Monthly Archives: September 2012
Fairfield’s prominence brought many important visitors to town, including President George Washington, who recorded his October 16, 1789 visit in his journal. The newly inaugurated president of the United States likely spent the night at Samuel Penfield’s Sun Tavern on his tour surveying damage from the Revolutionary War. The destruction from the 1779 burning was so widespread that it was still evident ten years later when Washington wrote: “The destructive evidences of British cruelty are yet visible both in Norwalk and Fairfield, as there are chimneys of many burnt houses standing in them yet.”
Sun Tavern was among a handful of taverns in town that were newly built at that time, replacing structures that had been destroyed by the British. At the time, it took two days to travel from New York to Fairfield by carriage on the Boston Post Road, so travelers needed a place to stay overnight and refresh their horses. The Sun Tavern was a lively establishment where Samuel Penfield provided much needed food, drink and lodging. Sun Tavern was also a popular meeting place for lawyers and judges attending court next door. Local farmers and sea captains, along with mill and shop owners would have enjoyed a beer or cider and a plate of oysters here as well.
The Sun Tavern closed its doors by 1818. Over the next 160 years the building became a private residence to pastors of First Congregational Church, New York City businessmen and a stage actor and his family, who used it primarily as a summer getaway. By the 1970s, the structure had fallen into disrepair.
Peter Burr, chief justice of the Superior Court of colonial Connecticut, built the Burr Homestead around 1732. He passed it on to his grandson Thaddeus Burr and his wife Eunice Dennie Burr after their marriage in 1759. In 1775, the Homestead sheltered Dorothy Quincy, fiancée of patriot leader John Hancock, after she fled from the Battle of Lexington, where on April 19th the “shot heard ‘round the world” was fired. She remained in town until Hancock, president of the Continental Congress, joined her.
On August 23, 1775 Reverend Andrew Elliot of First Congregational Church married the Boston couple at the Burr residence. Local lore tells that, before the wedding, a young Aaron Burr came to visit his second cousin Thaddeus and pay his respects to Miss Quincy.
On July 7, 1779, the American Revolution came to Fairfield. British troops led by General Tryon came ashore from ships on Long Island Sound. Many of the town’s men, including Thaddeus Burr, were away fighting or working on behalf of the patriot cause when Fairfield was attacked and set ablaze.
Families fled inland, but Eunice Burr remained at home. General Tryon, who had visited with the Burrs, sent a guard to protect Eunice. Despite his assurances, Eunice wrote in her diary, British soldiers ransacked her house, destroyed furniture, stripped the silver buckles from her shoes, then set the Homestead ablaze.
Not to be defeated, in 1790 the Burrs hired Daniel Dimon, a Fairfield architect and carpenter, to build a new house based on plans sent to them by John Hancock of his own Boston residence.
The present house was built on the original foundation.
In the mid 1800s the Burr Homestead was enlarged and remodeled into a 15-room Greek Revival mansion with a stately colonnaded porch and classical details.
Today the mansion is owned by the Town of Fairfield and managed by the Fairfield Museum; it can be rented for events.
Have you discovered the phenomenon of the book trailer yet? If not, it’s exactly what it sounds like: a short video “preview” of a book’s content & style, designed to inspire you to Like, Follow, and hopefully buy.
Book trailers have been around for fiction for a few years now, but they’re starting to become the norm for non-fiction, too. Here, for example, is the link to the trailer for Reporting the Revolution, a new book coming out November 1, 2012.
With the advent of digital stock photography, high-quality editing software, and YouTube, producing really snazzy videos has become ridiculously easy and cheap (by comparison to just 5-10 years ago). So, here’s our thought: if the book industry can do it, why not others in the cultural sector? Why not museum/historical society/history organization trailers? Why don’t we make a trailer for Revolutionary Connecticut?
What do you think?
Jabez Huntington was born in Norwich, CT on August 17, 1719. After his graduation from Yale in 1741, he entered the West Indies trade and became wealthy. In 1742, he married Elizabeth Backus and they had two children. She died in 1745 and he married Hannah Williams in 1746. The couple had six children.
Jabez was elected as a representative to the General Assembly from 1750 to 1764. He served as the assembly’s clerk from 1757 to 1760 and as speaker from 1760 to 1764. He was appointed to the Governor’s Council in 1764. The following year he was one of seven council members that refused to take an oath to enforce the
Stamp Act. Starting in 1754, he held various ranks in the 3rd and 5th Regiments of Connecticut Militia. He was promoted to the rank of Major-General of all Connecticut Militia in 1776. He was one of the original members of the Council of Safety in 1775 and served until 1779. His business suffered during the war due to the capture of his vessels. As a result of overwork, he suffered a stroke in 1779 and remained in poor health until he died in Norwich on October 5, 1786.