Wolcott Historical Society News - September 2009
By Florence Goodman
In this month's article, I would like to take you on a ride back in time through the mid 1900s to the Hitchcock Lake area. Around 1913, the Waterbury and Milldale Tramway Company, also known as "The Green Line," trolley began to provide service from the center of Waterbury to southern Wolcott along Meriden Road to Hitchcock Lake. This area, known as Shelt's, received its name from Mr. Shelton Hitchcock, whose home was located on Meriden Road near the head of the lakes.
The land surrounding the lakes became a favorite retreat for city people. The pure spring water and peaceful scenery made it a popular water resort and this new transportation caused a rapid development of these twin lakes. As the Lake area continued to develop, the small summer cottages were converted into year-round homes and by the early 1940s, the land along the shores had emerged as one of Wolcott's principal suburban residential neighborhoods.
This rapid residential development created a demand for supplies, thus small businesses started to spring up along Meriden Road. Try to imagine what life was like as you rode up Meriden Road into Wolcott. The Garrigus family still owned much of the land around Garrigus Court, so there was still farmland in the area, but small businesses were quickly popping up.
Vallincourt Hot Dog Stand was located just before Garrigus Court on Meriden Road.
Tyler's Ladder was found just past Barker Terrace.
The Lake Drive-In was a very popular drive-in theater during the 1950s and 1960s, located on Meriden Road between Garrigus Court and Tamebuck Road.
As you approached Todd Road, you would have come upon Putt Meadow Motor Court located across from Todd Road. Travelers using Route 6 on their way to Boston/New York used this motel as an overnight stop. This area had received the name Putt Meadow because it was the campsite of General Israel Putnam's Revolutionary Army.
Continuing your trip eastward on Meriden Road, there was Sarno's Market, located on the corner of Musso View Road and then Sam Musso's Gas Station found where Mountaintop Liquors is today.
In this same area on the lake side of Meriden Road, Henry Groch's Pharmacy was located on the corner of Farview Avenue and Meriden Road.
Just past Farview Avenue near where the Dunkin Donuts is found today was the Copper Kettle Restaurant. It was opened by the Stone Family and used for banquets, weddings, and family dining. Copper pans were hung on the walls for ambiance.
Next was Iceland Cabins and Trailer Camp situated just across from Musso View Road.
There was swimming on the lake here, as well as a small stand/store to buy ice cream and supplies; Joe Francis owned it.
Just past Iceland was the Piccadilly Inn also called the Club Mount Crest Restaurant. It specialized in lobster and steak dinners and had a floor show every Friday and Saturday evening. Today that might have been considered inappropriate for the neighborhood.
Across the road from Piccadilly Inn was Headquarters Restaurant. It was located about where Webster Bank is found today. Pat and Kelly Crean started this establishment when Pat returned home from the Army where he was a cook. For many years, an Army tank was parked in front of the restaurant, thus the name Headquarters. Later the tank was moved to its present location on Wolcott Road in front of the American Legion.
Beyond Headquarters Restaurant was Walsh's Market, first established in 1949 by Pat Walsh when he moved from Waterbury's Baldwin Street to open a market in Wolcott. His first store was located just west of the present one where Fulton's Pharmacy used to be.
Mayo's Drug Store was an early drug store that used that building before Fulton Pharmacy.
Most of these establishments are long gone and the buildings have been replaced with newer structures and businesses, but there are a few familiar names that still exist today.
This is just part of the history of a very interesting section of Wolcott which I will continue in my next article. I hope you have enjoyed these interesting facts about the Hitchcock Lake area. We are always looking to update our records, so if you would like to share information about growing up in town, please feel free to contact me at 203-879-9818. I'd love to hear from you.
Here you can read an article about The Green Line Trolley written by our Webmaster Stan Horzepa. There is also a map here showing the exact location of the line as it worked its way through this section of Wolcott and into Southington.
Our Schoolhouse Museum is open on Sunday afternoons from 1-3 during the September and October. Anyone interested in visiting the Museum at a different time, please call Loretta Leonard at 879-4310 or Flo Goodman 879-9818.
Iceland Cabins and Trailer Camp located on Hitchcock Lake just past Farview Avenue. (Postcard from Stan Horzepa)
This photo depicts a Peter Witt "War Board Car" built during World War I parked at the west end of its route on The Green in downtown Waterbury. (Photo from Stan Horzepa)
The "Green Line Trolley" crossing over Meriden Road at the top of Southington Mountain. (Postcard from Stan Horzepa)
Wolcott Historical Society Remembers Museum Curator
Bob Wooding, longtime member of the Wolcott Historical Society and curator of the Stone Schoolhouse Museum for 20 plus years passed away on August 20, 2009. Bob and his wife, Alma, have been a part of the Wolcott Historical Society for as long as we can remember. They were staunch supporters of the Society and preserving our town's history, but they especially loved caring for the Schoolhouse Museum.
Bob was a wealth of knowledge and loved gadgets and fixing them. Bob received grants from the Department of Tourism, which allowed for the signs around town to indicate the location of the Schoolhouse Museum. For many years, Bob, along with Lou Godin and Dick Homewood did most of the repairs that were needed around the Museum property. Bob's easy-going demeanor and dedication to the Society's cause will be greatly missed.
Bob Wooding (1923-2009
To view past installments of the Wolcott Historical Society News, click here.