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 arrested by the county sheriff for stealing copper wire from the Bridgeport Traction Company.  

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. Mr. Abbott had been pastor of the Methodist Church in the 1870s and, in 1884, represented Ridgefield in the General Assembly. He was a longtime school visitor [school board member].  

April 22, 1900 – Burglars enter Graeloe, the summer home of Lucius H. Biglow on Main Street, now Ballard Park. John Nepph, the gardener, discovers the 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 escapes serious injury.  

March 31, 1900 – The Rev. John Winthrop Ballantine leaves his post as minister of the First Congregational Church.  

July 19, 1900 – J. Howard King, wealthy Albany banker, dies at his summer 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 Emerson, owner of the slave Dred Scott, who in 1856 unsuccessfully sued for his freedom before 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 of Honor winner who is a hat manufacturer, acquires and expands the Henry deB. Schenck place and calls the 300 acres off Florida Hill Road “Downsbury Manor.” Mark Twain, who lives in nearby Redding, is a frequent guest in the 45-room house, 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: “If every automobilist would show the same carefulness and consideration shown by Dr. (R.W.) Lowe, with his Locomobile, there would be fewer complaints from horse owners.” 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 Church is 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 last Friday afternoon was not only a financial success, but it was successful as an exhibition,” The Press reports. “They were all in fine temper, allowed themselves to be petted and seemed to be delighted with the attention they attracted.”  

Sept. 14, 1901 – The town hall is draped in black after news that President William McKinley, shot eight days earlier by an assassin, is dead.  

Oct. 18, 1901 – The Rev. Richard E. Shortell, pastor of St. Mary’s Parish, is elected to the Board of School Visitors, the school board of the era, and is named acting school visitor.  


1902 – A Christian Science practitioner, who leases a house here for the summer, holds the first Christian Science meetings in Ridgefield.  

1902 – The Rev. Horace W. Byrnes tells local Methodists 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 bringing 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 that it “shall hire no teachers from outside the State of Connecticut, provided that satisfactory ones can be hired from within the state.”  

July 29, 1902 – The Town School Committee votes, with thanks, permission to the Village Improvement Society to repair the Center School.  

Sept. 1, 1902 – The selectmen report that ten people are living in the “alms house.” Five are men, and five women, but none is married.  

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 the time 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 dedicated at 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 Danbury and Harlem Traction Company to run its trolley line from Danbury into Ridgebury.  

August 1903 – The town reimburses Mrs. John Meisner $13.50 for “chickens killed by dogs.”  

August 1903 – Young Willie Rascoe is sitting outside the Titicus store as two young ladies pull up in a buggy to let their horses 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 distressed parties are young and pretty,” rescues the girls. “The boy hero” then hides in the store till the commotion is over without ever stopping for thanks.  

Sept. 1, 1903 – Dr. R.W. Lowe, town health officer, reports there have been four cases of typhoid fever in town during the past 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 families living in town.”  

Sept. 23, 1903 – There were 561 children in the town’s 14 schools during the previous year, reports Harvey P. Bissell, secretary of the Town School Committee. The most populated was the Center School, with 137 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 women’s side of the International Order of Odd Fellows, forms. For decades each Halloween it sponsors the popular Masquerade Ball that benefits various local charities. The lodge lasts until late in the 20th century when dwindling membership causes it, like the Odd Fellows, to disband here.  

April 20, 1905 – The engine of the 8:20 a.m. train from Ridgefield to Branchville jumps the track, overturns and scalds engineer William 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 organized to provide the town with power. Coal-burning generator is erected on Ivy Hill Road.  

Aug. 12, 1906 – The Rev. John H. Chapman becomes rector of St. Stephen’s Church, serving until 1914.  

Nov. 19, 1906 – Seventeen cars of a 27-car freight train, on its way from Danbury to New York City, go off the tracks in Branchville. Some cars wind up in the Norwalk River. The train is carrying hay, potatoes, apples, coal, and hardware. No one is hurt.  

Nov. 22, 1906 – A firebug is blamed as two large fires break out in village businesses in two days. One occurs at Brundage and Benedict’s store on Main Street while the other at Hiram K. Scott Jr.’s 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 West Mountain, set among 1,750 acres in Ridgefield and New York that Henry B. Anderson had been amassing for several years. It is a popular destination for New Yorkers, famous for its view spanning many miles and its two kinds of chicken, broiled or fricassee.  

1907 – Dr. D. Everett Lyon lectures at town hall on “The Wonders of the Microscope,” showing enlarged pictures of a flea, which has “the strongest muscular development of any known living thing.”  

1907 – The Ridgefield School for Boys is established by 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 J. G. Hawley $10 in compensation for sheep killed by roaming dogs.  

April 7, 1907 – As Dr. and Mrs. A.L. Northrop sleep 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, three-time presidential candidate and famed orator, speaks at town hall. “Main Street looked as though half the population of the town had turned out,” The Press 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 anniversary celebration.  

May 1907 – Constable Frank Taylor finds the horse sheds behind St. Stephen’s Church ablaze and “a horse securely tied, which was being roasted.” He rescues the animal, which survives.  

July 2, 1907 – S.D. Keeler’s elevator on Bailey Avenue is heavily damaged by fire.  

July 4, 1907 – An “automobile parade” takes place. “It is suggested by the managers that drivers of timid horses avoid the route…” The Press warns in advance.  

August 1907 – The school board votes $550 to install eight “automatic flush closets” in the Center School. The less expensive manual flush units are $430.  

August 1907 – Architect Cass Gilbert buys the Keeler Tavern.  

Aug. 15, 1907 – “There have been many stories around 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. Dr. R.W. Lowe has tests performed. Nothing bad is found.  

Aug. 22, 1907 – Around midnight, Arthur B. Cole, 20, steals a horse from Sperry’s livery stable and rides to Danbury, where he sells the animal for $100. He is captured the next day and “young Cole enjoys 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 same manner.”  

Sept. 1, 1907 – Effective this day, all automobiles in 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. Mary’s Club in the recently opened parish clubhouse.  

November 1907 – “Don’t think that because my elevator 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. Keeler that 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 (Hermitess), a highly fictionalized novel inspired by the real hermitess who died in 1810, 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 and paperback copies are sold, but it is not popular. Sample sentence: “When the colonel was wounded, he was partly facing his men and the bullet passing obliquely through 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, causing paralysis below that point.” His obituary in the April 15, 1926 Press does not even 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 selectmen dislike the petition, and print it in full in The Press, “believing that the public 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 prohibitionist, H.D. Hull, father of future first selectman Harry E. Hull, and Cyrus A. Cornen, who later embezzled money from the town government and St. Stephen’s Church. When the vote is taken, Ridgefield remains dry, 194 for licensing and 204 opposed.  

Nov. 9, 1909 – Hiram Keeler Scott dies at 87. The former town clerk, probate judge and postmaster founded what is now Bissell Pharmacy in 1853.  


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 Highway Commissioner McDonald’s “proverbial failure to make good his promises” after many complain about the “intolerable dust nuisance” of Main Street. The commissioner had promised to spray Tarvia B on the road by May 20, didn’t, and the selectmen took the initiative and began sprinkling water on the dirt road.  

Oct. 5, 1912 – Fire that starts in a hay loft levels a barn and garage at Graeloe [now Ballard Park] on Main Street.  

Oct. 7, 1912 – A town meeting accepts a give of land to 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 – an imprint still alive in 2008.  

Oct. 15, 1912 – The Keeler barn on lower Main Street burns to the ground. Firemen wet down the rubble and inspect nearby buildings. Soon after they leave, the stable bursts into flame and burns down. Two horses die.  


