1900 – Ridgefield’s population is 2,626.
1900 – The town budget totals $20,413.
1900 – The Ridgefield Savings Bank moves its business office to the town hall, where it remains for 22 years.
1900 – Five years after a fire destroys much of the business district, the Ridgefield Water Supply Company begins providing service, including hydrants, on June 13.
Jan. 19, 1900 – William Cornish of Ridgefield, an electrician, is
by the county sheriff for stealing copper wire from the Bridgeport
April 1900 – First National Bank and Trust Company of Ridgefield is formed. It has its office in the town hall, along with Ridgefield Savings Bank. Through many mergers and acquisitions over the years, it is now Wachovia.
April 13, 1900 – The Rev. Larmon W. Abbott dies at the age of 84.
Abbott had been pastor of the Methodist Church in the 1870s and,
represented Ridgefield in the General Assembly. He was a longtime
[school board member].
April 22, 1900 – Burglars enter Graeloe, the summer home of
Biglow on Main Street, now Ballard Park. John Nepph, the gardener,
men removing a large number of valuables. A fight ensues. One of
the men shoots
at him, and the burglars flee. Except for a powder burn, Mr. Nepph
March 31, 1900 – The Rev. John Winthrop Ballantine leaves his
minister of the First Congregational Church.
July 19, 1900 – J. Howard King, wealthy Albany banker, dies at
home in Ridgefield. He is a member of the King family that has
been prominent in
town since the Revolution. His wife is the daughter of Dr. John
of the slave Dred Scott, who in 1856 unsuccessfully sued for his
the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that slaves or their
descendants, even if
free, could never be citizens and therefore had no right to sue.
Aug. 22, 1900 – Hawley Northrop, 24, a member of one of the wealthiest families in town, is killed instantly when his wagon, drawn by a pair of “spirited horses,” crashes and he is “thrown over the dashboard like a stone from a catapult and his head crashed against a stone wall 20 feet away,” The New York Times reports.
October 1900 – the Ridgefield Branch of the International Sunshine Society is organized to help shut-ins.
1900 – The Ridgefield Library and Historical Association is chartered and begins building a new library.
1901 – Col. Edward M. Knox, Congressional Medal
winner who is a hat manufacturer, acquires and expands the Henry
place and calls the 300 acres off Florida Hill Road “Downsbury
Twain, who lives in nearby Redding, is a frequent guest in the
which is razed in 1958 because it’s too big to maintain.
April 1901 –The Borough of Ridgefield is established to create and maintain services such as sewers and gaslights in the village. A Board of Burgesses oversees the operations until the borough government is abandoned in 1921 in favor of a “village district.”
May 10, 1901 – The Ridgefield Press observes:
automobilist would show the same carefulness and consideration
shown by Dr. (R.W.)
Lowe, with his Locomobile, there would be fewer complaints from
It is the first mention of an automobile in Ridgefield.
Sept. 6, 1901 – Throngs surround the telegraph office on Main Street to learn the fate of President William McKinley. Ridgefielder William S. Hawk, with the president until just before the assassination, wires confirmation of his death at 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 12, 1901 – The new bell at St. Mary’s
installed and blessed by Bishop Michael Tierney. The first time it
tolls is for
the death of President William McKinley two days later.
Sept. 12, 1901 – “The dog show and pet animal
exhibition held in the rear of the Casino of the Ridgefield Club
afternoon was not only a financial success, but it was successful
exhibition,” The Press reports. “They were all in fine temper,
themselves to be petted and seemed to be delighted with the
Sept. 14, 1901 – The town hall is draped in
news that President William McKinley, shot eight days earlier by
an assassin, is
Oct. 18, 1901 – The Rev. Richard E. Shortell,
St. Mary’s Parish, is elected to the Board of School Visitors, the
board of the era, and is named acting school visitor.
1902 – A Christian Science practitioner, who
house here for the summer, holds the first Christian Science
1902 – The Rev. Horace W. Byrnes tells local
that he found empty liquor bottles out back of the church,
consumed perhaps by
“husbands blighting the lives of their wives and blasting the
future of their
children” or by “boys who were breaking mothers’ hearts and
fathers’ gray heads in sorrow to the grave.”
June 1902 – New village sewer system is completed.
June 1902 – 208 children from the city arrived late in the month for their stay at Life’s Fresh Air Farm in Branchville.
July 1902 – The Press reports that H.B. Anderson has been purchasing land on West Lane to “erect a handsome summer home.” The place would later be F.E. Lewis’s Upagenstit, now the Ridgefield Manor Estates.
July 1902 – A mad dog shows up one Sunday in July, bites lawyer Sam Keeler, attacks dogs and children, and kills a cat before A.W. Northrop grabs a gun and “ended its career.” Dr. R.W. Lowe cauterizes Mr. Keeler’s wound.
July 4, 1902 – To show their patriotic spirit, 130 Italians working on sewer and water projects in the village organize a Fourth of July parade down Main Street, over West Lane and High Ridge, Catoonah Street, Governor and East Ridge, complete with band.
July 9, 1902 – The Town School Committee votes
“shall hire no teachers from outside the State of Connecticut,
satisfactory ones can be hired from within the state.”
July 29, 1902 – The Town School Committee
thanks, permission to the Village Improvement Society to repair
Sept. 1, 1902 – The selectmen report that ten
living in the “alms house.” Five are men, and five women, but none
Sept. 19, 1902 – Harvey P. Bissell, secretary
of the Town
School Committee, reports that the cost of operating the town’s 14
schoolhouses during the previous year was $6,462.70.
October 1902 – Sereno S. Hurlbutt, tax collector for 21 years, retires in October, having handled hundreds of thousands of dollars and having “accounted for every penny.”
1903 – George I. Johnson becomes the first Ridgefielder to get a new state-required license plate for his car. His 1903 one-cylinder Rambler runabout bore number 688.
1903 – Alan S. Apgar installs an almost unheard-of two acres of lawn at his new mansion, Stonecrest, off North Street.
1903 – Dr. B. A. Bryon buys a piece of land at the top of Titicus Mountain on which a rock spring flows, names it St. George Pure Water, and plans to erect a bottling house to sell the water.
April 29, 1903 – The General Assembly extends
limit for the Ridgefield and New York Railroad Company to secure
the right of
way and building its road until July 4, 1907.
June 1903 – The new Ridgefield Library is
the corner of Main and Prospect Streets, the gift of James Morris
in memory of
his wife, Elizabeth W. Morris.
June 11, 1903 – The General Assembly allows the
and Harlem Traction Company to run its trolley line from Danbury
August 1903 – The town reimburses Mrs. John
$13.50 for “chickens killed by dogs.”
August 1903 – Young Willie Rascoe is sitting
the Titicus store as two young ladies pull up in a buggy to let
drink from a trough. Something goes amiss as the horses pull away
and the buggy
almost turns over. But Willie, “ever prompt especially when the
parties are young and pretty,” rescues the girls. “The boy hero”
hides in the store till the commotion is over without ever
stopping for thanks.
Sept. 1, 1903 – Dr. R.W. Lowe, town health
reports there have been four cases of typhoid fever in town during
year. Three are “imported” and one is due to local conditions.
There were 11
cases of diphtheria, all but one due to “unsanitary conditions of
living in town.”
Sept. 23, 1903 – There were 561 children in the
14 schools during the previous year, reports Harvey P. Bissell,
secretary of the
Town School Committee. The most populated was the Center School,
pupils; the smallest was Bennett’s Farm Schoolhouse, with 10.
1904 – The year was the coldest of the century, with 45 days at or below freezing in New York City.
August 1904 – The George Bennett family is sitting down to dinner in Titicus one evening when a bullet enters the house, hits a teapot and ricochets into the mouth of the Bennett boy, Allen. He survives.
September 1904 – An expert on electrical lighting tells town officials that Ridgefield should allow a generating plant near the station. “The wires will be carried through the side streets and supported on neatly painted poles, which will harmonize with the surrounding trees,” The Press says. “Service will be started in the early evening and run until daylight, thus providing light during all the hours of darkness.”
November 1904 – Seven buildings are leveled as fire sweeps the Sturges Selleck farm in the Bennett’s Farm district. All the animals are saved.
April 14, 1905 – The Mary Rebekah Lodge, the
side of the International Order of Odd Fellows, forms. For decades
Halloween it sponsors the popular Masquerade Ball that benefits
charities. The lodge lasts until late in the 20th
dwindling membership causes it, like the Odd Fellows, to disband
April 20, 1905 – The engine of the 8:20 a.m.
Ridgefield to Branchville jumps the track, overturns and scalds
Horan to death. The Press’s headline: “Horan’s Tragic End.”
October 1905 – An automobile, on its way from the Danbury Fair to South Norwalk, collides with a cow in Ridgefield, seriously injuring two people. Driven by another member of the party, the automobile – without lights or brakes – continues on to South Norwalk that night.
1906 – Ridgefield Electric Company is
provide the town with power. Coal-burning generator is erected on
Ivy Hill Road.
Aug. 12, 1906 – The Rev. John H. Chapman
of St. Stephen’s Church, serving until 1914.
Nov. 19, 1906 – Seventeen cars of a 27-car
on its way from Danbury to New York City, go off the tracks in
cars wind up in the Norwalk River. The train is carrying hay,
coal, and hardware. No one is hurt.
Nov. 22, 1906 – A firebug is blamed as two
break out in village businesses in two days. One occurs at
Benedict’s store on Main Street while the other at Hiram K. Scott
stable on Bailey Avenue. Howard Fillow is seriously injured
fighting one fire.
Dec. 21, 1906 – Twenty three people meet at Masonic Hall to form the Ridgefield Chapter of the National Grange, Patrons of Husbandry.
1907 – The Port of Missing Men inn opens on
Mountain, set among 1,750 acres in Ridgefield and New York that
Anderson had been amassing for several years. It is a popular
New Yorkers, famous for its view spanning many miles and its two
chicken, broiled or fricassee.
1907 – Dr. D. Everett Lyon lectures at town
“The Wonders of the Microscope,” showing enlarged pictures of a
has “the strongest muscular development of any known living
1907 – The Ridgefield School for Boys is
Dr. Roland Jessup Mulford on southern Main Street. During the
summer months, the
school building becomes the Ridgefield Inn.
March 1907 – The selectmen vote in March to pay
Hawley $10 in compensation for sheep killed by roaming dogs.
April 7, 1907 – As Dr. and Mrs. A.L. Northrop
upstairs in Good Cheer, their West Lane home, thieves enter, have
a feast in the
kitchen, and steal hundreds of pieces of silver, valued at
thousands of dollars,
as well as $2 worth of postage stamps. They escape in a buckboard.
April 19, 1907 – William Jennings Bryan,
presidential candidate and famed orator, speaks at town hall.
looked as though half the population of the town had turned out,”
report later reports.
May 2, 1907 –
Edward J. Couch dies. Ninety-two years later, the Aldrich Museum
exhibits an art
construction celebrating him and his collection of stuffed native
birds, and 101
years later, the exhibit becomes part of the town’s 300th
May 1907 – Constable Frank Taylor finds the
behind St. Stephen’s Church ablaze and “a horse securely tied,
being roasted.” He rescues the animal, which survives.
July 2, 1907 – S.D. Keeler’s elevator on Bailey
is heavily damaged by fire.
July 4, 1907 – An “automobile parade” takes
“It is suggested by the managers that drivers of timid horses
route…” The Press warns in advance.
August 1907 – The school board votes $550 to
eight “automatic flush closets” in the Center School. The less
manual flush units are $430.
August 1907 – Architect Cass Gilbert buys the
Aug. 15, 1907 – “There have been many stories
town lately that the water we have been getting from Round Pond
was not pure and
that there were germs of disease, etc., in it,” the Press reports.
Lowe has tests performed. Nothing bad is found.
Aug. 22, 1907 – Around midnight, Arthur B.
steals a horse from Sperry’s livery stable and rides to Danbury,
sells the animal for $100. He is captured the next day and “young
the distinction of being the first prisoner ever brought to
Ridgefield in an
automobile as well as the first ever taken to Bridgeport jail from
here in the
Sept. 1, 1907 – Effective this day, all
the state must be registered. Fee is based on horsepower ($3 under
20 hp, $5 20
to 30, $10 more than 30; motor bicycles, 50 cents).
November 1907 – Seventy-five men form the St.
Club in the recently opened parish clubhouse.
November 1907 – “Don’t think that because my
was burned out that I can not supply the demands of my patrons, as
I have plenty
of oats and a fair supply of other feed,” said an ad from S.D.
runs for weeks.
December 1907 – Judge Howard B. Scott in Danbury awards $100 damages to Mrs. Minnie A. Dingee of Branchville, who alleges that one day in March, conductor Frank A. Lacey “jumped off his train near Branchville and hugged her by force.” She sues. He denies the charges. Each side has witnesses. After the judgment, The Press carries the headline: “A Costly Hug.”
1908 – Dr. Maurice Enright publishes The Ridgefield Tavern: A Romance of Sarah Bishop
highly fictionalized novel inspired by the real hermitess who died
which makes Sarah the daughter of the keeper of the Keeler Tavern
[the real one
was supposedly a farmer’s daughter from Long Island]. Hardbound
copies are sold, but it is not popular. Sample sentence: “When the
wounded, he was partly facing his men and the bullet passing
the soft parts of his back, shattered the dorsal vertebrae and
either a fragment
of the bone or the bullet is pressing upon the spinal marrow,
below that point.” His obituary in the April 15, 1926 Press does
mention the book.
1908 – Registration of dogs begins. Untagged strays are impounded and owners pay $5 to get them back.
February 1908 – At the Methodist Church Cotton Carnival, young men are challenged to sew carpet rags. Arthur G. Seymour wins for neatest work. Julius G. Ficket gets the booby prize. “The efforts of the gentlemen in trying to sew caused much amusement,” The Press says.
March 1908 – A front page story in The Press offers tips on fighting the Gypsy Moth caterpillars.
March 1908 – The newly formed Ridgefield basketball team plays its first game against an out-of-town opponent, Danbury, losing 21-7. The game takes place in town hall.
May 14, 1908 – “Mr. A.B. Hepburn, one of the most prominent financiers of the country, former comptroller of the currency and now president of the Chase National Bank of New York, is building one of the most handsome homes to be seen in this town of beautiful homes,” The Press reports. The house on High Ridge is dubbed Altnacraig. Eighty-four years later, an arsonist burns it to the ground.
May 18, 1908 – Brig. Gen. David Perry, the only Ridgefielder ever to rise to the rank of general, dies in Washington, D.C. Born here June 11, 1841, he fought in the Civil War but gained most of his reputation as “a noted Indian fighter” in battles with the Apaches and Sioux.
June 1908 – Two boys follow one lad’s father into a Whipstick field. While the father sets up targets for practice, one boy picks up a rifle and accidentally fires it, killing six-year-old Walker T. Bailey Jr. Just four years earlier, Walker’s 13-year-old cousin, Bertrand Bailey, is killed when a rifle discharges in his South Salem home.
July 1908 – The town marks its 200th birthday with ceremonies, orations, a parade, and a special bicentennial book.
August 1908 – Several “toughs” from Danbury, who attend a Ridgefield baseball game and “brought something stronger than water with them,” brutally attack Ridgefield fans, are arrested by Constable Frank Taylor, and fined $10 each. .
Oct. 5, 1908 – In “the most hotly contested town election in years,” Benjamin Crouchley wins first selectman and Samuel Keeler, second selectman. Both are Democrats in a town that, even then, almost always elects Republicans.
December 1908 – “An army of men” is at work in, building F.E. Lewis’s estate on West Lane, complete with a 1,100-foot macadamized driveway with electric lights every 125 feet.
Late 1908 – New firehouse on Catoonah Street opens late in the year, replacing town hall basement quarters.
1909 – The Ridgefield School on south Main Street, incorporated in 1908, options the former Edmonds farm north of Lake Mamanasco on which to locate a new campus.
1909 – The major debate this year, as last, is what to do about the ancient dirt roads as more automobiles appear. The selectmen investigate oiling.
January 1909 – Ridgeburians are shocked when James Reynolds, an old and prominent resident, is “slain and mutilated” by a bull. Mr. Reynolds is killed almost instantly, but evidence indicates the bull tossed and dragged him all over a field. “The injuries upon the body were inflicted by the vengeful animal,” the medical examiner says.
May 1909 – Surveyors are in town, laying the route of a new Danbury to New York City railroad line due to be completed by 1914.
May 1909 – The Press advertises for “a bright, active boy” to learn the printing trade “for which there is an ever increasing demand.”
May 7, 1909 – “Barking dogs not to be tolerated,” says the headline about a new state law cracking down on annoying dogs.
Summer 1909 – Work is completed on Fairlawn Cemetery on North Salem Road that summer.
July 1909 – State crews begin oiling main highways in town. “Tar is an admirable dust layer, but little of it has been used in this state as of yet,” The Press says.
August 1909 – A rare porcupine takes up residence on Catoonah Street.
October 1909 – Petitioners want the town to
allow sale of
alcoholic beverages, banned most years since the 1870s. The
the petition, and print it in full in The Press, “believing that
would like to know the names of the voters who desire to introduce
the saloon in
our quiet village.” Those saloon-lovers include C.D. Crouchley,
son of one of
the selectmen, Hiram K. Scott Jr., whose father had been a
Hull, father of future first selectman Harry E. Hull, and Cyrus A.
later embezzled money from the town government and St. Stephen’s
the vote is taken, Ridgefield remains dry, 194 for licensing and
Nov. 9, 1909 – Hiram Keeler Scott dies at 87.
town clerk, probate judge and postmaster founded what is now
Bissell Pharmacy in
1910 – Ridgefield’s population reaches 3,118.
1910 – 80 births are recorded in town.
Dec. 30, 1910 – The Rev. Nathan L. Rockwell, a Ridgefield native, dies of pneumonia is Korea, where he is a missionary. He is 59 years old.
Jan. 11, 1911 – John P. Mannion is walking along the railroad track near the village station around 8 p.m. when he discovers the body of Eugenio Frulla of Abbott Avenue, who had just been struck and killed by the 7:38 train.
June 1912 – Angry selectmen chastise State
Commissioner McDonald’s “proverbial failure to make good his
after many complain about the “intolerable dust nuisance” of Main
The commissioner had promised to spray Tarvia B on the road by May
and the selectmen took the initiative and began sprinkling water
on the dirt
Oct. 5, 1912 – Fire that starts in a hay loft
barn and garage at Graeloe [now Ballard Park] on Main Street.
Oct. 7, 1912 – A town meeting accepts a give of
build a school on East Ridge and appoints a building committee.
The land donor
is Edward Payson Dutton, owner of the E.P. Dutton publishing house
imprint still alive in 2008.
Oct. 15, 1912 – The Keeler barn on lower Main
burns to the ground. Firemen wet down the rubble and inspect
Soon after they leave, the stable bursts into flame and burns
down. Two horses
Jan. 19, 1913 – The Holy Name Society is formed
March 9, 1913 – Sunset View, a small hotel on West Lane, catches fire and burns to the ground while the owner, Thomas Kiernen and his family, are in church. A “firebug” is blamed.
Spring 1913 – Lucius H. Biglow’s new Tudor-style store and office building on Main Street is completed. The telephone company and Brundage and Benedict are the first occupants.
April 1913 – The state House votes down woman suffrage, but both Ridgefield representatives are in favor. Two months later, a big anti-suffrage rally takes place at the town hall. “The woman of the past decade specialized on children and the men on work,” Mrs. John Preston Martin tells the audience. “Now man has stolen woman – drafted her into the service of making money for man... Forcing woman out of the home into the cares and worries of the outside world is wrong and is wearing on her.”
April 1913 – The new Congregational parsonage opens containing “11 rooms with all modern improvements and a charming little sun parlor included.”
June 20, 1913 – Burt Dingee is walking his
the track in Branchville that night when he is struck by a
With his dog at his side, he lies helpless all night in the
pouring rain. When
the 6 a.m. train out of Danbury approaches Branchville, the
engineer spots the
dog standing in the middle of the track, barking at the
locomotive. The dog
refuses to move. The engineer stops the train, discovers the
victim, and summons
medical help. Burt Dingee recovers.
Fall 1913 – The straightaway on Farmingville
the north end of Great Swamp, is built, bypassing Lee and Limekiln
Oct. 31, 1913 – The Seventh Annual Masquerade
of the Mary
Rebekah Lodge takes place.
Nov. 20, 1913 – The Italian American Political Club, later the Italian American Mutual Aid Society, is organized.
1914 – A total of 101 births are recorded in
largest number between 1910 and 1930.
June 9, 1914 – The Ridgefield Garden Club is
Oct. 15, 1914 – The District Nursing Association, now the Ridgefield Visiting Nurse Association, has its first meeting.
1915 – Benjamin Franklin Grammar School opens
Ridge. Twelve years later it becomes Ridgefield High School.
[Today, it is the
Richard E. Venus Municipal Building.]
1915 – The 40-room mansion of William S. Hawk,
the Hotel Manhattan, burns to the ground on Branchville Road.
Jan. 7, 1915 – The Ridgefield basketball team
Germans of Danbury, 58-27 on Francis D. Martin leads all scorers
May 2, 1915 – The Rev. William B. Lusk becomes
St. Stephen’s Church, serving 35 years.
June 15, 1915 – “A large band of gypsies” encamps on lower Main Street. Selectman Eldridge N. Bailey tells them to scram, and they leave the next day.
1916 – 100 births are recorded in town, well above the average for 1910-1930 of 68.
1916 – The public school system takes over operation of the kindergarten, which had been founded in 1894 and for many years had been operated by the Ridgefield Garden Club.
May 30, 1916 – The Right Rev. Chauncey
of Connecticut, consecrates the new St. Stephen’s Church.
1917 – The school budget totals $25,996.
Jan. 12, 1917 – A huge explosion at the DuPont
Mills in Haskell, N.J., is felt in Ridgefield as “quivering and
though a mighty gust of wind.” Many think it is an earthquake and
higher elevations can see the sky lit up by the blast 70 miles
April 3, 1917 – William J. Cumming enlists in the U.S. Army, the first to do so in World War I. Nine months later, he is dead.
June 1917 – First graduation takes place at Hamilton High School on Bailey Avenue [now the municipal parking lot].
Summer 1917 – A Chautauqua program, aimed at educating and entertaining the common people, opens with a parade of school children waving flags and flowers and takes place under a tent on East Ridge. Ten more annual shows would take place before Chautauqua in Ridgefield dies.
Nov. 28, 1917 – A Red Cross chapter organizes here to help with war effort.
1918 – Charlotte Wakeman is named Ridgefield’s first school superintendent.
January 1918 – Postmaster Willis S. Gilbert announces that under new federal orders, “male citizens, denizens, enemies or subjects of the German government or of the Imperial government, the age of 14 and over, who are in the United States and not naturalized or American citizens,” must register as “alien enemies.”
Jan. 5, 1918 – Private William James Cumming,
102nd Ambulance Company of the United States Army, dies
in France. He
was the first man to enlist from Ridgefield in World War I.
July 29, 1918 – Private Everett Ray Seymour is the second Ridgefielder to die in World War I. He is killed in a battle near Fere-en-Tardenois, France.
Oct. 8, 1918 – The massive influenza epidemic prompts officials to cancel the Danbury Fair for the first time in its history, the lead story in The Press reports.
Oct. 14, 1918 –A packed Town Meeting unanimously backs President Wilson and supports “unconditional surrender or a fight to the finish” in the war against Germany.
Nov. 7, 1818 – False news reaches Ridgefield that Armistice has been signed. Virtually the entire population turns out, church and school bells ring all afternoon, and a parade led by the Ridgefield Band marches down Main Street.
December, 1918 – “A moving picture machine of the latest model is being erected in the Parish House of St. Stephen’s Church … and there will be shown every Sunday evening and on stated week evenings pictures of an educational character,” The Press reports.
1919 – Regular Christian Science services begin
Within a couple years, rooms over the post office [Addessi
Jewelers in 2008] are
rented for services, a reading room, and a Sunday school.
January 1919 – The 18th Amendment
Prohibition – is ratified and takes effect a year later.
Connecticut is among
the states that do not vote for ratification.
December 1919 – Fifteen members of two
families barely escape with their lives just before Christmas as
their house on
Bennett’s Farm Road burns down.
Dec. 8, 1919 – American Impressionist artist J.
Weir dies at 67. His longtime Branchville farm later becomes the
Park property in Connecticut.
Ridgefield’s population falls to 2,707, a drop
of 400 in
March 9, 1920 – Twenty teachers (most of the
submit resignations in a salary dispute with the school board.
March 16 and in May, get a raise. The highest-paid teacher is
making $150 a
month, the lowest, $70.
Aug. 20, 1920 – The American Legion post is
named for Everett Ray Seymour, the first Ridgefielder to die in
battle in World
War I. It plans to erect a war memorial.
Nov. 2, 1920 – Hubbard’s Radio Store on Main
sets up a receiver in the town hall so Ridgefielders can listen to
that show Harding and Coolidge beat Cox and Roosevelt. Before
Ridgefielders had gotten returns by telegraph.
December, 1920 – This winter, “hot lunches” – cold sandwiches with hot cocoa – are provided for the first time for children of the Ridgefield Grammar School, thanks to the Ridgefield Mothers Association, District Nursing Association, Red Cross, Sunshine Society, and the Franchise League. The lunches are for 200 of the school’s 400 children, mostly bused, who can’t walk home for noon break.
1921 – Kathryn G. Bryon establishes the first
Girl Scout Troop – Troop One.
Feb. 23, 1921 – The League of Women Voters has
meeting on less than a year after women win the right to vote.
May 11, 1921 – The Borough of Ridgefield is
into the town of Ridgefield. The Village District replaces the
oversee sewer, light, hydrant, and other specialized center
services. It has its
own town meetings to approve budgets and special tax rates.
June 23, 1921 – Lightning strikes a shed at
Keeler’s farm at Whipstick, igniting a blaze that spreads to barns
stables. The fire department’s “motor apparatus” responds, but can
little. [See also March
Summer, 1921 – The school board hires Charles
as superintendent, but the state refuses to certify him. The board
but retains him on a 5-4 vote. Pro-education forces are outraged.
Oct. 3, 1921 – In the first town election after
passage of the 19th Amendment the year before, Marion
Nash wins a
seat on the School Committee (Board of Education). Not only is she
woman elected to a town office, but she also gets more votes than
the three men
who run for the board do. At the committee’s first post-election
11, Miss Nash is given a welcoming speech and “a handsome, large
Oct. 21, 1921 – A 28-room mansion built by
Hawk around 1890 burns to the ground in a spectacular blaze. The
place has been
vacant for some years.
Oct. 27, 1921 – Six days later, Felsenberg, the
Mountain mansion of diplomat William Harrison Bradley, burns down,
5,000 books – many of them rare – as well as historic documents,
vases, china, and jewelry. The blaze starts a forest fire on the
November 1921 – The New Haven Railroad
protest to the state’s granting a jitney license to the Trackless
Company, which wants to run a bus service from Stamford to New
Ridgefield, and Danbury.
