Middletown CT: Connecticut’s Best Places For Your Home And Family

April 23rd, 2022 by admin Leave a reply »

Located on the west bank of the Connecticut River midway between the river’s mouth on the Long Island Sound and the fall line at Windsor where ocean going ships could navigate, Middletown has played an important role in Connecticut’s state history.

Bordered on the east by the Connecticut River which through the summer months provides residents with a waterfront reprieve, the Metacomet Ridge to the west that’s a mountainous area providing beautiful open space, and the rich downtown culture of Wesleyan College life and mix of eclectic ethnic restaurants helps make Middletown one of Connecticut’s best cities for your home and family.

At the time of the coming of Europeans to New England in the early 1600′s the land where Middletown now lies was home to the Mattabesett group of Mangunk Native Americans. “Mattabesett” means “at a great river” and the Mangunk had dwelled in the area since the earliest written records in 1634. However, their leader was accused by white settlers of aiding the Pequot in their war against the colonist, which combined with losses to their numbers from small pox eventually led to them selling most of their land to Europeans who moved into the area in 1650.

The town was originally incorporated under its Indian name Mattabesett. It received its current name of Middletown in 1653 because it was halfway between Windsor and Saybrook at the Connecticut River’s mouth. By 1654 there were 31 taxable citizens mostly residing in homes around the meeting house located at the north end of present day Main Street.

The settlers had outlying fields for their crops, and the work clearing the rocky land for agriculture, fencing the pastures and building their homes was extremely hard labor. The work had to be done under guard from Indian attacks, and each Connecticut town was required to have a militia with regularly scheduled training days.

As the first settler’s families multiplied and land became scarcer from being divided into smaller and smaller parcels, the offspring of the first families increasingly turned their attention to commerce rather than agriculture for a living. The growth of the “Triangle Trade” between New England, the West Indies and England led to the Connecticut River being a leading shipbuilding center in America.

Middletown became the largest and most prosperous town in Connecticut during the 18th century placing it on a par as the most important New England ports with Boston and New York. By the time of the American Revolution, a third of Middletown’s residents were engaged in the maritime shipping industry.

The British blockade of the Connecticut River during the Revolutionary War temporarily halted trade, but Middletown contributed to the war effort with 16 privateers authorized by the General Assembly to seize English ships. Middletown’s lead mine was a primary source of bullets for the Continental Army.

In the early 19th century President Jefferson’s Embargo Act, the resulting trade restrictions and the War of 1812 that followed put strains on Middletown that brought an end to its era as Connecticut’s primary port city.

Leading up to the War of 1812, Middletown had become a center of firearms manufacturing and supplied most of the pistols used in the War of 1812. This trend from trade to manufacturing would continue to be a dominate force shaping Middletown’s economic future throughout the 19th century.

Academic leadership came to Middletown in 1831 with the establishment of Wesleyan College which has become one of the United States’ leading liberal arts institutions and continues to strongly influence the cultural life of the community to this day.

The Samuel Wadsworth Russell House which is now part of Wesleyan College was one of the first mansions built in the form of a Greek Temple that was pivotal in launching the Greek Revival style that profoundly influenced American architecture in the mid 19th Century. It was built between 1828 and 1830 by Samuel Russell who became fabulously wealthy in the China Trade and wanted to build a monument to his success.


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