Jan. 19, 1913 – The Holy Name Society is formed in St. Mary’s Parish.  

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 dog along the track in Branchville that night when he is struck by a northbound train. 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 Road, across the north end of Great Swamp, is built, bypassing Lee and Limekiln Roads, the old route.  

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 town, the largest number between 1910 and 1930.  

June 9, 1914 – The Ridgefield Garden Club is founded.  

Oct. 15, 1914 – The District Nursing Association, now the Ridgefield Visiting Nurse Association, has its first meeting.


1915 – Benjamin Franklin Grammar School opens on East 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, owner of the Hotel Manhattan, burns to the ground on Branchville Road.  

Jan. 7, 1915 – The Ridgefield basketball team defeats the Germans of Danbury, 58-27 on Francis D. Martin leads all scorers with 12.  

May 2, 1915 – The Rev. William B. Lusk becomes rector of 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 Brewster, bishop 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 Powder Mills in Haskell, N.J., is felt in Ridgefield as “quivering and shaking as though a mighty gust of wind.” Many think it is an earthquake and people at higher elevations can see the sky lit up by the blast 70 miles away.  

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, with the 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 here. 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 Casaveedio 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. Alden Weir dies at 67. His longtime Branchville farm later becomes the first National Park property in Connecticut.  


Ridgefield’s population falls to 2,707, a drop of 400 in 10 years.  

March 9, 1920 – Twenty teachers (most of the staff) submit resignations in a salary dispute with the school board. Teachers return 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 organized and 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 Street sets up a receiver in the town hall so Ridgefielders can listen to the returns that show Harding and Coolidge beat Cox and Roosevelt. Before this, 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 Ridgefield Girl Scout Troop – Troop One.  

Feb. 23, 1921 – The League of Women Voters has its first meeting on less than a year after women win the right to vote.  

May 11, 1921 – The Borough of Ridgefield is incorporated into the town of Ridgefield. The Village District replaces the borough to 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 Mortimer C. Keeler’s farm at Whipstick, igniting a blaze that spreads to barns and stables. The fire department’s “motor apparatus” responds, but can do little. [See also March 24, 1926.]  

Summer, 1921 – The school board hires Charles D. Bogart as superintendent, but the state refuses to certify him. The board reconsiders, but retains him on a 5-4 vote. Pro-education forces are outraged.  

Oct. 3, 1921 – In the first town election after the passage of the 19th Amendment the year before, Marion Nash wins a seat on the School Committee (Board of Education). Not only is she the first 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 meeting Oct. 11, Miss Nash is given a welcoming speech and “a handsome, large bunch of flowers.”  

Oct. 21, 1921 – A 28-room mansion built by William S. 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 West Mountain mansion of diplomat William Harrison Bradley, burns down, destroying 5,000 books – many of them rare – as well as historic documents, antique vases, china, and jewelry. The blaze starts a forest fire on the mountain.  

November 1921 – The New Haven Railroad registers vigorous protest to the state’s granting a jitney license to the Trackless Traction Company, which wants to run a bus service from Stamford to New Canaan, Ridgefield, and Danbury.  

November 1921 – A seven-passenger Hudson goes out of control on Danbury Road, “turns turtle” in a ditch, and catches fire with four people inside. Passerby John Nelly, “a man of powerful strength,” tears open the car, allowing all to escape. The Press headline: “Miraculous escape from cremation.”  

Nov. 6, 1921 – Joseph Roche and his roommate Vincense Reneri, a Branchville storekeeper, quarrel on the platform of the Branchville Station. Roche stabs his friend to death and disappears.  

December 1921 – Dr. John Perry, the school physician, announces that all children will have their eyes tested. “He is convinced that 5% of the children cannot see the blackboard.”  

December 1921 – Francis D. Martin is selling The New Edison, “the phonograph with a soul.” He demonstrates the device to a large audience in town hall, comparing the Edison with live singer Helen Davis.  

December 1921 – The state police open headquarters on West Lane, covering all of Fairfield County with troopers on motorcycles. “Lawbreakers nowadays, whether crooks breaking a bank in the city or committing depredations in the rural sections, nearly all use the auto to make quick getaways,” The Press said. “The motorcycle cop is a decided advantage over an officer on horseback who would have small opportunity of stopping or 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 rented space in the town hall for its office for 22 years, moves out and across the street to the Scott Block, [where Ridgefield Office Supply is in 2008]. The Ridgefield Press headline: “Town Loses $600 a Year Lease.”  

1922 – Holy Ghost fathers buy the former Cheesman house on Prospect Ridge for a novitiate that lasts till early 1970s.  

Jan. 25, 1922 – A Manhattan bus hits and kills A. Barton Hepburn, president of the Chase National Bank, on. The owner of Altnacraig on High Ridge bequeaths more than $5 million to universities, colleges, and family members.  

March 1922 – The state begins paving Wilton Road West, then dirt, and straightens the road in the process. The abandoned Flat Rock 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 among the 689 children in the public schools, attendance is running at 88%. The high school has the best rate: 92%.  

April 1922 – For roadwork, the selectmen that spring buy a kerosene-fueled tractor, perhaps the first town-owned motor vehicle. “One of the great advantages of a tractor is its economy,” The Press reports. “Its running expenses are comparatively light and it will do the work of four horses.”  

April 22, 1922 – A tenement on Bailey Avenue catches fire and burns to the ground, igniting other buildings including Bates’ Garage, which is also destroyed. The Press charges that the water company failed to keep its standpipe full, leaving virtually no pressure to protect the buildings adjacent to the garage. The paper cites other fires when firefighters lacked water pressure.  

May 1922 – The state is still in the throes of dealing with early versions of daylight saving time. Half the businesses in town, including the Ridgefield Savings Bank, are on “standard time” while half, such as First National Bank and Trust, are on “advanced time.” An attempt in 1923 to ban “local option” on daylight saving time is defeated in the state senate.  

May 1922 – The Town School Committee adopts new course requirements for Hamilton High School, making it more likely graduates can get into colleges. It includes four years of Latin, three years of French, plus courses in general science, physics, chemistry, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry.  

June 1922 – Woodcarver Sebastiano Grassi gives an 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 House.  

July 20, 1922 – State Police Officer John C. Kelly visits the Ideal Garage on Danbury Road to have his motorcycle fixed. He notices a furniture truck with two suspicious occupants, checks the cargo, and uncovers 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 hall basement. Later in the day, in court in the town hall, the two are fined $167 each. “Both fines and costs were paid by a stranger, a man driving a large touring car, who was apparently waiting outside.”  

July 25, 1922 – William Lynch of St. Mary’s Parish 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 side of Main Street to the Scott Block [where Addessi’s is now] and remains there till 1959.  

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. The tree warden refuses, citing a petition from the garden club and letters from others supporting the trees. Allen appeals to the County Commissioners. They order the trees removed, then suddenly reverse their decision after an “influential 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 organized.  

January 1923 – The School Committee closes Farmingville and Scotland Schools because the teachers at each have resigned. “It is exceedingly difficult to secure teachers at this season because of the requirements demanded by the State Board of Education,” The Press says, adding that pupils will be transported to Titicus and Benjamin Franklin schools in “covered” buses. “The children will assemble at their respective school 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 and his individuality stood apart from the average,” The Press says, adding he was “gifted with good business acumen and a sense of humor. He had many terse sayings.”  

March 1923 – The Press reports that “to the shame of Ridgefield and its lack of protection, rowdies took possession of the village center Sunday afternoon and bombarded passing motors and pedestrians with dirty snow. The humiliating part is that some of these boys come from respectable 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 pastor by 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 School. The two-story, 120-foot long building would contain eight rooms on the first floor and a 400-person auditorium on the second. Total cost: $60,000. Voters later approve, but the town runs into financing difficulties and the high school becomes an addition to the grammar school – sans auditorium.  

