Congress shall serve as President of the United States.

On March 1, 1781 Maryland became the final state to ratify the Articles of Confederation, thus making Norwich’s Samuel Huntington the first President of the United States in Congress Assembled. This is and undeniably true fact.

Unfortunately, due to health problems, Huntington tried to retire from public service later in 1781, but was to continue in elected public office. In 1784, he became Connecticut’s Chief Justice, and in 1786, Governor of Connecticut, a post he would occupy for ten years. A testament of his popularity as Norwich’s adopted son was that in his last election for governor, he received all 900 votes from Norwich’s eligible voters. Huntington died on January 5, 1796 at age 64.

His home on East Town Street, built in 1783, is a reflection of a modest man who achieved greatness as Governor, Chief Justice, President of the Continental Congress and first President of the United States of America under the Articles of Confederation in Congress Assembled.