Clinton's Storied Past is preserved in the many homes and buildings, some of which, have endured centuries as the town has evolved around them. They tell a tale of lives and times past that are a rich legacy that we are privileged to share with you. Tour Clinton's history at your preferred pace and depth and share this site with your friends and family.
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Historical Background

The Town of Clinton, Connecticut bears a history that long pre-dates the adoption of this name. The area that would become Clinton was settled mostly by members of the Saybrook Colony in 1663. Lands that today comprise the Towns of Clinton and Killingworth were officially granted in 1664 after the General Assembly at Hartford declared that, “There should be a plantation formed at Hammonassett.” Designated as the, “Lands of Homonoscitt,” the area east of the Hammonasset River was divided into 21 homesteads, the first lot was drawn by Thomas Smith who chose land on the south side of Main Street, just east of the Indian River. As early as 1669, the southern section of Killingworth had become home to a number of families notable throughout Clinton’s history. Included among them were the names of Griswold, Hull, Buell, Stevens, Parmerly, Meigs, Kelsey, Wellman, and Chatfield.

During the course of the eighteenth century, an increasing number of settlers trickled north from the coast into the wilderness of Killingworth. By the early 1800s, this population had grown such a considerable degree that meeting places for town business had to be delegated, with town meetings being held in the North Society, and state elections being held in the South. By 1838, this was viewed as a less than ideal arrangement and residents of the South Society petitioned the State Legislature for the right to separate from the Town of Killingworth. Citing the poor condition of a great many of the North Society’s roads, as well as the hardship involved with attending town meetings in the North Society, members of the South Society sought and received their own township, which they named after the Lord Chamberlain to Henry I and Lord of Kenilworth, Geoffrey de Clinton, in May 1838.

The occupational pursuits of the early settlers of Killingworth were primarily agricultural. Corn, wheat, and flax were cultivated, orchards planted, and sheep, cattle, and horses tended. Due to the abundance of oysters and fish in local waterways, provisions reaped from the earth were soon supplemented by the gathering of these marine and riverine resources, which in addition to being consumed at home, were sold to markets as distant as Hartford. By 1710, another substantial industry, shipbuilding, was established along the Indian River, where three yards were soon turning out four or five vessels annually. This business lasted until the time of the Civil War, whereupon a preference for steam-powered ships closed the yards.

Clinton’s economy remained largely dominated by the oyster business as late as the 1890s, however, other industries were becoming increasingly prominent. By 1900, these included the hardware manufactory established by Edgar and Andrew L. Buell in 1881; the Pratt Chemical Company, distillers of Witch Hazel, founded in 1897; and the vacation tourism industry, which had grown up along the shoreline at Grove Beach, Beach Park, and Hammock Point. By the 1930s, the tourism industry, and the internationally known Pond’s Extract Company, had become two of the leading economic drivers in town.

The affluence and growth that accompanied the aforementioned industries is reflected throughout the Town of Clinton in the architecture of its historic homes, cottages, shops, factories, and public buildings. The town’s built environment represents an array of styles popular during the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries, with many examples being principally intact. These include, but are by no means limited to, representatives of the Georgian, Adam, Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate, Second Empire, Stick, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, and Craftsman styles. This architectural treasure trove is a tangible link to the town’s rich history and those who once called it home. Such a wealth of resources is worthy of preservation, yet they will not survive without careful tending.

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