June 1923 – The Press reports that a Bridgeport newspaper chastises the town because lots behind village stores “resemble a combination of Johnstown after the flood had subsided and a second-class Kansas cyclone. Just why a town will be so fussy on the front of a set of lots and so careless at the rear is hard to understand…”  

Aug. 30, 1923 – In what might be the first sidewalk sale 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 operation is short-lived.  

Oct. 22, 1923 – At 7 a.m., a northbound Oldsmobile truck is descending Limestone Hill on Danbury Road when its axle breaks. The truck overturns, spilling its content of grapes – and 35 gallons of grain alcohol. The driver and a passenger disappear. “The grapes spilled over the road and 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 secret contents,” The Press says. “Evidently that was the reason why the driver and 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, describing  the Girls Athletic Club’s annual New Year’s Eve dance with the music of Sterling’s six-piece orchestra from Norwalk.  

Jan. 5, 1924 – George Washington Gilbert, known far and wide as “the Hermit of Ridgefield,” is found frozen to death in his cottage on Florida Hill Road.  

March 1924 – Miss Ella J. Rose, supervisor of home economics for the state school board, tells the School Committee that “there 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 course. “Miss 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 age.”  

March 24, 1924 – The Christian Science Society of Ridgefield is established.  

May 1924 – Dr. Harry E. Bard, a former school superintendent in the Philippines, is chosen Ridgefield’s new superintendent. [See also Sept. 6, 2006.]  

June 1, 1924 – Nearly 1,000 people attend the dedication of St. Mary’s new cemetery.  

June 1924 – With the arrest of three young men, state police break “a gigantic chicken-thieving ring” operating in the area. The ringleader is the father of one of the boys. He’s described as providing “vicious home surroundings” for his son, who can neither read nor write and is trained only in stealing chickens.  

June 1924 – State police also arrest Alfred Payne for 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 about the muddy condition of the Sugar Hollow Road [Route 7] between Ridgefield and Danbury prompt the state to spend $113,000 that summer to pave the road with concrete.  

August 1924 – The Ridgefield Electric Company announces it will soon receive its current from Connecticut Light and Power Company instead of generating its own at the Ivy Hill Road power station.  

September 1924 – Town Clerk and Probate Judge George G. 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 three women – he’d pulled over on West Lane. He asks Sgt. John Kelly to arrest one for reckless driving. Kelly says Dingee should make the arrest himself. Dingee declines, saying he doesn’t know which person to arrest. Kelly is suspicious. Dr. H. W. Allen is summoned, examines Dingee, and finds him to be intoxicated. 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 begins, but only in the village.  

March 7, 1925 – The Rev. Francis H. McGlynn, a Ridgefield native, is ordained a priest and celebrates his first Mass the next day at St. Mary’s Church.  

May 31, 1925 – Several hundred people attend the dedication of The Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes at the Holy Ghost Novitiate off Prospect Ridge. [The grotto is still there, minus the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes.]  

July 1925 – The Danbury and Norwalk railroad line is switched from coal-powered engines to electric engines.  The line remains electrified until 1961 when diesel engines take over.  

Aug. 8, 1925 – The last passenger train from Branchville arrives at Ridgefield station [in 2008 now a Ridgefield Supply Company warehouse 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 village.  

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 in town totals 1,061; 36 auto accidents are reported during the year.  

Jan. 1, 1926 – George Walter Weir of Bryon Avenue, “one of the best-known men in Ridgefield,” dies. For 36 years, he had been a conductor on the Ridgefield Branch of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad.  

Jan. 8, 1926 – Hamilton High School’s basketball team beats New Milford, its eighth straight win. The next week, it finally loses, to Norwalk.  

Jan. 9, 1926 – A large part of the mansion of newspaper mogul Robert P. Scripps is destroyed in a fire finally brought under control by the Ridgefield Fire Department. “The worst and most insidious fire the department had ever fought” causes $20,000 damages [$230,000 in $2008].  

Jan. 28, 1926 – The Ridgefield Promoters Club has its first meeting at the Elms Inn, and elects George G. Scott its first chairman. 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 would be advanced.”  

Feb. 11, 1926 – The Ridgefield Baseball Club endorses the building of a gymnasium “for the use of the town boys and the school until such time as the school board builds a gymnasium” of its own.  

Feb. 12, 1926 – In what must have been a shocking and 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 from Europe,” The Press reports. Police pour the contents onto the snow and arrest the owners of the house. Nearby, 20 cases of beer and other alcoholic beverages are confiscated at the store of Brunetti and Garsparini at Prospect and Bailey Avenue.  

March 7, 1926 – Calling Norwalk becomes easier. “It will not be necessary for telephone users to ask for the toll line operator when making a call to Norwalk,” The Press explains. “Subscribers here will simply 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 Robert Hurley, superintendent of the Connecticut State Police, explain the value of fingerprinting.  

March 12, 1926 – A dog is the only casualty when the chicken plant at Shadowbrook Farm, owned by Seth Low Pierrepont, burns down.  

March 24, 1926 – Eleven head of cattle die when a large 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 viewing the sunrise.” [See also June 23, 1921.]  

March 26, 1926 – Samuel D. Keeler, a prominent village businessman and merchant for 40 years, dies at 73.  

April 10, 1926—Joseph Wilmot Hibbard, who had operated fish and grocery markets on Main Street for nearly half a century, dies at 65.  

April 13, 1926 – The Town School Committee reappoints staff and sets salaries. High School principal Clifford A. Holleran is the highest paid, at $2,400, followed by Hamilton High School teachers Eleanor Burdick, English, and Ruth E. Wills, French and Latin, who each get $1,700 [accounting for inflation, about $20,000 today].  

April 23, 1926 – Arbor and Bird Day is observed in the schools with various exercises. Col. Louis D. Conley of Outpost Nurseries and Seth Low Pierrepont of Twixthills provide trees for planting.  

April 26, 1926 – The motion picture, The Iron Horse, by Fox, is shown at the library.  

April 29, 1926 – Two youths are arrested after creating a disturbance during the high school play, staged at the town hall. One was drunk.  

April 30, 1929 – The Lockwood brothers, John and Edward, are arrested in a shanty near the railroad track, charged with a burglary of jewelry, clothing and cutlery from a Titicus home. The stolen items are recovered.  

May 1926 – The Ridgefield Garden Club sponsors a contest for school children who collect tent caterpillar egg clusters. Fourth grader 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 destroyed after an oil stove explodes. The house, modeled after a Spanish hacienda, was built around 1852 by Stephen Fry, a carpenter, after he came back from the California Gold Rush.  

June 10, 1926 – Julia Finch Gilbert, wife of noted 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 state highway, widen it and cover it with concrete will increase noisy traffic between metropolitan New York and the Berkshires, ruining the quiet of the village. “Modern traffic is a serious modern problem,” she says, adding she would prefer to “continue to bump down from the fountain to the bank and back again, and continue to suffer from this slight annoyance until our traffic problem is more scientifically solved.”  

June 17, 1926 – 24 students graduate from Alexander Hamilton High School, seven of whom plan to go to college or normal school. Commencement takes place in town hall. It is the school’s last graduating class.  

June 24, 1926 – John Bacchiochi leads the Hamilton High 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 with Concrete.”  

July 8, 1926 – In a full-page advertisement in The Press, Central Garage asks, “Is this the answer to America’s traffic problem?” The ad promotes the new four-cylinder Whippet, made by the Overland Company, 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 Ridgefield contractor and builder who owns many houses in town, dies.  

