Roxbury Historic District

View of Church Street looking southwest; Source - NRIS 83001271.
Historic/Common Name:
Roxbury Center Historic District
Town:
Roxbury »
Year of Establishment:
1966
Notes on Establishment:
The district originally established in 1966 was further expanded southwards in 2005. Also, in the original district the designation only goes 225 feet in from the road while in the expanded district it was intended to include the entire lot.
Historic Designation:
LHD, NRHD, SR
District Authority:
Historic District Commission
Nature of Authority:
Regulatory
District Character:
Village Center, Green
Eligible for Historic Home tax credits:
Yes
General description:

The Roxbury Center Historic District is a rural village set in a valley among surrounding hills. A small brook, Fenn Brook, runs through the valley to the Shepaug River. Several small, man-made ponds are located along this brook and several smaller streams which drain the area. Cleared fields on adjacent hillsides surround much of the village, contributing to its rural appearance. Roxbury Center is the major center of population in the Town of Roxbury, which has a low, widely dispersed population. It accommodates various community activities, including religious worship, postal facilities, retailing and banking, town services, agriculture and elementary education. Fields around the village yield hay for livestock, and an apple orchard provides fruit for local consumption. Church Street, the principal street, is laid out in a northeast to southwest direction. The street has broad, tree-lined margins. Houses and other structures are set back from the road and spaced widely apart. Originally part of the Town of Woodbury, Roxbury did not achieve independent status until 1796. Roxbury Center began to develop in the 1780s, when settlers from elsewhere in Woodbury began to occupy the site. The early center of settlement was located on a hilltop about 1-1/2 miles to the southeast. This earlier center was the location of both a Congregational and an Episcopal Church, with a nearby graveyard. The two churches relocated to the new center in 1795 and 1807, respectively. Roxbury Center flourished after Roxbury's independence in 1796. Rapid growth occurred during this period and the early decades of the 19th-century. The present appearance of Roxbury Center is that of an early 19th-century community, with a few isolated late 19th- and early 20th-century buildings. Many earlier structures were altered or added onto in the 19th-century to conform with prevailing standards of taste. Due to the isolated position of Roxbury, little change has occurred in the Roxbury Center Historic District. Roxbury Center exhibits a remarkable continuity of use. Many buildings continue to be used for the purpose for which they were constructed, especially those built for residential or ecclesiastical use. The decline of agriculture in the local economy has resulted in the conversion or the reuse of many barns and outbuildings for garages and for storage purposes.

Significance of the district:

Architecture, Agriculture Industry, Politics/ Government, Religion: Roxbury Center Historic District is characterized by exceptionally good examples of a wide variety of architectural styles. The Georgian and Federal styles of the late 18th- and early 19th-centuries are represented, as well as the Greek Revival style, Gothic Revival, Queen Anne, and Georgian Revival styles. The context of the buildings, set in a rural village, enhances their value. Few alterations have been made since the 19th-century, and restoration activity in the 20th-century has served to reinforce the integrity of the district. Roxbury Center is also a well-preserved example of an agrarian 19th-century community. Dependent on diversified agricultural production supplemented by income from crafts such as hat making, the local economy shifted to more specialized agriculture in the late 19th-century. The pattern of land use and the configuration of streets and man-made structures in Roxbury Center is typical of rural 19th-century Connecticut communities. Several important 18th- and 19th-century figures resided in the Roxbury Center Historic District. General Ephraim Hinman, an important merchant and military leader, built his home here in 1784. Asahel Bacon, merchant and investor in the Roxbury iron mine, built his home the same year. Colonel George Hurlbut was a state legislator and local postmaster who also operated a store and hat-making shop. Colonel Seth Warner, associated with Ethan Allen in the capture of Fort Ticonderoga, is buried beneath an obelisk on the Town green. Roxbury Center also offers potential for scholarly research. The Roxbury Center Historic District itself is an important document of 19th-century rural economy. The stability of the community, in which several families continue to occupy homes and land acquired by ancestors in the 18th- and 19th-centuries, promises opportunity for oral history to supplement town and family archives. [NR]

District Boundary:

The district includes properties along the following major streets - Church Street, South Street and North Street, as described in the district ordinance.

Features:

Buildings, Green, Open Spaces

Use:

Residential, Agriculture, Commercial, Educational, Government, Religious

Architectural Style:

Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Queen Anne, Georgian Revival and Vernacular

Era:
18th Century, 19th Century, 20th Century
Sources:

[1] District information retrieved from the town website http://www.roxburyct.com/.
[2] Roxbury Historic District Expansion, Report of the Historic District Study Committee, 2005, SHPO Library, Hartford.
[NR] Plummer Dale S., Roxbury Center Historic District, National Register Nomination Number- 83001271 NRIS, National Park Service, 1983 - http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Text/83001271.pdf; http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Photos/83001271.pdf.

Notes:

Although the core of the local historic district and the National Register Historic District overlap, the boundaries are not co-terminus.

Links:
Map:

Map of the historic district showing the original district as established in 1966 and its 2005 expansion; Source - 2005 Study report.

View photo
Disclaimer:

The street addresses and the parcels IDs of the designated properties forming the 2005 expansion have been retrieved from the study report, SHPO library, Hartford. For the complete list of properties and further information on the district, the user is urged to contact the respective Historic District Commission.

Date of Compilation:
12/31/11
Compiler:
Manjusha Patnaik, CT Trust for Historic Preservation