November 1921 – A seven-passenger Hudson goes
control on Danbury Road, “turns turtle” in a ditch, and catches
four people inside. Passerby John Nelly, “a man of powerful
open the car, allowing all to escape. The Press headline:
Nov. 6, 1921 – Joseph Roche and his roommate
Reneri, a Branchville storekeeper, quarrel on the platform of the
Station. Roche stabs his friend to death and disappears.
December 1921 – Dr. John Perry, the school
announces that all children will have their eyes tested. “He is
5% of the children cannot see the blackboard.”
December 1921 – Francis D. Martin is selling
Edison, “the phonograph with a soul.” He demonstrates the device
to a large
audience in town hall, comparing the Edison with live singer Helen
December 1921 – The state police open
West Lane, covering all of Fairfield County with troopers on
“Lawbreakers nowadays, whether crooks breaking a bank in the city
committing depredations in the rural sections, nearly all use the
auto to make
quick getaways,” The Press said. “The motorcycle cop is a decided
over an officer on horseback who would have small opportunity of
overtaking an auto.”
December 1921 – A gasoline stove explodes at Coleman’s Lunch Café behind the town hall, severely burning Ben Brown, the “right bower,” and destroying the restaurant. Owner Michael Coleman rebuilds.
1922 – The Ridgefield Savings Bank, which had
space in the town hall for its office for 22 years, moves out and
street to the Scott Block, [where Ridgefield Office Supply is in
Ridgefield Press headline: “Town Loses $600 a Year Lease.”
1922 – Holy Ghost fathers buy the former
on Prospect Ridge for a novitiate that lasts till early 1970s.
Jan. 25, 1922 – A Manhattan bus hits and kills
Hepburn, president of the Chase National Bank, on. The owner of
High Ridge bequeaths more than $5 million to universities,
colleges, and family
March 1922 – The state begins paving Wilton
then dirt, and straightens the road in the process. The abandoned
School houses workmen.
April 1922 – Ernest Scott moves some buildings, tears down others, as he begins erecting the Scott Block on Main Street. [The Addessi family now owns the block.]
April 1922 – The school committee reports that
689 children in the public schools, attendance is running at 88%.
school has the best rate: 92%.
April 1922 – For roadwork, the selectmen that
a kerosene-fueled tractor, perhaps the first town-owned motor
vehicle. “One of
the great advantages of a tractor is its economy,” The Press
running expenses are comparatively light and it will do the work
April 22, 1922 – A tenement on Bailey Avenue
and burns to the ground, igniting other buildings including Bates’
which is also destroyed. The Press charges that the water company
failed to keep
its standpipe full, leaving virtually no pressure to protect the
adjacent to the garage. The paper cites other fires when
May 1922 – The state is still in the throes of
with early versions of daylight saving time. Half the businesses
including the Ridgefield Savings Bank, are on “standard time”
such as First National Bank and Trust, are on “advanced time.” An
1923 to ban “local option” on daylight saving time is defeated in
May 1922 – The Town School Committee adopts new
requirements for Hamilton High School, making it more likely
graduates can get
into colleges. It includes four years of Latin, three years of
courses in general science, physics, chemistry, algebra, geometry,
June 1922 – Woodcarver Sebastiano Grassi gives
elaborately carved chair to President and Mrs. Warren G. Harding
in honor of the
calling of the conference on world disarmament. The chair is
placed in the White
July 20, 1922 – State Police Officer John C.
the Ideal Garage on Danbury Road to have his motorcycle fixed. He
furniture truck with two suspicious occupants, checks the cargo,
225 gallons of grain alcohol valued at $1,400 [about $16,000 in
2008]. He and
Officer Leo F. Carroll arrest the men and lock them up in the town
basement. Later in the day, in court in the town hall, the two are
each. “Both fines and costs were paid by a stranger, a man driving
touring car, who was apparently waiting outside.”
July 25, 1922 – William Lynch of St. Mary’s
joins the Order of the Marist Brothers at Poughkeepsie, N.Y. He is
16 years old.
July 30, 1922 – St. Mary’s marks the 25th
anniversary of the dedication of its church.
July 31, 1922 – The post office moves from east
Main Street to the Scott Block [where Addessi’s is now] and
remains there till
August 1922 – In the great brouhaha that
summer, Dr. H.W.
Allen wants the two trees in front of his new brick retail
building at 423-27
Main Street removed because they block the view of the businesses.
warden refuses, citing a petition from the garden club and letters
supporting the trees. Allen appeals to the County Commissioners.
They order the
trees removed, then suddenly reverse their decision after an
person” speaks up for the trees.
September 1922 – Catoonah Street is paved.
Fall 1922 – Townspeople debate removing the watering trough from Main Street in front of town hall. “This fountain is in effect a ‘filling station’ for horses,” says B. Ogden Chisholm. “No thoughtful person would sanction a filling station for motor cars on the main highway.” But Mrs. Cass Gilbert says it should remain as a memorial to editor and author, John Ames Mitchell, who designed and donated it.
1923 – The American Legion Auxiliary is
January 1923 – The School Committee closes
and Scotland Schools because the teachers at each have resigned.
exceedingly difficult to secure teachers at this season because of
requirements demanded by the State Board of Education,” The Press
that pupils will be transported to Titicus and Benjamin
Franklin schools in
“covered” buses. “The children will assemble at their respective
where they will be met by the bus. The school houses will be
opened and kept
warm so that the pupils may be sheltered from the elements.”
March 7, 1923 – Darius Crosby Baxter, the
founder of The
Ridgefield Press in 1875, dies. “Mr. Baxter was a unique character
individuality stood apart from the average,” The Press says,
adding he was
“gifted with good business acumen and a sense of humor. He had
March 1923 – The Press reports that “to the
Ridgefield and its lack of protection, rowdies took possession of
center Sunday afternoon and bombarded passing motors and
pedestrians with dirty
snow. The humiliating part is that some of these boys come from
homes and all are old enough to know better.”
April 23, 1923 – Parishioners celebrate the 30th
anniversary of Father Richard E. Shortell’s tenure as St. Mary’s
giving him a surprise party – and a new Cadillac Coupe.
May 1923 – The School Committee decides to
erect a new
high school on East Ridge, next to Benjamin Franklin Grammar
two-story, 120-foot long building would contain eight rooms on the
and a 400-person auditorium on the second. Total cost: $60,000.
approve, but the town runs into financing difficulties and the
becomes an addition to the grammar school – sans auditorium.
June 1923 – The Press reports that a Bridgeport
chastises the town because lots behind village stores “resemble a
of Johnstown after the flood had subsided and a second-class
Just why a town will be so fussy on the front of a set of lots and
at the rear is hard to understand…”
Aug. 30, 1923 – In what might be the first
in Ridgefield, village merchants hold “Ridgefield Dollar Day.”
Fall 1923 – Jeweler L. P. Cartier leases his
“Downesbury Estate” on Florida Hill Road to the Paulist Fathers,
who set up
a novitiate there with 20 candidates for the priesthood. The
Oct. 22, 1923 – At 7 a.m., a northbound
is descending Limestone Hill on Danbury Road when its axle breaks.
overturns, spilling its content of grapes – and 35 gallons of
The driver and a passenger disappear. “The grapes spilled over the
some of the cans of alcohol also were thrown out and broke, the
odor at once
giving information to people who stopped as to the nature of the
contents,” The Press says. “Evidently that was the reason why the
the other man did not linger in the vicinity.”
November 1923 – A half-page ad for Schultze’s Meats and Fish “at the old Hibbart Market” includes (prices per pound) pot roast, 16 cents; rib lamb chops, 38 cents; Porter House steak, 44 cents; frankfurts, 22 cents; milk-fed roasting chickens, 38 cents; Puritan sliced bacon, 45 cents; sirloin steak, 38 cents; Prime rib roast, 26 to 34 cents; Sunlight butter, 55 cents; and pure pork sausage, 25 cents.
Jan. 3, 1924 – “The Town Hall was never more
artistically or prettily decorated,” The Press reports,
Girls Athletic Club’s annual New Year’s Eve dance with the music
Sterling’s six-piece orchestra from Norwalk.
Jan. 5, 1924 – George Washington Gilbert, known
wide as “the Hermit of Ridgefield,” is found frozen to death in
on Florida Hill Road.
March 1924 – Miss Ella J. Rose, supervisor of
economics for the state school board, tells the School Committee
was something wrong in Ridgefield” because only 10 students are
signed up to
take home ec the next year. Twenty-four are needed to run the
Rose said home economics should be given to the girl nearest the
time when she
could use it,” The Press reports. “Fourteen years is the minimum
March 24, 1924 – The Christian Science Society
Ridgefield is established.
May 1924 – Dr. Harry E. Bard, a former school
superintendent in the Philippines, is chosen Ridgefield’s new
[See also Sept. 6,
June 1, 1924 – Nearly 1,000 people attend the
of St. Mary’s new cemetery.
June 1924 – With the arrest of three young men,
police break “a gigantic chicken-thieving ring” operating in the
ringleader is the father of one of the boys. He’s described as
“vicious home surroundings” for his son, who can neither read nor
is trained only in stealing chickens.
June 1924 – State police also arrest Alfred
arson. Troopers say he has burned several barns and other
buildings around town
in recent months.
July 4, 1924 – The American Legion dedicates
the new War
Memorial on Main Street at Branchville Road.
Summer 1924 – Years of motorists’ complaints
muddy condition of the Sugar Hollow Road [Route 7] between
Danbury prompt the state to spend $113,000 that summer to pave the
August 1924 – The Ridgefield Electric Company
it will soon receive its current from Connecticut Light and Power
instead of generating its own at the Ivy Hill Road power station.
September 1924 – Town Clerk and Probate Judge
Knapp dies suddenly in September of “acute indigestion.” He is 41.
Sept. 20, 1924 – Constable Roswell L. Dingee
shows up at
state police headquarters with a carload of people – two men and
– he’d pulled over on West Lane. He asks Sgt. John Kelly to arrest
reckless driving. Kelly says Dingee should make the arrest
declines, saying he doesn’t know which person to arrest. Kelly is
Dr. H. W. Allen is summoned, examines Dingee, and finds him to be
Kelly arrests Dingee for drunken driving. He’s fined $100.
Oct. 24-26, 1924 – Jesse Lee Methodist Episcopal Church celebrates its 100th anniversary.
1925 – Delivery of mail to homes and businesses
but only in the village.
March 7, 1925 – The Rev. Francis H. McGlynn, a
native, is ordained a priest and celebrates his first Mass the
next day at St.
May 31, 1925 – Several hundred people attend
dedication of The Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes at the Holy Ghost
Prospect Ridge. [The grotto is still there, minus the statue of
Our Lady of
July 1925 – The Danbury and Norwalk railroad
switched from coal-powered engines to electric engines.
The line remains electrified until 1961 when diesel engines
Aug. 8, 1925 – The last passenger train from
arrives at Ridgefield station [in 2008 now a Ridgefield Supply
slated to be moved to become a youth arts center]. The service,
begun in 1870,
is no longer profitable. Buses now run between the station and the
September 1925 – Hamilton High School on Bailey Avenue is so overcrowded, students must attend some classes in the top floor of the town hall and some at the firehouse.
1926 – The number of motor vehicles registered
totals 1,061; 36 auto accidents are reported during the year.
Jan. 1, 1926 – George Walter Weir of Bryon
of the best-known men in Ridgefield,” dies. For 36 years, he had
conductor on the Ridgefield Branch of the New York, New Haven and
Jan. 8, 1926 – Hamilton High School’s
beats New Milford, its eighth straight win. The next week, it
finally loses, to
Jan. 9, 1926 – A large part of the mansion of
mogul Robert P. Scripps is destroyed in a fire finally brought
under control by
the Ridgefield Fire Department. “The worst and most insidious fire
department had ever fought” causes $20,000 damages [$230,000 in
Jan. 28, 1926 – The Ridgefield Promoters Club
first meeting at the Elms Inn, and elects George G. Scott its
James J. Kelly, one of the founders, explains that the club is
“one in which
religion and politics (are) barred and where the town’s interests
Feb. 11, 1926 – The Ridgefield Baseball Club
building of a gymnasium “for the use of the town boys and the
such time as the school board builds a gymnasium” of its own.
Feb. 12, 1926 – In what must have been a
saddening sight for local oenophiles, state police
raid a house on Prospect Street and confiscate 20 barrels
“of what is
reported as being very good wine, some of it having been imported
Europe,” The Press reports. Police pour the contents onto the snow
the owners of the house. Nearby, 20 cases of beer and other
are confiscated at the store of Brunetti and Garsparini at
Prospect and Bailey
March 7, 1926 – Calling Norwalk becomes easier.
will not be necessary for telephone users to ask for the toll line
making a call to Norwalk,” The Press explains. “Subscribers here
give the local operator the out-of-town number that is desired and
the call will
go through about as quickly as a local call…”
March 11, 1926 – The new Promoters Club hears
Hurley, superintendent of the Connecticut State Police, explain
the value of
March 12, 1926 – A dog is the only casualty
chicken plant at Shadowbrook Farm, owned by Seth Low Pierrepont,
March 24, 1926 – Eleven head of cattle die when
barn on M.C. Keeler’s farm on Nod Road burns to the ground. The
glow of the
fire is discovered at 5 a.m. by young David Seymour, who lives a
mile away on
Wilton Road West and who arises early because he is “very fond of
sunrise.” [See also June
March 26, 1926 – Samuel D. Keeler, a prominent
businessman and merchant for 40 years, dies at 73.
April 10, 1926—Joseph Wilmot Hibbard, who had
fish and grocery markets on Main Street for nearly half a century,
dies at 65.
April 13, 1926 – The Town School Committee
staff and sets salaries. High School principal Clifford A.
Holleran is the
highest paid, at $2,400, followed by Hamilton High School teachers
Burdick, English, and Ruth E. Wills, French and Latin, who each
[accounting for inflation, about $20,000 today].
April 23, 1926 – Arbor and Bird Day is observed
schools with various exercises. Col. Louis D. Conley of Outpost
Seth Low Pierrepont of Twixthills provide trees for planting.
April 26, 1926 – The motion picture, The Iron
Fox, is shown at the library.
April 29, 1926 – Two youths are arrested after
disturbance during the high school play, staged at the town hall.
One was drunk.
April 30, 1929 – The Lockwood brothers, John
are arrested in a shanty near the railroad track, charged with a
jewelry, clothing and cutlery from a Titicus home. The stolen
May 1926 – The Ridgefield Garden Club sponsors
for school children who collect tent caterpillar egg clusters.
Gino Polverari wins $10 for coming in first with 10,349 cases,
followed by Nancy
Jones, 9,204, who wins $8.
May 28, 1926 – A landmark Farmingville house is
after an oil stove explodes. The house, modeled after a Spanish
built around 1852 by Stephen Fry, a carpenter, after he came back
California Gold Rush.
June 10, 1926 – Julia Finch Gilbert, wife of
Architect Cass Gilbert and owner of the Keeler Tavern, says in a
letter to The
Press that the recently announced plans to turn Main Street into a
highway, widen it and cover it with concrete will increase noisy
metropolitan New York and the Berkshires, ruining the quiet of the
“Modern traffic is a serious modern problem,” she says, adding she
prefer to “continue to bump down from the fountain to the bank and
and continue to suffer from this slight annoyance until our
traffic problem is
more scientifically solved.”
June 17, 1926 – 24 students graduate from
Hamilton High School, seven of whom plan to go to college or
Commencement takes place in town hall. It is the school’s last
June 24, 1926 – John Bacchiochi leads the
baseball team this season with 20 hits for an average of .377. He
is followed by
Olinto “Lynce” Carboni, .321.
July 1, 1926 – Opposition to Main Street
turning into a
concrete state highway continues as Louis Morris Starr sends The
Press a copy of
an editorial from The New York Times, entitled “Replacing Elms
July 8, 1926 – In a full-page advertisement in
Central Garage asks, “Is this the answer to America’s traffic
The ad promotes the new four-cylinder Whippet, made by the
which parks in 12 feet, has a 34-foot turning radius, pick-up of
from 5 to 30
mph in 13 seconds, four-wheel brakes, and up to 30 miles on a
gallon of gas and
1,000 miles on a gallon of oil.
July 18, 1926 – Charles H. Ritch, a prominent
contractor and builder who owns many houses in town, dies.
July 19, 1926 – A bus carrying 23 passengers
head-on with a touring car, driven by a Brooklyn man, on South
Salem Road in
front of Pinchbeck Nurseries. A second bus, trying to avoid the
off the road. No one is seriously injured, but the driver of the
convicted of having improper brakes.
Aug. 1, 1926 – The Bridgeport Construction
laying the concrete highway along Main Street to Island Hill on
Construction includes redesigning the intersection of Main Street
Road by removing the old Pulling homestead. Eventually the highway
extended along the Danbury Road to the Sugar Hollow Road, making a
highway the entire distance between Ridgefield and Danbury.
Aug. 11, 1926 – George L. Rockwell and many
petition the Town Meeting to appropriate $500 to celebrate the
Ridgefield’s 150th anniversary in 1927.
Aug. 26, 1926 – The State Highway Department is
bids on laying concrete on the Danbury-Norwalk Road between the
Branchville, where it will meet the new concrete highway under
Branchville to Norwalk. Work is underway by October. The complete
Danbury to Norwalk costs $680,000 [$8 million in 2008].
September 1926 – Hamilton High School moves
Avenue to a new wing at the grammar school on East Ridge, and
called Ridgefield High School. The Town School Committee plans to
kindergarten and first grade from the grammar school to the old
which will be called The Garden School. The building had been
given to the town
years earlier by Gov. P.C. Lounsbury for educational uses.
Sept. 15, 1926 – A Town Meeting approves
Prospect Street from Main Street to the railroad tracks.
Oct. 8, 1926 – All schools are closed for
Oct. 12, 1926 – A total of 741 children are
the schools including high school, 130; junior high, 126; Benjamin
Public School, 325; Titicus, 115; West Mountain, 16; Ridgebury, 9;
28; Bennett’s Farm, 11; and Farmingville, 15.
November 1926 – Many Main Street homeowners are
occasion of the paving of Main Street to install concrete curbing
November 1926 – Eugene O’Neill of North Salem
sails for Bermuda for six months, planning to write a play.
Nov. 2, 1926 – Ethel M. Ryan and Mortimer C.
Republicans, are elected Ridgefield’s state representatives to
defeating Democrats Herbert E. Bates and Charles D. Crouchley.
John H. Trumbull for governor; he wins the state, too.
Nov. 9, 1926 – George Chase of Goldens Bridge
Elden of Danbury are arrested for stealing apples from the Rundle
Ridgebury. Grand Juror Octavius “Tabby” Carboni prosecutes the
Town Justice Peter McManus, and the two are fined $10 plus costs.
Nov. 11, 1926 – The recently formed Ridgefield
now boasts 65 members and gathers several times at its gymnasium
on Danbury Road
Nov. 24, 1926 – More than 200 people dine on
at the eight annual Father and Son Banquet of the Ridgefield High
School YMCA at
the Congregational Church House.
Dec. 8, 1926 – Marshall W. Ralson, popular
for the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad in Ridgefield,
dies at his
desk. He is also the town’s auditor.
Dec. 15, 1926 – Miss Mabel Cleves retires as
the Parent-Teacher Association, which she had led the 10 years
creation from the old Mothers Club, of which she had been
president for 16
Dec. 20, 1926 – A committee to study whether
should have zoning, created at the October Annual Town Meeting,
organizational meeting and elects H.P. Bissell chairman. The
from Judge Norman of Darien, who describes how well zoning has
worked in that
town for many years.
Dec. 22, 1926 – Alfred Holley, an automobile
Danbury, is driving a new Studebaker Special Six sedan on
Branchville Road when
it suddenly catches fire. He jumps out. The car goes down a
lands on its side, bursts into flames, and is destroyed.
1927 – Only 43 births are recorded in town, the
number of any year between 1910 and 1930.
Jan. 29, 1927 – Italian American Club opens its
quarters on Prospect Street.
February 1927 – A recommendation to adopt
proposed by a Town Meeting-created committee of leading citizens,
great commotion” at a packed Town Meeting, which vetoes the idea,
April 1927 – Two bandits, one wielding a
other a cheese knife, rob $50 from Pasquale DeBenigno’s Store in
A shot fired at Mr. DeBenigno misses, goes through four shoes on a
shelf, and is
lodged in the toe of a fifth. A few months later, part of Mr.
house burns down.
June 1927 – The National Garden Club has a
The West Lane Schoolhouse is used as headquarters for events.
May 30, 1927 – Throngs attend 150th
anniversary of Battle of Ridgefield on Memorial Day. Celebration
parade, speeches, ball games, a band concert, and a dance.
June 1927 – Giants star Rogers Hornsby signs a
raffled at Ridgefield Base Ball Club benefit.
August 1927 – Mr. and Mrs. Francis D. Martin
14-month driving tour of the U.S., Canada, and Alaska.
August 1927 – Dominic Fossi kills a six and
water adder on Prospect Street after it frightens Miss Grace
Clark. It is called
“the largest reptile ever seen in Ridgefield.”
Fall 1927 – State police arrest a dozen
“shooting craps.” After a packed trial in town hall, each is fined
November 1927 – George L. Rockwell’s History of Ridgefield is published.
1928 – The school board votes to install
in the Titicus School, as long as the Titicus PTA pays for it.
1928 – Arthur D. Horton named school
serves 14 years, longer than any Ridgefield superintendent.
1928 – Harvey P. Bissell sells his drug store
Kelly. Edgar C. Rapp would be the pharmacist, but the Bissell name
1928 – The state rebuilds and paves Danbury
eliminating many curves.
January 1928 – Harold Finch buys the United
on Main Street.
Feb. 2, 1928 – Joseph Kaufman, president of the
Safety Razor Corp., who has a country estate here, dies of
appendicitis at the
age of 46. The financial leader served with the U.S. Intelligence
World War II.
July 31, 1928 – The last Chautauqua program
in Ridgefield to dwindling audiences. First started here in 1886
resurrected in 1917, Chautauqua provided five-day camps, full of
and educational programs for children and adults – opening with a
August 1928 – The Francis Martin family returns
after traveling 23,000 miles around North America for one year.
Summer 1928 – Three Ridgefield firemen escape
injury when their Reo chemical truck, responding to an alarm,
them underneath. Six others on the truck are thrown clear.
Oct. 27, 1928 – A car driven by author Konrad
on Danbury Road near Limestone Road collides with a car driven by
man on his way to the Yale-Army football game. Bercovici is
injured, and sues
for $100,000. A court in July 1929 awards him $12,634 [$152,000 in
Nov. 20, 1928 – A gas explosion and fire wrecks several stores in the Scott Block [Addessi block in 2008] on Main Street. No one is seriously hurt, though little Fred Rux is blown off his bike as he rides by.
Jan. 3, 1929 – “Mr. John Dowling is going into
bedding business,” announces an advertisement in The Press,
full-sized hair mattress at $65. Eighteen months later, Mr.
tragically [see July 11,
Jan. 3, 1929 – E.F. Brown beats Horace Walker,
the Ridgefield Fire Department election for fire chief.
Jan. 16, 1929 – Dr. B. A. Bryon is badly
injured when his
Elcar Coupe is hit by a speeding car in Georgetown. Dr. Bryon
recovers and sues
the other driver for $10,000 [$120,000 in 2008].
Feb. 8, 1929 – The Ridgefield Y basketball team
Danbury YMCA, 26-23, to win the Fairfield County championship.
Feb. 26, 1929 – John J. Anderson, 32, who claims to have been a World War veteran who was shot down several times while on missions over Europe and also claims to have been gassed by the Germans, is arrested and jailed for stealing pencils and flashlights from United Cigar Store on Main Street.
March 14, 1929 –The Grove Inn on Danbury Road
the ground in a spectacular fire.
March 19, 1929 – Aldo Branchini, 7, of Nod Hill
fractured pelvis and internal injuries after he was run over by a
school bus at
the Benjamin Franklin Grammar School.
March 20, 1929 – John Hampton Lynch, a New York
businessman whose country estate is on West Mountain, dies at 70.
[His home in
2008 is Ridgefield Academy, and had been for years, the
Congregation of Notre
Late March, 1929 – Opera Star Geraldine Farrar
Lane returns home after a 21,000-mile, North American singing tour
that began in
April 23, 1929 – The Ridgefield Lions Club has
meeting, electing Francis D. Martin president.
May 5, 1929 – Joseph Thoma, 63, is driving his
carriage along Silver Spring Road, along with his dog, when he
slumps to one side, and dies of a heart attack. State police are
called to the
scene but the dog will not allow them to touch Mr. Thoma. His
and calls the dog away. “Here again is an instance of the fidelity
friend, the dog,” The Press comments.
May 12, 1929 – Fire destroys the social hall
bungalows at Camp Topstone on the Danbury Road. High winds spread
the fire to
May 19, 1929 – The Christian Science Society of
Ridgefield opens its new home in the “Old Hundred” on Main Street
the administrative building of the Aldrich Museum].
June 25, 1929 – A Town Meeting approves
abandoning one of
two crossings of the railroad line north of Branchville station.
closing the crossing just north of the station, but OK closing the
Crossing” north of that.
July 18, 1929 – The Ideal Garage on Danbury
advertising Graham-Paige automobiles, starting at $855 [$10,000 in
2008] for a
two-door sedan, featuring a 62-horsepower engine.
July 20, 1929 – Henry deB. Schenck dies in
the 1890s, Mr. Schenck built the 45-room Downsbury Manor on
Florida Hill Road,
which he called Boswyck. He sold the place, moved to Litchfield
returned to town and around 1920 built another mansion, Nydeggen,
overlooks Lake Mamanasco.
July 22, 1929 – The Corner Store, a fixture at
intersection of Main Street and West Lane for more than a century,
is torn down
and the space made into a lawn on the Herbert Spencer Greims
building and a predecessor had been a general store operated by
as E. H. Smith, Judge George G. Knapp, and S.D. Keeler, as well as
factory owned by D. Smith Sholes
Aug. 18, 1929 – L. H. Crossman, the Main Street
is driving his new Nash sedan over Hartland Mountain in East
accompanied by Charles D. Crouchley Jr. and John Nash, when he
swerves to avoid
an oncoming car. The Nash plunges down a 125-foot embankment,
rolling over many
times. Mr. Crossman and Mr. Crouchley suffer many cuts and bruises
but not Mr.
Nash, who was in the back seat and “had put his hands against the
roof of the
sedan as it repeatedly overturned, and that had saved him,” The
Aug. 16, 1929 – A number of Ridgefielders visit
Wilton Road to watch the US Navy dirigible, Los Angeles, “flying
at a great
height” some 20 miles away near Bridgeport.
Aug. 22, 1929 – The proposed town budget for
totals $175,000, of which $77,000 is for schools. Among the
appropriations is $25,000 “for equipment and three salaried men
for the Fire
department” and $1,000 for a traffic signal.
Aug. 29, 1929 – David Francis Bedient, who
Bedient’s general store and was also the funeral director for many
at 68. His store, purchased just before the great fire of 1895,
business until 1998.
Sept. 3, 1929 – The Town School Committee
close Ridgebury School. The schoolhouse has only four pupils and
it is cheaper
to work a deal with Danbury to send them to the Miry Brook School.