July 19, 1926 – A bus carrying 23 passengers collides 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 accident, goes off the road. No one is seriously injured, but the driver of the bus is convicted of having improper brakes.  

Aug. 1, 1926 – The Bridgeport Construction Company begins laying the concrete highway along Main Street to Island Hill on Danbury Road. Construction includes redesigning the intersection of Main Street and Danbury Road by removing the old Pulling homestead. Eventually the highway will be extended along the Danbury Road to the Sugar Hollow Road, making a modern highway the entire distance between Ridgefield and Danbury.  

Aug. 11, 1926 – George L. Rockwell and many others petition the Town Meeting to appropriate $500 to celebrate the Battle of Ridgefield’s 150th anniversary in 1927.  

Aug. 26, 1926 – The State Highway Department is seeking bids on laying concrete on the Danbury-Norwalk Road between the Danbury and Branchville, where it will meet the new concrete highway under construction from Branchville to Norwalk. Work is underway by October. The complete project from Danbury to Norwalk costs $680,000 [$8 million in 2008].  

September 1926 – Hamilton High School moves from Bailey Avenue to a new wing at the grammar school on East Ridge, and begins being called Ridgefield High School. The Town School Committee plans to move the kindergarten and first grade from the grammar school to the old Hamilton High, 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 concrete for Prospect Street from Main Street to the railroad tracks.  

Oct. 8, 1926 – All schools are closed for Danbury Fair Day.  

Oct. 12, 1926 – A total of 741 children are enrolled in the schools including high school, 130; junior high, 126; Benjamin Franklin Public School, 325; Titicus, 115; West Mountain, 16; Ridgebury, 9; Branchville, 28; Bennett’s Farm, 11; and Farmingville, 15.  

November 1926 – Many Main Street homeowners are using the occasion of the paving of Main Street to install concrete curbing along their properties.  

November 1926 – Eugene O’Neill of North Salem Road sails for Bermuda for six months, planning to write a play.  

Nov. 2, 1926 – Ethel M. Ryan and Mortimer C. Keeler, both Republicans, are elected Ridgefield’s state representatives to Hartford, defeating Democrats Herbert E. Bates and Charles D. Crouchley. Ridgefield favors John H. Trumbull for governor; he wins the state, too.  

Nov. 9, 1926 – George Chase of Goldens Bridge and Irene Elden of Danbury are arrested for stealing apples from the Rundle farm in Ridgebury. Grand Juror Octavius “Tabby” Carboni prosecutes the case before Town Justice Peter McManus, and the two are fined $10 plus costs.  

Nov. 11, 1926 – The recently formed Ridgefield Gym Club now boasts 65 members and gathers several times at its gymnasium on Danbury Road for workouts.  

Nov. 24, 1926 – More than 200 people dine on chicken pie 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 station agent 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 president of the Parent-Teacher Association, which she had led the 10 years since its creation from the old Mothers Club, of which she had been president for 16 years.  

Dec. 20, 1926 – A committee to study whether Ridgefield should have zoning, created at the October Annual Town Meeting, has its organizational meeting and elects H.P. Bissell chairman. The committee hears 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 dealer from 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 20-foot embankment, lands on its side, bursts into flames, and is destroyed.  


1927 – Only 43 births are recorded in town, the smallest number of any year between 1910 and 1930.  

Jan. 29, 1927 – Italian American Club opens its new quarters on Prospect Street.  

February 1927 – A recommendation to adopt zoning, proposed by a Town Meeting-created committee of leading citizens, “creates great commotion” at a packed Town Meeting, which vetoes the idea, 224-169.  

April 1927 – Two bandits, one wielding a revolver, the other a cheese knife, rob $50 from Pasquale DeBenigno’s Store in Branchville. 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. DeBenigno’s house burns down.  

June 1927 – The National Garden Club has a meeting here. 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 includes parade, speeches, ball games, a band concert, and a dance.  

June 1927 – Giants star Rogers Hornsby signs a ball raffled at Ridgefield Base Ball Club benefit.  

August 1927 – Mr. and Mrs. Francis D. Martin begin a 14-month driving tour of the U.S., Canada, and Alaska.  

August 1927 – Dominic Fossi kills a six and one-half foot 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 Ridgefielders for “shooting craps.” After a packed trial in town hall, each is fined $5 and costs.  

November 1927 – George L. Rockwell’s History of Ridgefield is published.


1928 – The school board votes to install electric lights in the Titicus School, as long as the Titicus PTA pays for it.  

1928 – Arthur D. Horton named school superintendent and serves 14 years, longer than any Ridgefield superintendent.  

1928 – Harvey P. Bissell sells his drug store to J.J. Kelly. Edgar C. Rapp would be the pharmacist, but the Bissell name would remain.  

1928 – The state rebuilds and paves Danbury Road, eliminating many curves.  

January 1928 – Harold Finch buys the United Cigar Store on Main Street.  

Feb. 2, 1928 – Joseph Kaufman, president of the American 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 Service in World War II.  

July 31, 1928 – The last Chautauqua program takes place in Ridgefield to dwindling audiences. First started here in 1886 and later resurrected in 1917, Chautauqua provided five-day camps, full of entertaining and educational programs for children and adults – opening with a parade.  

August 1928 – The Francis Martin family returns in August after traveling 23,000 miles around North America for one year.  

Summer 1928 – Three Ridgefield firemen escape serious injury when their Reo chemical truck, responding to an alarm, overturns, pinning them underneath. Six others on the truck are thrown clear.  

Oct. 27, 1928 – A car driven by author Konrad Bercovici on Danbury Road near Limestone Road collides with a car driven by a Southbury 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 2008].  

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 the bedding business,” announces an advertisement in The Press, pricing a full-sized hair mattress at $65. Eighteen months later, Mr. Dowling dies tragically [see July 11, 1931].  

Jan. 3, 1929 – E.F. Brown beats Horace Walker, 30-22, in 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 surprises 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 burns to the ground in a spectacular fire.  

March 19, 1929 – Aldo Branchini, 7, of Nod Hill suffers a 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 City 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 Dame motherhouse.]  

Late March, 1929 – Opera Star Geraldine Farrar of West Lane returns home after a 21,000-mile, North American singing tour that began in October.  

April 23, 1929 – The Ridgefield Lions Club has its first meeting, electing Francis D. Martin president.  

May 5, 1929 – Joseph Thoma, 63, is driving his horse and carriage along Silver Spring Road, along with his dog, when he pulls over, 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 daughter arrives and calls the dog away. “Here again is an instance of the fidelity of man’s friend, the dog,” The Press comments.  

May 12, 1929 – Fire destroys the social hall and 15 bungalows at Camp Topstone on the Danbury Road. High winds spread the fire to nearby woods.  

May 19, 1929 – The Christian Science Society of Ridgefield opens its new home in the “Old Hundred” on Main Street [in 2008, 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. Voters reject closing the crossing just north of the station, but OK closing the “Crusher Crossing” north of that.  

July 18, 1929 – The Ideal Garage on Danbury Road is 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 England. 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 and then returned to town and around 1920 built another mansion, Nydeggen, which still overlooks Lake Mamanasco.  

July 22, 1929 – The Corner Store, a fixture at the 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 property. The building and a predecessor had been a general store operated by such personages as E. H. Smith, Judge George G. Knapp, and S.D. Keeler, as well as a shirt factory owned by D. Smith Sholes  

Aug. 18, 1929 – L. H. Crossman, the Main Street jeweler, is driving his new Nash sedan over Hartland Mountain in East Hartland, 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 Press reports.  

Aug. 16, 1929 – A number of Ridgefielders visit upper 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 1929-30 totals $175,000, of which $77,000 is for schools. Among the special 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 operated Bedient’s general store and was also the funeral director for many years, dies at 68. His store, purchased just before the great fire of 1895, remained in business until 1998.  

