Brief History of 'The Rose of New England'
Located in New London County, Connecticut, Norwich was voted New England's winner of the Prettiest Painted Places in America. Explore the timeless treasures of our fine museums and art galleries. Enjoy our first-rate live theater performances and concerts or our wide variety of exciting festivals. Set sail, hook a fish, play miniature golf and dine at our beautiful harbor. Cheer on the Connecticut Tigers at a AA baseball game. Hike on the historic walking tour and stop to smell the roses at Mohegan Park.
Norwich is a city with a rich colonial history, Norwich was originally founded in 1659 by a group of settlers from Old Saybrook, led by Major John Mason and Reverend James Fitch, who purchased the land that would become Norwich from the local Native American Mohegan Tribe (now famed for the Mohegan Sun Casino). Nine years later, in 1668, a wharf was built at Yantic Cove. Settlement was primarily in the three-mile area around the Norwichtown Green. The 69 founding families soon divided up the land in the Norwichtown vicinity for farms and businesses. A public landing built in 1694 at the head of the Thames River made it possible to offload goods at the harbor. The roads that served between the port and the town, the East and West Roads, later became Washington Street and Broadway.
Large mills and factories sprang up along the three rivers that flow into the city: the Yantic, the Shetucket and the Quinebaug. The Thames River flows out from the harbor, south to Long Island Sound. The developed factories and shipping port enabled Norwich to be instrumental in supplying soldiers with ships and munitions during the American Revolution. Norwich played major roles in a number of ways including the arms manufacturing, and the abolitionist movement. Norwich merchants were shipping goods directly from England and the ship captains of Norwich and New London who were skillful at avoiding Imperial taxation during peacetime later were just as successful eluding warships during war.
During the American Revolution Norwich supported the cause for independence by supplying soldiers, ships, and munitions. Norwich was also a center for activity for the Sons of Liberty. One of the most notable figures of the Revolution, Benedict Arnold, was born in Norwich. Other Colonial era noteworthies include Samuel Huntington, Christopher Leffingwell, and Daniel Lathrop. Regular steamship service between New York and Boston helped Norwich to prosper as a shipping center through the early part of the 19th century. During the Civil War, Norwich once again rallied and saw the growth of its textile, armaments, and specialty item manufacturing. This was also spurred by the building of the Norwich and Worcester Railroad in 1832-1837 bringing goods and people both in and out of Norwich. By the 1870s the Springfield and New London Railroad was also running trains through Norwich, Connecticut.
You can buy the book that describes "A Swift and Deadly Maelstrom: The Great Norwich Flood of 1963, A Survivors Story" By Thomas Moody, Jr. which tells of when water came from the Spaulding Pond dam in Mohegan Park, which after two days of rain had started to leak, first a little, and then more, before giving way. It was devastating for this area and 6 people were killed in the flood, including five workers at the Odetah mill in Taftville and a mother of 3 children who helped save her kids before she was pulled away by the flood that created severe damage all the way into downtown. (The Ponemah Mills in Taftville are mentioned in the video above.)
The former Uncas Woolen Mill on Clinton Avenue in the Bean Hill section, built about 1860, has a beautiful Italianate style open belfry, but no bell. Generations of mill workers listened for the sound of the bell to signal the beginning of work, lunch, and the end of day. The richest people in the world were ALL in Norwich, CT because of the mills that were a hub here. The original Broadway Theatre in NYC started in Norwich.
Norwich has a huge history with many books, stories, and movies made in, around, and about "The Rose of New England."
The Norwichtown Green - The Center of Everything For A New England Town
The Norwichtown Green, located within a National Register and local historic district, is a long triangle of about 1.75 acres. It is bordered by Town Street, East Town Street and Elm Avenue which in turn are surrounded by closely spaced structures from the 18th and 19th centuries that form a wall around the open space. The green is located to the north and west of Washington Street, a major north-west artery along which a stretch of commercial buildings are located just to the south of the green. However, the green and its surrounding streetscape remain unscathed by the twentieth century (with one exception). It is situated on a plateau to the south of an outcropping of large rocks called Meeting House Hill where the second and third meetinghouses were erected for security purposes.
Shade trees, mostly mature maples with some replacements, are planted around the perimeter. Other than the curb along Town and East Town Streets and a large conifer toward the center, it remains relatively unimproved. It is uneven and slopes from where the conifer is located toward the south and the northeast.