Sept. 5, 1929 – Dr. R.W. Lowe, the town’s
officer, tells the Board of Finance Ridgefield needs to buy land
for a public
dump where garbage could be buried.
Sept. 5, 1929 – The Board of Finance approves
$600 for a
traffic light at Main and Catoonah Streets. The Oct. 8 Annual Town
the light, the town’s first.
Sept. 19, 1929 – Harry Tripp, who runs the Hill
filling station on the Wilton Road, tells state police he was
the extent of $20 by gypsies.” Sophia Steve, 45, is soon arrested,
fined $25, and sentenced to 30 days in jail – suspended if she
gets out of
town right away. She does.
Sept. 26, 1929 – C.W. Riedinger of Bailey
selling the Victor Radio with Electrola, a floor console unit that
radio and “Orthophonic Victor Record” player. Cost is $275 [$3,300
2008!]. A simple console radio costs $155 [$1,860].
Oct. 6, 1929 – The Ridgefield Base Ball Club
Danbury, 6-0, to win the regional semi-pro championship.
Oct. 8, 1929 – “Little Interest in Election”
Press headline as 692 of 1,465 eligible Ridgefielders vote for
town officials at
the Annual Town Meeting and Election. A proposal to adopt zoning
in town is
rejected by a 152 to 320 machine vote. Winthrop E. Rockwell
Oct. 9, 1929 – Jonathan Peterson, 63, president
United States Tobacco Company, dies of heart disease at his summer
Nov. 7, 1929 – The Town School Committee and
Selectmen decide to sell the Florida, Whipstick, Limestone, and
Schoolhouses, which have been closed.
Nov. 28, 1929 – The stock market crash produces
stories in The Ridgefield Press, but does prompt a full-page
New England Furniture, headlined, “Extra! Sales News! Stock Market
Factory Prices Broke, Factory Cut-Price Sale.”
December 1929 – 375 people give $833 to the
Seals campaign to fight tuberculosis.
Dec. 3, 1929 – William Dougherty, 22, a
contractor Peter McManus, is working on a chicken house on the
William F. Ingold
estate on West Mountain when he loses his balance. He grabs an
not realizing it carries 4,600 volts. His funeral is four days
Dec. 12, 1929 – The stock market may have
Ridgefield still needs its golf. Seth Low Pierrepont of Twixthills
that a group of Ridgefielders, acting as Flat Rock Corporation,
has acquired 270
acres in the Silver Spring Road area to build a country club.
1930 – Ridgefield’s population is 3,580, a rise
than 800 after a drop of 400 reported in 1920.
1930 – Ridgefield has 1,093 houses, 65 business
buildings, 162 horses, 475 cows, 1,298 automobiles, and 1,425
1930 – There are 45 auto accidents in town, 14
in 1929. However, three people are killed in 1930 compared to two
Jan. 29, 1930 – Lt. Sereno T. Jacob of Barry
a plane from Detroit to Bridgeport that will be used to start a
new air line
between Bridgeport and Albany.
Jan. 29 and 30, 1930 – The Epworth League
three-act mystery comedy, “Oh Kay,” in town hall.
February 1930 – The state wants to pave West
Road at a cost of $126,000, a quarter of which must be paid by the
Feb. 2, 1930 – New England Transportation
bus service between Ridgefield and Danbury because of lack of
Feb. 8, 1930 – Ethel Frances McGlynn, age 6,
the audience with her “clever songs and dances” at a talent show
Empress Theater in Danbury, winning first place.
Feb. 16, 1930 – After 16 years in business,
Men’s Shop on Main Street announces it’s closing. Men’s suits are
Feb. 28, 1930 – $70 worth of merchandise is
stolen in a
burglary at the clothing store of J. Howard Burr on Main Street.
later arrest William Hull of Starrs Plain, who confesses. The
stolen items are
recovered in an old quarry, where Hull hid them.
March 1, 1930 – Lt. Robert Keeler, Harry E.
Carleton A. Scofield are the Tribe Committee of the Pine Tree
Tribe of the Boy
Scouts of America, which go on a hike.
March 17, 1930 – The Hill Top Service Station
Road West burns to the ground killing two dogs and severely
burning owner Harry
Tripp, after a gasoline camp stove explodes.
March 26, 1930 – The Ridgefield League of Women
celebrates the 10th anniversary of woman’s suffrage with a
Mamanasco Farm, the home of Miss Anne Richardson and Miss Edna
is Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt, who was president of the National
Suffrage Association at the time of the ratification of the 19th
later president of the National League of Women Voters.
April 1930 – The H. Wales Lines Company is
contract to erect the new Ridgefield Savings Bank building on Main
are designed by Ralph E. Hawes of Stamford and his assistant,
Ernest F. Strassle.
The building is faced with limestone quarried in Bloomfield, Ind.
April 3, 1930 – The state warns the town that
treatment plant is heavily overloaded.
April 6, 1930 – Harvey P. Bissell, former state
comptroller and senator, dies at 63. The pharmacist was collector
of customs for
Connecticut, appointed by President Warren Harding two weeks
president died in 1923.
May 25, 1930 – The Ridgefield Home Boys base
plays Broad Rivers, but Broad Rivers walks off the field in the
because they are dissatisfied with an umpire’s ruling. Ridgefield
wins 9 to 7.
June 19, 1930 – “The largest senior class in
history of Ridgefield High School” – 24 students – graduates.
July 1930 – Col. Louis D. Conley opens the
Outpost Inn on
Danbury Road. Over the years it is the site of many local
gatherings as well as
a refuge for many celebrities. [The property is now Fox Hill
July 1, 1930 – Lightning destroys the house Gus
at Flat Rock, blowing out windows, shattering plaster and
the building off its foundation, and virtually vaporizing a radio.
A huge maple outside the house is “shattered and hurled to
as if some fabled giant had struck it, crumpling it like a
The Ridgefield Press reports.
July 5, 1930 – The Silver Spring Country Club
finally organizes, and announces plans to build an 18-hole golf
course on 263
acres in the Silver Spring district. Governors include George
D. Conley, John H. Lynch Jr., Theodore C. Jessup, Richard L.
Jackson, Seth Low
Pierrepont, and Robert P. Scripps.
July 11, 1930 – While crossing Main Street near
Bissell’s Drug Store, John Dowling, 73, is struck by a car and
furniture-maker, he was a veteran of the Spanish-American War.
August 1930 – The Village Improvement Committee
Ridgefield Garden Club is working on cleaning up the ancient
Burying Yard on
upper Wilton Road East, and will erect a memorial.
Aug. 3, 1930 – Teenagers Thomas Brady, George Mulvaney, and Joseph Pierandri are returning from a firemen’s carnival in Brewster when their Chrysler is run off the road by several drunks in a car. A man pulls a gun and starts firing at the boys, who flee. No one is injured or arrested.
Aug. 9, 1930 – An oil stove is believed to have
fire that destroys a vacant house in Farmingville. The house was a
retreat for a New York man.
September 1930 – Talk of the town is Charlotte
Lewis, stepdaughter of ambassador to Cuba Harry F. Guggenheim
[later founder of
Newsday]. She is in Reno, getting a divorce from Reginald Lewis of
Road, charging him with “constant fault-finding.”
Sept. 7, 1930 – Col. Louis David Conley, who
once led New
York’s fighting 69th Regiment and later became Ridgefield’s
landowner, dies at 56 at his home, Outpost Farm [now Bennett’s
Park]. Colonel Conley founded Outpost Nurseries, which spread over
acres of northeastern Ridgefield and parts of Danbury, and
supplied estates and
cities throughout the Northeast. He also established the Outpost
Sept. 12, 1930 – 40 people have applied so far
membership in the Silver Spring Country Club. A subscription to 10
stock costs $1,000.
Sept. 14, 1930 – A new Ford pickup truck and a
coach are destroyed when an outbuilding on Mrs. John H. Lynch’s
estate on West
Sept. 18, 1930 – Burr’s store in the Scott
Main Street is having a sale. Raccoon coats start at $150 while
Opossum is $175. A muskrat coat starts at $75.
Sept. 20, 1930 – Baltimore Orioles hurler Big
comes to town to pitch the Ridgefield Pros to a 5-2 win over
Oct. 6, 1930 – Mary M. Gilbert, a Democrat, is
the town’s first female constable at the Annual Town Meeting. A
total of 711
electors out of 1,475 on the voting list appear to pass budgets
and elect own
officers, including first selectman Winthrop E. Rockwell.
Oct. 9, 1930 – The Republican caucus nominates
Hugh Shields, minister of the First Congregational Church, along
with Alice V.
Rowland, as candidates for state representative from Ridgefield
[there were two
Oct. 18, 1930 – Two Mount Vernon, N.Y., men are
and three other people are injured in a head-on collision on the
Road, just south of the Danbury line. Liquor is found in the New
York car, whose
driver was said to be drunk.
Oct. 20, 1930 – Ridgefield Savings Bank moves
new Main Street headquarters.
November 1930 – State Police Lt. John Kelly
searches a car operated by Edward Knudson. A passenger, Mrs. Hilda
South Salem, grabs a gallon jug of applejack and smashes it on the
pavement of Main Street. She is charged with breach of the peace
and later fined
$10 and costs in town court. Lt. Kelly later finds two more
“booze” in the car.
Nov. 4, 1930 – Yale Dean Wilbur L. Cross wins
County and the state to become governor over Republican Ernest E.
Republican Ridgefield, however, goes strongly for Republican
Nov. 9, 1930 – Crossing Main Street in front of
house, Librarian Marion Nash of the Ridgefield Library is killed
by a car. The
popular Ridgefield native is the second person killed by a car on
December 1930 – Thieves steal light bulbs from the Christmas display at the Ridgefield Library, prompting a lot of outrage.
1931 – Joseph H. Donnelly becomes the first
open a full-time practice in Ridgefield.
January 1931 – The Ridgefield Red Cross, led by
Frederic E. Lewis, sends $500 to the Drought Fund to help the 21
suffering from drought. A total of $10 million is being sought
Jan. 10, 1931 – In a Saturday morning raid on
the home of
a housewife living on Prospect Hill, state police uncover 30
barrels of wine, 8
barrels of cider, 38 quarts bottles of wine, 33 pints of whiskey,
alcoholic beverages. She is tried before Justice Peter McManus
and fined $200 plus costs, and given 30 days in jail, suspended.
The booze is
Jan. 17, 1931 – High school students stage
“Hiawatha,” at the town hall. Miss Eleanor Burdick is the coach of
performance, aimed at raising money to support the class trip to
Feb. 5, 1931 – William F. Sturges is elected
the P.C. Lounsbury Engine Company.
March 2, 1931 – Luke Kilcoyne, “Ridgefield’s
pride,” defeats his Hartford opponent in less than 10 minutes in a
Columbus wrestling match in the town hall.
March 7, 1931 – The Nissaki Camp Fire Girls are
selling cookies. A total of 175 orders are taken.
March 23, 1931 – A large barn on the former John F. Holms farm on Barry Avenue, now owned by George Doubleday, burns to the ground.
Spring 1931 – The District Nursing Association
intensify efforts to have all town children inoculated for
April 1931 – Fire Chief Joe Bacchiochi is
men how to use the new Seagraves fire truck that just arrived.
with many ladders from 45 to 12 feet long, an 80-gallon booster
tank, three soda
acid extinguishers, one carbon technichloride tank for electrical
fires, a door
opener, and three nozzles.
April 2, 1931 – Aballo, the Magician, appears
program for kids at the Italian Mutual Aid Society, along with
“Alice the Girl
of Many Mysteries.”
May 4, 1931 – Francis D. Martin, president of
Club, tells the League of Women Voters that Ridgefield could have
garbage service by only slightly raising the property tax. The
actual cost would
be less than a dollar a month per household, he estimates.
May 15, 1931 – Francis F. Kelley, driver of a
of liquor confiscated on the Danbury-Norwalk Road April 15, is
sentenced to a
year in jail. He is the son-in-law of Joseph Jordan, “reputed king
of the New
York-Canadian boundary,” the Press reports.
May 20, 1931 – The State House votes $1 million
the Merritt Parkway.
May 30 to June 2 – Artist George J. Stengel
Main Street studio for an exhibit of paintings of Mexico, from
which he had
recently returned. [Today, works by Stengel, who died in 1937,
sell for $35,000
June 1931 – Under a new state law, the Town
Committee is now called the Board of Education. Towns that use the
of School Visitors, must also change.
June 6, 1931 – Schultze’s Modern Sanitary
temporarily located elsewhere, reopens in its old but extensively
in the S.S. Denton block. The new building is “fireproof and
see Jan. 12, 1932].
June 14, 1931 – The Ridgefield Base Ball Club
season, beating Greenwich 5-4.
Jun 18, 1931 – 24 students graduate from
School. Agnes Creagh is valedictorian.
June 20, 1931 – The Ridgefield Library costs
operate during the previous year, the library’s annual meeting
July 2, 1931 – The Board of Education votes to
sidewalk along the road in front of the Benjamin Franklin School
[now the Venus
July 11, 1931 – The Ladies’ Guild at St.
Church put on The Village Fair on the church grounds, with many
stalls of goods,
a grab bag, and fancy meals.
July 13, 1931 – 45 children between preschool
five attend the Summer Play School, operated by the Ridgefield
Garden Club at
the Garden School on Bailey Avenue. The school is led by Miss
who graduated in June from the Kindergarten Training School in
August 1931 – Work begins on reconstructing
unpaved roads in town under the state Dirt Roads Act, which
provides aid. Being
rebuilt are Mulberry Street, Silver Spring Road, Nod Hill Road,
East, and Florida Road.
August 1931 – Frederick Dielman of Ridgefield,
artist and former president of the National Academy of Design,
professor at Cooper Union in New York. He is 84.
August 1931 – A Danbury company begins to build
four miles of a new West Mountain Road, replacing what’s now
Aug. 9, 1931 – A 1927 Whippet, parked in a
garage at the
Jonathan Bulkley estate on West Mountain, catches fire and nearly
burns down the
garage. Employees save the building, but the car is lost.
Aug. 10, 1931 – At about noon, the first
ever visit Ridgefield lands at Stonecrest Farm on North Street,
piloted by D.J.
Barrett Jr. His father, D.J. Barrett Sr., is renting the estate.
a predecessor of the helicopter that has both wings and rotors,
has 37 foot
blades and can travel up to 95 mph.
Aug. 26, 1931 – Kittens from as far away as
exhibited in the Kitten Show at the Congregational Church casino,
the Connecticut Cat Club.
Sept. 16, 1931 – The schools count enrollments:
junior and senior high, ranging from 92 in seventh grade to 31 in
grade, and 230 in elementary grades, all at the Benjamin Franklin
students in the Garden School (preschool, kindergarten and first
grade); 56 at
Titicus School (first through fourth grade); 14 at Farmingville;
and 24 at
Sept. 19, 1931 – State police pick up two
staggering along the main road in Branchville. After they sober
up, the boys
confess where they bought their booze. Two days later, police raid
a home in
Branchville, confiscate a large quantity of beer and wine, arrest
the owner, and
take him before Justice Peter McManus, where he pleads guilty and
is fined $200
plus costs. The boys are not charged.
Oct. 1, 1931 – Rumors that the Danbury Fair has
canceled “because of the infantile paralysis situation” prove
Oct. 5, 1931 –711 of the town’s 1,554 voters
for the Annual Town Meeting, which elects Winthrop Rockwell and
Republicans, and Charles D. Crouchley, Democrat, as the Board of
Palmer is also elected to the Board of Education along with Robert
and future first selectman Harry E. Hull, who, despite being a
Democrat, is soon
elected chairman. The only loser for the board is Harry E. Bard,
superintendent of schools.
Oct. 5, 1931 – After the state cracks down on
deposit funds, voters approve appropriating $5,760 to replenish
the Town Deposit
Fund [see Jan. 30,
at some time in the past, the fund’s money became mingled with
other money of
the town so that its identity was lost.
Oct. 11, 1931 – Poachers kill a deer in
Oct. 29, 1931 – H.P. Bissell is advertising
Verichrome Film” along with a complete line of Kodaks.
November 1931 – Thanksgiving turkeys are
running from 39
to 55 cents a pound.
Nov. 1, 1931 – Thieves take $6,000 in
furniture, rugs and
other items from the Ridgefield summer home of “New York
Paolini Gerli. Police later arrest former Ridgefielder Halfdam
Paulson, 30, and
another man for the break. [Gerli headed the famous international
manufacturing and designing firm, Gerli & Co., still extant
Dec. 10, 1931 – The Ridgefield Fire Department is collecting used toys to repair and distribute to the needy.
January 1932 – Dog Warden Joe Zwierlein warns
that rabies is around.
Jan. 2, 1932 – B. Ogden Chisholm throws a big
his High Ridge home, with invitations that state, “on this
occasion it is
hoped to give the BOOT to Old Man Depression.”
Jan. 12, 1932 – Fire at the Denton Block on
heavily damages several businesses and destroys the apartments and
three families. The recently renovated Schultze’s Sanitary Market
March – Tom Clark scores 12 points to lead
a 25-20 basketball win over Depression in town hall.
May 1932 – The Lions and Garden Clubs cooperate
provide free land on which unemployed Ridgefielders can raise
May 28, 1932 – The first nine holes of new
Country Club open and all 18 are ready July 2.
July 31, 1932 – Officer John Palmer is
responding to a
report of an illegal peddler at a baseball game on East Ridge when
a car hits
his motorcycle at East Ridge and Governor Streets. He is killed,
the first and
only Ridgefield policeman to die in the line of duty.
Summer 1932 – An entrepreneur reopens the
and feldspar mine in Branchville.
September 1932 – A truck carrying 100 kegs of
beer is captured on West Lane and three men, including an ex-con,
October 1932 – Hundreds view a parade down Main Street for the 200th anniversary of George Washington’s birthday year.
1933 – A state aid cut threatens school bus
state had paid a third of the town’s $9,000 busing cost.
Jan. 12, 1933 – The Past Noble Grands
organized. Any former noble grand of the Mary Rebekah Lodge, the
of Odd Fellows, is eligible.
March 1933 – In the fourth burglary that
in silver is stolen from Mrs. F. E. Lewis of West Lane.
State police soon arrest Sing Sing parolee “Big Frank”
smartest silver thief in the United States.”
Though he dresses like a tramp, Dreger is widely traveled
in Europe and
his conversation is “very cultured,” says State Police Trooper Leo
Spring 1933 – The talk of the region is the new
“Merritt Highway,” proposed to run through south-county towns.
April 1933 – The Ridgefield Boys Band,
December 1932, is replaced by The Oreneca Band, “a new and better
May 1933 – 600 people crowd town hall for the
“Community Get Together,” featuring music, dance, and speakers.
June 1933 – Ridgefielders join the state in
the repeal of Prohibition. The margin: 6 to 1.
Summer 1933 – Many businesses adopt Roosevelt’s
program to improve employment and set a minimum wage.
November 1933 – Though district schoolhouses
Branchville are in bad shape, the Town Meeting votes 177-38
against a new
$70,000 school addition that would allow consolidation of grammar
and closing of outlying one-room school houses. Times are too
tough, voters say.
November 1933 – Dr. George W. Andrews tells 100
that the “modern moving picture is degenerating and is the problem
Dec. 2, 1933 – Two sacks of first class mail, headed for Ridgefield, are stolen from Branchville Station. No clues are found, and it is believed at least $1,000 was in the bags.
December 1933 – 170 unemployed Ridgefield men
show up at
town hall earth this month to apply for jobs under Civil Works
December 1933 – Outpost Nurseries ships a
Spruce to New York to become the third Rockefeller Center
Christmas Tree. The
first was in 1931.
February 1934 – Francis Rowland and Chuck
skater Enzo Bartolucci, 18, from the icy waters of Lake Mamanasco.
Feb. 1, 1934 – The Cott Wine and Liquor Store
first new liquor store since Prohibition was repealed.
Feb. 22, 1934 – “Worst Blizzard Since 1888
New England” says the banner Press headline after more than two
feet of snow
fall. Drifts as high as eight feet are reported and roads are
May 1934 – A manhunt seeks the Faruggia
Ridgefielders described as “religious and social fanatics,” who
kill a New
York City policeman and a bystander while on their way with two
gasoline “to burn down the first Roman Catholic church they came
May 27, 1934 – Eliza Gage Wade of North Street,
remembers talking to Revolutionary War veterans, turns 104. She
dies three weeks
July 1934 –
of 20 living pupils of Miss Jennie Holmes’ at the Flat Rock
1883 gather to honor her as she nears her 80th
birthday. She began
teaching there in 1873.
Aug. 1, 1934 The Triple Brothers Circus comes
Aug. 5, 1934 – St. Mary’s dedicates three new
Sept. 8, 1934 – Ridgefielder William Wright, a
17-year-old seaman, is credited with rescuing several passengers
as his ship,
the Morro Castle, burns off New Jersey, killing 133.
Oct. 15, 1934 – Frank L. Hilton, a retired New
banker, stands on the sidewalk in front of the First National Bank
Street at 6:45 p.m. and puts a bullet through his head. “Simply
one of the
thousands who thought they could not carry on any farther,” he
says in a note.
“Cause of death: suicide. Reason: Financial worry.” It is the
height of the
Nov. 6, 1934 – State Rep. Alice V. Rowland is
elected state senator, the first and last Ridgefield woman to hold
Nov. 9, 1934 – The state library begins
the extant gravestones in Ridgefield’s cemeteries, with money from
Projects Administration. The 205-pages of listings are completed
1935 – Police say 46 auto accidents occur in
year, two fewer than in 1934.
February 1935 – A mass meeting discusses Dutch
disease after federal authorities begin removing diseased trees in
None have yet been found in Ridgefield.
February 1935 – The local laborers union
selectmen to raise the wage of town workers from 40 cents an hour
to the 50
cents that federal relief workers are getting locally.
March 1935 –A Plymouth automobile salesroom
opens at the
Tidewater Garage on Danbury Road.
March 1935 – First Selectman Winthrop Rockwell
$100,000 in projects for the federal Public Works Administration
includes a $50,000 auditorium for the East Ridge School.
March 28, 1935 – A front-page Press editorial
“UNFAIR – UNPATRIOTIC – UNSOUND,” denounces the big estates in
are having work done by “outside firms and labor.” “Ridgefield men
Ridgefield’s work,” the editorial says. “Give them a chance.”
April 1935 – After a four-day strike, the
union agrees to a wage of $7 for eight hours of work. Painters had
$6 for seven hours.
Spring 1935 – Walter Evans collects 23,733 tent
caterpillar egg masses to win a Ridgefield Garden Club contest
aimed at curbing
the defoliators. In all, 239,628 egg masses are amassed.
Summer 1935 – Ridgefield marks the state’s
that summer with the “greatest parade ever to be seen in
well as exhibits and tableaux. In October, two Ridgefield floats –
Italian-American Club’s and the First Congregational Church’s –
the state parade in Hartford.
July 1935 – After a three-year delay, John L.
confirmed as postmaster.
Sept. 6, 1935 – A Town Meeting approves selling
beverages in Ridgefield hotels and restaurants, but not at
taverns, on Sundays.
September 1935 – The new A&P liquor store
Main Street. Old Overholt rye is $1.99 a pint.
October 1935 – Francis D. Martin opens his new
store on Main Street. It’s the forerunner of today’s Craig’s
December 1935 – The Lions Club distributes 100 food baskets at Christmas.
1936 – Stamford Community College offers
School graduates free tuition, thanks to a WPA program.
January 1936 – The post office cuts back its
closing at 6 p.m. instead of 7 Monday through Saturday.
February 1936 – The Democratic Town Committee
support closing Titicus Schoolhouse and expanding the Center
School on East
March 1936 – Tight times force the schools to
lunch program. The District Nurses decide to provide milk, but
must stop by May
because the schools have no way to refrigerate the drink.
Spring 1936 – A Torrington company, rebuilding
dozen town roads, has trouble finding laborers willing to work for
45 cents an
hour after someone tells workers union scale is 62 cents.
Spring 1936 – St. Mary’s Parish charters Boy
Spring 1936 – The Abbe children – Patience,
and Johnny – of West Lane are a national sensation, as their
travel book, Around
the World in 11 Years, becomes a best seller.
May 1936 – Responding to the fact that many can
afford magazines or daily newspapers, The Press
expands from eight to 16 pages a week adding many national
the “World’s Best Comics,” including The Featherheads, Mescal Ike
Finney of the Force.
May 1936 – First National opens a new market in
Block, described as “one of the most beautiful combination meat
markets in Fairfield County.” Tom Clark is manager.
May 1936 – A 27-year-old Branchville woman is
with manslaughter after beating her three-month-old daughter to
June 1936 – By a 251 to 229 vote, a Town
rejects establishing zoning in the village.
Summer 1936 – Because so many business people
along Main Street, the selectmen establish a two-hour parking
July 1936 – Gene Tunney, former heavyweight
champion of the world, plays a round of golf at Silver Spring
Country Club with
John Wheeler of Ridgebury.
July 1936 – 800 watch a “donkey baseball game,”
sponsored by the American Legion.
July 22, 1936.– Eleven Ridgefield women, most of them wealthy, create the Ridgefield Boys Club.
Aug. 18, 1936 – Francis J. Bassett is driving
Road West when he stops for a car parked near the middle of the
you get over?” he asks the driver. He looks more closely. “Oh,
me, Mrs. Roosevelt,” Mr. Bassett exclaims. “That’s all right,
man,” replies Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of the president.
September 1936 – American Mercury magazine, a
periodical, says it’s
offices to Main and Governor Streets.
September 1936 – In a GOP caucus contest,
Rockwell easily defeats two women challengers for state
gets 319 votes; Mrs. Hugh Shields, 67; Mrs. Charles W. Weitzel,
Nov. 3, 1936 – Mrs. Roosevelt’s husband takes
nation by a landslide, but Republican Ridgefield goes for Alf
Landon, 1,203 to
1937 – The Ridgefield Thrift Shop opens in the
Block on Main Street.
January 1937 –
learn of plans for a new parkway proposed by the Fairfield County
Association that would run from Pound Ridge through New Canaan,
Ridgefield Center past Putnam Park in Redding, through Newtown and
Hartford. The goal is to connect New York with western
Massachusetts. It gets
Mid-February 1937 – The temperature hits 92 in
the sun on
Main Street; a month later the whole town loses electricity in a
March 1937 – The School Building Committee
Gilbert Inc. to design an auditorium, gymnasium and additional
the Center School on East Ridge; the cost is estimated at
April 1937 – Outpost Nurseries gets the
supply full-grown trees to be planted in Flushing Meadows for the
Fair in New York; on July 1, the Outpost Inn opens on the
on Danbury Road.
June 1937 – Townspeople are up in arms over
department plan to enforce parallel parking on Main Street, to
change the speed
limit from 20 to 30 m.p.h., and to put in a rotary at Main and
June 1937 – Lightning strikes and kills nine
heifers at Robert Lee’s farm in Farmingville.