Sept. 3, 1929 – The Town School Committee decides to 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 health 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 Meeting OKs the light, the town’s first.  

Sept. 19, 1929 – Harry Tripp, who runs the Hill Top filling station on the Wilton Road, tells state police he was “flimflammed to the extent of $20 by gypsies.” Sophia Steve, 45, is soon arrested, tried, 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 Avenue is selling the Victor Radio with Electrola, a floor console unit that includes a radio and “Orthophonic Victor Record” player. Cost is $275 [$3,300 in 2008!]. A simple console radio costs $155 [$1,860].  

Oct. 6, 1929 – The Ridgefield Base Ball Club defeats Danbury, 6-0, to win the regional semi-pro championship.  

Oct. 8, 1929 – “Little Interest in Election” says The 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 remains first selectman.  

Oct. 9, 1929 – Jonathan Peterson, 63, president of the United States Tobacco Company, dies of heart disease at his summer home here, Barrack Hill.  

Nov. 7, 1929 – The Town School Committee and Board of Selectmen decide to sell the Florida, Whipstick, Limestone, and Flat Rock Schoolhouses, which have been closed.  

Nov. 28, 1929 – The stock market crash produces no stories in The Ridgefield Press, but does prompt a full-page advertisement from New England Furniture, headlined, “Extra! Sales News! Stock Market Crash. Factory Prices Broke, Factory Cut-Price Sale.”  

December 1929 – 375 people give $833 to the Christmas Seals campaign to fight tuberculosis.  

Dec. 3, 1929 – William Dougherty, 22, a carpenter for 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 overhead wire, not realizing it carries 4,600 volts. His funeral is four days later.  

Dec. 12, 1929 – The stock market may have crashed, but Ridgefield still needs its golf. Seth Low Pierrepont of Twixthills announces 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 of more 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 taxpayers.  

1930 – There are 45 auto accidents in town, 14 fewer than in 1929. However, three people are killed in 1930 compared to two in 1929.  

Jan. 29, 1930 – Lt. Sereno T. Jacob of Barry Avenue flies 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 stages the three-act mystery comedy, “Oh Kay,” in town hall.  

February 1930 – The state wants to pave West Mountain Road at a cost of $126,000, a quarter of which must be paid by the town. Voters later agree.  

Feb. 2, 1930 – New England Transportation Company reduces bus service between Ridgefield and Danbury because of lack of passengers.  

Feb. 8, 1930 – Ethel Frances McGlynn, age 6, captivates the audience with her “clever songs and dances” at a talent show at the Empress Theater in Danbury, winning first place.  

Feb. 16, 1930 – After 16 years in business, McHughs Men’s Shop on Main Street announces it’s closing. Men’s suits are selling for $9.95.  

Feb. 28, 1930 – $70 worth of merchandise is stolen in a burglary at the clothing store of J. Howard Burr on Main Street. State police 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. Hull and 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 on Wilton 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 Voters celebrates the 10th anniversary of woman’s suffrage with a gathering a Mamanasco Farm, the home of Miss Anne Richardson and Miss Edna Schoyer. Speaker is Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt, who was president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association at the time of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, and later president of the National League of Women Voters.  

April 1930 – The H. Wales Lines Company is awarded the contract to erect the new Ridgefield Savings Bank building on Main Street. Plans 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 its sewage 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 before the president died in 1923.  

May 25, 1930 – The Ridgefield Home Boys base ball teams plays Broad Rivers, but Broad Rivers walks off the field in the seventh inning because they are dissatisfied with an umpire’s ruling. Ridgefield wins 9 to 7.  

June 19, 1930 – “The largest senior class in the 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 condominiums.]  

July 1, 1930 – Lightning destroys the house Gus Sturges at Flat Rock, blowing out windows, shattering plaster and clapboards, knocking the building off its foundation, and virtually vaporizing a radio.  A huge maple outside the house is “shattered and hurled to the ground as if some fabled giant had struck it, crumpling it like a pasteboard box,” The Ridgefield Press reports.  

July 5, 1930 – The Silver Spring Country Club Inc. finally organizes, and announces plans to build an 18-hole golf course on 263 acres in the Silver Spring district. Governors include George Doubleday, Louis 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 killed. A furniture-maker, he was a veteran of the Spanish-American War.  

August 1930 – The Village Improvement Committee of the 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 started a fire that destroys a vacant house in Farmingville. The house was a weekend retreat for a New York man.  

September 1930 – Talk of the town is Charlotte Potter Lewis, stepdaughter of ambassador to Cuba Harry F. Guggenheim [later founder of Newsday]. She is in Reno, getting a divorce from Reginald Lewis of South Salem 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 biggest landowner, dies at 56 at his home, Outpost Farm [now Bennett’s Farm State Park]. Colonel Conley founded Outpost Nurseries, which spread over some 2,000 acres of northeastern Ridgefield and parts of Danbury, and supplied estates and cities throughout the Northeast. He also established the Outpost Inn.  

Sept. 12, 1930 – 40 people have applied so far for membership in the Silver Spring Country Club. A subscription to 10 shares of stock costs $1,000.  

Sept. 14, 1930 – A new Ford pickup truck and a Chevrolet coach are destroyed when an outbuilding on Mrs. John H. Lynch’s estate on West Mountain burns.  

Sept. 18, 1930 – Burr’s store in the Scott Block on Main Street is having a sale. Raccoon coats start at $150 while Australian Opossum is $175. A muskrat coat starts at $75.  

Sept. 20, 1930 – Baltimore Orioles hurler Big Jim Weaver comes to town to pitch the Ridgefield Pros to a 5-2 win over Brewster.  

Oct. 6, 1930 – Mary M. Gilbert, a Democrat, is elected 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 the Rev. Hugh Shields, minister of the First Congregational Church, along with Alice V. Rowland, as candidates for state representative from Ridgefield [there were two representatives then].  

Oct. 18, 1930 – Two Mount Vernon, N.Y., men are killed, and three other people are injured in a head-on collision on the Sugar Hollow 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 into its new Main Street headquarters.  

November 1930 – State Police Lt. John Kelly stops and searches a car operated by Edward Knudson. A passenger, Mrs. Hilda Knapp of South Salem, grabs a gallon jug of applejack and smashes it on the concrete 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 gallons of “booze” in the car.  

Nov. 4, 1930 – Yale Dean Wilbur L. Cross wins Fairfield County and the state to become governor over Republican Ernest E. Rogers. Republican Ridgefield, however, goes strongly for Republican Rogers, 728-273.  

Nov. 9, 1930 – Crossing Main Street in front of her 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 Main Street this year.  

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 lawyer to open a full-time practice in Ridgefield.  

January 1931 – The Ridgefield Red Cross, led by Mrs. Frederic E. Lewis, sends $500 to the Drought Fund to help the 21 states suffering from drought. A total of $10 million is being sought nationwide.  

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, and other alcoholic beverages. She is tried before Justice Peter McManus that afternoon and fined $200 plus costs, and given 30 days in jail, suspended. The booze is destroyed.  

Jan. 17, 1931 – High school students stage “Hiawatha,” at the town hall. Miss Eleanor Burdick is the coach of the performance, aimed at raising money to support the class trip to Washington, D.C.  

Feb. 5, 1931 – William F. Sturges is elected foreman of 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 Knights of Columbus wrestling match in the town hall.  

March 7, 1931 – The Nissaki Camp Fire Girls are busy 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 decides to intensify efforts to have all town children inoculated for diphtheria.  

