Wickham Sawmill Historic District

Site of David Wickham House near corner of Wickham and Geoffrey Roads; Source- NRIS 96000781.
Historic/Common Name:
Wickham Road National Register Historic District
Town:
East Haddam »
Year of Establishment:
1988
Historic Designation:
LHD, NRHD, SR
District Authority:
Historic District Commission
Nature of Authority:
Regulatory
District Character:
Rural neighborhood
Eligible for Historic Home tax credits:
Yes
General description:

The Wickham Sawmill Historic District consists of three standing 18th-century houses with associated outbuildings, the foundation and chimney remains of another 18th-century house, and the sluiceway and partial foundations of a sawmill located on Beaver Brook (a branch of the Eight Mile River) to the east, on the south side of Geoffrey Road. The district also includes the small pond formerly associated with the sawmill, known today as Pecks Meadow Pond. Wickham Road is a narrow curving gravel road lined with stone walls and tall deciduous trees. The houses are spaced far apart and have considerable open land – the remnant of their historical agricultural acreage – surrounding them. The rest of the area, including the intervening land between Beaver Brook and Wickham Road, has grown up into woodlands and is now a game preserve. Although the sawmill site cannot be seen from the cluster of houses, and in fact today appears somewhat remote from the rest of the historic district, it was historically part of the property associated with the house, now in ruins, at the corner of Wickham and Geoffrey Roads. The sawmill was built in 1782 by David Wickham, who ran it many years. The sawmill remained in operation by his descendents and other subsequent owners until about 1883. [NR]

Significance of the district:

Architecture, Agriculture, Industry:The Wickham Road Historic District is significant because it recalls the appearance of the Connecticut countryside before the industrial age. Connecticut's historical development began with a long period in which the colony and later the state are characterized by an agriculture-based society. The overwhelming majority of its people were engaged in small-scale generalized farming and lived in simple, scattered homesteads such as those remaining today on Wickham Road. The industrial enterprises in this period, which lasted at least until the middle of the 19th century in most areas, were mostly the saw, grist, and fulling mills and blacksmith shops that were integral parts of the agrarian economy. With its narrow winding route, stone walls, open fields, old colonial houses, and agricultural outbuildings, Wickham Road is an exceptionally cohesive reminder of this point in Connecticut's history. The ruins of the Wickham Sawmill and the sawmill pond contribute to the historic district's significance because they testify to the sustaining role of early water-powered industry in the agricultural age.The houses in the district also have architectural significance because they embody the distinctive characteristics of 18th century vernacular domestic architecture. Their clapboarded exteriors, large brick or stone central chimneys, small-pane sash, plain detailing, and orientation with the entrance on the broad side typify the house-building practices of colonial New England. [NR]

District Boundary:

The boundary includes all historic buildings in the general vicinity, as well as related sites of former buildings; as described in the district ordinance.

Features:

Buildings, Open spaces, Pond, Ruins

Use:

Residential, Agriculture

Architectural Style:

Colonial

Era:
18th Century (Period of significance : c. 1735 - c. 1800)
Sources:

[1] District information retrieved from the town website http://www.easthaddam.org/.
[2] Wickham Sawmill Historic District, Report of the Historic District Study Committee, SHPO Library, Hartford.
[3] Assessors information and Parcel IDs retrieved from the website http://www.rmsreval.com/results.asp?ID=186604973&town=East%20Haddam.
[NR] Clouette Bruce and Cronin Maura, edited by John Herzan, Wickham Road Historic District, National Register Nomination Number- 96000781 NRIS, National Park Service, 1996 - http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Text/96000781.pdf; http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Photos/96000781.pdf.

Notes:

The boundary of the Wickham Road National Register Historic District property, including the sawmill site and pond, coincides with the Wickham Sawmill Local Historic District. [NR]

Links:
Map:

Map of the local historic district retrieved from the report of the Historic District Study Committee, SHPO Library, Hartford.

View photo
Disclaimer:

The street addresses of the designated properties have been retrieved from the National Register nomination form, NRIS 96000782. For further information, 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