Litchfield During the Colonial Revival
The Litchfield train station, canoeing on
Bantam Lake and the Hotel Berkshire.
In 1872, the Shepaug Railroad opened a passenger spur into Litchfield, paving the way for the town’s re-emergence as a resort community. In the last decades of the 19th century and into the early years of the 20th century, Litchfield and nearby Bantam Lake offered over a dozen well appointed hotels with modern conveniences. Visitors discovered a town that industry and economic prosperity had passed by. Litchfield retained the look of an earlier era, with its 18th and early 19th century homes still lining the streets of a small and quiet town. Wealthy New Yorkers purchased many of the old homes in the center of town and added new houses to the community as they sought a seasonal escape from the city.
In the last years of the 19th century, Litchfield’s abundance of early homes fit in well with the country’s growing interest in its past. The town embraced the colonial revival movement, transforming itself into an idealized vision of the colonial past. Colonial, federal and Victorian era homes were renovated to capture a vision of traditional architecture loosely based on the most elegant styles of the colonial and federal periods. At the same time, a local Village Improvement Society was founded to modernize the town’s infrastructure. By 1915, the VIS had constructed sidewalks, installed street lamps, established regular trash removal, enlarged and improved the village green, planted trees and purchased a clock for the courthouse tower.