April 1931 – Fire Chief Joe Bacchiochi is teaching his men how to use the new Seagraves fire truck that just arrived. It’s equipped 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 in a 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 the Lions Club, tells the League of Women Voters that Ridgefield could have town-collected 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 truckload 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 to build the Merritt Parkway.  

May 30 to June 2 – Artist George J. Stengel opens his 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 or more.]  

June 1931 – Under a new state law, the Town School Committee is now called the Board of Education. Towns that use the term, Board of School Visitors, must also change.  

June 6, 1931 – Schultze’s Modern Sanitary Market, temporarily located elsewhere, reopens in its old but extensively renovated spot in the S.S. Denton block. The new building is “fireproof and rat-proof” [but see Jan. 12, 1932].  

June 14, 1931 – The Ridgefield Base Ball Club opens its season, beating Greenwich 5-4.  

Jun 18, 1931 – 24 students graduate from Ridgefield High School. Agnes Creagh is valedictorian.  

June 20, 1931 – The Ridgefield Library costs $4,612 to operate during the previous year, the library’s annual meeting learns.  

July 2, 1931 – The Board of Education votes to build a sidewalk along the road in front of the Benjamin Franklin School [now the Venus office building].  

July 11, 1931 – The Ladies’ Guild at St. Stephen’s 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 age and 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 Marion Scofield, who graduated in June from the Kindergarten Training School in Bridgeport.  

August 1931 – Work begins on reconstructing several unpaved roads in town under the state Dirt Roads Act, which provides aid. Being rebuilt are Mulberry Street, Silver Spring Road, Nod Hill Road, Wilton Road East, and Florida Road.  

August 1931 – Frederick Dielman of Ridgefield, a noted artist and former president of the National Academy of Design, retires as professor at Cooper Union in New York. He is 84.  

August 1931 – A Danbury company begins to build nearly four miles of a new West Mountain Road, replacing what’s now Oscaleta Road.  

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 auto-gyro to 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. The auto-gyro, 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 Iowa are exhibited in the Kitten Show at the Congregational Church casino, sponsored by the Connecticut Cat Club.  

Sept. 16, 1931 – The schools count enrollments: 321 in junior and senior high, ranging from 92 in seventh grade to 31 in 12th grade, and 230 in elementary grades, all at the Benjamin Franklin School; 73 students in the Garden School (preschool, kindergarten and first grade); 56 at Titicus School (first through fourth grade); 14 at Farmingville; and 24 at Branchville.  

Sept. 19, 1931 – State police pick up two drunken boys 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 been canceled “because of the infantile paralysis situation” prove false, The Press reports.  

Oct. 5, 1931 –711 of the town’s 1,554 voters turn out for the Annual Town Meeting, which elects Winthrop Rockwell and Charles Palmer, Republicans, and Charles D. Crouchley, Democrat, as the Board of Selectmen. Mr. Palmer is also elected to the Board of Education along with Robert E. Richardson 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, former superintendent of schools.  

Oct. 5, 1931 – After the state cracks down on town deposit funds, voters approve appropriating $5,760 to replenish the Town Deposit Fund [see Jan. 30, 1837]. Apparently 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 Ridgebury and escape.  

Oct. 29, 1931 – H.P. Bissell is advertising “the new 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 millionaire” Paolini Gerli. Police later arrest former Ridgefielder Halfdam Paulson, 30, and another man for the break. [Gerli headed the famous international silk manufacturing and designing firm, Gerli & Co., still extant today.]  

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 dog owners that rabies is around.  

Jan. 2, 1932 – B. Ogden Chisholm throws a big party at 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 Main Street heavily damages several businesses and destroys the apartments and belongings of three families. The recently renovated Schultze’s Sanitary Market is damaged.  

March – Tom Clark scores 12 points to lead Prosperity to a 25-20 basketball win over Depression in town hall.  

May 1932 – The Lions and Garden Clubs cooperate to provide free land on which unemployed Ridgefielders can raise food.  

May 28, 1932 – The first nine holes of new Silver Spring 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 silica, mica and feldspar mine in Branchville.  

September 1932 – A truck carrying 100 kegs of illegal beer is captured on West Lane and three men, including an ex-con, are arrested.  

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 service. The state had paid a third of the town’s $9,000 busing cost.  

Jan. 12, 1933 – The Past Noble Grands Association is organized. Any former noble grand of the Mary Rebekah Lodge, the female version of Odd Fellows, is eligible.  

March 1933 – In the fourth burglary that winter, $15,000 in silver is stolen from Mrs. F. E. Lewis of West Lane.  State police soon arrest Sing Sing parolee “Big Frank” Dreger, “the 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 F. Carroll.  

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, disbanded in December 1932, is replaced by The Oreneca Band, “a new and better band.”  

May 1933 – 600 people crowd town hall for the Lions Club “Community Get Together,” featuring music, dance, and speakers.  

June 1933 – Ridgefielders join the state in voting for the repeal of Prohibition. The margin: 6 to 1.  

Summer 1933 – Many businesses adopt Roosevelt’s NRA program to improve employment and set a minimum wage.  

November 1933 – Though district schoolhouses like Branchville are in bad shape, the Town Meeting votes 177-38 against a new $70,000 school addition that would allow consolidation of grammar school pupils and closing of outlying one-room school houses. Times are too tough, voters say.  

November 1933 – Dr. George W. Andrews tells 100 teenagers that the “modern moving picture is degenerating and is the problem of today’s society.”  

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 Administration plan.  

December 1933 – Outpost Nurseries ships a 60-foot Norway Spruce to New York to become the third Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. The first was in 1931.  


February 1934 – Francis Rowland and Chuck Walker rescue skater Enzo Bartolucci, 18, from the icy waters of Lake Mamanasco.  

Feb. 1, 1934 – The Cott Wine and Liquor Store opens the first new liquor store since Prohibition was repealed.  

Feb. 22, 1934 – “Worst Blizzard Since 1888 Grips All 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 impassible for miles.  

May 1934 – A manhunt seeks the Faruggia brothers, former Ridgefielders described as “religious and social fanatics,” who kill a New York City policeman and a bystander while on their way with two gallons of gasoline “to burn down the first Roman Catholic church they came to.”  

May 27, 1934 – Eliza Gage Wade of North Street, who remembers talking to Revolutionary War veterans, turns 104. She dies three weeks later.  

July 1934 –  Eleven of 20 living pupils of Miss Jennie Holmes’ at the Flat Rock Schoolhouse in 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 to town  

Aug. 5, 1934 – St. Mary’s dedicates three new altars.  

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 York banker, stands on the sidewalk in front of the First National Bank on Main 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 Depression.  

Nov. 6, 1934 – State Rep. Alice V. Rowland  is elected state senator, the first and last Ridgefield woman to hold that office.  

Nov. 9, 1934 – The state library begins cataloging all the extant gravestones in Ridgefield’s cemeteries, with money from the Works Projects Administration. The 205-pages of listings are completed in December 1937.  


1935 – Police say 46 auto accidents occur in town this year, two fewer than in 1934.  

February 1935 – A mass meeting discusses Dutch Elm disease after federal authorities begin removing diseased trees in the area. None have yet been found in Ridgefield.  

February 1935 – The local laborers union petitions the 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 proposes $100,000 in projects for the federal Public Works Administration grants. He includes a $50,000 auditorium for the East Ridge School.  

March 28, 1935 – A front-page Press editorial headlined: “UNFAIR – UNPATRIOTIC – UNSOUND,” denounces the big estates in town that are having work done by “outside firms and labor.” “Ridgefield men can do Ridgefield’s work,” the editorial says. “Give them a chance.”  