Summer 1937 – A. Bacchiochi & Sons pours
onto a sunken ledge of jagged rock to form the dam that creates a
on Seth Low Pierrepont’s estate. Today the water is called
Summer 1937 – With $92 in cash and $2,250 in
money, brothers Karl and John Nash buy The Ridgefield Press, a
$12,000-a-year-gross newspaper that under Karl Nash grows into a
dollar group of newspapers.
Fall 1937 – The Board of Education votes to
pre-school at the Garden School so that pupils from the Titicus
Schools can be transferred there and those remaining “little red
schoolhouses” can be closed. Townspeople rally for a new school
and soon learn
there will be no federal money for the addition to the Center
School on East
Oct. 29, 1937 – A town meeting on approves a
bond issue for the Center School addition, gymnasium and
auditorium. It takes a
year for work to begin.
1938 – The Ridgefield Teachers Association, the
collective-bargaining agent for the town’s teachers, is formed.
1938 – The Ridgefield School, a private prep
boys on North Salem Road, closes for lack of enrollment and alumni
started in 1907.
Jan. 4, 1938 – The first Ridgefield ambulance
first passenger to the hospital: Aldo Casagrande, injured in a
fall on the ice.
The new service is free to townspeople; the ambulance was acquired
by the fire
department, which raised $2,000 by public subscription to buy it.
By the end of
the year, 54 ambulance calls are received.
Feb. 17, 1938 – The Ridgefield Press goes from
to tabloid size, a format that remains until the early 1960s.
March 1, 1938 – Hundreds watch as a fire
20-room mansion of Mr. and Mrs. H. Steele Roberts on Peaceable
less than a year earlier for the then sizable sum of $55,000.
March 31, 1938 – The Last Man’s Club has its
dinner on. The club, made up of 31 Ridgefield World War I
annually to dine until only one man remains – Thomas Shaughnessy
March 31, 1938 – Joseph Dlhy’s “big hound dog”
after being bitten by a rattlesnake in the woods in Ridgebury.
April 1938 – Plans are announced to build “a
modern air-conditioned motion picture theater” on land to be
$7,500 from the Ridgefield Library. In 2000, the library buys back
playhouse from Webster Bank for $1.5 million.
May 1938 – The first Firemen’s Ball takes
annual tradition would continue until the 1970s.
May 1938 – The Ridgefield Press moves from the
Hall to a building formerly known as Walters’ garage on Bailey
Sept. 21, 1938 – The huge hurricane that
New England takes a heavy toll on the town’s trees; about 100 were
down and many more damaged, says State Police Lt. Leo F. Carroll.
Sept. 25, 1938 – Three Ridgefield sport
lost on Long Island Sound in Wednesday’s hurricane, arrive home.
the storm on Plum Island, and their 38-foot cabin cruiser – built
by one of
them, garage owner Paul E. Raymond – suffers only minor damage.
Oct. 1, 1938 – St. Stephen’s Church sponsors a
Nov. 1, 1938 – Construction of the new
auditorium, and gymnasium at the East Ridge School begins.
Nov. 1, 1938 – The Socialist candidate for
governor, Jasper McLevy, gets 181 votes in Ridgefield; the
majority favors the
eventual winner, Republican Raymond E. Baldwin, who also defeats
1939 – Actor/director/coach Michael Chekhov
Chekhov Theatre Studio from England to North Salem Road, where it
1939 – The Ridgefield Branch of the Red Cross
mobilized to help refugees in occupied Europe, and eventually, to
soldiers. By 1945, more than 20,000 articles of clothing are knit
or sewn by the
Jan. 30, 1939 – Ridgefielders celebrate
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s birthday with the Shipwreck Dance, to
raise money for
the March of Dimes. The event in town hall raises more than $100,
of 50 cents per person.
February 1939 – The Press reports that more
townspeople are vacationing in Florida.
May 4, 1939 – Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, the
quintessential “poor little rich girl,” is spending a few days at
Outpost Inn (under the assumed name, “Miss Whitney”) when she is
with appendicitis and is rushed back to New York for emergency
May 25, 1939 – Four train carloads of cast iron
arrive for the Ridgefield Water Supply Company, to be used to
replace old pipe
and extend some lines in the village.
June 1939 – The last of the “one-room” district
schoolhouses (though some had two rooms) close – Titicus,
Ridgebury, and Branchville.
June 15, 1939 – The 100-foot high water tower
Downesbury Manor burns in “one of the most spectacular blazes in
of the town.”
June 1939 – A Works Progress Administration
begins to alter and improve the athletic field on East Ridge at
the high school.
September 1939 – The new classrooms on East
to what had been called the “Center School” are in use as school
Sept. 8, 1939 – The Ridgefield Chauffeurs Club
first Chauffeurs Ball at town hall, to benefit the District
Sept. 7, 1939 – The Press reports that with the
of war in Europe, “Local
Flee Europe at Outbreak.”
Oct. 9, 1939 – The town’s night constable, J.
Anderson, dies in town hall of a single gunshot wound from his
which discharged when he accidentally dropped it. He is the second
police officer to die while on duty.
Nov. 9, 1939 – Just in time for Veterans Day,
of Education transfers the Titicus School to the American Legion
Post for its
Nov. 28, 1939 – Nearly 500 people see the first
basketball games in the new gymnasium on East Ridge; Ridgefield’s
both defeat their Bethel opponents.
Dec. 22, 1939 – The first school dance takes
place in the
new high school gym.
Dec. 24, 1939 – On Christmas Eve, Ridgefielders join fellow Americans in lighting up the night to celebrate the country’s freedom from the war-caused blackouts then occurring in Europe.
1940 – Ridgefield’s population is 3,900.
January 1940 – Harvey Lown, tax collector for
12 years, is arrested for embezzling $14,000 of town money.
Mid-February 1940 – A severe blizzard, with 70
winds, hits the town. Three weeks later a bad ice storm does more
damage to town
trees than the hurricane of 1938 and leaves Ridgefield without
March 26, 1940 – The Ridgefield Playhouse opens
Prospect Street and shows its first movie, “Broadway Melody of
starring Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell, plus the Disney cartoon,
Duckling.” [Closed around 1973, it’s has been the Webster Bank for
years, but in 2008 is being taken over by the library that bought
it eight years
April 1940 – Gene Casagrande and John Moore
Casa-More market on West Lane. Today called West Lane Deli, it is
neighborhood grocery store left in a residential part of
April 1940 – Alex Santini bowls 200 consecutive
one night at the Brewster Alleys. His average: 155.
June 1940 – Miss Anne S. Richardson donates an
for war work in Great Britain.
August 1940 – Three English children come to
their aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Elder, “for the
duration of the
Aug. 1, 1940 – Eleanor Roosevelt dines at the
and calls Ridgefield “a very very charming place.” She drives to
herself [see also Aug.
Aug. 29, 1940 – Peter Lockwood of High Ridge
7-pound, 23-inch long bass in Lake Mamanasco on It’s believed to
be one of the
largest fish ever caught there.
Sept. 29, 1940 – Workmen at Outpost Nurseries
skeleton of a woman in a shallow grave in Farmingville. Although
investigator Leo Carroll enlists the help of a forensics expert at
Yale and work
on the case continues for months, the identity of the victim is
determined. She had died violently about 10 years earlier.
Oct. 16, 1940 – All men between the ages of 21
and 35 are
to register for the military draft.
570 complete the process as schools close for the day and flags
are ordered on
Nov. 5, 1940 – Joseph H. Donnelly is elected
new judge of probate on.
January 1941 – The Rotary Club is established
Clifford Holleran as its president.
January 1941 – A Stamford school announces it’s
the former Lewis estate/Culbertson property on West Lane and will
Court Junior College there. Classes begin in the fall with 70
students and a
faculty of 14.
March 5, 1941 – Goodwill Community Church,
of Ridgefield’s blacks, is established in the chapel of First
Church. A year later, it buys the old creamery on Creamery Lane,
services there until the 1970s.
August 1941 – Junior Fire Department is
chief is Si Bellagamba. During the war, the teenagers help the
depleted ranks of
the regular fire department.
Aug. 11, 1941 – A Town Meeting on approves the
zoning in the town’s history, establishing a residential zone on
south of Governor Street. The move keeps proposed stores from
being developed at
the corner of Governor and Main.
Nov. 9, 1941 – Jesse Lee Methodist Episcopal
the 100th anniversary of the erection of his church on the corner
of Main and
Catoonah Streets. The Rev. William Lusk of St. Stephen’s and the
Shields of First Congregational join the Rev. George B. Tompkins
the evening service.
Nov. 18, 1941 – Tommy Manville, the asbestos
“famous playboy,” marries “Miss Bonita Edwards, 22, a Broadway
in the office of Probate Judge Joseph H. Donnelly, who waives the
five-day waiting period. Mr. Manville, 47, takes his fifth plunge
matrimonial waters. By the time he dies in 1967, he has been
married 13 times
– to 11 women.
Dec. 8, 1941 – The day after Pearl Harbor, the
begins manning an airplane-spotting tower behind the high school
clock seven days a week. Staffing continues until May 29, 1944
when the Army
decides the threat of an enemy bombing raid is over. The 200
people who staff
the post, mostly women and children, report more than 2,000
planes. [Use of the
tower is resumed during the Korean War, but it’s Russians, not
Dec. 11, 1941 – The day Italy declares war on the U.S., and the U.S. on Italy, the Italian American Mutual Aid Society passes a resolution of loyalty and support for America.
1942 – Outpost Nurseries sets up sawmill on
Route 7 to
cut huge timbers for Navy patrol boats, mine sweepers, PT boats,
and other small
craft. President Roosevelt’s Hyde Park supplies some of the trees.
January 1942 – The State Police begin training
volunteer corps of auxiliary state policewomen at the Ridgefield
It’s announced that people will no longer be able to take their
license exams at the barracks.
March 19, 1942 – John Sherman Vissches is
March 1942 – Sereno T. Jacob asks for $25,000
civilian defense projects; the Town Meeting later authorizes
March 1942 – The PTA asks the school board to
period from 60 to 30 minutes so kids can get out at 3 o’clock
instead of 3:30.
Because of long bus rides, some pupils aren’t getting home till
April 1942 – Dr. R.W. Lowe, school doctor since
retires and is replaced by Dr. F.B. Woodford.
May 7, 1942 – Barry Finch, age 4 days,
youngest applicant for a war ration book.
July 23 1942 – The new airplane spotting tower
East Ridge and 100 volunteer spotters get their orders.
September 1942 – The Ridgefield Lions Club
bearing the names of all men in the armed services, is dedicated
in town hall;
by 1943, added panels are needed to list all the names.
Oct. 29, 1942 – A fire destroys a North Salem
and, much to the firemen’s surprise, reveals a huge hoard of
some hidden within the walls.
December 1942 – Ridgefielders Fred McManus and Ruth Unwin escape the deadly Coconut Grove fire in Boston. Nearly 500 people don’t.
1943 – Ridgefield Electric Company is sold to
Jan. 7, 1943 – Charles D. Crouchley prepares to
auto supply store and retail gas station in the Scott block on
Main Street to
devote himself to his new position, president of the Ridgefield
Jan. 14, 1943 – The lead headline in The Press
“Ridgefield in a Walking Basis as Gasoline Shortage Halts Cars,
to Coal, Three Churches Close, Traffic Almost Disappears.”
February 1943 – Over three days, 3,532 ration
issued at Odd Fellows Hall. “People took the new wartime
general good mood,” The Press reports. “Now and then there was a
and somebody with his chin touching the ground.”
March 1943 – Capt. Reinhold Carl Riede of
receives the French Croix de Guerre with Gold Star for service on
battle front; in May, he is reported seriously injured.
March 29, 1943 – Captain Meinhard Scherf dies
German submarine torpedoes his Liberty ship on its maiden voyage
to Europe. He
is the first Ridgefielder to die in the war.
April 1943 – The school board raises teachers’
salaries. A beginner will get $1,100 a year and the maximum is
$2,500 – for a
master’s degree and 13 years of experience.
April 23, 1943 – James Birarelli becomes the
Ridgefield native to die in the war when his squad is ambushed in
He receives a posthumous Silver Star for heroism.
May 1943 – The region experiences the most
days of precipitation in the century – 17 days.
Summer 1943 – The Ridgefield Child Care Center
established in the Garden School on Bailey Avenue that summer to
of parents working in war factories.
September 1943 – Auctioning off such items as
pig, and a calf, a rally at the Ridgefield Playhouse on Prospect
$524,000 in war bonds in less than an hour. The rally is broadcast
on the NBC
October 1943 – The Branchville Honor Roll
names of 31 servicemen is erected on the Branchville Green. [Its
today are unknown.]
Fall 1943 – The Branchville Mica Mine resumes operations, providing needed war materials.
Jan. 11, 1944 –Lt. Jeo J. Casagrande, a
shot down on a bombing mission over Germany.
March 1944 – The family of Lt. Jeo J.
Casagrande gets a
postcard from him, saying he’s uninjured and a prisoner of war [see
Jan. 11, 1944].
May 4, 1944 – The front page of the Press
carries a photo
of “The Town of Ridgefield, Connecticut,” a Boeing B-17 Flying
bomber named for the town because of a successful bond drive.
May 1944 – Juvenile Court Judge Stanley Mead
Republicans that lazy parents cause juvenile delinquency and urges
gyms as roller skating rinks to keep teens busy.
Summer 1944 – Speaking at the high school
U.S. Senator John A. Danaher says Communists are infiltrating the
but adds that Communism shouldn’t be confused with Russianism
since only 3% of
the Soviet people are Communists.
December 1944 – Nehemiah “Fuzzy” Keeler of
goes out back of his house to hunt rabbits and bags an 18-pound
He plans to make a rug out of it.
1945 – The town buys the estate of the late
Phineas Lounsbury, now the Community Center/Lounsbury House, and
Jan. 13, 1945 –Pfc. Armando Frulla, 23, is
action in Belgium. Word is not received in Ridgefield until early
Feb. 3, 1945 – Pvt. Howard R. Sears killed in
France. Word arrives
Feb. 10, 1945 – Pfc. Robert Nichols Blume dies
with the 5th Division of General Patton’s Third Army in Germany.
March 29, 1945 – Pfc. Geno Polverari, a member
85th Mountain Infantry, is reported to have died of combat wounds
April 16, 1945 – Four days after President
dies, hundreds fill the high school auditorium for a memorial
includes prayers by all the town’s ministers. Actor Walter Hampden
Captain, My Captain.”
April 19, 1945 – On a lighter note, 2nd Lt.
Hurzeler, a fighter pilot who’d just been home on leave, takes the
to buzz Main Street in his military plane. The Press reports: “He
big plane low over the village but hardly slackened his speed and
was gone in a
jiffy,” but not before the pilot’s parents and sisters working in
Ridgefield Bakery had a chance to run out and see him fly by.”
May 8, 1945 – The town observes VE Day [Victory
Europe] quietly on with a special service in St. Stephen’s Church.
May 31, 1945 –With Gray Court Junior College
Samuel Weiss and Jack Albert of New York City acquire the former
Lewis Estate on
West Lane from Ely Culbertson by foreclosure.
July 5, 1945 – As the war draws to a close,
Superintendent of Schools Van Miller is released from duties with
the Army Air
Force, and returns to town to resume his post after an absence of
a year and a
July 12, 1945 – Pvt. John Evald Nelson dies of
Northern Luzon, the Philippines.
Aug. 23, 1945 – The “Victory Edition” of The
reports that more than $6 million in war bonds are purchased by
Bond drives sometimes double their quotas here.
September 1945 – Lt. S. Denton Coleman wins the
Distinguished Flying Cross. The navigator on a B-29, he is cited
“extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight on
Sept. 24, 1945 – The Rations Board office
Oct. 15, 1945 – Laurence I. Graham of Wilton
Outpost Inn from the Conley estate.
November 1945 – The town has a memorial service
war dead and adds two new names to the list: John Gully, killed in
July 23, who had lived on one of the Mallory farms in Ridgebury,
Acocella, who died April 19, and had been a horseman for Ada
Forbes Phair on
North Salem Road.
Nov. 29, 1945 – The Fairfield County Planning
presents the town with a silver cup, a permanent trophy, honoring
“vision in purchasing the Lounsbury Estate for a park and
December 1945 – Ridgefielders learn of the
the town’s becoming the site for the United Nations Organization
Mrs. Ruth Cutten offers her property on Old West Mountain Road.
Dec. 20, 1945 – A total eclipse of the moon is
immediately by a 24-hour snowstorm that drops 14 inches of snow
and sends the
mercury to zero.
Dec. 26, 1945 – The white Christmas melts away
inches of rain.
1946 – After 20 years of debate and acrimony,
1946 – Electro Mechanical Research opens a lab
January 1946 – One day early, a caravan of 11
of international officials, escorted by the state police, arrives
in town to
inspect sites for a possible headquarters for the United Nations.
They look at
Mrs. Cutten’s Sunset Hall on West Mountain and the former
School on North Salem Road. In the end, a bigger town wins out.
January 1946 – Former Lt. Leno Valentino starts
Ridgefield Cleaners in the second story of the Denton Block.
January 1946 – Plans to reopen Silver Spring
Club, closed four years earlier because of the war rationing, are
February 1946 – Dr. Gordon G. Pettit, recently
lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, opens his dental practice on Main
Feb. 7, 1946 – Mrs. Raymond Sears and her son,
die in a car crash in Westport. She is the widow of Pvt. Raymond
Ridgefield, who was killed in the Battle of the Bulge on Feb. 3,
June 1946 – Thirty-four Ridgefield High School
take the traditional class trip to Washington, D.C., the first
Summer 1946 – Edward Smith of New Haven buys
Drug Store from George A. Mignerey who had been in business for 35
Aug. 14, 1946 – 230 veterans march down Main
Street in a
huge Victory Day celebration that includes a ball game, dinner,
and a dance.
July 1946 – The American Legion Post presents
an Old West
Show and Rodeo on Miss Elizabeth Hull’s property off West Lane. It
spectators, but just meets expenses.
September 1946 – Frank and Fred Montanari open
and range oil business on East Ridge. The brothers are just back
service, Frank in the Pacific and Fred in Europe.
Sept. 2, 1946 – Stonehenge Inn opens for
the ownership of World War II veteran Victor Gilbert, who names it
mysterious monument he saw in the service in England.
Fall 1946 – Ridgefield schools supervisor of
Rowe announces plans to offer instrumental music instruction in
the schools to
those students who have suitable instruments.
December 1946 – Conrad Rockelein, a barber in Ridgefield since 1889, moves his shop from the Martin Block to his home, but says he has no plans to retire.
1947 – Several major fires, including La
Bretagne Inn on
West Lane and Perry’s Market in the village, lead the Town Meeting
to vote to
staff the firehouse around the clock.
1947 – The Board of Education approves large
teachers’ salaries, taking the maximum from $2,900 to $4,300.
April 1947 – Ridgefield’s Sally Ann Reid, 12,
stage name Sally Swan, appears in her second movie, Unfinished
Spring 1947 – The selectmen appoint a committee
of 25 to
study the need for a Planning Commission that could help control
May 1947 – The selectmen appoint the town’s first Park Commission: Michael Bruno, Mrs. T.C. Jessup, John P. Duncan, Miss Anne S. Richardson, Francis J. Bassett and Ernest O. Wilson.
June 1947 – More than 200 Ridgefield veterans
the bonus offered by the state. To pay for it, and other post-war
new 3% state sales tax goes into effect July 1.
September 1947 – Maestro Arturo Toscanini leads
of the NBC Symphony Orchestra in a concert at the high school to
library and Boys Club. The only other small town in which he had
was Giuseppe Verdi’s birthplace in Italy.
October 1947 – Harry E. Hull is elected first
the first Democrat to hold the office since 1910. He replaces the
Winthrop E. Rockwell, a Republican who’d held the office since
weeks later, Mr. Rockwell is dead.
October 1947 – Ridgefield’s tax base would be
increasing: Townspeople learn that Schlumberger Well Surveying
Houston, Texas, will move its research department here.
November 1947 – Plans are announced for a First National Supermarket to be built in the Heyman Block on Main Street.
1948 – The Branchville Civic Association raises
to buy five acres for a playground and immediately begins fund
raising to do the
work to create the field.
1948 – The A&P opens a store on Main Street
Bissell’s. It later becomes Brunetti’s Market, and then Gail’s
House restaurant. [The building burned down in 2005.]
1948 – The installation of high-candlepower
begins in the village.
1948 – The selectmen name a committee of 10 to
town building code.
January 1948 – Joseph A. Roach, 50, dies as the
wounds incurred during the First World War; he had been a patient
Jan. 17, 1948 – Under the weight of recent
old Sperry’s Garage on Catoonah Street – a landmark since its
era – collapses in a roar of breaking timbers
12 hours after a family living in the attic moves out.
Feb. 11, 1948 – The Children of Mary sodality
at St. Mary’s Church, serving women from 16 to 25.
April 1948 – Pietro Giannotti, 72, sells his
and shoe repair business to retire to his home in Pesaro, Italy.
him, are his wife and family, whom he hasn’t seen in 36 years. He
in 1912, when his daughter was three months old, and has never
been back, in
part because of the upheavals of two World Wars. A shoemaker since
he was seven,
he was first an employee of Willis S. Gilbert and then bought
May 14, 1948 – Ridgefield Hardware moves into
building on the west side of Main Street.
Summer 1948 – Eastern Military Academy of
at the F.E. Lewis estate on West Lane as a possible new home, but
opposition, opts to move to Long Island.
Summer 1948 – Seventy-five petitioners ask the
to install traffic lights on Main Street at Governor Street and
August 1948 – The town learns that the late
Frazier of North Street has bequeathed a fortune to the small
of Perryopolis, Pa., where she spent her early years, but had left
before. Her last two years were in Ridgefield, living alone with
The early estimate of a $10-million bequest eventually shrinks to
by October. [$1.5 million then would be about $13 million in
October 1948 – A caucus, the largest in local
history, selects Ralph Cramp for judge of probate, ousting
Joseph H. Donnelly.
Fall 1948 – The PTA announces plans to
prevalence of “low grade” comic books in the hands of the town’s
Fall 1948 – A joint meeting of the American
Veterans of Foreign War posts results in the proposal that a new
war memorial be
established facing the front entrance to the Lounsbury House,
newly acquired by
December 1948 – The Parks Commission votes to
to create a sledding area in Veterans Memorial Park (east of the
December 1948 – A snowy allows plumber Charlie Weitzel to demonstrate his heated driveway installation; the pipes under the pavement are hooked into his heating system and make a foot of snow disappear with nary a shovel needed.
1949 – Gristede Brothers buys Perry’s Market on
1949 – The Town Farm on North Salem Road, a
indigents since 1882, is closed down.
1949 – Schlumberger opens its new lab on Old
February 1949 – Outpost Nurseries asks the
Commission to create a light industry zone on Danbury Road for
1,800 feet north
of Farmingville Road. It’s rejected.
March 1949 – 58 people submit a petition to
zoning; a huge town meeting rejects it, 633 to 359.
March 1949 – The Jewish People’s Fraternity,
owner of the former Lewis Estate on West Lane, is listed as an
affiliate of a
“subversive” organization by the U.S. attorney general. The
it is harmless. Some years later, a boy from the neighborhood
finds a giant
poster of Lenin in a barn on the property.
March 1949 – A fire heavily damages the
mansion on North Street.
May 1949 – Prominent contractor Achille
May 30, 1949 – Post-parade Memorial Day
services are held
at the Community Center for the first time. They had been at the
War Memorial at
the head of Branchville Road.
June 1949 – Msgr. Fulton J. Sheen, Catholic
lecturer, speaks at St. Mary’s. In the 1950s, he becomes the
religious personality on television and in 1999, he is nominated
September 1949 – 686 pupils show up on the
first day of
school, up 33 from 1948.
September 1949 – By a vote of 544 to 334, a
rejects moving town offices to the Lounsbury mansion, later the
Center, to handle overcrowding. Instead, existing town hall will
October 1949 – Arturo Toscanini gives his
Ridgefield concert, raising $11,000 [$95,000 in 2008 dollars] for
and Boys Club.
October 1949 – For the first time in 37 years, Democrats control the Board of Selectmen as Harry E. Hull is re-elected first selectman and Patrick O’Keeffe, a member. Julius Tulipani is the sole Republican.
1950 – Ridgefield’s population totals 4,201.
January 1950 – Town Meeting votes $80,000 to
town hall, adding a second interior floor.
March 1950 – Westbrook Pegler writes in his
syndicated column that “Ridgefield … an old aristocratic town of
white mansions on a wide street, has quietly become infested with
Columnists.” The Press pooh-poohs Pegler, quoting a critic who
says he is
“too riddled with phobias.”
Spring 1950 – The Zandri brothers – Primo,
Louis – buy the Italian grocery store founded by Benvenuto Carboni
corner of Prospect Street and Bailey Avenue.
June 1950 – The League of Women Voters
is Ridgefield Heading?” a slick, 26-page booklet that predicts
population might be 8,200 by 1985 and that traffic would be a
problem. It was
off by 12,000 on the population but right on with traffic. The
league suggests a
bypass for the village, a civic center, and new shopping areas for
June 1950 – One hundred children from New York
arrive to open the season at Hidden Valley Camp in Branchville. It
is one of six
camps sponsored by the New York Herald Tribune Fresh Air Fund.
Summer 1950 – Girl Scout Camp Catoonah opens on
Mountain. [It is now Sturges Park.]
July 1950 – A “twister” wrenches part of the
Ridgefield High School, and cuts a path of felled trees down
through Veterans Park and across Main Street.
August 1950 – The war in Korea is getting
hotter and nine
Ridgefield men are called to duty from the National Guard or
Fall 1950 – The Zoning Board of Appeals rejects
Zinnser’s plan to turn Dunbankin, a 23-room South Salem Road
mansion, into a
Fall 1950 – The Port of Missing Men property,
acres in Ridgefield and North Salem, goes on the market for
$115 an acre, and includes all of today’s Eight Lakes
Fall 1950 – The Ridgefield Library begins
selling a new
invention as a fund-raiser. Silly Putty, discovered seven years
earlier by a GE
scientist working in New Haven on war materials, had gone
summer. The library sells it at a dollar a hunk.
October 1950 – The Town Planning Committee, 27
from 22 organizations, meets to mull over traffic, parking and
October 1950 – The president of Columbia
University is an
overnight guest of Howard Young on Branchville Road and the next
day the two go
hunting. Two years later, Dwight D. Eisenhower becomes a president
Oct. 1, 1950 – The Rev. William B. Lusk retires
of St. Stephen’s Church after 35 years of service – the longest
service of any Episcopal rector in Ridgefield.
Dec. 15, 1950 – The Rev. Aaron Manderbach
of St. Stephen’s Church, serving until 1980.
1951 – The school census finds 1,168 children
That’s a quarter of the population.
1951 – The Ridgefield Branch of the NAACP, 50
strong, is established. W.O. Scott is elected the first president.
January 1951 – Capt. and Mrs. Jeo Casagrande
win a hefty
$3,100 on Break the Bank, the popular radio show.
February 1951 – Gaines, the dog food company,
research kennel from the Route 7 and 35 circle to Illinois.
