Wolcott Historical Society News - September 2016
By Florence Goodman
This month I will return to my discussion of old barns that have stood the test of time. Three properties in the central section of our town will be investigated. They are found on Woodtick and Bound Line Roads and Center Street.
Recently while talking to Walter Atwood about old barns left on their property, he shared an interesting story about an old tree still standing along the roadside. He called it the "Grand Junction" tree and said it stands at the location where three hiking trails met; they were the Tunxis, Mattatuck and Quinnipiac Trails thus the name. The trails no longer run through this section of town, but the tree still stands tall not far from the "Grand Junction" barn, which he built in 1992. This large red two-story barn replaced the original barn that stood not far from where the new barn stands. There is another smaller pole barn on the property that Walter built in 1990 and is used to store farm equipment. The only original barn still standing on the property is an old oxen barn. The purpose of this barn was for shoeing oxen because they must be lifted off the ground in order to be shoed. Something I never knew, thank you, Walter.
I would also like to give a corrected history of the Miles Upson/Atwood House, which is located on this property. This house, which is located at 1089 Woodtick Road, originally belonged to their ancestor Miles Upson. Miles bought three hundred fifty-acres of land in 1860, which included a small house. By 1864 he had built a new colonial style house converting the original house into a carriage shed, which in later years became a garage. When Miles Upson died, the property was passed down to his daughter Martha Upson Cole. In 1903 when she died, the property was passed down to her children. In 1924 Florence Cole Atwood and her husband Lyman bought the house and about 250 acres of land from her siblings. In the early 1960s they sold about 200 acres of land east of Woodtick Road, part of which was developed into Lindsley Drive. In 1988 Florence died on her 88th birthday and the property was left to her grandsons Walter and Clayton Atwood. In 2013 they sold twenty-four acres of land to Community Counseling Center, a not-for profit therapeutic organization, which operates three days a week out of the "Grand Junction" barn as "Pillwillop Therapeutic Farm." Today Walter and his brother Clayton retain ownership of the farmhouse and twenty-five acres of woodlot. Walter still sells Christmas trees, and wreaths at the farm. Fred Weik has been the chief farmer for five years as well as teaching and mentoring numerous volunteers. Walter states, "I am more of a woodsman than a farmer, so Fred's contribution has been a necessary component to re-establishing food production and renewing the soil on the farm. Fred has a passion for teaching people how to feed themselves and how good fresh, local produce can be."
The next house, which is, located at 49 Center Street has an interesting history. This one and one-half story cape was built in 1777 for Lt. Josiah Rogers, who a year later sold 1-¼ acres of land to his son-in-law Josiah Atkins for "eight pounds". It is believed that the house was included in this sale as a gift from father to daughter; the house became known as the Josiah Atkins House. In 1781 Atkins enlisted in the army and died in October of that same year, a Revolutionary War hero. The Pritchard family also owned this house and property for about one hundred years. They acquired much land in town and by 1870 Pritchard holdings included land from Wolcott High School on the west side of Bound Line Road to the Edgewood Cemetery. They owned additional property from the high school down Minor Road to Center Street to Wolcott Road. There was a Pritchard sawmill located at the intersection of Center Street and Wolcott Road over the Mad River. It was in existence until April 16, 1944 when it was destroyed by fire. During this time period, the Atkins House and property were referred to as Pritchard's Farm. In the mid 1950's Katherine and John Washburne purchased the house and property, which included two barns, a smoke house and at that time the
L-addition served as a barn. Today, their daughter, Kathy and her husband Dave Shea own the property. There is still an old smoke house, a small barn and a garage that was probably a workshop still on the property. Originally there were two large barns on the property, but all that remains are the stone foundations.
The last property that still has a barn on its premises is the Beach-Minor House found at 512 Bound Line Road and is the oldest house in our town. John Beach had the house and barn built in 1773, but sold it the following year on April 14, 1774 to Joseph Minor. In 1814 their son, Archibald and his wife Betsy acquired the title. Archibald was the first in his family to serve as town clerk for a total of twenty-four years from 1815-1839. He died on March 10, 1877 at the age of 93. Archibald and Betsy Minor had two children, Henry and Harriet. Henry and his wife Sarah also lived in this house. In 1848 Henry became the second person in his family to be elected to the position of town clerk. He held that office for fifty-four years, until 1902. The family home served as the town clerk's office for a total of 79 years while father and son held the position. The property remained in the possession of the Minor family until the early 20th century. At a later date, Wilfred Warner, grandson of Wilfred V. Warner, also served as town clerk while living in this house. He was town clerk from 1905-1930. The Wilson family later owned the property and in the 1950's it was owned by the Pellegrini family and then sold to the Hunt Family. Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Garrigus are the present owners of this home and since they acquired it in 2011, they have made many renovations to the house and the land inside and out. One of the most recent and noticeable is a front porch and a beautiful new cedar shingled roof. They also cleared the land to expose some original stonewalls and restored the garage and barn found on the premises. There is a stone foundation behind the small barn on the property, which probably is the remains of a much larger structure that was on this site.
(Information for this article was taken from "The History of the Town of Wolcott, Connecticut From1731 to 1874 by Samuel Orcutt, "The 175th Anniversary 1796-1971" by John Washburne, "The 1986 Historic Resources Inventory" by Paul Loether, and discussions with Walter Atwood, Dan Garrigus and Kathy Shea)
Upson/Atwood house circa 1900 on 1089 Woodtick Road.
The Grand Junction tree along side Woodtick Road.
Original old oxen barn on the Atwood farm.
The Grand Junction barn on Atwood property built in 1992 to replace original barn.
Josiah Atkins house on Center Street built in 1777.
The Josiah Atkins L-addition that was a barn and a smaller barn next to it.
The old smokehouse on the Atkins house property on Center Street.
Garage at Josiah Atkins house that was originally a workshop with not garage door.
Beach Minor House built in 1773 is located at 512 Bound Line Road.
Old garage that was probably a barn and a small barn next to it.
New porch added to the Beach Minor house to copy the original porch that was on the house.
Small barn on the Beach Minor property with an old stone foundation in background.
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