April 1935 – After a four-day strike, the painters’ union agrees to a wage of $7 for eight hours of work. Painters had been getting $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 Tercentenary that summer with the “greatest parade ever to be seen in Ridgefield,” as well as exhibits and tableaux. In October, two Ridgefield floats – the Italian-American Club’s and the First Congregational Church’s – appear in the state parade in Hartford.  

July 1935 – After a three-year delay, John L. Walker is confirmed as postmaster.  

Sept. 6, 1935 – A Town Meeting approves selling alcoholic beverages in Ridgefield hotels and restaurants, but not at taverns, on Sundays.  

September 1935 – The new A&P liquor store opens on Main Street. Old Overholt rye is $1.99 a pint.  

October 1935 – Francis D. Martin opens his new jewelry store on Main Street. It’s the forerunner of today’s Craig’s Jewelry Store.  

December 1935 – The Lions Club distributes 100 food baskets at Christmas.


1936 – Stamford Community College offers Ridgefield High School graduates free tuition, thanks to a WPA program.  

January 1936 – The post office cuts back its hours, closing at 6 p.m. instead of 7 Monday through Saturday.  

February 1936 – The Democratic Town Committee votes to support closing Titicus Schoolhouse and expanding the Center School on East Ridge.  

March 1936 – Tight times force the schools to drop the 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 a half 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 Scout Troop 76.  

Spring 1936 – The Abbe children – Patience, Richard, 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 no longer afford magazines or daily newspapers, The Press  expands from eight to 16 pages a week adding many national features plus the “World’s Best Comics,” including The Featherheads, Mescal Ike and Finney of the Force.  

May 1936 – First National opens a new market in the Scott Block, described as “one of the most beautiful combination meat and grocery markets in Fairfield County.” Tom Clark is manager.  

May 1936 – A 27-year-old Branchville woman is charged with manslaughter after beating her three-month-old daughter to death.  

June 1936 – By a 251 to 229 vote, a Town Meeting again rejects establishing zoning in the village.  

Summer 1936 – Because so many business people are parking along Main Street, the selectmen establish a two-hour parking ordinance.  

July 1936 – Gene Tunney, former heavyweight boxing 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 down Wilton Road West when he stops for a car parked near the middle of the road. “Will you get over?” he asks the driver. He looks more closely. “Oh, please excuse me, Mrs. Roosevelt,” Mr. Bassett exclaims. “That’s all right, young man,” replies Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of the president.  

September 1936 – American Mercury magazine, a leading periodical, says  it’s moving its offices to Main and Governor Streets.  

September 1936 – In a GOP caucus contest, George L. Rockwell easily defeats two women challengers for state representative. Rockwell gets 319 votes; Mrs. Hugh Shields, 67; Mrs. Charles W. Weitzel, 19.  

Nov. 3, 1936 – Mrs. Roosevelt’s husband takes the nation by a landslide, but Republican Ridgefield goes for Alf Landon, 1,203 to 556.  


1937 – The Ridgefield Thrift Shop opens in the Donnelly Block on Main Street.  

January 1937 –  Ridgefielders learn of plans for a new parkway proposed by the Fairfield County Planning Association that would run from Pound Ridge through New Canaan, southeast of Ridgefield Center past Putnam Park in Redding, through Newtown and on to Hartford. The goal is to connect New York with western Massachusetts. It gets nowhere.  

Mid-February 1937 – The temperature hits 92 in the sun on Main Street; a month later the whole town loses electricity in a severe ice storm.  

March 1937 – The School Building Committee selects Cass Gilbert Inc. to design an auditorium, gymnasium and additional classrooms for the Center School on East Ridge; the cost is estimated at $250,000.  

April 1937 – Outpost Nurseries gets the contract to supply full-grown trees to be planted in Flushing Meadows for the 1939 World’s Fair in New York; on July 1, the Outpost Inn opens on the nurseries’ property on Danbury Road.  

June 1937 – Townspeople are up in arms over state highway 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 Catoonah Streets.  

June 1937 – Lightning strikes and kills nine Jersey heifers at Robert Lee’s farm in Farmingville.  

Summer 1937 – A. Bacchiochi & Sons pours concrete onto a sunken ledge of jagged rock to form the dam that creates a 45-acre lake on Seth Low Pierrepont’s estate. Today the water is called Pierrepont Pond.  

Summer 1937 – With $92 in cash and $2,250 in borrowed money, brothers Karl and John Nash buy The Ridgefield Press, a $12,000-a-year-gross newspaper that under Karl Nash grows into a multi-million dollar group of newspapers.  

Fall 1937 – The Board of Education votes to close the pre-school at the Garden School so that pupils from the Titicus and Branchville 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 Ridge.  

Oct. 29, 1937 – A town meeting on approves a $250,000 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 school for boys on North Salem Road, closes for lack of enrollment and alumni support. It started in 1907.  

Jan. 4, 1938 – The first Ridgefield ambulance takes its 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 broadsheet to tabloid size, a format that remains until the early 1960s.  

March 1, 1938 – Hundreds watch as a fire destroys the 20-room mansion of Mr. and Mrs. H. Steele Roberts on Peaceable Street, built less than a year earlier for the then sizable sum of $55,000.  

March 31, 1938 – The Last Man’s Club has its first dinner on. The club, made up of 31 Ridgefield World War I veterans, meets annually to dine until only one man remains – Thomas Shaughnessy in 1989.  

March 31, 1938 – Joseph Dlhy’s “big hound dog” dies after being bitten by a rattlesnake in the woods in Ridgebury.  

April 1938 – Plans are announced to build “a beautiful, modern air-conditioned motion picture theater” on land to be acquired for $7,500 from the Ridgefield Library. In 2000, the library buys back the old playhouse from Webster Bank for $1.5 million.  

May 1938 – The first Firemen’s Ball takes place. The annual tradition would continue until the 1970s.  

May 1938 – The Ridgefield Press moves from the Masonic Hall to a building formerly known as Walters’ garage on Bailey Avenue.  

Sept. 21, 1938 – The huge hurricane that strikes southern New England takes a heavy toll on the town’s trees; about 100 were reported down and many more damaged, says State Police Lt. Leo F. Carroll.  

Sept. 25, 1938 – Three Ridgefield sport fishermen, feared lost on Long Island Sound in Wednesday’s hurricane, arrive home. They weather 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 dog show.  

Nov. 1, 1938 – Construction of the new classrooms, auditorium, and gymnasium at the East Ridge School begins.  

Nov. 1, 1938 – The Socialist candidate for Connecticut governor, Jasper McLevy, gets 181 votes in Ridgefield; the majority favors the eventual winner, Republican Raymond E. Baldwin, who also defeats Wilbur Cross.  


1939 – Actor/director/coach Michael Chekhov moves his Chekhov Theatre Studio from England to North Salem Road, where it remains during the war.  

1939 – The Ridgefield Branch of the Red Cross is mobilized to help refugees in occupied Europe, and eventually, to help American soldiers. By 1945, more than 20,000 articles of clothing are knit or sewn by the women.  

Jan. 30, 1939 – Ridgefielders celebrate President 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, at admission of 50 cents per person.  

February 1939 – The Press reports that more than 100 townspeople are vacationing in Florida.  

May 4, 1939 – Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, the quintessential “poor little rich girl,” is spending a few days at the Outpost Inn (under the assumed name, “Miss Whitney”) when she is stricken with appendicitis and is rushed back to New York for emergency surgery.  

May 25, 1939 – Four train carloads of cast iron pipe 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, Farmingville, Ridgebury, and Branchville.  

June 15, 1939 – The 100-foot high water tower at Downesbury Manor burns in “one of the most spectacular blazes in the history of the town.”  

June 1939 – A Works Progress Administration project begins to alter and improve the athletic field on East Ridge at the high school.  