February 1951 – International Business Machines
IBM – wants to turn the former Cutten estate on West Mountain into
country club. The Zoning Commission votes 2-1 in favor, but
because two members
abstain, they are not a majority of the commission, and the plan
March 1951 – Chef John Scala buys The Elms Inn.
weeks later, his young son Robert unearths a Revolutionary
cannonball in a
rotted tree trunk in front of the inn. A month later, another
found under floorboards in a rear room of the inn.
Spring 1951 – The Port of Missing Men Inc. is
Solomon Gilbert and Ira Kavanau of New York City to develop the
“Port” tract of 1,750 acres west of Mamanasco into house lots.
May 14, 1951 – The Clarence Korkers buy the
Photo Shop from the Frank Gordons.
May 23, 1951 – Ridgefield gets dial telephone
December 1951 – Daniel Milford, an oil company executive from Ridgefield, disappears while on a project in Louisiana. Police say the last person known to see him alive is a waitress who gave him a ride. His body is found in February.
1952 – Ridgefielders vote down planning, which
greater control over subdivisions.
January 1952 – A zoning appeal to establish an
people’s home” at the Ridgefield Country Lodge on Tackora Trail is
January 1952 – Reed F. Shields becomes town
February 1952 – A proposal to turn the
– now the Community Center – into an elementary school is rejected
March 1952 – Robert R. Keeler starts an “I like
April 1952 – The PTA learns that the Garden
Bailey Avenue is a “fire trap.”
April 1, 1952 – The W. Knox Denham home, a
saltbox, burns to the ground. The family escapes through a second
Spring 1952 – Harry S Truman tells real estate
James Belote, who had heard a rumor the president might retire to
and had written him about the Cutten estate, that he plans to
return to Missouri
June 1952 – The selectmen, who’d already banned
sale of fireworks, tighten the regulations further.
July 1952 – Several residents reported seeing flying saucers.
Summer 1952 – A plan for a new elementary
vetoed at a town meeting, 360 to 216. Voters feel it is too
building committee vows to get the cost down to $661,000.
September 1952 – William Keeler, three years
down an abandoned well, but clings to a pipe for 20 minutes until
he is rescued.
Seventeen years later, he is killed in Vietnam.
October 1952 – Democrats sponsor a “Gladly for
Party to support presidential candidate Stevenson.
October 1952 – Prescott Bush, father of President George H.W. Bush and grandfather of President George W. Bush, campaigns for senator along Main Street. Frank Warner sells him a Lions Club broom.
1953 – Voters approve $691,000 to build
January 1953 – An ice storm leaves some parts
without power for five days.
February 1953 – The League of Women Voters is
February 1953 – The Ramapoo Rifle and Revolver
established with William Allen as its first president.
February 1953 – Boy Scout Troop 49 is
April 9, 1953 – The Marianite Sisters of The
begin serving in St. Mary’s Parish.
July 1953 – Work begins to create Great Pond
Martin Park, and by August as many as 700 people are using the
July 1953 – The Morelli family buys Bedient’s
and Aldo “Squash” Travaglini buys United Cigar Store.
October 1953 – Democrat Harry E. Hull beats
Tanton for first selectman by only 182 votes. Hull, elected in
1947 and 1949,
had lost in 1951 to Tanton.
October 1953 – Governor John Lodge names John
C. Kelly as
head of the state police while Kelly’s next door neighbor on
West, Leo F. Carroll, is named head of the Liquor Control
October 1953 – The village stinks after the
fire, particularly wastes tossed by the Oriented Plastics plant on
Fall 1953 – The police and fire departments get
1954 – Three fire departments – engine, hook
ladder, and hose – vote to consolidate into Ridgefield Volunteer
January 1954 – Voters approve paying taxes four
year instead of two, as most towns do.
March 1954 – Atilio Cassavechia is spading near
wall of his son’s home on Danbury Road when his fork strikes a
fired during the battle of Ridgefield in 1777.
March 1954 – St. Mary’s buys land on High Ridge
school, and first through third grade classes open in temporary
September. The new school building, completed in June 1956, is
designed for 400
pupils. With an addition, it holds 600 students by the late 1960s.
May 1954 – Four boys are caught vandalizing
beach. In Town Justice Court, beach founder Francis D. Martin
declares that the
four “ought to get the worst tanning a boy ever got.”
June 1954 – Great Pond beach formally opens.
1,200 people are counted on the beach one hot Sunday.
July 1954 – Officials decide to call the new
construction “Veterans Park School.”
August 1954 – The school board says it can’t
provide busing for St. Mary’s School pupils.
September 1954 – The town-owned Lounsbury house
Street gets an official name: The Ridgefield Community Center.
October 1954 – The entire five-member Zoning
resigns, saying that town fathers won’t support its efforts to
crack down on
October 1954 – In a closely watched election in
native sons, both attorneys, battle for probate judge, incumbent
E. Dowling, who’d been elected to fill a vacancy, loses to
Republican Reed F.
Shields, 1,295 to 1,168.
Fall 1954 – Edwin and Donald Allan buy
Men’s Store on Main Street and open Allan’s Men’s Store.
1955 – The Vincentian fathers buy the Cutten
West Mountain to use as a novitiate.
February 1955 – Veterans Park School, the
modern elementary school, opens, six months late. East Ridge
move out of classes in cloakrooms and have some breathing space.
February 1955 – George Smith, 45, dies of
a mattress fire at his Silver Spring Road home.
March 7, 1955 – Construction begins on St.
March 1955 – The New England Institute for
Research opens on Grove Street.
July 1955 – Dr. James E. Sheehan opens the
practice of pediatrics and Dr. Peter Yanity opens an office of
August 1955 – During one of the worst heat
waves of the
century, The Press reports that a temperature of 117 degrees was
recorded on the
10th green of the Silver Spring Country Club.
August 1955 – Leo Pambianchi gets a contract to
the Garden School, once Hamilton High School, on Bailey Avenue,
soon to be the
“municipal parking lot.”
September 1955 – St. Mary’s School opens with
students in temporary quarters. By 1963, enrollment grows to 456.
September 1955 – 78 Ridgefield babies are born
Hospital during the past 12 months.
October 1955 – The Ridgefield Police Commission
created, meaning that the town moves from a constabulary/state
combination, to having its own, fully empowered police department.
selectman is no longer the police chief. James Brady, a longtime
named the first chief. As officials learn a year later, the Police
also the town’s traffic authority.
October 1955 – 13.8 inches of rain in three
the worst flood of the century. In one 24-hour period, 7.82 inches
bridges, roads, and railbeds in the Norwalk and Titicus River
valleys are washed
out, and some buildings are destroyed. State and Army Corps of
undertake the still-incomplete Norwalk River Flood Control
October 1955 – During the height of the flood,
50-year-old unused gas tank in the basement of the Meisner home on
Street explodes, injuring three firemen.
Nov. 13, 1955 – Wayne Arnold, chairman of the
Commission, is killed in a crash at the south end of Main Street
becomes Wilton Road West. Several others have died here over the
prompting a state investigation of the curve.
December 1955 – The Lions Club strings
across Main Street.
Dec. 27, 1955 – Ely Culbertson, an international bridge expert who once owned the former Upagenstit mansion off West Lane [now the Ridgefield Manor neighborhood], dies at 64. He leaves portions of his sizable estate to each of his two ex-wives. A few weeks after the will is announced, the second Mrs. Culbertson, Josephine, dies of a stroke at 57.
1956 – Pilgrim Lodge of Odd Fellows buys the
Freund estate on Main Street and establishes its meeting place in
house. Three years later, the lodge sells the main house to the
Church–it’s now Wesley Hall.
Jan. 4, 1956 – Fire Marshal Horace A. Walker is
investigating the cause of a suspicious fire that destroys one of
Scott’s nearly completes houses on St. John’s Road.
Jan. 10, 1956 – The school board votes to
psychological services in the schools for the first time.
Jan. 24, 1956 – Five members of the Julian
formerly of Ridgefield, die in a fire in Milford. Only an
Feb. 23, 1956 – Sculptor Frederick Shrady of
Route 7, who
is creating 53 sculptures for the new St. Mary’s School building,
his plans to St. Mary’s Mothers Club. [Today, Mr. Shrady’s work is
collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the
museums around the world.]
Feb. 24, 1956 – Behind the 27 points of Fred
Ridgefield High beats Bethel and wins the Southern Housatonic
basketball championship with an 11-1 record.
March 9, 1956 – The League of Women Voters
petitioning for the establishment of planning, to help control
March 12, 1956 – President William W. Allen is
that lack of parental support will mean there will be no third
season of Little
March 19, 1856 – A weekend blizzard drops 22
snow on the eve of spring.
March 31, 1956 – Seth Low Pierrepont, for more
years a prominent Ridgefield citizen and town official, dies at
71. His huge
estate is now Pierrepont State Park and the Twixt Hills
April 1956 – Efforts to get the New York, New
Hartford Railroad to change “Branchville Station” to “Ridgefield
Station” fail because the railroad feels there would be confusion
Ridgefield freight station in the center of town.
April 1956 – The school board increases teacher
so that a beginner makes $3,500 a year and top veterans, $7,200.
April 7, 1956 – Fire heavily damages the Main
of Dr. Edward T. Wagner.
April 12, 1956 – A geologist says he has found
the Branchville mica mine.
April 20, 1956 – Mrs. Edwin Reich of South
“Ellen Roberts,” a women’s clothing store on Bailey Avenue. Ellen
Robert are her children, and Robert later becomes U.S. secretary
of labor in the
Clinton Administration and, in 2008, is a professor in California.
May 15, 1956 – More than 1,000 people have
x-rayed for tuberculosis and other diseases at a mobile clinic
sponsored by the
District Nursing Association.
May 26, 1956 – Capt. C.N. Warren of Ridgefield
new DC-7C airliner from Miami to Paris in what is then the longest
airline flight on record –14 hours. The plane travels between 350
and 450 mph,
depending on tailwind.
May 31, 1956 – A group of merchants meets about
a Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce.
June 1956 – The Connecticut Supreme Court of
the Zoning Board of Appeals had no right to grant permission for
Dr. Jordan Dann
to build a veterinary hospital in a business zone on Route 7 north
Circle. Veterinary hospitals are allowed only in industry zones.
June 2, 1956 – Bishop Lawrence J. Shehan, later
cardinal, dedicates the new St. Mary’s School building. At the
same time he
officiates at the ordination of the Rev. Pierre Botton, the first
June 7, 1956 – 24 girls and 12 boys graduate
Ridgefield High School.
June 18, 1956 – A Zoning Commission proposal to
industry almost the entire length of Route 7 in Ridgefield – some
– is vehemently opposed. Only one of 28 speakers favors it, and
abandons the plan.
June 23, 1956 – Heavy vandalism is reported at
June 28, 1956 – Margaret McGlynn, a member of
of Assessors, sues chief assessor B.B. Morgan, charging he grabbed
her during an argument a few months earlier, causing her to fall.
July 12, 1956 – 36 New York City children
arrive for two
weeks in the country, sponsored through the Lions Club’s Friendly
July 30, 1956 – Enrollments are growing fast,
school board learns that remodeling the East Ridge School and an
Veterans Park will cost the town $1.2 million.
August 1956 – The Public Utilities Commission
the sale of the Ridgefield Water Supply Company to the New Canaan
August 1956 – At an auction on the steps of the
hall, real estate agent Edward Gradess pays $600 for the old
Schoolhouse, and the sixth of an acre it’s on.
August 1956 – Norman Craig buys Craig’s Jewelry
from his mother, Mrs. Ross Craig. She had bought it from Francis
D. Martin in
1950 from Francis D. Martin, who established it in 1911.
Aug. 1, 1956 – Dr. Joseph Grimes becomes
replacing retiring Dr. Edward H. Fuller.
Sept. 5, 1956 – 1.081 children show up for
increase of 75 over the previous year. Another 206 are in the new
School’s first through fifth grades.
Sept. 6, 1956 – Wilton First Selectman Harry
crashes his town-owned pickup truck into the side of a car driven
Selectman Harvey D. Tanton, demolishing Tanton’s car. The
crash occurs in Wilton, patrolled by state police, who issue a
warning to the
Wilton selectman – also
chief of police – for driving too fast for conditions.
Sept. 14, 1956 – A two-headed, three-eyed cat
is born on
the Harold Jones farm in Farmingville, and dies three days later.
Sept. 15, 1956 – A Long Island man is killed
small plane runs out of gas and crashes in woods off Silver Spring
Sept. 24, 1956 – Theodore Case of Peaceable
a three- or four-day-old baby in his car, parked at Branchville
Station. It may
have been there up to 24 hours. State welfare officials take the
October 1956 – Msgr. James J. McLaughlin
of St. Mary’s Parish, replacing the Rev. Edward J. Duffy, who
Oct. 5, 1956 – After many years as a six-man
Ridgefield High School plays its first 11-man football game. It
Oct. 15, 1956 – A 16-year-old Ridgefield youth
police on a six-mile chase at speeds of up to 90 mph, ending in a
at the Twin Lake Inn on Route 7.
Oct. 8, 1956 – Dr. Jordan Dann and others
propose a light
industry zone along Route 7 from the Danbury line south to
Haviland and Picketts
Ridge Roads. Zoners later adopt the idea.
Oct. 8, 1956 – The school board votes 6-3 not
free bus transportation for St. Mary’s School students.
Oct. 21, 1956 – W. Knox Denham, 68, shoots and
himself on the lawn of the state police barracks on East Ridge A
native who was pilot in France in World War I, he had lived in
this country 35
years. His antique Ridgefield home had burned down April 1, 1952 [q.v.]
Oct. 25, 1956 – A Town Meeting votes to begin
school additions, and names 23 people to a school building
Oct. 27, 1956 – Jesse L. Benedict, the town
since 1917, dies at 78.
November 1956 – It is the last year the
Association sells Christmas Seals. The sale brings in $3,000.
November 1956 – St. Mary’s Parish holds its
Nov. 6, 1956 – Dwight D. Eisenhower carries
a 3.8-to-one margin.
Nov. 23, 1956 – Petitioners force an all-day
on the adoption of planning, but the proposal goes down, 1,011 to
Dec. 1, 1956 – Octavius “Tabby” Carboni is
Dec. 13, 1956 – Julius Tulipani retires after 25 years as president of the Italian American Mutual Aid Society.
January 1957 – The Zoning Commission rejects a
allow three-family houses.
February 1957 – Voters approve an addition for
Park School but reject buying Barlow Mountain Road land for a new
February 1957 – The Ridgefield Home Owners
incorporates, with E. Donald Goldsmith as president. In September
it elects Bill
Shipley, a well-known TV announcer, as president.
Feb. 11, 1957 – An explosion of gas and oil
Sipes family homeless on Bailey Avenue.
March 1957 – Dr. Jordan R. Dann submits
600 signatures, asking zoners to allow veterinary hospitals in
They soon do.
March 1957 – A League of Women Voters survey
most common reason for not shopping in Ridgefield is “not enough
followed by “prices” and “parking.” Danbury is the most popular
March 14, 1957 – A steam engine chugging down
Danbury-Norwalk rail line sets off a rash of grass fires.
March 31, 1957 – A fire destroys the Charles
April 1957 – Romeo Petroni joins Judge John E.
Dowling’s law practice.
Spring 1957 – Principal Isabel O’Shea bans
pistols at Veterans Park School.
Spring 1957 – Dominic Gaeta buys Pilgrim Lodge,
Fellows hall on Main Street, to become part of his shopping center
– and maybe
a post office location. The lodge moves to a carriage house on
King Lane. The
post office goes elsewhere.
Spring 1957 – Clifford Holleran retires that as
school principal. Philip Pitruzzello of Roger Ludlowe in Fairfield
is picked as
June 1957 – A Town Meeting votes to lease
Lounsbury’s fishpond property on Governor Street to the Boys Club
so it can
build a new clubhouse.
June 1957 – CBS newsman Richard C. Hottelet of
addresses the 31 Ridgefield High School graduates.
July 1957 – Edward Benenson of Stamford
wants to build a shopping center on Main Street, opposite
Prospect, that will
include a new post office and the town’s first supermarket. Zoners
plan in the fall.
August 1957 – Voters turn down a $1.2-million
and renovation of the East Ridge School, 834 to 571.
August 1957 – At a Republican primary,
newcomer John B. Jessup challenges Paul Morganti’s nomination for
September 1957 – 1,300 children show up in
more than in 1956.
Fall 1957 – In the hope of building the tax
base to pay
for school projects, the Zoning Commission creates a business and
both sides of Route 7 between Haviland Road and the Danbury line.
Fall 1957 – Voters defeat planning, 1,014 to
1,005, at an
all-day referendum. But proponents do not give up.
October 1957 – In the town election, Republican
Carroll defeats Democrat Richard E. Venus by 203 votes to replace
Democrat Harry E. Hull as first selectman.
November 1957 – The Ridgefield Library creates
“students library” for young people.
Nov. 21, 1957 – The watering trough that once
the middle of the Main and Catoonah Streets intersection, and was
at Titicus, will be moved to the triangle at West and Olmstead
Lanes, Mrs. T.C.
Jessup of the Park Commission reports.
December 1957 – The State Highway Department
its intention to build a four-lane expressway between Norwalk and
route is not yet established.
December 1957 – Ridgefield High School says it will offer algebra in the eighth grade and two foreign languages in the seventh in 1958-59.
1958 – Electro Mechanical Research moves its
Main Street to Sarasota, Fla.
January 1958 – Twenty-one townspeople meet to
planning the town’s semiquincentennial – 250th anniversary –
Press editor and publisher Karl S. Nash is chairman. The committee
parades, concerts, exhibits, special events, and the publication
Bedini’s history of the town, Ridgefield in Review, a
that starts out as a pamphlet.
Winter 1958 – The Zoning Board of Appeals
Ridgefield Water Supply Company’s plans to put a 500,000-gallon
water tower in
the middle of a row of mansions on High Ridge. Neighbors are
outraged by the
plan. The 80-foot tank is later built on Peaceable Ridge.
February 1958 – Some 4,000 rats live at the
town dump and
he’ll do something about it, newly elected First Selectman Leo F.
tells the League of Women Voters.
March 1958 – The town votes to renovate the
School into a real high school and junior high, including a gym.
March 1958 – The Methodists decide to buy the
estate at Main Street and King Lane for a possible new church.
April 1958 – St. Mary’s School basketball team
Spring 1958 – The state straightens Route 102
May 1958 – In honor of the town’s 250th
anniversary, Larry Aldrich gives the town land in Farmingville. It
as Aldrich Park.
June 1958 – After four earlier tries over the
townspeople vote 1,125 to 1,054 to adopt planning, giving the town
July 6, 1958 – More than 2,500 people attend a
mass in a
field at the McKeon farm in Ridgebury. The Bishop of Worcester
sermon. In 1781, French troops encamped at this site are believed
celebrated the first mass in Ridgefield.
July 1958 – Ground is broken for the new Boys
Summer 1958 – Judge Joseph Donnelly announces
build a shopping center off Governor Street [Balducci’s et al. in
back of the old Boys Club building, which he tears down.
Summer 1958 – William Winthrop says his
Taxpayers Association will join the Citizens Committee Against
Town Planning in
an effort to rescind the just-adopted planning ordinance. They
but they force yet another vote.
August 1958 – Dr. Jordan Dann opens the town’s
September 1958 – The Red Raiders, the town’s
midget football squad, organizes.
Nov. 4, 1958 – Abraham Ribicoff, winning
governor, carries Ridgefield by 319 votes – the first time in 82
years that a
Democratic candidate for a major state office takes the town.
December 1958 – Superintendent Grimes tells the
board that the town will need three more elementary schools in
four years. Plans
to put temporary classes in St. Stephen’s South Hall fall through
state fire marshal vetoes the idea.
Dec. 5, 1958 – The Zoning Commission adopts sign regulations, effective this day.
1959 – The new Ridgefield Boys Club opens.
1959 – Ullman Devices, a company begun in the 1930s, opens a plant on Route 7 producing specialty hand tools. Ullman receives many awards over the years for hiring handicapped workers.
January 1959 – The new post office opens at the
of the Grand Union shopping center.
March 1959 – An 18-year-old cat tips over a can
turpentine, which drips through the floor of artist Richard
remodeled barn on Florida Road, hits a furnace and starts a blaze
the building. A dog and five cats – including the culprit – are
a 5,000-volume library with many rare books is lost.
March 20, 1959 – Arthur F. Eilenstein of West
Ridgefield’s last veteran of the Spanish-American War, dies at the
age of 95.
The bricklayer built countless chimneys and buildings in town.
May 1959 – Ridgefield Savings Bank announces it
build the town’s first drive-in bank on Governor Street on the old
May 25 1959 – Five huge arches of the new
School gymnasium on East Ridge collapse during construction,
project for months. Contractors eat the $30,000 loss, but sue arch
September 1959 – Overcrowded Ridgefield High
on double sessions for two years.
Fall 1959 – The Ridgefield Community
December 1959 – The Community Center itself continues to have financial problems and, by year’s end, is $5,000 in the red.
1960 – Ridgefield’s population is 8,165.
1960 – The Jesuits buy Manresa, once the home
gangster, and plan to operate the 40-room mansion at Lake
Mamanasco as a retreat
January 1960 – By this time, the new Ridgefield
has sold 900 of its 1,000 copies.
February 1960 – The Zoning Commission zones
Feb. 27, 1960 – Fire guts La Bretagne Inn on
the second time the inn burns in 13 years. The 1947 blaze helped
spark the town
to have 24-hour fire protection; this one fires a campaign to buy
March 1960 – Philip Pitruzzello resigns as high
principal to teach at the University of Chicago, but he soon
returns to a new
job [see February 1962].
Spring 1960 – Some residents of Standpipe Road
address lacks class and successfully pressure town officials to
change it to
Peaceable Ridge Road.
April 1960 – The local NAACP plans to picket
chain stores with outlets in the South that practice segregation.
April 1960 – The town votes to build Ridgebury
Spring 1960 – Stonehenge Inn owner Victor
for state representative, but eventually drops out.
May 1960 – Dr. Harold E. Healy of Portland,
named new principal of Ridgefield High School. He remains 28
July 1960 – 10 boys who’d been “engaged in a
fight at Lake Mamanasco” and two other boys caught stealing auto
parts all get
off in Town Court on legal technicalities, prompting Trial Justice
Scofield to resign in a rage over “this circus-like treatment of
He later returns.
June 1960 – The Thrift Shop moves from the
building to its current quarters in the old Catholic church on
August 1960 – While the Republican Town
four-term incumbent Nancy-Carroll Draper to run for state
John Kelly, a caucus drops her in favor of native son Romeo
put up David Marlin and John Sjovall. Petroni defeats
Draper in a September primary.
Petroni defeats Draper in a September primary.
August 1960 – Morganti Inc. is low bidder to build Ridgebury School.
September 1960 – A drainage pipe project that
up Main Street’s business district nearly a year is finally
Nov. 8, 1960 – Petroni and Kelly are elected, two to one [see August 1960].
1961 – Ridgefield is ninth in the state in
schools – $593 per pupil.
1961 – John Yervant takes over ownership of the
Inn from Fred Barker, who founded it in 1946 in the mansion that
had been the
center of the Conley family’s Outpost Farm and Nurseries. In 1970,
sells the property to IBM. Today, it is Bennett’s Pond State Park.
1961 – Journalist John Scott tells the Lions
there is a
50-50 chance of war over the new Berlin Wall, and every Ridgefield
have a fallout shelter with a two weeks’ supply of food. Civil
Director Gus Tiburzi agrees, and tells how to build a shelter.
1961 – Because the town starts making annual
contributions from its budget, the Ridgefield Library becomes a
library instead of charging membership fees.
1961 – Jerry Tuccio begins developing the
September 1961 – Because the new Ridgebury
ready, Veterans Park School goes on double sessions for several
September 1961 – The Lions Club sponsors its
Antique Car Show at Veterans Park field. It lasts until the late
1980s when all
vehicles are banned from the field and a move to the middle school
December 1961 – The first service of the newly
Ridgefield Baptist Church takes place in Masonic Hall.
1962 – The Conservation Commission is
1962 – Congregation of Notre Dame, based in
acquires the Lynch estate on West Mountain for an American
provincial motherhouse and a retirement home. The operation lasts
more than 40
years, but because of health and safety requirements, closes. On
June 17, 2005,
the congregation sells the last of its property to Ridgefield
Academy for $8
Jan. 23, 1962 – The A&P supermarket and
open on Danbury Road. The market closes in the 1970s but the
liquor store lasts
until 2008, when the building is razed to make way for a
Walgreens. [The liquor
store is due to return when the new building is completed.]
January 1962 – Voters approve money to start
Farmingville School, but reject $4,500 to include a fall-out
shelter in the
Feb. 11, 1962 – Ridgebury School is dedicated.
school, which then held 600 pupils, cost $977,000.
February 1962 – Philip Pitruzzello, former
Ridgefield High School, is picked to be the next school
replacing Dr. Joseph Grimes, who’s leaving.
March 1962 – A defective space heater kills an
86-year-old woman and her 45-year-old daughter in their Bailey
March 1962 – Richard J. Bellagamba is appointed
seven-man police force. He eventually rises to become second in
command of the
March 1962 – Overcrowding at Ridgefield High
prompts the school board to consider asking the town for a junior
March 1962 – Telephones go all numbers. No
longer are we
ID8-6544. ID stood for Idlewood.
March 18, 1962 – The Ridgefield Post of the
Foreign Wars is organizing, mostly thanks to Gene Casagrande of
West Lane, the
July 1962 – A fire badly burns artist Bernard
home on Shadow Lake Road, prompting the Ridgebury Community
petition the town to build a Ridgebury firehouse. Six years later,
September 1962 – Voters approve $1.1 million to
Oct. 25, 1962 – “Ridgefield’s Civil Defense
organization, meeting in emergency session yesterday noon, urged
be prepared but not panicky over the present crisis in Cuba,” says
story in The Press.
November 1962 – The Kiwanis Club organizes.
Kane, the funeral director, is elected first president.
November 1962 – The First Congregational Church
celebrates its 250th birthday with special programs and
history written by Muriel Hanson.
Nov. 6, 1962 – John Kelly and Romeo Petroni are
re-elected state representatives.
Dec. 8, 1962 – In what is probably the
referendum of the century, 62% of the voters turn out to approve
providing school bus transportation to St. Mary’s Catholic School
The vote is 1,402 in favor, 1,190 against.
December 1962 – North American Phillips
contracts to buy
67 acres on Farmingville Road to build a research center, but can
never get the
zoning approval and eventually gives up.
December 1962 – The school board approves a $300 raise for teachers. The average hiring rises from $5,500 to $5,700.
March 1963 – Joseph Young donates 75 pullets to
March 1963 – The school board approves a
budget, up 21%. Meanwhile, faced with a deficit, the board
threatens to cancel
hot lunches for 900 elementary school pupils, prompting parent
reluctant Board of Finance appropriates $11,000 so lunches
April 1963 – Two hundred supporters of “New
Now” travel to Hartford to demand a new highway from Norwalk to
April 15, 1963 – William R. Coleman, a
dies after a fire at his home on Peaceable Street. Ill with the
flu, he had
fallen asleep in a chair while smoking a cigarette. Smoke wakes
him up, and
rushes outside for a garden hose, then returns to the house, goes
becomes trapped, and dies of a broken neck trying to leap from a
May 1963 – In the annual battle of the school
Board of Finance cuts $100,000 from the school budget, and voters
back the cut
three to one.
