The Town of Litchfield
Incorporated in 1719
Population: about 8,400
To many, Litchfield is the picture-perfect New England village with its welcoming Town Green and gracious historic homes lining the main streets. In fact, Litchfield is nationally one of the best-known villages in all of New England – with visitors flocking to the town and surrounding areas in every season.
The entire borough of Litchfield is a state historic district and is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a notable example of a late 18th century New England village. From its central Town Green along West Street one can venture to South Street and marvel at the great white houses with picket fences and exquisite gardens as well as visit the Litchfield Historical Museum, and Oliver Wolcott Library. Heading to North Street you’ll find the Sheldon Tavern (George Washington slept here during the American Revolution), the Tapping Reeve House and Law School (the country’s first law school), the house where Harriet Beecher Stowe was born, as well as other fine examples of 18th and 19th century buildings. At the corner of West Street and East Street is the First Congregational Church, originally founded in 1721 and reconstructed over the years to become “one of Connecticut’s familiar landmarks” with its tall, white steeple that can be seen as one approaches the town from all directions.
Today, Litchfield and the surrounding area attract visitors spring, summer, winter, and fall! On West Street at the Town Green are many fine dining establishments as well as art galleries and antique stores. Not far, heading east, is a local winery featuring Connecticut wine and cheeses. And for outdoor fun, the 4,000-acre White Memorial Conservation Center, Topsmead State Forest, or Mt. Tom State Park are all within a few miles from town and offer trails for hiking, cross-country skiing, and mountain biking.
The borough of Bantam is part of the town of Litchfield and, as such, utilizes the Litchfield school system. With a population under 1,000, Bantam remains a small community with its own character and charm. A mainstay of the town has been the Bantam Cinema, the state’s oldest continuously operating movie theater. In the last few years, Bantam has seen the addition of a number of new establishments along its main street, including an ice cream and dairy shop and restaurant— inspired by local Arethusa Farm—as well as local antique and retail stores specializing in artisanal goods.
Not far from the center of town is Bantam Lake, the largest natural lake in Connecticut. Here you can swim, boat, and fish in the warm months as well as skate and ice boat in the winter. Sandy Beach, one of two beaches on the lake, offers a bathhouse, canoe launch, and picnicking.
Located between Litchfield and Bantam is a hidden jewel of a village called Milton, originally settled in the first half of the 18th century because of its location near the Shepaug River. Some of the first settlers to arrive engaged in the iron business, purchasing ore from Northwest Connecticut and processing it in Milton. Over the years, Milton attracted more businesses, such as a forge, sawmill, and cider mill – all relying on water power from the Shepaug River.
Today, the center of Milton (a triangular intersection of roads) is on the National Register of Historic Places. This historic district contains many fine examples of pre-Revolutionary War architecture and later 19th-century structures. Milton citizens who fought in the Revolutionary War and many other distinguished Milton men and women are buried in a cemetary on the edge of the district.