The densely-situated streetscape comprised primarily of intact 18th century structures imbue the old town center with a sense of the past. Some of the significant buildings include the Silversmith Shop (1772-74); the grammar school (1783); the General Jedehiah Huntington House (1765) and the Branford-Huntington House (1691, 1719). All of these buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
As English settlers laid out Connecticut’s earliest towns in the 17th century, they reserved the best land for planting and for animals to graze, then plotted land close by on which to build their homes, often on equal-sized plots. In the middle of their settlement they reserved a common area for public use and as a place to erect a meetinghouse. While some planned settlements were regular in arrangement, more often they were irregular tracts shaped by topography and burgeoning town development. (read more about Norwichtown at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norwichtown) Many early town greens served as the physical and spiritual centers of towns. In addition to serving as sites for religious activities—meeting houses stood on the green—they were multipurpose public gathering places, market places, parade grounds, places for local citizens to report for military training, burying grounds, and grazing areas for cattle or sheep. With their stocks and whipping posts, they were also sites of public punishments. Furthermore, townspeople used town greens as dumping grounds for discarded household items and broken equipment. With all of that going on, the green was not the peaceful, park-like place that we are familiar with today. Rather, as a heavily used communal space, the ground was often muddy, rutted from wagon wheels, and dotted with tree stumps and large rocks they had not bothered to remove. It was not until after the Revolutionary War that the town green began its transformation into the picturesque place we revere today. (read more about "Lebanon's Revolutionary Green," including that George Washington visited the Lebanon Town Green!: http://connecticuthistory.org/the-connecticut-town-green/#sthash.b16lAzhY.dpuf)
The Wauregan Hotel which was originally known as the Wauregan House, was built in downtown Norwich in 1855 and soon became known as one of the finest hotels in New England. When Abraham Lincoln came to give a campaign speech in Norwich in 1860, he stayed in a room at the Wauregan. The building was restored to its original level of architectural detail and the interior has been adapted for reuse as an apartment building, but the history still remains as impressive as when honest Abe stayed at the Wauregan.
Slater Memorial Museum
The Slater Museum awakens visitors to the richness and diversity of the human experience through art and history. For more than one hundred years, the Museum has displayed and interpreted the best examples of fine and decorative art, representing a broad range of world cultures of the Americas, Asia, Europe and Africa.
Spaulding Pond at Mohegan Park and Veteran's Memorial Rose Garden
The beautiful rose garden is located in Mohegan Park, situated on two acres of gently sloping parkland featuring award winning roses with 2,500 rose bushes in 120 varieties. Mohegan Park is a huge town park with many wonderful features like walking trails, playgrounds, a lake-side pavilion that is the site of many weddings, and a swimming lake with a beach.
Once upon a time, the Ponemah Mill in Taftville was reported to be the largest textile mill in the world under one roof.
Among the more accomplished Taftville residents was Ned (Edward) Hanlon who managed the Pittsburgh Alleghenys (1889), Pittsburgh Burghers (1890), Baltimore Orioles (1892–1898), Brooklyn Superbas (1899–1905), and the Cincinnati Reds (1906–1907). He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996. Another ballplayer was the Quebec-born right fielder, Augustine "Lefty" Dugas, whose family settled in Taftville. He played for the Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Senators between 1930 and 1934.
In the academic arena Saunders Mac Lane, was the son of the Minister of the Taftville Congregational Church and a mathematician of world note, who spent his career at the University of Chicago, Yale and Harvard. He was the co-author of A Survey of Modern Algebra, a book which was the standard work in that field for many years.
HAUNTING SIGHTS IN NORWICH, CT
The Tale of Indian Leap at Yantic Falls Historic District Waterfall
Long before English settlers purchased the 9-mile square of land upon which the City of Norwich, Connecticut sits, the land was owned and occupied by the Mohegan Tribe of Indians. They made their homes near the Great Falls of the City of Kings and were led by the great sachem, Chief Uncas.
The Mohegans buried their fallen foe near the western bank of the Shetucket River, north of the present village of Greenville, Connecticut.
There is a walkway and dam used as power as early as the 1600s when John Elderkin developed a grist mill in the area. Over time, the Yantic River became the genesis for industrial development in Norwich as it continued to grow until the early 1900s with later industries including paper making, cotton and nails. Textile mills utilized the power of the Yantic River at both the Lower Falls and the Upper Falls which are within site of Indian Leap on the other side of the train trestle that now crosses over the Yantic River.
The Upper Falls can be visited by accessing Upper Heritage Falls Park and it's an easy stroll to view the dam and the former powerhouse. Lower Falls has a footbridge for visitors to use when viewing the falls and the gorge at Indian Leap. There's also another footbridge over the New England Central Railroad tracks. People crossing that bridge may very well be taking the very same route that brought Miantonomo's warriors to their death when attempting to leap the gorge over the Yantic River.