Spring 1963 – Jerry Tuccio, owner of the old
Levels estate, wants the land rezoned from two- and three-acre
lots to one acre
for a subdivision he’s planning. The Conservation Commission and
object. The disagreement spends years in court.
June 1963 – Richard E. Venus is officially
town’s postmaster by President John F. Kennedy; he’d been acting
June 29, 1963 – St. Mary’s Parish lays the
for a new convent and school addition.
July 1963 – Realtors Sal Monti and James
a 367-acre light-industry zone in Ridgebury. The Ridgefield
Association opposes it.
Summer 1963 – To meet its budget cut, the
begins charging for community use of the schools and makes kids
walk farther to
Summer 1963 – The Ridgefield Fire Department
town to buy land at Danbury and Copps Hill Roads for a new
August 1963 – The Good Government Party is
it is “dissatisfied with the leadership and control of the two
parties,” especially with respect to the schools. The GGP runs
1963 and 1965. None wins, but some come close.
August 1963 – Francis D. Martin urges the town
Camp Adventure, 100 acres on Route 7 with 700 feet of shoreline on
The town ignores him. Years later, most of the tract is
Laurelwood, but the town
gets the shoreline land as part of the zoning approval.
September 1963 – The schools open with 2,660
340 more than a year earlier. Parents don’t like the new, longer
distances to bus stops, but the school board says: Tell the
Fall 1963 – Governor John Dempsey helps
library’s $120,000 addition.
Fall 1963 – Julia Woodford, chairman of the new
Conservation Commission, says the agency’s aim is “not to prevent
development, but to determine at what point growth would take away
natural assets and to suggest how they may be permanently
Oct. 30, 1963 – One of the biggest barns in
burns to the ground at the Jacob Baker place on Barlow Mountain
November 1963 – The Board of Finance votes
$14,000 to buy
the Bailey-Rockwell property at Branchville Road and East Ridge
for a new junior
high school. A December town meeting rejects the appropriation
Rockwell family does not want to sell. Voters are unwilling to
condemn the land.
November 1963 – Late that month, 500 people
front of town hall to hear First Selectman Leo F. Carroll read the
letter to the family of John F. Kennedy. “We shudder at the deed
violently deprived this nation of its constitutional head by the
bullet, an act of unparalleled atrocity – shocking to all
letter says in part.
December 1963 – The Board of Education rejects
to rename the Farmingville School, still under construction, the
Kennedy School.” Schools here are named for parts of town, not
the board says.
December 1963 – Author Cornelius Ryan asks that
library addition be named after President Kennedy, offers $5,000
if this is
done, and says others will match his offer. Library directors
decline, but set
up a memorial collection of political science books in Mr.
December 1963 – The Zoning Commission creates a
light industry zone in Ridgebury.
December 1963 – Benrus decides to buy the old
camp” on Route 7 for a watch-making plant and headquarters.
December 1963 – The Volunteers of America buy
Adventure at Great Pond to use as a summer camp for
Dec. 1, 1963 – The new St. Andrew’s Lutheran
its first service, with 125 people gathered in Cleves Auditorium,
Dec. 17, 1963 – Fire Warden Richard McGlynn is
by smoke while rescuing a German Shepherd from the burning home of
at Lookout Point. Both Mr. McGlynn and the dog recover quickly.
Dec. 28, 1963 – Fire heavily damages the Earl
of Nod Road, killing six canaries and a puppy, and sending
Santini to the hospital for two days with smoke inhalation.
1965 – The year is the driest of the century,
26 inches of precipitation in the region.
1965 – The Ridgefield Symphonette, now the
Symphony Orchestra, is founded. Its budget is $3,000.
Jan. 24, 1965 – The Rev. Harold Wheeler begins
pastorate at Ridgefield Baptist Church, which is meeting in
with about 50 people.
April 1965 – Bongo’s, a Western Auto outlet and
the village’s most charismatic stores, announces it’s closing.
April 1965 – Morganti Inc. is low bidder at
build the East Ridge Junior High School.
Summer 1965 – Benny Goodman and his orchestra
2,500 people in Veterans Park.
September 1965 – By a six to one margin, voters
referendum combine the Planning and Zoning Commissions into one
Dec. 4, 1965 – A TWA 707 and an Eastern
Constellation collide over Ridgefield. The Constellation crashes
Mountain, just over the state line in North Salem. Ridgefield Fire
first on the scene, leads rescue efforts. Four die of the 50
people aboard. The
TWA jetliner makes it to Kennedy, despite losing 25 feet of wing.
1966 – The Ridgefield Woman’s Club has its
Jan. 29, 1966 – Mrs. Francis Gage, 74, dies in
a fire at
her home at Route 7 and Topstone Road. The house has no plumbing
heat, and Mrs. Gage was sitting next to a space heater when the
fire broke out.
March 1966 – State Senator Romeo G. Petroni
he’ll run for Congress, the first Ridgefielder ever to do so. He
September 1966 – East Ridge Junior High School
1967 – David E. Weingast is named school
and serves 10 years, the second longest term of any
superintendent. A few days
after he accepts the job, he is offered a college presidency. “I
wondered what would have happened if I had accepted that instead,”
Weingast in a 1977 interview.
Winter 1967 – Temple Shearith Israel is
Doubleday mansion is purchased a year later and dedicated as a
temple in 1970.
Feb. 3, 1967 – Fire destroys the James H.
home on North Street. The 200-year-old house, full of antiques,
had a furnace
problem that was supposedly being fixed the day of the fire.
March 1967 – The Zoning Board of Appeals
AT&T’s request to build a 162-foot-high microwave tower on
Ridge. AT&T sticks it just across the line in South Salem.
Summer 1967 – The 203,000-square-foot Benrus
Ridgefield’s biggest industrial building, opens on Route 7.
September 1967 – Theodore Stainman becomes the
rabbi serving Temple Shearith Israel.
Sept. 13, 1967 –
Varian Fry, a
journalist and classics scholar who is credited with helping more
anti-Nazi and Jewish refugees escape from Nazi Germany and the
alone in Easton at the age of 59. He had lived on Olmstead Lane in
the 1950s and
October 1967 – J.
Woodcock is elected first selectman, replacing retiring Leo F.
December 1967 – The Ridgefield Baptist Church
first service in its new Danbury Road home.
January 1968 – Scotland Elementary School
Feb. 27, 1968 – Fire heavily damages the Main
of Mrs. John Jay Pierrepont who, at the time, is at her South
Carolina home. A
few months before, many valuable paintings and antiques had been
donated to the
John Jay Homestead in Katonah, N.Y. Others still in the house were
restored, including letters from George Washington to John Jay,
the first U.S.
Supreme Court chief justice, an ancestor of Mrs. Pierrepont’s late
March 1968 – Joseph Egan carries his
daughter, Lisa, to safety through an upstairs window of their
Hills home. His wife and two other daughters are rescued by
May 1968 – The new Jesse Lee Memorial United
Church is consecrated.
May 30, 1968 – Ridgebury Firehouse opens.
September 1968 – The Sisters of Notre Dame on
Mountain open Notre Dame Academy, a Catholic girls high school. It
years later because of lack of enrollments.
Fall 1968 – The Planning and Zoning Commission
light industry zone along Bennett’s Farm Road at and about the Fox
Oct. 31, 1968 – Just after midnight on
suspicious fire levels a 19th Century barn on Ridgebury
Nov. 5, 1968 – Attorney Herbert V. Camp is
1969 – The Charter Revision Commission proposes
nine-member town council to replace the Town Meeting, but a
the plan by only 33 votes – with more than 3,000 people voting.
1969 – St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church opens its
Ivy Hill Road.
February 1969 – Voters buy 575 acres amassed by
Otto H. Lippolt, the largest open space acquisition in the town’s
April 1969 – Irked by teenagers hanging out on
Street, voters approve an ordinance banning loitering. Three years
U.S. Supreme Court rules a similar law unconstitutional.
June 1969 – Due to lack of vocations, the
will leave St. Mary’s School as the school year ends.
Sept. 19, 1969 – Fire destroys the Old West
home of photographer Jacqueline Seligmann, whose family owns the
art gallery. She and 27 of her cats escape; several other cats
perish, and many
antiques, rare books, and Miss Seligmann’s negatives, photographs
Fall 1969 – Branchville Elementary School
1970 – Ridgefield’s population is 18,188, more
doubling in a decade.
1970 – The Ridgefield Branch of the American
of University Women is chartered.
1970 – IBM buys the Fox Hill Inn and some 700
Bennett’s Farm Road. Part of the land is zoned for light industry.
Spring 1970 – A huge outbreak of leaf-eating
prompts townspeople to vote to hire helicopters to spray town with
the next year. The spray company backs down under threat of suit
June 1970 – Declining enrollments, increasing
lack of available nuns prompt Pastor Martin O’Connor to close St.
School after 16 years in operation.
July 1970 – Voters defeat $2 million to build
Mountain Elementary School on Oscaleta Road.
September 1970 – Morganti Inc.’s additions to
junior and senior high schools are erected over the summer to
overcrowding (the senior high addition is now the “town hall
Feb. 11, 1971 – Recycling comes to town as the
Environmental Action Program is born. REAP later builds today’s
March 1971– Barlow Mountain Elementary School
March 1971– The town votes to buy the 26-acre
Novitiate on Prospect Ridge, now the site of congregate and
athletic fields, and quarters for the Marine Corps League, Guild
of Artists, and
Ridgefield Theater Barn. The price is $395,000.
March 31, 1971– The police halt all patrols
Board of Finance refuses to provide more money for gas and
action makes national news; the New York Daily News runs a cartoon
Ridgefield policeman on a tricycle. The finance board soon caves
April 1971– A study committee recommends that
have a second high school built by 1977.
June 1971– A company hired by the selectmen to
spray the town to halt the plague of gypsy moth caterpillars backs
conservationists threaten a lawsuit. The caterpillars eventually
die of a
naturally caused disease.
September 1971– To fill the gap caused by the
St. Mary’s School, parents create Holy Innocents, an independent
grade school. It lasts five years.
November 1971 – J. Mortimer Woodcock retires as
selectman. The voters elect Joseph McLinden, another Republican,
successor, but he lasts only two years.
Dec. 18, 1971– Golfers vote themselves a
present as just under 2,000 people turn out for a referendum to
land for and building the Dlhy Ridge Golf Course.
1972 – After 264 years without Ridgefield’s
official town seal, Robert Malin of Harding Drive wins a contest
to create one.
His design is still in use today.
1972 – Recycling operations begin on Old Quarry
January 1972 – A huge, four-story water tower
at the Holy
Ghost novitiate on East Ridge is bulldozed over as a fire hazard.
March 1972 – Suburban Action Institute, which
exclusionary zoning and is headed by noted planner Paul Davidoff,
wants to buy
the Kaiser turkey farm on Barry Avenue for low-cost housing.
SAI is eventually turned down by zoners, files suit against
Ridgefield” and loses on a technicality.
April 1972 – Ridgefield makes national news
school board refuses to allow high school seniors to read Boss,
Mike Royko’s book on Chicago Mayor Daley, in a political science
“I don’t think it’s a good book,” said one board member. Royko
about it, calls the board “rubes.” The board later reinstates the
June 1972 – Ridgefield High School on East
September 1972 – The new Ridgefield High School
Salem Road opens.
September 1972 – Enrollment in the Ridgefield
reaches an all-time in the school year that begins this month:
September 1972 – W.T. Grant, the town’s largest
opens in the brand new Copps Hill Plaza Shopping Center. Within
two years, Grant
is bankrupt, and Caldor arrives to fill the anchor store. In 1999,
Winter 1973 – The Board of Education votes that
Eldridge Cleaver’s book, Soul on Ice, and another book
police from a high school elective, sparking a controversy that
lasts for months
and draws national attention. Teachers and many parents are
called Ridgefield’s “book burning” and more than 700 people attend
board meetings on the issue.
January 1973 – Elfrieda Travostino, the head of
teachers association, says someone entered her house, took her
dog, and hung it
by the choke collar from the trunk of a tree. A telephone caller
have muzzled your dog. If you don’t shut your loud mouth, your
kids and you
will be next.” The dog survives.
January 1973 – After a six-hour meeting, teachers decide not to stage a walkout over threats to academic independence, brought on by the “book burning” controversy. RTA president Elfrieda Travostino quits.
February 1973 – Without explanation, the school
votes not to renew the contract of Superintendent David E.
Weingast. It later
reverses its decision; Dr. Weingast retires in 1977.
March 1973 – Though threatened with arrest,
Garofalo, Ridgefield Taxpayers League president, refuses to leave
“private” budget meeting of the Boards of Education and Finance,
“public has a right to be present.” Police arrive, but the boards
and allow Mr. Garofalo and 10 others to attend.
March 1973 – “Firefighters burn over lack of
says the Ridgefield Press headline about the firemen’s union
men, not 15, are needed to provide adequate ambulance and fire
March 1973 – The OWLS, the “Older, Wiser,
Set,” is founded.
May 1973 –In the wake of the town’s many school
the Connecticut Education Association publishes a 38-page booklet,
Academic Freedom: Challenge to Ridgefield, which criticizes
the outbreak of
“academic vandalism” in the schools and suggests ways to resolve
September 1973 – The first St. Mary’s Fall
Nov. 6, 1973 – Louis J. Fossi, a Democrat in a
Republican town, is elected first selectman. He is subsequently
three more terms, retiring in 1981.
Mid-December 1973 – The worst ice storm of the
hits town. Temperatures dip to below zero and some neighborhoods
power for nearly a week.
1974 – Ridgefield is 13th of 169
towns in the
state in per-capital income this year –$7,189 – while Darien is
1974 – Voters abolish the Village District.
1974 – IBM proposes a school for corporate
part of its 700 acres off Bennett’s Farm Road.
1974 – The Village Bank and Trust Company, the
only locally owned commercial bank, opens in the former Ridgefield
building on Prospect Street.
1974 – Boehringer Ingelheim buys 134 acres of
farmland off Shadow Lake Road for its new laboratory and corporate
February 1974 – Joseph Heyman announces he will
the state senatorial seat held by retiring Romeo G. Petroni. He is
February 1974 – The Ridgefield Guild of Artists
April 1974 – The Ridgefield Recycling Center
Spring 1974 – Dlhy Ridge Golf Course
Sept. 6, 1974 – The town buys the old state
barracks and begins to convert it to the Ridgefield Police
Fall 1974 – Two Ridgefield teenagers, on their
way to set
fire to the old state police barracks [Sept. 6, 1974], are stopped
by police, who find cans of gasoline in their trunk. The two later
six cases of arson in a month, including three empty old houses, a
barn, and an old wooden water tower owned by IBM.
December 1974 – Yankee Ridge Shopping Center,
Street and along Prospect Street, opens its stores.
December 1974 – Most Copps Hill Plaza stores
they will flout state’s blue laws and open Sundays.
December 1974 – Singer Harry Chapin gives two concerts to fight world hunger.
1975 – Branchville Station closes, is leased to
and eventually becomes a restaurant.
1975 – Police investigate 834 auto accidents
year. Ten years earlier there were only 389 crashes.
February 1975 – The selectmen create the
February 1975 – Sugar Hollow Racquet Club has
“Fairfield County International” tournament, slated to feature
number-one-ranked Jimmy Connors as well as Ilie Nastase. Nastase
April 1975 – 911 emergency phone service
June 3, 1975 – While attending the Community
Outdoor Flea Market, Tom Pearson of Overlook Drive discovers a
canteen owned by
General David Wooster who, 198 years earlier, had been mortally
the Battle of Ridgefield. “My knees were water for two hours
says. “It has to be a one-in-a-million shot that it would just pop
June 1975 – Arma Tool & Die Company opens
on Route 7.
Summer 1975 – After vandals continue to damage
building, IBM tears down the Fox Hill Inn on its Bennett’s Farm
A restaurant since the late 1940s, the former mansion had been
built as the home
of Colonel Louis D. Conley of Outpost Nurseries.
Sept. 7, 1975 – School enrollment hits an
of 6,029 children.
Fall 1975 – Townspeople don’t seem to mind
for a corporate school on its Bennett’s Farm Road property but
vociferously oppose a helicopter landing pad and IBM drops its
Ridgefield and goes elsewhere. It holds onto the land until 1998.
October 1975 – A Ridgefielder is arrested for
after he stabs his ex-girlfriend’s boyfriend. A week later, on
Oct. 18, the
unoccupied, state-owned murder house on Stony Hill Terrace
mysteriously burns to
November and December 1975 – The Ridgefield
its 100th anniversary by publishing a 184-page
of the town in the past century.
Dec. 15, 1975 – The Rev. Aaron Manderbach marks his 25th anniversary as rector of St. Stephen’s Church.
1976 – $60-million in property sells during the
more than the year before.
1976 – The Ridgefield Family Y opens with
offices at St.
January 1976 – The Rev. Harold Wheeler, pastor
Ridgefield Baptist Church, leaves after 11 years. When he arrived,
had 50 members meeting in Ridgebury School.
January 1976 –Ann Marie Sheehan joins the
Committee. At 18, she is the youngest person ever elected to a
Jan. 2, 1976 – Karl F. Landegger of Wilton Road
builder of mills who is said to be one of the wealthiest men in
the nation and
is a benefactor of local organizations, dies at the age of 70 in
Jan. 22, 1976 – An early morning blaze levels
restaurant on Route 7.
– A Marcus Dairy milkman is found dead in his truck on Ramapoo
apparent victim of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Feb. 11, 1976 – Owners of W.T. Grant,
largest store, file court papers asking to liquidate the chain.
The place closes
the next day along with 358 other Grant stores, but the Ridgefield
reopen briefly for a liquidation sale. [Grant’s space is in 2008
Feb. 18, 1976 – Voters approve a program of tax
for the elderly – a flat $150 reduction in the tax bill of anyone
65 or older
in the first year, and $450 the following year and thereafter.
March 1976 – Ridgefield’s supermarkets, long
Sundays, have started opening on the Sabbath. A&P is first,
Grand Union and Grand Center. Only Stop & Shop remained
March 25, 1976 – First Selectman Louis J. Fossi
town and school budget proposals a “shocker.” If approved, town
rise around 14%; the current year increase was 11%. That’s 25% in
March 26, 1976 – Renovation of the old state
barracks into a new Ridgefield Police headquarters begins after a
March 20 approves $503,000 for the project. The police have been
in the town
hall basement since the department was established in 1955.
March 26, 1976 - After another car hits the
Polverari and his son, Bill, puts it back together again.
Spring 1976 – Lenard De Lescinskis opens Chez
Main Street, which soon becomes Connecticut’s most famous sidewalk
Spring 1976 – Silver Spring Country Club
creates a new
pond along Silver Spring Road to supply the golf course with
water. It will hold
more than a million gallons.
April 1976 – The fire department requests a new
ambulance. Instead of a one-piece Cadillac, it would be a truck
with a box on
the back so the chassis could be replaced when worn out.
April 1976 – Philanthropist Jack Boyd Ward
to Danbury Hospital for its new tower project.
April 8, 1976 – The bishop of Bridgeport
Ridgefield’s new Catholic parish for St. Elizabeth Seton.
April 11, 1976 – Comedian Rodney Dangerfield
two shows at the high school to benefit for the Police Supervisors
April 23, 1976 – The Town Meeting approves
historic district to southern High Ridge and eastern West Lane.
April 16, 1976 – Robert P. Scalzo, who is
Little League, Pop Warner and Townies basketball, dies at 45. He
eight-year resident who worked for IBM. A year later, Scalzo Field
Ridge is dedicated in his honor.
May 3, 1976 – The Ridgefield Family Y opens its
office at 616 Main Street, near Joe’s Corner.
May 14, 1976 – Two hundred Ridgefield High
students stage a protest during school over a new attendance
policy that flunks
a student who exceeds the allowed number of cuts per course – 20
one-year course, 10 for a half-year.
May 18, 1976 – Two men, described as “very
courteous,” walk into The Tontine Emporium on Route 7 in
the proprietor, and leave with 11 signed Tiffany lamps or shades,
valued at more
than $200,000 [more than $700,000 in 2008].
May 22, 1976 – A referendum rejects both town
budgets as too high and at a June 12 second referendum, voters
confirm that they
want the school budget chopped.
May 29, 1976 – Chief Catoonah, Tobacconist,
opens on Main
May 29, 1976 – St. Elizabeth Seton Parish
begins as its first past, the Rev. Francis J. Medynski, arrives.
He had been St.
Mary’s pastor. The same day, Father Charles Stubbs becomes
pastor of St.
The same day, Father Charles Stubbs becomes
pastor of St.
June 1976 – Baron, the police department’s new
goes on duty, handled by Officer Scott Clark.
June 12, 1976 – Samuel O. Perry, who operated
Market on Main Street from 1929 to 1949 when he sells to Gristede
retires, dies at 88.
June 16, 1976 – Harry E. Hull, who retired as
selectman in 1957, is named Rotary Citizen of the Year.
June 17, 1976 – 700 people pack Richardson Auditorium at Ridgefield High School to see Comedian Milton Berle in a vaudeville show benefiting the Ridgefield Policemen’s Union.
June 22, 1976 – 445 seniors graduate from
June 26 and 27, 1976 – “Colonial Commons Days,”
Ridgefield’s principal Bicentennial salute to the nation’s
includes exhibits, demonstrations, performances, an Indian
village, an 18th
Century farm, cannon firings, many concerts and bands, a muster
and show by the
Connecticut Fifth, readings, and 18th Century foods. Centers of
Veterans and Ballard Parks.
October 1976 – A 15-year-old girl is severely
when a sudden storm fells a tree on her father’s car driving on
Power in some parts of town is out for two days.
December 1976 – The owner of the Ridgefield
Copps Hill Plaza promises in that he won’t book any more X-rated
a storm of protest over showing of Emmanuelle.
December 1976 – The average selling price of a house is $88,000.
1977 – The Youth Commission is created to deal
and problems of the community’s youngsters.
January 1977 – Ridgefield police add a second
shepherd to the staff.
January 1977 – The second coldest winter of the
sends heating costs skyrocketing and by mid-month, the schools’
is $90,000 in the red.
Jan. 6, 1977 – John F. Haight announces he will
after 11 years as the town’s second police chief.
Jan. 12, 1977 – Voters agree to lease most of
high school to Boehringer Ingelheim as its headquarters until an
building in Ridgebury is erected.
Jan. 23, 1977 – Lori Jean Pinkerton is named
Jan. 24, 1977 – Pat Freeman of the Toy Caboose
president of the Chamber of Commerce.
February 1977 – The FBI is investigating the
“mysterious” disappearance of $5,000 from the Ridgefield office of
Feb. 2, 1977 – A Town Meeting agrees to lease
next to the skating center to the Ridgefield Family Y for $1 a
Feb. 4, 1977 – It’s Vinnico Carboni Day, in
Mr. Carboni’s 100th birthday.
Feb. 8 and 9, 1977 – Voters petition a
referendum on the
new principals’ contract, the first time such a pact has been
town. At the end of the month, a referendum rejects the contract,
feeling raises are too high.
Feb. 10, 1977 – Dave Kingman, New York Mets
speaks to Little League players and families.
Feb. 22, 1977 – Neighbors of Jack B. Ward’s
oppose his plan to subdivide 16 of his 55 acres into one-acre
Feb. 25, 1977 – First Selectman Louis J. Fossi
Hartford, seeking money to build a sewer line on Route 7, from
Georgetown to the
– Ruth M. Hurzeler, town clerk, dies at 61. When she was elected
in 1949, she
was the first woman to hold the job since 1708.
Feb. 28, 1977 – The town’s grand list is
March 2, 1977 – Ridgefield police set up
two women are found shot to death in a house on Route 123 in
March 5, 1977 – The RHS track team wins the
state Class L
championship. It subsequently wins the state open title.
March 12, 1977 – Three Ridgefield teenagers are
with stabbing a Ramapoo Road man 22 times in an alley off Main
Street. The man
March 20, 1977 – Dr. Francis B. Woodford,
health officer, dies one day before his 80th birthday.
March 22, 1977 – Paul Properties, builder of
Fox Hill condos, files for bankruptcy protection.
Spring 1977 – The Community Gardens program
53 plots on Prospect Ridge. Later, affordable housing takes the
spot, and the
new location gets 27 plots, still going strong today.
April 1977 – The town issues something unique:
silver medals honoring Benedict Arnold. The occasion is the 200th
anniversary of the Battle of Ridgefield, at which General Arnold
was a hero.
April 5, 1977 – With Gov. Ella Grasso wielding
Boehringer Ingelheim breaks ground on its $20-million research
April 24, 1977 – Nine women vie for the title
Ridgefield. Karen Kopins, 18, wins, and goes on to compete in
Atlantic City as
Miss Connecticut. She then becomes a movie and TV star.
April 30 and May 1, 1977 – A thousand soldiers
participate in the re-enactment of the Battle of Ridgefield,
conflict’s 200th anniversary, which was actually April
Street is closed Sunday and covered with dirt to provide realism
in a battle
reenactment. Special effects from blood (fake) and smoke (from
are used. Between 7,500 and 15,000 witness the show.
May 1977 – Faced with battles over the budget,
contract and conditions in the school system in general, The
Association-Ridgefield – the teachers’ union – appoints a Strike
May 11, 1977 – Dr. Peter Yanity is elected
the Parks and Recreation Commission, a post he holds for many
years. The gym at
the old high school is named in his honor.
May 16, 1977 – The State Board of Labor
the town to abandon its regulations covering officers’ hair,
saying it cannot
adopt grooming guidelines without negotiating them with the union.
May 21, 1977 – For the first time in several
Ridgefield Taxpayers League’s efforts to get budgets cut at a
fails, and both town and school spending plans are approved.
A total of 3,741 people vote – 32% of the electorate.
June 1977 – Karen Kopins, 18, is selected Miss
Connecticut and goes on to compete in the Miss America Pageant in
June 16, 1977 – 450 seniors graduate at
June 18, 1977 – Teachers picket in front of
over stalled contract negotiations.
July 1, 1977 – Elliott Landon becomes
July 1, 1977 – Thomas Rotunda becomes the
July 1977 – High costs force the Rotary Club to
its annual Fourth of July fireworks displays, started in 1960.
1978 – The average price of a new house sold
this year is
March 1978 – The Board of Education votes to
school guidance department chairman Walter Bishop for knowingly
class rankings to colleges. Many rally to his defense, but to no
May 1978 – The school board begins fining the
Company after dozens of complaints that school buses are late.
June 1978 – Dr. Harold E. Healy retires as high
principal and goes into the real estate field.
Summer 1978 – A referendum approves giving the
Family Y five acres off Ivy Hill Road, but the gift is quickly
challenged on the
grounds that government is unconstitutionally supporting a
December 1978 – The first masses are celebrated
Elizabeth Seton Church.
