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.
In April 1775 17-year-old Daniel Putnam followed his father from farm field to war, serving as Major General Israel Putnam’s principal aide. In 1790 he purchased this farm and named it Putnam Elms, after the many trees he planted.
Putnam Elms is owned by the Colonel Daniel Putnam Association, and is open to the public.
Farms such as this one were essential to the supply lines that fed and clothed Connecticut’s Revolutionary soldiers. Behind the house once stood a two-story barn that housed livestock one level, and feed and equipment on the other.
The Strong-Porter House is owned by the Coventry Historical Society, and open to the public.
The Yantic, the Shetucket, and the Quinebaug Rivers unite at Norwich to form the Thames River, making the city a Revolutionary-era center for shipbuilding, merchant trading, and manufacturing. Norwich was also a hotbed of activity for the Sons of Liberty. Benedict Arnold was born here, and the city “hosted” one of the Revolution’s other notorious traitors, Benjamin Church in its gaol.
The Norwich Historical Society interprets the history of the “Rose City.”
Franklin was once West Farms north of Norwich. The stage road was from the Norwich Town Green to Windham. In 1786 West Farms became Franklin and the following year it was voted that a town highway tax be payable in labor at 3 shilling per day for a man and 8 shilling for a man and a team of 4 good oxen and cart. In 1795the Hartford to Norwich Turnpike was chartered to connect the towns of Franklin, Lebanon, Columbia, Andover and Bolton. It was to have two toll gates. But in 1796a resoluntion was forwarded to the General Assembly that the inhabitants of Franklin
were” dissatisfied, aggrieved and injured by setting up a turnpike between Lebanon and Norwich and praying that such relief as consistent with wisdom, justice and equity be granted.”
Connecticut’s State Hero Nathan Hale was born in a previous house on this farm in 1755. The Hale family was dedicated to the cause of liberty and six of the eight sons served in the army. The homestead and farm prospered and allowed the Hales to provide food for soldiers.
Today, the Hale Homestead is part of Connecticut Landmarks.
One of four brothers who served as Revolutionary soldiers, Samuel Beaumont built a small farm house “four miles and 59 rods” from the original meeting house in Lebanon. It was moved to its current site in 1975.
The Beaumont House is owned by the Lebanon Historical Society.
Jonathan Trumbull Jr. served as the northern army’s paymaster general, and then as military secretary to General George Washington. He served with Washington at Yorktown and until the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783. General Washington probably stayed in his house March 4, 1781.
The Trumbull Jr. House is owned by the Town of Lebanon and open to the public.
From 1775-1783, Gov. Jonathan Trumbull Sr. and the Council of Safety met more than 500 times at this small storehouse to plan Connecticut’s military, logistical, financial, and political actions during the American Revolution.
On September 6, 1781, Benedict Arnold’s forces attacked New London and Fort Griswold in Groton. The nearby home of Ebenezer Avery, himself severely wounded, served as a field hospital. It is said it took generations for the bloodstained floors to be worn away.
The Avery House is on the grounds of Ft. Griswold State Park, and administered by the Avery Memorial Association.