EXERCISE CAUTION BECAUSE THERE HAVE BEEN DEATHS AND DROWNINGS AND THERE IS A STRONG CURRENT AND IT IS SLIPPERY EVEN THOUGH IT LOOKS SAFE. NO SWIMMING!
Indian Leap, also known as Uncas Leap, is located on the upper end of the Norwich Heritage River Walkway beginning in the harbor area of downtown Norwich and following the path of the Yantic River to the falls.
©2013 The Distracted Wanderer, Linda Orlomoski. www.thedistractedwanderer.com
The Norwichtown Historic Cemetery aka the Colonial Cemetery has some very interesting old headstones along with the graves of Benedict Arnold's mother and Samuel Huntington who was the President of the Second Continental Congress. There is a section that French soldiers are buried in that were killed in the revolutionary war. Some of the Founding Families of America are buried here (from as far back as the 1600's?). Old Norwichtown Burying Ground reveals Norwich's rich Colonial history. Gravestones bear the familiar names of many of Norwich's earliest residents. It was established on January 4th, 1700, to satisfy the needs of a rapidly growing community. You can explore the gravestones of some famous figures from our colonial past resting in our small town. Our historic cemeteries are a who's who on New England's leaders from revolutionary and civil war vets to governors and senators. Come sightseeing tour spots of our extraordinary and well-documented New England heritage... Click for more details. First Cemetery 2.
Read the stories of our amazing history in the Norwich Historical Society Newsletters.
Leffingwell House Museum
Welcome to the Leffingwell House Museum (Circa 1675) is one of the finest restored examples of New England Colonial architecture. We are open from April to October, on Saturday’s from 11 am to 4 pm. Visitors to this living museum catch a glimpse of early 18th century life. By the mid 18th century what was built as a simple two room house in 1675 had evolved into an elegant home. The house is filled with a fascinating assortment of pieces representative of its architectural evolution. The Leffingwell building, a 338-year-old homestead, served as an inn and tavern during the time of the Revolutionary War. Ghost hunters discovered a ghost there. “The Leffingwells lived here only until after the Revolution, then it went to the Huntington family. I think it would be Ruth Huntington in that chair,”Greg Farlow, the vice president of the Leffingwell House Museum board said as the ghost hunters prepared their equipment. The Leffingwell Inn was built as a homestead in about 1675 and expanded to become an inn and pub in the early 1700s.
The Haunted Old Norwich State Hospital For The Insane
Throughout its nearly 100-year history as a facility to treat the mentally troubled, Norwich State Hospital has seen more than its share of horrific suffering, traumatic events and senseless tragedies. Consequently, it comes as no surprise that the grounds are purported to be haunted by the tortured souls who were sent there seeking better health but instead found eternal pain. The original facility was built in 1904 on 100 scenic acres along the Thames River on a site that apparently was an ancient Native American village. Most of the buildings have been demolished in a clean up rehabilitation plan for the property which is across the Thames River overlooking Mohegan Sun Casino. - http://www.damnedct.com/norwich-state-hospital-preston#sthash.Xxo2ZagV.dpuf
THE ARTS IN NORWICH, CT
Norwich Arts Center
The Norwich Arts Center was formed originally as the Norwich Arts Council in 1987 by a group of local artists and art-lovers who were inspired by the region’s cultural possibilities. Since its inception, the dedicated board members, artists, and volunteers of NAC have worked to provide affordable arts programming that is both a reflection of the area’s rich diversity and a platform for deeper arts appreciation.
Donald Oat Theatre
Restored Victorian theater hosts the Norwich Art Council's first Friday Jazz series featuring the best jazz musicians in New England. Programming also includes community theater, children's concerts and folk performances. The Donald L. Oat Theater is a one of a kind venue that provides a distinctive atmosphere which awards its patrons the opportunity to feel like they are part of something special. The Norwich Art Council provides unique, first class social experiences around the arts that give people the chance to celebrate themselves and their lives with their friends and other members of the community. The cabaret-style setting seats 8-10 per table and people can bring their own food and refreshments. This year an exciting line-up of entertainment is being planned. Visit www.norwicharts.org for more information.
The Norwich Community Cinema is a sustainable, non-profit, community cinema which provides a venue for thought provoking, informative and entertaining films. An opportunity for discussion and/or speakers may be provided. All activities are planned and carried out by volunteers. The NCC operates at the Donald Oat Theater above the Norwich Art Gallery in downtown Norwich, CT.