Dec. 3, 1978 – A child playing with a candle
sets fire to
the First Congregational Church House, destroying the building.
Dec. 24, 1978 – On Christmas Eve, a cross is burned in the front yard of a racially mixed couple. Later, two teenagers are arrested and convicted of the crime. One turns state’s evidence and the other spends 30 days in jail and gets a year’s suspended sentence. Meanwhile, both admit they are members of a devil-worshipping cult.
1979 – During the 1979-80 school year,
spending $585 per pupil on public schools, the second highest of
any town in the
state, says the Connecticut Public Expenditure Council. At the
same time, the
town was spending less than most area communities on police
works, or the library.
1979 – Dwindling enrollments prompt the Board
Education, amid much acrimony, to vote to close Barlow Mountain
than nine years after it opens.
June 1979 – Late one night, under a full moon,
policeman responds to a call that chanting in a foreign tongue is
woods off Oscaleta Road. As he investigates, he’s attacked by
hooded men, who
then flee. The remains of a bonfire are found in the woods, and
evidence that a vacant house nearby was used by devil worshippers.
Sept. 29, 1979 – The Most Rev. Walter Curtis,
Bridgeport, dedicates the new St. Elizabeth Seton Church on
October 1979 – Ballard Green housing for the elderly is completed.
1980 – Ridgefield’s population climbs to
1980 – The Ridgefield Family Y proposes
recreational complex on land donated by Francis D. Martin north of
Mamanasco. The land’s high water table and inability to handle a
sinks the plan. The Y then agrees to pay “fair market value” of
7.5 town-owned acres off Ivy Hill Road.
1980 – Teachers win a 9% pay increase. The
January 1980 – A group of parents sues the school board to prevent the closing of Barlow Mountain School, charging the board “lacked meaningful closing criteria.” They drop the suit in March, but in June ask for a state probe of the closing.
January 1980 – Parks and Recreation Commission
$7,000 study of whether to build a town indoor swimming pool.
January 1980 – The Planning and Zoning
architect Victor Christ-Janer’s plan for corporate offices on 68
Route 7 north of New Road. Neighbors are happy; First Selectman
Louis Fossi is
“furious.” Christ-Janer sues, but gets nowhere.
February 1980 – Political newcomer Dennison F.
Ridgefield says he’ll run for Congress.
February 1980 – Prescott Bush tells Republicans
his presidential candidate brother George “is as clean-living a
you’ll ever see.”
February 1980 – Lewis and Barry Finch propose
Corporate Park on 44 acres east of Ridgebury Road, south of Shadow
Feb. 26, 1980 – Police Sgt. George Kargle dies
car goes off Route 35 at Buck Hill on his way home from work.
March 1980 – Going against the state tide in
Connecticut’s first presidential preference primary, Ridgefielders
Reagan over George Bush and Jimmy Carter over Senator Edward
April 1980 – Linda Arciola is hired as the
patrol officer on the Ridgefield police force. She does not stay
April 3, 1980 – Brutus, the three-year veteran
police dog, is stolen from the dog pound. “The dog is basically
is trained to become aggressive upon command,” say police.
May 1, 1980 – After 15 years on the job, Tax
Alice P. Besse announces she’ll retire. A week later, she is
ill and dies.
May 18, 1980 – The First Congregational Church
cornerstone for its new church house to replace the one that
burned in 1978.
May 25, 1980 – Conservative Archibishop Marcel
of France, soon to be excommunicated by the Pope, comes to town to
St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in the former Manresa retreat house on
Trail, and conduct ordination of new priests. Bridgeport Bishop
declares the ordination is “illegal.”
June1980 – The Planning and Zoning Commission
condominium developer David L. Paul’s plan to rezone the land
across Route 35
from Fox Hill for 224 condos. [Today the town owns the tract,
purchased for a
possible school, but used instead for the Recreation Center and
Summer 1980 – Real estate times are tough. More
new houses sit unsold. Their average selling price: $180,000.
June 1980 – Ridgefield gets Touch-Tone
August 1980 – The town landfill shuts down,
the transfer station. The fee for dumping is $1.50.
Summer 1980 – Perp’s Cafe on Grove Street
providing go-go dancers, and business booms. First Selectman Fossi
“promoting neighborhood discomfort.”
Summer 1980 – Also causing discomfort that year
moths, which are chomping leaves. Many want aerial spraying. Many
Fall 1980 – The Planning and Zoning Commission
corporate office complex north of George Washington Highway, but
times are tough
and it’s never developed.
Fall 1980 – Cable TV service becomes available
populated parts of town late in the year.
Nov. 4, 1980 – Ronald Reagan takes Ridgefield
nation, and while Republican James Buckley wins Ridgefield in the
race, Chris Dodd takes the state. Democrat William Ratchford
November 1980 – Citing vandalism and insurance
tears down huge and handsome brick barns that were part of the
Outpost estate on
Bennett’s Farm Road.
December 1980 – Ridgefielders are distressed to
Gov. Ella Grasso is resigning because her cancer has spread. She
dies Feb. 5,
December 1980 – The death of John Lennon prompts the Ridgefield High School Jam Club to have a memorial concert of his music.
1981 – “Micro-computers,” appearing in
school classrooms, “seem completely out of place.”
1981 – When told that the 1980 census counted
in Ridgefield, a town official remarks: “There’s that many? I’d
known it. Where do they all live?”
January 1981 – Selectman Josette William
town employees may take home town-owned cars, sparking a
“The town has lost control over gas consumption, insurance claim
wear and tear on town cars,” she says.
January 1981 – A years-long drought prompts a
water agency to propose that the Norwalk River be considered as a
March 1981 – Voters approve selling 7.5 acres
Ridge to the Ridgefield Family Y for its headquarters and pool.
March 1981 – The state charges that “neglect,
mismanagement, waste, and self-dealing” has brought the New
for Medical Research to the brink of financial ruin.
March 1981 – The Charter Revision Commission
that the three-member Board of Selectmen be expanded to five.
April 1981 – Boehringer Ingelheim, which is
old high school, announces it wants to lease the Barlow Mountain
office space. Neighbors begin a fight that includes two lawsuits.
Spring 1981 – A brawl at a high school girl’s
Ramapoo Road results in the stabbing death of a Waterbury man. A
arrested in the case is later freed after authorities rule that
the stabbing was
Spring 1981 – The talk of the retail community
proposed Danbury Fair mall. A Chamber of Commerce luncheon
personal service and small-town flavor will keep local stores
Spring 1981 – As rumors spread that Louis J.
retire as first selectman, three Republicans say they want the
Josette Williams, Planning and Zoning Chairman Sue Manning, and
Gengarelly, who ran in 1979. None is the eventual choice.
May and June 1981 – The “Mill Rate Watchers”
referendums that cut the town and school budgets. “It’s a bad
budget – the
town will pay for this down the road,” says First Selectman Fossi.
June 1981 – The Planning and Zoning Commission
Ridgefield Family Y’s plans for a recreational complex and pool
off Ivy Hill
July 1981 – The Planning and Zoning Commission
Zoning Board of Appeals to court over a variance that would allow
Main and Gilbert Streets.
July 1981 – The Good Government Party, born in
support the schools, officially dies. In its heyday, it has 75
collects as many as 1,295 votes for one of its candidates. But
none ever wins
and the party has been inactive for 15 years.
Summer 1981 – Dr. Peter Yanity proposes
his Main Street property, prompting many debates, but no condos.
August 1981 – Westport developer Edmund Cadoux
Planning and Zoning Commission for 61 condominiums on the old
on Prospect Ridge, zoned for that use for five years. The result
is Quail Ridge.
September 1981 – By a 1,300-to-1,000 vote, a
rejects the selectmen’s effort to exempt town property from
would have allowed Boehringer Ingelheim to lease the former Barlow
School as a commercial use in a residential zone. Boehringer gives
up on using
September 1981 – On the bus trip to a football
several members of the high school band get drunk. The band’s
October 1981 – On the 200th anniversary of the
1,000 militiamen re-enact the encampment of General Rochambeau’s
October 1981 – In the 1970s, references to drugs, alcohol, and sex as well as vulgarities had slipped into the yearbook, prompting a board ban on abbreviations and innuendoes. Now, pressured by students, the board relaxes the ban. Three teacher advisers to the high school yearbook quit in protest.
November 1981 – Former State Rep. Elizabeth
first woman to be first selectman, is elected. It’s not exactly a
women over men – her opponent is Selectman Lillian Moorhead. The
Leonard, 3,895; Moorhead, 2,061. Moorhead outpolls Robert Swick
and keeps her seat on the board.
November 1981 – The A&P supermarket closes
but the liquor store remains.
Nov. 3, 1981 – Elizabeth Rolle, then one of
only 50 women
rabbis in the world, becomes spiritual leader of Temple Shearith
December 1981 – Francis P. Moylan becomes the town’s first full-time fire marshal. He’d been a part-timer for 26 years.
1982 – The will of Johanna Laszig creates the
to aid Ridgefield’s elderly.
January 1982 – Republican Martha Rothman
Norman Craig, 1,707 to 1,588, in a special election for state
after Elizabeth Leonard resigns in November 1981 to be first
Winter 1982 – Walter Gengarelly announces he’ll
governor on the Libertarian Party ticket. He winds up getting 130
7,486 voting) in Ridgefield, and collects 7,942 in the state, far
less than 1%
of the turnout.
February 1982 – School administrators win a 31%
over three years. The high school principal’s salary would go from
February 1982 – One night that month, a Copps
worker is robbed of its night deposits. Gregory Winsauer, 19,
working at nearby
Fred’s Exxon, spots the robber, gives chase, and catches him in
Copps Hill Road, wrestling him to the ground until police show up.
In August, he
is given the police department’s first Citizen’s Valor Award.
February 1982 – The New England Institute for
Research on Grove Street files for bankruptcy. The institute later
buildings catch fire and burn, and the place is razed for office
March 1982 – Counts of egg clusters on trees
the Gypsy Moth caterpillar, which defoliated thousands of trees
for the past few
springs, will not return in record numbers. They tended to have
explosions every eight to 10 years.
March 18, 1982 – More than 50 children are sent
hospitals after a car hits black ice, strikes a school bus, which
rolls down an
embankment on Peaceable Street. No one is seriously injured, but
prompts a study of road sanding procedures.
March 1982 – Parents submit petitions with 700
signatures, asking that any sex education courses proposed be
brought to a
April 1982 – Against the order of the Pope,
traditionalist French Bishop Marcel Lefebvre comes to St. Thomas
on Tackora Trail to ordain seminarians. Six years later he is
Spring 1982 – A development corporation owned
Rockefeller family options 58 acres in Ridgebury for development.
The sale never
Spring 1982 – Genoa Deli opens on Danbury Road,
old Wayside Market location.
Spring 1982 – A 26-member study panel
converting the seventh and eighth grade East Ridge Junior High
School into a
middle school of grades six through eight.
May 31, 1982 – Rain cancels the Memorial Day
the selectmen ask coordinators to have one July 4.
June 1982 – In heavy rains, 175 dealers for the
Center Flea Market arrive at the traditional location, Veterans
Park field, but
their wheels do thousands of dollars in damage to water-softened
The Parks and Recreation Commission subsequently bans use of the
vehicular events, including the long-running Lions antique car
Summer 1982 – James Spafford resigns after four
high school principal.
July 4, 1982 – The town has its first – and
“Heritage Day,” with the Connecticut Fifth giving military
Dixieland jazz band at the community center, and special shows at
July 1982 – A year after a car smashes it, Dr.
Mead fixes the Cass Gilbert Fountain, which is replaced on its
Main Street and
West Lane island.
August 1982 – A 33-year-old Air Force veteran
his parents with a shotgun. He flees, is later captured in
and sent to prison.
August 1982 – Prompted by incidents of
revelry, a Town Meeting approves an ordinance banning drinking in
a permit. The 65-24 vote is dominated by senior citizens.
October 1982 – Rick and Donna Addessi buy the
Block, in which their Main Street jewelry store has been located
Nov. 2, 1982 – Republican Martha Rothman beats
Linda Bohacek for state representative by what is called a record
Rothman gets 71% of the vote.
Nov. 12, 1982 –.Safe Rides, which offers drives
kids who are intoxicated or want to avoid being with drinkers,
Ridgefield. A year later, it has provided 626 rides with the help
November and December 1982 – Police scour the
town for a
white male in his 20s who stabbed a boy and a girl, each 14, in
incidents at Mimosa. The man is never caught.
Fall 1982 – The Ridgefield Family Y, fearing
price of developing its Ivy Hill Road site, says it wants to buy
Barlow Mountain School and build a pool there.
Fall 1982 – As school officials decide whether
Branchville or Veterans Park Schools, First Selectman Elizabeth
turning the latter into a town and school office building.
December 1982 – The Ridgefield Boys Club offers to pay the town $39,200 for the 4.9 acres it leases on Governor Street. The offer answers a court decision that the town’s $1-a-year lease to the all-male club is unconstitutional government support of a discriminatory organization.
1983 – The Board of Selectmen is increased from
five members to give it greater representation. In the 19th
it had been a five-member board.
January 1983 – WREF’s 180-foot transmitting
erected at the edge of the old town dump.
February 1983 – More than 700 people pack a
to approve the sale of Barlow Mountain School to the Ridgefield
Family Y for
February 1983 – Because of enrollment declines,
school board votes 7-1 to close Branchville School.
Feb. 11, 1983 – In only 12 hours, nearly two
feet of snow
falls on town, one of the fastest accumulations on record.
March 1983 – The Connecticut Public Expenditure
reports that Ridgefield is the 12th richest town in the
Spring 1983 – An anonymous donor says that he
or she will give $1 million
toward the expansion of the Ridgefield Library, starting a process
that leads a
renovation and addition that almost doubles the size of the
June 1983 – A 23-year-old Ridgefielder is
he grabs a cement-based handicapped parking sign and begins
smashing a car
illegally parking in a handicapped spot at Copps Hill Plaza.
Police describe the
damage as “extensive.”
June 11, 1983 – In the worst vehicular accident
town’s history, four people die when their light plane crashes and
Mopus Bridge Road just after taking off from Danbury Airport. The
FAA two years
later rules the crash was caused by a faulty fuel cap the pilot
was aware of.
June 1983 – Forty teachers protest after the
allows four students who had flunked English to participate in
June 13, 1983 – On commencement night, a
driver kills Christopher Ely, 17, outside a North Salem Road
An 18-year-old classmate is later arrested and convicted. He
June 23, 1983 – A town meeting votes to spend
create three new athletic fields and renovate many others.
July 1983 – A federal judge rules that the town
give land to the Boys’ Club for a swimming pool unless the club
doors equally to girls. The club refuses and the land deal gift
The judge later rules that the $1-a-year lease for the clubhouse
site is also
illegal, and the club agrees later that year to pay the town
$59,000 for the
Summer 1983 – Ken Carvell, named the town’s
appointed assessor in 1975, leaves to take a job in Westport.
August 1983 – The U.S. Postal Service says that
ignore the Planning and Zoning Commission’s rejection of its
permit for a new
post office on Catoonah Street and will build anyway.
September 1983 – A study committee recommends
historic district in Ridgebury.
Fall 1983 – First Selectman Elizabeth Leonard,
opposed the Ballard Green senior housing, proposes adding $1.5
housing for the elderly.
Fall 1983 – Two tokens replace eight quarters
admission to the trash transfer station.
Nov. 8, 1983 – Elizabeth Leonard beats Mike
to 1,801, for first selectman, but Mr. Venus ekes out a seat on
beating Robert Swick who polled 1,798, three fewer votes.
November 1983 – CVS, a big drug chain,
announces that it
will move into the old A&P supermarket on Danbury Road.
November 1983 – Police report 16 accidents
crashing into deer.
December 1983 – Group W reported that it was
cable TV service to 70 of the 200 miles of road in town.
1984 – A total of 561 houses, worth $125
sold this year. Just two years earlier, only 330 houses sold.
1984 – The state Department of Education calls
Ridgefield’s junior and senior high schools among the best in the
on federal criteria.
1984 – With a $1-million anonymous donor’s gift
another $500,000, the Ridgefield Library undertakes a major
expansion during the
year. After closing for the final month work, the library reopens
Christmas more than double its previous size.
March 1984 – School Superintendent Elliott
the leaking high school roof “a disaster.”
March 1984 – Affected property owners reject a
historic district along upper Ridgebury Road.
March 1984 – Since 1982, developer Peter
been purchasing corporate-zoned land in upper Ridgebury. Now, more
acres in hand, he reports that “it’s my grave desire to have a
project there. What is right for Ridgefield is a
American Can, an IBM and not Union Carbide. I don’t want to build
March 1984 – In a presidential primary,
Democrats join the state in supporting Gary Hart (62%) over Walter
or the Rev. Jesse Jackson (6.5%).
Spring 1984 – The town settles a lawsuit,
Attorney William Laviano on behalf of a man arrested for drinking
in public. Mr.
Laviano claims the town’s anti-public-drinking ordinance is
enforced, and violates civil rights. The town abandons the law and
clearer version that still stands.
Spring 1984 – All town vehicles that sport
saying “Ridgefield Home of Champions” after Ridgefield High
and girls soccer, hockey, and girls cross country teams all win
championships that school year.
April 1984 – Conductor Maxim Shostakovich, who
fled Russia and is the son of composer Dmitri Shostakovich, leads
Orchestra in a concert. Maxim’s son, Dmitri, is pianist for his
grandfather’s Second Piano Concerto. Both live in Ridgefield.
Spring 1984 – Charles Szentkuti proposes a
office condominium, called the Executive Pavilion, at the old New
Institute site on Grove Street. Zoners approve.
Spring 1984 – Lack of members prompts the
Club to fold after 28 years. “They’d rather earn $10 or $15 in an
than sit in a meeting all afternoon,” said the last president,
“I think we just got caught up in the times.”
June 1984 – In an unusual referendum, voters
school budget because it’s too low. A higher budget later passes.
Sunday, June 24, 1984 – The first
alcohol-free post-graduation party takes place. It is a year after
graduate kills a classmate with a car at a graduation party at
which alcohol was
served. The party has taken place annually since.
June 1984 – Former school board member Barbara
is named principal of Scotland School.
Summer 1984 – The Ridgefield Youth Orchestra
Europe and gives concerts on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
Aug. 1, 1984 – The trash transfer station
quarters to tokens.
August 1984 – After holding up a Wilton bank, a
Bridgeport man robs the Ridgefield Savings Bank branch on Governor
Ridgefield police capture him a short while later. It’s the fourth
bank robbery of the century. All four cases are solved.
August 1984 – Rick and Donna Addessi buy the
on Main Street.
Aug. 12, 1984 – Barbara (Mrs. John) Grasso of
Road gives birth to Alyssa Brook, Joseph Anthony, and Scott
Summer 1984 – The town undertakes a $600,000
of many athletic fields, including installation of underground
project drags on into the fall, causing many game-scheduling
Summer 1984 – A $1.5-million asbestos-removal
begins in the elementary schools. It, too, drags into the fall.
September 1984 – The selectmen approve $5,000
work on a Danbury Road bypass. The road opens 15 years later.
September 1984 – Big cement blocks barricade a
connecting Yankee Ridge shopping center with parking lots to the
Ridge owners disliked it’s being used as a shortcut. Despite much
the move, the blocks are still there.
Fall 1984 – James Lapak, director of the
Family Y, says membership has grown to 4,000 people. He expects
once the pool is completed in 1985.
Nov. 6, 1984 – Republican John Rowland beats
William Ratchford for Fifth District Congressman. Ronald Reagan
takes the town,
8,500 to 3,200 for Walter Mondale.
November 1984 – The new Ridgefield Post Office
Fall 1984 – Ridgefield’s Center Historic
placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Fall 1984 – Children’s playing with matches leads to a smoky fire that takes hours to subdue at the old New England Institute. Part of the building is the old Ridgefield Golf Club, built in 1895 off Golf Lane, and moved to Grove Street in the 1930s to be a goat barn.
Jan. 4, 1985 – Willie Amons, 69, dies of carbon
poisoning caused by a small fire started by a space heater he was
the fuel tank for his town-owned house at 21 Gilbert Street was
The town had been paying for the oil.
Jan. 10, 1985 – Cardiologist Dr. Joseph Buchman
town’s ambulance service should be staffed by paramedics.
Jan. 10, 1985 – There are 138 computers in the
six schools, and Superintendent Elliott Landon wants more.
Jan. 19, 1985 – A seven-year-old Ridgefielder
on four counts in connection with two house burglaries on Eleven
Levels Road. He
is believed to be the youngest person ever arrested here.
January 1985 – A group of Ridgefielders is
creating a local chapter of A Better Chance to bring gifted
to town for their high school education.
Jan. 22, 1985 – 2nd Lt. Paul B. Cocks dies after his Air Force transport goes down off the coast of Honduras. The pilot is a 1977 RHS graduate.
Jan. 30, 1985 – The grand list totals $503
January 1985 – The fire department says its
Street headquarters are overcrowded, and First Selectman Elizabeth
the town should determine whether to build a new center station or
February 1985 – The first townwide revaluation
led by Assessor Al Garzi.
February 1985 – Charles Szentkuti gets a
mortgage to build the 50,000-square-foot Executive Pavilion on
Feb. 13, 1985 – The RHS hockey team finishes
February 1985 – Coyotes are being spotted in
and cats are being reported missing.
Feb. 19, 1985 – Leo F. Carroll, former state
executive and longtime first selectman, dies at the age of 84.
Feb. 18, 1985 – School Superintendent Elliott
town’s highest-paid employee, gets an 8.5% increase, for a $68,250
the coming year.
Feb. 22, 1985 – Four eighth graders are
arrested at East
Ridge Middle School for possession of marijuana.
Feb. 25, 1985 – The school board trims its
to $18.6-million, up 11%.
March 6, 1985 – The Nolan brothers of Danbury
building 24 units of affordable housing on Prospect Ridge, if the
provide the land.
March 11, 1985 – WREF, Ridgefield’s radio
March 14, 1985 – With an assessment of $21.8
Boehringer Ingelheim is the town’s top taxpayer, followed by
Perkin-Elmer, IBM, and CL&P.
March 1985 – Draining half the water out of
Mamanasco and new methods for disposing of sewage in and around
the lake are
recommended in a new environmental report on saving the troubled,
March 1985 – Another study, prepared for the
Commission on improving traffic flow, recommends moving the
installing traffic lights.
March 15, 1985 – Only Harry E. Hull and Thomas F. Shaughnessy attend the Last Men’s Club dinner. All the other members are dead, except for Edward Unwin, unable to attend. The club started in 1938 with 30 members, all World War I veterans.
March 21, 1985 – Fire Marshal Francis P. Moylan
probing four suspicious fires in the past week, including a large,
March 29, 1985 – Fumes from leaking gasoline
tanks at the
old Ridgefield Tire building on Bailey Avenue get into the sewer
system and the
basement of The Press. One building is damaged in an explosive
flash fire. A
third of the village is evacuated, and power is shut off for 11
April 1985 – The fire department receives its
$350,000, 45-foot-long tower truck that can reach 100 feet in the
April 10, 1985 – The selectmen increase the
cost of using
the trash transfer station from $2 to $2.25 per token.
April 24, 1985 – Junior Achievement offers the
million to buy the closed Branchville School to use as a
headquarters. A nursing
home and private school are also interested.
May 1985 – 324 Ridgefield High School students
long as 12 hours at SuperDance, raising $28,000 to fight muscular
celebrate, popular teacher Bob Cox shaves his beard.
May 18, 1985 – 85 volunteers install a tire
May 29, 1985 – Ridgefield State Rep. Martha
among the authors of a bill, just passed by the state senate and
on its way to
the governor, requiring use of seat belts.
May 29, 1985 – Brain-storming for two and a
some 90 concerned citizens and community leaders put together a
for action against teenage drug and alcohol abuse.
June 1985 – The Youth Service Bureau sets up an
hotline for teens with troubles.
June 1985 – The Parking Authority votes to
acquiring land to build a new parking lot in a grassy area off
east of today’s Balducci’s.
June 1985 – Substitute teachers get a pay
raise, from $35
to $40 a day.
June 1985 – John Girolmetti reports RidgeBowl,
town’s only bowling alley, will close soon and its space will
June 1, 1985 – Geno Torcellini retires after 40
manager of Silver Spring Country Club.
June 5, 1985 – The Parks and Recreation
it will study a request from East Ridge Middle School student Cabe
provide a skateboarding ramp in town, addressing the increasingly
June 9, 1985 – More than 1,000 people walk up
miles in a benefit raising $32,000 for African relief.
June 18, 1985 – A man who had befriended a
Ridgefield youngsters is arrested after a 13-year-old Ridgefield
boy, who had
spent the night in a motel with him, was taken to Danbury Hospital
heroin-induced coma, suffering from lacerations and bruises.
June 23, 1985 – 400 seniors graduate from
July 1985 – Dr. Clifford Heidinger opens a
medicine practice at 614 Main Street.
July 4, 1985 – While Ridgefield has no
Tavern celebrates the state’s 350th birthday with a
includes old-fashioned military music. And the Democratic and
leaders square off in a softball game at Veterans Park.
July 10, 1985 – Norman Craig, chairman of the
Town Committee, quits, citing frustration over the “lack of
the party. He rejoins the Republican party, where he was also once
July 26, 1985 – A leaking hose from a propane
causes an explosion that demolishes Galloway’s Restaurant in the
shopping center, destroys three cars, damages 32 more, and blows
out windows of
many nearby businesses. Only three people are injured, and then
The driver of the truck is arrested two months later for
violations of statutes
on handling hazardous chemicals. The restaurant never reopens.
July 30, 1985 – The new $1.6-million Route 7
August 1985 – Joseph Sweeney retires after 14
assistant school business manager and becomes a candidate for the
Aug. 2, 1985 – Msgr. James J. McLaughlin,
pastor of St.
Mary’s Parish from 1956 to 1968, dies at 72.
Aug. 8, 1985 – What police Chief Thomas Rotunda
as a “rash” of resignations continues as two more officers
departure. Pay scale and working conditions have “something to do
Aug. 14, 1985 – A panel of experts recommends
employ Norwalk Hospital to provide around-the-clock paramedics.
Aug 28, 1985 – East Ridge Middle School is
an industrial hygienist determines that areas where asbestos
removal work is
going on aren’t properly sealed off. The problem is fixed in time
opening of school the next week, but causes much concern – and
September 1985 – The sixth grade, which had
been in the
elementary schools, moves to the East Ridge Junior High, which is
Ridge Middle School.
Sept. 11, 1985 – State Rep. Martha Rothman says
retiring and moving to California, and recommends Selectman
Josette Williams to
run for her seat.
Sept. 11, 1985 – Med-I-Chair, a Danbury firm,
by the selectmen to work with Ridgefield firefighters to provide
Sept. 9, 1985 – Attorney Rex E. Gustafson,
youngest native lawyer, joins the legal firm headed by Judge
Joseph H. Donnelly,
the town’s first full-time and longest-practicing lawyer.