Chestnut Street Playhouse, formerly Spirit of Broadway Theatre
In the heart of Norwich, CT, the Chestnut Street Playhouse is the place to be for entertainment, education, and a celebration of the performing arts.
Norwich is famous in Hollywood too!
The Norwich area has long been credited in Hollywood films, including:
• Professor Wally Lamb's 2009 novel "Wishin' and Hopin" (2015) was made into a tv movie at Norwich Free Academy.
• The Lifetime movie “A Fatal Obsession” (2014) starring Eric Roberts was filmed at Yantic Falls and Chacers Bar and Grill in Norwich.
• "Hope Springs" (2012), Golden Globe-nominated movie with Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, was partly filmed Stonington.
• The Zombie television movie "Remains" (2011) was filmed in Norwich, CT.
• "The Town" (2010) starring Ben Affleck was filmed in part at Mohegan Sun Casino in the Montville area.
• "A Mighty Wind" (2003) was filmed at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville.
• "Amistad" (1997) filmed scenes in Groton and Mystic.
• "The Hunt For Red October" (1990) shot scenes at the naval base in Groton.
• "Everybody Wins" (1990), the Arthur Miller thriller play made into a movie filmed scenes in Norwich with Debra Winger and Nick Nolte.
• "Mystic Pizza" (1988), the famous Julia Roberts' movie, takes place in Mystic, a real pizza place by that name.
• "Parrish" (1961) was partially filmed in Mystic Seaport and Old Saybrook.
>Make a reservation to take a Southeastern CT Hollywood Movie Locals Tour!
Hollywood's Famous People Born in Norwich, CT:1) David Della Rocco Actor, The Boondock Saints
2) Arielle Dombasle Actress, Pauline at the Beach
3) Frank Doubleday Actor, Escape from New York
4) Annie Proulx Writer, Brokeback Mountain
5) Carter Director, Maladies
6) Andrew Gernhard Producer, Trees
7) Brittany Goodwin Writer, Secrets in the Snow
8) Zina Provendie Actress, Hanging Man
9) Kristen Vincent, Crew, Things to Do in New York When You Think You're Dead
10) Mitchell Bloom Costume and Wardrobe Department, The Village
11) Frank Currier Actor, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ
12) Alan M. Crane Producer, A Mean Man's War
13) Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt Self, Pres. Roosevelt's Fourth of July Oration
14) Louis Massad Actor, Revenge of the Virgins
15) Meg Anne Schindler, Crew, Mark Twain
16) Marsha Malinowski Self, Antiques Roadshow
17) Karen Swanson Actress, The Scavengers
18) John Cotter Actor, Cherry
19) Senator Thomas J. Dodd
20) Senator Chris Dodd
21) Tommy Breslin Actor, Pretty Angels All in a Row
22) Nelson Polsby Self, Hubert H Humphrey: The Art of the Possible
23) Jason Rosen Special Effects, My Soul to Take
24) Jeff Lunn Actor, Counting the Days
25) Don Ramsden Art Department, Dead Bang
26) Lou Hazam Producer, Michelangelo: The Last Giant
27) James A. Byrne Actor, Eight Bells
28) Andrew Byrne Actor, Eight Bells 29) Wally Lamb, Writer, Wishin' and Hopin'
RECREATION IN NORWICH, CT
The Spa at Norwich Inn
The Spa at Norwich Inn, named "Best Destination Spa in New England" in the 70th Anniversary issue of YANKEE Magazine, "Best Resort in Connecticut" by New England Travel & Life, and "Best Day Spa in Connecticut" for 10 consecutive years by readers of Connecticut Magazine, and rated "Best Day Spa for 2015" by readers of Hartford Magazine. The Spa at Norwich Inn is a member of the Historic Hotels of America, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Built in 1929, the original Norwich Inn was a haven for the rich and famous, drawing such luminaries as George Bernard Shaw, Charles Laughton, Frank Sinatra, and the Prince of Wales. The Inn benefited not only from its premium location, midway between New York and Boston in beautiful eastern Connecticut, but also from the word-of-mouth inspired by its architectural elegance and unrivaled surroundings.
In 1994, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation purchased the Norwich Inn and Spa. The Mashantucket Pequots are an Eastern Woodland people with its traditional homelands in what is now known as Southeastern Connecticut having endured centuries of conflict, survival and continuity on and around one of America’s oldest Indian reservations, established in 1666. They own Foxwoods Casino in Ledyard, CT.
Set on 42 woodland acres, this elegant spa resort is a 1-mile drive from Norwich Public Golf Course and a 1.5-mile drive from Mohegan Sun Casino. The individually decorated, country-chic rooms offer WiFi, flat-screen TVs and private bathrooms. Suites add sitting areas, and the villa offers condolike accommodations. In addition to a day spa, the property features a fitness center with an indoor pool, a whirlpool, a sauna and exercise classes. Daily activities such as nature hikes, meditation classes, wine tastings and tennis are offered. There's also an American restaurant and pub, plus meeting and event facilities. The grounds has villas, a hotel, condominiums, a spa, golf course, and restaurants. They also have banquet and wedding packages.
The Spa at Norwich Inn is an intimate retreat and home to an elegant, full-service spa offering a blend of fitness programs, nutritional instruction and beauty and body treatments redefining the concept of health and wellness, focused on personal attention and flexibility for guests.
Southeastern Connecticut Wine Trail
Visit 6 wineries and vineyards that are a part of the Passport To CT Farm Wine tour - Preston, Ledyard, North Stonington, Stonington. The passport tour gives away 2 trips to Spain every year to the winner of the folks who get their Winery Passport Booklet stamped on the tours.
Connecticut Defenders at Dodd Stadium
Senator Thomas J. Dodd Memorial Stadium is a stadium in Norwich, Connecticut. It is primarily used for baseball, and, in 2010, became the home of the Connecticut Tigers of the New York - Penn League. It was the home field of the Connecticut Defenders minor league baseball team until 2009 when the Defenders announced their move to Richmond, Virginia
Norwich Bowling & Entertainment Center
The center offers a variety of entertainment for all ages, 32 lanes with auto scoring, and they also have automatic bumpers, a banquet room for corporate outings, employee appreciation, holiday parties, bachelor(ette) parties (with exceptions), fundraisers, and birthday parties, day and night leagues for all age groups, from beginners to experienced, six state of the art billiard tables, billiard pool leagues, bowling leagues, a diner, sports bar with karaoke during the week, and Rock-N-Bowl every Friday night featuring loud music with black and disco lights.
RoseGarden Ice Arena - Norwich Ice Rink
All newly renovated, this ice rink has cold electronically controlled ice, better lighting, freshly painted, and there is public ice skating, laser skating, hockey, figure skating, group and private lessons, leagues, tournaments, games, and clubs.
Fishing, Sailing, and River Cruises
Capt. John's and Sunbeam Fleet Fishing and Nature Cruises
Connecticut River Expeditions - River Quest
Mystic Whaler Cruises
(New London, CT)
Poet’s Lounge Sailing Charters
Sabino River Cruises
Sail Away Argia
Entertainment and Performing Arts
Garde Arts Center
(New London, CT)
Goodspeed Opera House
Mohegan Sun Arena
The Spirit of Broadway
Wolf Den at Mohegan Sun
Mohegan Sun Country Club at Pautipaug
Elmridge Golf Course
Fox Hopyard Golf Club
(East Haddam, CT)
Norwich Golf Course
River Ridge Golf Course
Sun-Station HD Indoor Golf
Museums & Attractions
Avery Point Light
B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill
Children's Museum of Southeastern CT
Connecticut Impressionist Art Trail
(Old Lyme, CT)
(New London, CT)
Historic Ship USS Nautilus & Submarine Force Museum
Indian and Colonial Research Center
(Old Mystic, CT)
Jabez Smith House
Lyman Allyn Art Museum
(New London, CT)
Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center
Mohegan Strawberry Social
(Tribal Government & Community Center, Uncasville, CT)
Monte Cristo Cottage
(New London, CT)
Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration
Mystic Seaport - The Museum of America and the Sea
Nathan Lester House
(Gales Ferry, CT)
Old Lighthouse Museum
Slater Memorial Museum
Tantaquidgeon Indian Museum
Thomas Lee House and Little Boston Schoolhouse
(Niantic, East Lyme, CT)
Parks & Gardens
Connecticut College Arboretum
(New London, CT)
Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center
Gillette Castle State Park
(East Haddam, CT)
Mohegan Park and Memorial Rose Garden
Ocean Beach Park
(New London, CT)
Shantok Village of Uncas
Foxwoods Tanger Outlets
Clinton Crossing Premium Outlets
Olde Mistick Village
Tanger Outlet Centers
The Shops at Mohegan Sun
AA Baseball, San Francisco Giants Affiliate
WNBA Connecticut Sun
Jonathan Edwards Winery
(North Stonington, CT)
The Norwich Inn and Spa
1.800.275.4772 / 1.860.425.3500
Elemis Spa at Mohegan Sun