September 1985 – The old New England Institute
damaged by a December fire, are razed to make way for the new
Sept. 23, 1985 – A GOP caucus picks Jane Jansen
for state representative, turning down Josette Williams and Leslie
Sept. 24, 1985 – Democrats pick Diane Crehan to
against Jane Jansen.
Sept. 28, 1985 – Verbal SAT scores of 486 for
of 1985 are 33 points higher than the Class of 1984 while the math
score rise 28
points to a record high of 523.
October 1985 – Attorney Romeo Petroni, a former
senator and state representative, begins running for governor.
Oct. 9, 1985 – The town’s Electronic Data
Steering Committee tells the selectmen a $281,000 Burroughs “A
computer is needed to replace the town’s six year old Burroughs
which handles all the town’s accounts and payrolls.
Oct. 11, 1985 – Betty Dolen, a 58-year-old
eight, becomes one of only 1,394 people to hike the entire
Appalachian Trail. She
does it over
a period of eight years.
Oct. 13, 1985 – Senator Christopher Dodd tells
Democrats at the Red Lion that he favors President Reagan’s
restraint in not
making indiscriminate reprisals after a recent cruise ship
sea-jacking, but that
the U.S. should considering cutting off aid to nations that harbor
terrorists, as Egypt seems to have done in this instance.
Oct. 16, 1985 – The Firehouse Needs Committee
selectmen Ridgefield needs a third firehouse, located in the Copps
vicinity, costing $1.2 million, and holding six trucks.
Oct. 22, 1985 – A recent incident, in which a
of land owned by the Ridgefield Water Supply company fired a
shotgun over the
heads of 34 teenagers he found trespassing on water company land,
leads to a
meeting of concerned parents who say the town needs a teen center.
caretaker was arrested for reckless endangerment.]
Oct. 19, 1985 – An earthquake rumbles
registering 4.0 on the Richter scale. A Columbia University
geologist notes that
Ridgefield straddles a collision point, called Cameron’s Line,
ancient continental plates – a North American land mass and a
land mass – that
occasional adjustments. Mineral types in the north part of town
are more typical
of North America while in the south side, they match types in
Africa and Europe.
Nov. 1, 1985 – Both the boys and girls soccer
Ridgefield High School wind FCIAC championships.
Nov. 5, 1985 – Jane Jansen beats Diane Crehan
by just 272
votes, 2,266 to 1,994, in the contest for state representative.
Elizabeth Leonard wins first selectman. Only 34% of the eligible
Nov. 6, 1985 – Roger Carpenter shows the
Authority his concept for a 148-car parking garage on the Bailey
Avenue lot that
holds 85 cars.
Nov. 26 – A young man walks into Addessi
asks to see Rolex watches. Wayne
shows him a diamond-studded model worth $9,800. The man grabs it
runs from the store. Addessi gives chase on foot, along with
father Rick, and
the two help police capture the thief near Ballard Park.
Dec. 4, 1985 – Bringing the middle and high
schools up to
state building, fire safety and handicapped codes will cost
between $2 and $3
million [between $4 and $6 million in 2008], the Municipal
December 1985 – Fire Marshal Francis P. Moylan
selectmen and fire chief for removing him from his job without a
Dec. 11, 1985 – The selectmen approve the
concept of a
third firehouse and begin looking for land to house it.
1986 – Superintendent Elliott Landon leaves for
a post on
his native Long Island. [He returns to Connecticut in 1999 to take
Westport school system. In 2008, he is still there.]
January 1986 – “Five years of work” goes up in
as the Tower of Pizza on Route 7 burns down.
January 1986 – Danbeth Partners proposes a
corporate park in the northwest corner of town. The company gets
the market for offices collapses. The land is now the Turner Hill
Feb. 1, 1986 – Around-the-clock paramedic
February 1986 – Charles Szentkuti proposes
condominiums on Farmingville Road. The idea gets nowhere, and the
land is now
the Norrans Ridge subdivision.
February 1986 – Saying he’ll run on the theme,
American dream for all Americans,” newcomer Jeffrey Peters
run for Congress. He doesn’t make it past the convention. In 2000,
New Hampshire, he’s a candidate for president on the ticket of the
People Party, which he founds in 1994.
March 1986 – Jennifer Benusis, a Ridgefield
senior, is named Ms. Connecticut. Three years later, sister Alison
RHS junior, becomes Connecticut Teen All American.
March 1986 – The Zoning Board of Appeals
Motors’ application to put a Yugo sign at its Danbury Road
[Remember the Yugo?]
March 1986 – Gasoline prices fall below $1 at a
gas stations, but others are charging as much as $1.60 a gallon
May 1986 – The Annual Town Meeting rejects a
spend $2 million on a third firehouse somewhere north of the
June 1986 – Ridgefield native Romeo Petroni,
seeking the GOP nomination for governor, bows out of the race. “I
the votes,” he says.
Spring 1986 – Despite youngsters’ repeated
pleas for a
place to go skateboarding, town officials shy away, fearing injury
Spring 1986 – Saying that its numbers have
more than 100 to “30 good, active members,” leaders of the
Volunteer Fire Department fear the organization may die.
Spring 1986 – The state realigns the
Route 7 and Simpaug Turnpike, called one of the most dangerous
Summer 1986 – The town rallies around an
proposed for felling so Prospect Street can cross Main directly
into the Grand
Union shopping center. Tree supporters say it’s a rare survivor of
disease and a symbol of what’s best about Ridgefield. Opponents
say it will
die soon anyway. [In 2008, the elm is alive and well.]
September 1986 – In the GOP primary, Westport’s
Freedman beats former Ridgefield state representative Herbert V.
Camp for state
senator. Sixteen-year incumbent Senator John Matthews is retiring.
Fall 1986 – As the race for state
closer to November, GOP incumbent Jane Jansen quits, citing family
considerations. Jan Johns fills the slot, but loses in November to
Ireland, the first Democrat to hold the job since 1911. The
Nov. 6 headline: ‘Irish’ Eyes Are Smilin’.
November 1986 – Brunetti’s Market, a Main
fixture for a quarter century, announces it will close.
November 1986 – A Better Chance (ABC), denied a
town-owned building on the Community Center property, finds a home
Avenue to house girls from the inner city who will attend
November 1986 – Tree Warden John Pinchbeck
“maple decline” is killing many roadside trees and a virus is
December 1986 – David Larson, a former math
football coach from Southington, is hired as school
December 1986 – The town has an advisory vote
to support the construction of Super 7. Only 1,636 of the 12,900
voters show up,
with 1,241 against and 393 for the expressway. The vote helps mold
policy on the road for years to come and eventually, Governor
December 1986 – Altnacraig on High Ridge, the town’s only nursing home, is for sale. Eventually it closes. In 1994, it burns to the ground.
1987 – Ridgefield leads the state in car-deer
with 63 reported.
April 1987 – Citing her painful rheumatoid
Elizabeth Leonard announces she won’t run for a fourth term as
April 3, 1987 – John and Patricia Manningham
die of smoke
inhalation after a baseboard heater starts a fire in their Twin
June 1987 – A Ridgefield man is arrested for
acquaintance through the head at a Farmingville Road house. A year
later he is
sentenced to 10 years in prison for manslaughter.
July 1987 – Dr. David Sklarz, middle school
resigns. He is the third principal to leave in two months –
Marczely left the high school in May and Angela Wormser-Reid quit
June. “It’s a difficult time,” says fledgling Superintendent David
Summer 1987 – First Selectman Elizabeth Leonard
converting the former Holy Ghost Novitiate on Prospect Ridge, then
office building, into congregate housing for the elderly.
Oct. 4, 1987 – Barely two weeks after summer ends, a freak snowstorm dumps three inches on the town, felling countless leaf-laden trees and limbs, and knocking out electricity to 83% of Ridgefield’s homes. Some remain without power for four days.
1988 – The average selling price of a house
this year is
1988 – Books Plus on Main Street, the town’s
January 1988 – School board offices move from
novitiate to former Branchville School, but by May school
wondering about reopening Branchville due to signs enrollment
would start rising
March 1988 – State Rep. Barbara Ireland says
“certainly seems to be coming.”
April 1988 – Eleven classrooms at Scotland
plastic sheeting for ceilings after melting ice and snow cause
in the flat roof.
Spring 1988 – Morganti Inc., a Ridgefield
firm for 68 years, is bought by a Greek concern.
Spring 1988 – Claiming a violation of free
supporters of Lodestar sue the school board after the high school
magazine publishes an alumnus submission with colorful language
that prompts the
superintendent to ban non-student submissions. The battle will
last three years
and cost the board more than $400,000.
Spring 1988 – Deer ticks and Lyme disease are
Spring 1988 – A pick-up truck driven by an
Norwalk policeman shatters the Cass Gilbert fountain, the fourth
time in 12
years, prompting the state to recommend the monument be surrounded
June 1988 – Stonehenge Inn’s 170-year-old
destroyed by a fire of undetermined origin.
July1988 – Boehringer Ingelheim announces plans
250,000-square-foot corporate headquarters in Ridgebury.
July 1988 – An outcry is heard after the school
awards Superintendent Larson an 18% pay increase (to $90,000)
shortly after two
referendums heavily cut the school budget. Two months later,
Larson quits and
returns to Southington, whence he came.
July 1988 – Voters agree to buy the “Crouchley
property” next to the post office.
Summer 1988 – Janel Jorgensen, a Ridgefield
senior, wins a silver medal as a member of the 400-meter women’s
team at the Olympics in Seoul. She is the only person ever to win
medal as a Ridgefielder.
October 1988 – The Housatonic Area Regional
District (HART) announces it will start running buses between
Ridgefield every 45 minutes Mondays through Saturdays. The service
months before HART figures out it will never come close to being
Fall 1988 – The library decides to add a
Nov. 8, 1988 – Democrat Barbara Ireland handily defeats Tim Klvana for a second term as state representative.
1989 – Only 26 permits for new houses are
issued in 1989;
just five years early 137 new houses were built.
Jan. 31, 1989 – The state Supreme Court rules
M. McConnell, a Danbury Hospital nurse from Ridgefield, has a
right to die. Mrs.
McConnell has not regained consciousness since a January 1985 auto
the state has fought removal of life support. Support is removed;
she dies Feb.
Spring 1989 – Amid a poor national economy, it
record three budget referendums to pass the budgets. Many town and
employees are laid off. “Cuts sink morale,” says a July 6
June 1989 – A life-care complex is proposed for
Ippoliti land on Danbury Road and zoning for it is approved the
June 1989 – A strange fungus is killing most of
Moth caterpillars in the latest outbreak of the tree defoliators.
never seen anything like this,” said the state entomologist. It is
year Gypsy Moth caterpillars create a defoliation problem in
June 1989 – The school board names Jerry Marcus
Plains as superintendent.
July 1989 – The Republican Town Committee
First Selectman Elizabeth Leonard’s candidacy for Board of
Selectmen, but a
GOP caucus overrules the committee and puts her – and other
rejections – on
the ticket. She wins in November.
August 1989 – GranCentral Market, which had
old First National since 1974, says it will close. “We’re just not
support,” said an executive. [Balducci’s occupies the space in
September 1989 – Times may be tough but the
Ridge Golf Course has 2,000 Ridgefielders registered as users, a
record in its
Oct. 30, 1989 – Richard Nagle, a former New
firefighter, a thespian, and an amateur entomologist, becomes fire
replacing Richard McGlynn, who retires.
November 1989 – A 130-foot pole, the tallest
the village, is erected over the police station to hold cellular
communications as well as police radio antennas.
Fall 1989 – To save money, the school board
teachers $27,000 in cash if they’ll retire early. Many jump at the
November 1989 – A Waterbury firm proposes in
senior housing and health care complex called Laurelwood on Route
December 1989 – Despite the budget battles of
Ridgefield’s tax hike of 11.6% was the biggest in Fairfield
County, says the
Connecticut Conference of Municipalities. But the Connecticut
Council notes a month later that Ridgefield ranked 122nd
towns in taxes.
December 1989 – After a complaint that it
separation of church and state, the Crèche is moved from the
grounds, where it stood each Christmas since 1952, to private
property on Main
1990 – Ridgefield’s population growth, slowed
recession, reaches 20,919.
January 1990 – First Selectman Sue Manning
plans to give the village business district a facelift, with
fixtures, benches, and brick walks.
February 1990 – A real estate official reports
square feet of office space are vacant in town.
March 1990 – The town begins charging for
calls. They had been free rides.
April 1990 – Ground is broken for the new
headquarters on Danbury Road.
May 1990 – Romeo Petroni, a lifelong
named a Superior Court judge.
Spring 1990 – Encore Books opens at Copps Hill
June 1990 – The first three ABC students
Ridgefield High School.
June 1990 – Lacking enough money, The
Ridgefield Family Y
announces it will close immediately. “We have done all that we can
President Bruce Hopkins.
July 1990 – The Ridgefield Press announces that
an earlier announcement, it will not be sold to the Times-Mirror
August 1990 – Ridgefield Cinema, the town’s
September 1990 – For the first time in years,
enrollment increases, albeit slightly: from 3,284 the previous
3,300. School officials are concerned.
September 1990 – Aldo Biagiotti’s book, Impact: The Historical Account of the Italian Immigrants of Ridgefield, Conn., is published.
September 1990 – The Gulf War causes gas prices
15 cents a gallon almost immediately.
Fall 1990 – Vivian Schneider becomes the first
Volunteer Fire Department woman firefighter.
Fall 1990 – Joseph Ellis is named high school
Nov. 6, 1990 – Barbara Ireland wins a third
term as state
representative, topping Beth Yanity, 4,968 to 3,823.
November 1990 – President George Bush signs a
law creating the Weir Farm National Historic Site.
November 1990 – Men working on a new slate roof
century old Main Street mansion at King Lane set it afire, causing
December 1990 – Voters approve an ordinance,
complementing a new state law requiring recycling, imposing $100
fines for not
recycling, but town officials are still wrestling with how to make
follow the law.
December 1990 – The Ridgefield Swim Club is formed to try to take over the Family Y.
Dec. 5, 1991 The Ridgefield Press publishes a
special supplement, “Ridgefield and A World at War,” marking the
anniversary of the start of World War II and containing stories of
war and the
January 1991 – A town employee is found to have
$50,000 and faces up to 20 years in prison. A restitution
settlement and plea
bargain kept her out of jail.
January 1991 – The Rotary Club goes co-ed,
Rep. Barbara Ireland its first female member.
February 1991 – Thirty-two yellow ribbons are
trees at the middle school honoring the Ridgefielders serving in
March 1991 – Two dogs corner a rabid raccoon in
in the month,
the first case of rabies recorded in Connecticut since 1960 and
the beginning of
the epidemic that will sweep through the state.
March 20, 1991 – he Fitzgerald quadruplets –
Brittany, Tyler, and Ryan – are born.
June 1991 – Hay Day Country Market opens in the
National/GranCentral space [in 2008 occupied by Balducci’s].
July 1991 – A black bear visits town early in
the first time one had been sighted in many years.
Summer 1991 – As Bridgeport Hydraulic Company
take over the Ridgefield Water Supply Company, residents of High
without water for two weeks in late summer because of pressure
Aug. 22, 1991 – The state income tax passes in
Fall 1991 –
Ridge affordable housing and the Congregate Housing, both built by
Authority, open as does Halpin Court, affordable housing built
privately by the
Nolan brothers of Danbury.
Nov. 5, 1991 – Regina Yannuzzi wins two seats
Board of Education, running as a Democrat write-in candidate for a
seat and the party’s nominee for a two-year seat. She can hold
November 1991 – President Bush signs a bill
$1.75 million to establish Weir Farm National Historic Site.
January 1992 – The school board votes to
outdoor smoking area at the high school.
Spring 1992 – The Class of 1992 has a
National Merit Scholarship finalists.
Spring 1992 – The ripple effect of bad times
leads to big
town and school budget cuts, including three cops and a fireman.
which lost 36 teachers in four years, drop eight more.
April 14, 1992 – Laurelwood, the town’s first
large-scale care center for the elderly, is approved for a 50-acre
site on Route
April 1992 – Boehringer Ingelheim opens its new
July 13, 1992 – Elizabeth Leonard resigns from
of Selectmen because of ill health. Two weeks later, she is dead.
Summer 1992 – Less than three years after he’s
Jerry Marcus quits as school superintendent and moves to Atlanta.
August 1992 – Dunkin Donuts opens.
Dec. 22, 1992 – Karl Seymour Nash, editor and publisher of The Press for more than a half century, dies at the age of 84.
1993 – The state says plans to extend Super 7
from Norwalk to Danbury would be put on hold at least 10 years.
May 1993 – The town votes to buy the old Barlow
School from Village Bank, which had foreclosed the mortgage on the
June 1993 – The town votes to reopen
to serve the growing elementary enrollment.
June 1993 – Beechwood wells off Farmingville
online for Ridgefield Water Supply Company, ending a two-year
moratorium on new
July 1993 – The pilot dies, but a young
as a vintage airplane crashes on Pine Mountain.
October 1993 – Woolworth’s, the town’s only
and dime,” closes at the end of the month.
January 1994 – A major fire shuts down Pizza
Danbury Road for weeks.
January 1994 – A suspicious fire levels
mansion, a 90-year-old High Ridge landmark. Firemen are at the
scene 14 hours.
Jan. 15, 1994 – The Ridgefield Recreation
Feb. 1, 1994 – Jo Ellyn Schimke is sworn in as
female commandant of the Marine Corps League.
Feb. 17, 1994 – Laurelwood opens [see
April 14, 1992].
March 24, 1994 – By this day, 75 inches of snow
fallen during the winter season, canceling school 12 times.
Spring 1994 – The Allan brothers sell 440 Main
now the Gap et al.
June 1994 – Duchess restaurant opens on Danbury
June 1994 – The town rents part of the old high
the District Nursing Association.
Summer 1994 – With a $250,000 state grant, the
begins village beautification that includes new sidewalks, hedges,
October 1994 – Voters agree to re-open
Nov. 8, 1994 – Chris Scalzo defeats Di Masters
representative, the first time in eight years a Republican holds
November 1994 – A Norway Spruce is felled and
New York to become the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.
November 1994 – After a “vigorous” two-hour
discussion, a Town Meeting vetoes a “regional diversity” program
schools, 101 to 81.
December 1994 – The Barn, a long-awaited teen
Dec. 25, 1994 – Some 3,500 homes spend part or
Christmas without electricity after a Christmas Eve storm.
February 1995 – Ridgefield Girls Initiative is
the American Association of University Women to boost girls’
April 1995 – The Planning and Zoning Commission
selectmen to buy the IBM property, suggesting a $5-million offer.
April 1995 – Beatrice Brown ends her 25 years
conductor of the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra.
June 1995 – Eight-term Town Clerk Dora
announces she’ll retire.
June 24, 1995 – Eleanor Karvelis, only the
to be a school principal here, dies at 67.
July 1995 – A Superior Court judge overturns
board’s 1993 firing of teacher Nancy Sekor, but the battle
July 1995 – John P. Cooke announces he will run
selectman on the Independent Party ticket.
Aug. 8, 1995 – The U.S. Postal Service issues a
stamp honoring suffragist Alice Paul, designed by Ridgefielder
Chris Calle. She
is the first Ridgefield resident ever pictured on a postage stamp.
three years later, a second Ridgefielder – Henry Luce – appears on
August 1995 – Rainfall is 10 inches below
are running dry, and the selectmen impose a water emergency at the
end of the
September 1995 – The Alternative High School
October 1995 – A parade of 55 Bernese mountain
marches down Main Street in the first of what becomes an annual
lasting ten or so years.
Nov. 7, 1995 – Sue Manning is elected to her
final term as first selectman, defeating Barbara Manners by 450
Independent John Cooke is a distant third.
Dec. 13, 1995 – Dr. John Heller, who brought
England Institute for Medical Research here in 1954, dies at the
age of 74.
December 1995 – Petitioners ask that Pelham Lane be declared the town’s first “scenic road.”
1996 – WLAD in Danbury buys the ailing WREF,
local radio coverage of the town.
1996 – During the winter of 1995-96, the most
snow of any
winter in the century falls on the region: approximately 111
Jan. 7-8, 1996 – the town gets 21 inches of
snow in 24
Jan. 7, 1996 – Pamby Motors opens its new
Route in middle of the blizzard.
May 1996 – As it attempts an emergency landing
Airport, a plane crashes on Pine Mountain, killing two.
Spring 1996 – The town pays $2 million for
rights to the 101-acre Brewster farm in Farmingville, the first
in the town’s history.
June 1996 – The Alternative High School has
July 18, 1996 – Pilot Richard G. Campbell, the
engineer, is among the dead as TWA Flight 800 explodes off Long
July 31, 1996 – Dr. James Sheehan retires after
as a Ridgefield pediatrician.
Aug. 1, 1996 – Silicon Valley Group (SVG) buys
201,000-square-foot Perkin-Elmer building and 50 acres on Route 7.
The plant was
built in 1967 to house Benrus, the watchmaker.
September 1996 – 20 children enter kindergarten
resurrected St. Mary’s School, the beginnings of an elementary
expands to higher grades in the years that follow.
October 1996 – To avoid a long and possibly
lawsuit over zoning – and the threat of a big multifamily housing
voters agree to pay Peter Friedman and others $17.5 million for
their 252 acres
in Ridgebury, mostly to sell off as single-family housing lots.
October 1996 – Sidney Rothstein debuts as the
director of the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra.
Oct. 19, 1996 – A nor’easter hits town with 6.16 inches of rain in 24 hours, the heaviest since the Flood of 1955.
1997 – The Historic District Commission refuses
the First Church of Christ, Scientist, to put vinyl siding on its
sparking a two-year lawsuit. The church loses.
January 1997 – The town’s first portable
years opens at Ridgebury School.
February 1997 – The State Supreme Court upholds
school board’s right to fire Nancy Sekor in 1993.
March 1997 – The Zoning Board of Appeals
variance that would have allowed the town to double the size of
March 1997 – Ottaway, a division of Dow Jones –
the midst of financial changes – decides not to buy Acorn Press,
The Ridgefield Press and four other weekly newspapers. It is the
the neighboring Danbury News-Times.
April 1997 – Voters reject an attempt to exempt
zoning in order to build the expanded middle school.
May 14. 1997 – Bob and Lessley Burke win $37
the Connecticut Powerball lottery.
May 1997 – With the Junior Prom that year, the
school begins using Breathalyzers before admitting students to
July 1997 – Jeffrey Hansen announces he’s
Aug. 21, 1997 – The Gap opens on Main Street.
Summer 1997 – The town creates a 59-lot
its 1996 Ridgebury purchase from Peter Friedman to sell at $11.7
Summer 1997 – A merger between the Nash family,
Acorn Press – The Ridgefield Press’s parent – and the Hersams of
Canaan Advertiser fame, creates the seven-paper Hersam Acorn
September 1997 – Ruth McAllister becomes first
Fall 1997 – IBM signs a contract with Toombs
to sell 678 acres at Bennett’s Pond.
Nov. 4, 1997 – Abe Morelli is elected first selectman, beating Rudy Marconi who comes back two years later to beat Mr. Morelli.
1998 – Landmark Academy says it will buy the
Dame Academy on West Mountain for its prep school. It does, and
Ridgefield Academy opens the next year.
February 1998 – The school board picks Dr.
outspoken and sometimes controversial superintendent in Cheshire,
as the new
Spring 1998 – Bedient’s Hardware closes. The
oldest store dates to the 1783 [q.v.]
when it was King and Dole.
April 1998 – Voters approve up to $7.55 million
the 58-acre Ippoliti tract on Danbury Road for a possible new
Spring 1998 – Ridgefield Bank opens a branch at
Ancona’s Market, the first banking office in Ridgefield to be open
Spring 1998 – Chez Lenard, Main Street’s by-now
venerable hot dog stand, moves to Bailey Avenue after a nearby
store owner sues,
saying the wiener wagon drives away business. The cart soon
returns to its old
spot a half block north after many petitioners rise to its
support. [In 2008,
Chez Lenard is still alive and well; the complainer is long gone.]
May 25, 1998 – For the first time since 1982,
cancels the Memorial Day Parade.
Spring 1998 – Governor John Rowland taps State
Scalzo to run for state comptroller. John Frey gets the nod to
replace Scalzo on
local ticket. Democrats, who’d expected the popular Scalzo to run,
had put up
no opponent. In November, Frey wins, Scalzo loses.
Aug. 29, 1998 – Voters reject putting a new
on the just-purchased Ippoliti property. On Nov. 21, they do it
November 1998 – The Board of Selectmen votes to
skateboarding in the village, but also establishes a skate park on
November 1998 – The Girl Scouts give the town
Camp Catoonah after the Sturges family, the original donors of the
out that it cannot be sold. In May 2000, the camp is renamed
December 1998 – The new owners of the old IBM
plans for a corporate center, 150 units of multi-family housing, a
center and hotel, and a 27-hole golf course. The land is called
1999 – After 22 years as police chief, Thomas
retires to become executive director of the Connecticut Division
Revenues, the agency in charge of casino and other gambling
1999 – After 22 years as the town’s department
Caldor closes. Kohl’s arrives in April 2000.
February 1999 – When a proposal for a bypass
Route 102 and Route 35 is announced, residents of Quail Ridge –
the road would go – are up in arms. The plan dies quickly.
February 1999 – A group forms to save the Scott
Catoonah Street. The 1740s building will be moved to a pocket park
Street and Sunset Lane to become the Ridgefield Historical Society
February 1999 – Phyllis Paccadolmi retires
after 53 years
at the library.
March 1999 – The school board votes to build a
March 1999 – Priceline, an online buying
public and Ridgefielder Jay Walker, its founder, is suddenly a
April 1999 – Pinchbeck’s Nursery closes after
April 1999 – The school board votes to build a
elementary school rather than add onto the existing five.
April 22, 1999 – Richard Ligi is named the
fourth police chief.
May 1999 – Chancellor Park at Laurelwood opens.
July 1, 1999 – It’s been a dry spring and BHC,
water company, orders water use restrictions.
August 1999 – The Ramapoo Road sewer line, the
sewer system expansion in many years, is completed to serve 170
September 1999 – Voters adopt a pooper scooper
but nary a ticket is issued for unscooped poop in the many months
No enforcement method is provided.
September 1999 – State officials are watching
mosquitoes for both encephalitis and the new West Nile virus.
September 1999 – The remains of Hurricane Floyd
inches of rain in two days in mid-month, cutting power and causing
more than $2
million in damage. Officials say a third of the town’s roads need
Fall 1999 – The town votes to renovate the old
school auditorium on East Ridge, unused since 1972, into a
playhouse for the
October 1999 – Bypass Road, between Old Quarry
Farmingville Roads, is opened more than 25 years after it’s first
Nov. 2, 1999 – Rudy Marconi is elected first
Of 19 first selectmen during the 20th Century, he is
only the fourth
Democrat to win the office.
1999 – In proof that every vote counts, two
for selectman – Joseph Heyman and Michael Jones – tie at 3,787
In a runoff election, the first of its kind here, Heyman wins by
Dec. 31, 1999 – Under clear skies and in not too cold temperatures, thousands come to the village New Year’s Eve for Festival 2000, a musical and fireworks celebration of the new century and millennium.