September 1939 – The new classrooms on East Ridge added to what had been called the “Center School” are in use as school opens.  

Sept. 8, 1939 – The Ridgefield Chauffeurs Club has its first Chauffeurs Ball at town hall, to benefit the District Nursing Association.  

Sept. 7, 1939 – The Press reports that with the beginning of war in Europe,   “Local People Flee Europe at Outbreak.”  

Oct. 9, 1939 – The town’s night constable, J. Ebert Anderson, dies in town hall of a single gunshot wound from his service revolver, which discharged when he accidentally dropped it. He is the second Ridgefield police officer to die while on duty.  

Nov. 9, 1939 – Just in time for Veterans Day, the Board of Education transfers the Titicus School to the American Legion Post for its headquarters.  

Nov. 28, 1939 – Nearly 500 people see the first basketball games in the new gymnasium on East Ridge; Ridgefield’s two squads 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 more than 12 years, is arrested for embezzling $14,000 of town money.  

Mid-February 1940 – A severe blizzard, with 70 m.p.h. 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 electricity for three days.  

March 26, 1940 – The Ridgefield Playhouse opens on Prospect Street and shows its first movie, “Broadway Melody of 1940,” starring Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell, plus the Disney cartoon, “The Ugly Duckling.” [Closed around 1973, it’s has been the Webster Bank for many years, but in 2008 is being taken over by the library that bought it eight years earlier.].  

April 1940 – Gene Casagrande and John Moore open Casa-More market on West Lane. Today called West Lane Deli, it is the only neighborhood grocery store left in a residential part of Ridgefield.  

April 1940 – Alex Santini bowls 200 consecutive games in one night at the Brewster Alleys. His average: 155.  

June 1940 – Miss Anne S. Richardson donates an ambulance for war work in Great Britain.  

August 1940 – Three English children come to stay with their aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Elder, “for the duration of the war.”  

Aug. 1, 1940 – Eleanor Roosevelt dines at the Outpost Inn and calls Ridgefield “a very very charming place.” She drives to the Inn herself [see also Aug. 18, 1936].  

Aug. 29, 1940 – Peter Lockwood of High Ridge lands a 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 find the skeleton of a woman in a shallow grave in Farmingville. Although State Police 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 never 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.  About 570 complete the process as schools close for the day and flags are ordered on display.  

Nov. 5, 1940 – Joseph H. Donnelly is elected the town’s new judge of probate on.  


January 1941 – The Rotary Club is established with Clifford Holleran as its president.  

January 1941 – A Stamford school announces it’s bought the former Lewis estate/Culbertson property on West Lane and will establish Gray Court Junior College there. Classes begin in the fall with 70 students and a faculty of 14.  

March 5, 1941 – Goodwill Community Church, serving many of Ridgefield’s blacks, is established in the chapel of First Congregational Church. A year later, it buys the old creamery on Creamery Lane, holding services there until the 1970s.  

August 1941 – Junior Fire Department is organized; first 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 first zoning in the town’s history, establishing a residential zone on Main Street 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 Church marks 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 Rev. Hugh Shields of First Congregational join the Rev. George B. Tompkins in celebrating the evening service.  

Nov. 18, 1941 – Tommy Manville, the asbestos heir and “famous playboy,” marries “Miss Bonita Edwards, 22, a Broadway showgirl” in the office of Probate Judge Joseph H. Donnelly, who waives the normal five-day waiting period. Mr. Manville, 47, takes his fifth plunge into 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 town begins manning an airplane-spotting tower behind the high school around the 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 Germans, who are feared.]  

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 a volunteer corps of auxiliary state policewomen at the Ridgefield barracks. It’s announced that people will no longer be able to take their driver’s license exams at the barracks.  

March 19, 1942 – John Sherman Vissches is Ridgefield’s first draftee.  

March 1942 – Sereno T. Jacob asks for $25,000 for civilian defense projects; the Town Meeting later authorizes $2,500.  

March 1942 – The PTA asks the school board to cut lunch 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 4:30.  

April 1942 – Dr. R.W. Lowe, school doctor since 1927, retires and is replaced by Dr. F.B. Woodford.  

May 7, 1942 – Barry Finch, age 4 days, is the youngest applicant for a war ration book.  

July 23 1942 – The new airplane spotting tower opens on East Ridge and 100 volunteer spotters get their orders.  

September 1942 – The Ridgefield Lions Club honor roll, 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 Road home and, much to the firemen’s surprise, reveals a huge hoard of canned goods, 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 CL&P.  

Jan. 7, 1943 – Charles D. Crouchley prepares to close his 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 Savings Bank.  

Jan. 14, 1943 – The lead headline in The Press says: “Ridgefield in a Walking Basis as Gasoline Shortage Halts Cars, Many Convert to Coal, Three Churches Close, Traffic Almost Disappears.”  

February 1943 – Over three days, 3,532 ration books are issued at Odd Fellows Hall. “People took the new wartime regulations in general good mood,” The Press reports. “Now and then there was a complainer and somebody with his chin touching the ground.”  

March 1943 – Capt. Reinhold Carl Riede of Ridgefield receives the French Croix de Guerre with Gold Star for service on the Tunisian battle front; in May, he is reported seriously injured.  

March 29, 1943 – Captain Meinhard Scherf dies when a 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 first Ridgefield native to die in the war when his squad is ambushed in North Africa. He receives a posthumous Silver Star for heroism.  

May 1943 – The region experiences the most consecutive days of precipitation in the century – 17 days.  

Summer 1943 – The Ridgefield Child Care Center is established in the Garden School on Bailey Avenue that summer to handle children of parents working in war factories.  

September 1943 – Auctioning off such items as nylons, a pig, and a calf, a rally at the Ridgefield Playhouse on Prospect Street sells $524,000 in war bonds in less than an hour. The rally is broadcast on the NBC radio network.  

October 1943 – The Branchville Honor Roll bearing the names of 31 servicemen is erected on the Branchville Green. [Its whereabouts today are unknown.]  

Fall 1943 – The Branchville Mica Mine resumes operations, providing needed war materials.


Jan. 11, 1944 –Lt. Jeo J. Casagrande, a navigator, is 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 Fortress bomber named for the town because of a successful bond drive.  

May 1944 – Juvenile Court Judge Stanley Mead tells Republicans that lazy parents cause juvenile delinquency and urges using school gyms as roller skating rinks to keep teens busy.  

Summer 1944 – Speaking at the high school auditorium, U.S. Senator John A. Danaher says Communists are infiltrating the government, 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 Ridgebury goes out back of his house to hunt rabbits and bags an 18-pound “wildcat.” He plans to make a rug out of it.  


1945 – The town buys the estate of the late Governor Phineas Lounsbury, now the Community Center/Lounsbury House, and Veterans Park.  

Jan. 13, 1945 –Pfc. Armando Frulla, 23, is killed in action in Belgium. Word is not received in Ridgefield until early February.  

Feb. 3, 1945 – Pvt. Howard R. Sears killed in action in France.  Word arrives in Ridgefield March 15.  

Feb. 10, 1945 – Pfc. Robert Nichols Blume dies in action with the 5th Division of General Patton’s Third Army in Germany.  

March 29, 1945 – Pfc. Geno Polverari, a member of the 85th Mountain Infantry, is reported to have died of combat wounds in Italy.  

April 16, 1945 – Four days after President Roosevelt dies, hundreds fill the high school auditorium for a memorial service that includes prayers by all the town’s ministers. Actor Walter Hampden reads ”O Captain, My Captain.”  

April 19, 1945 – On a lighter note, 2nd Lt. Rudolph Hurzeler, a fighter pilot who’d just been home on leave, takes the opportunity to buzz Main Street in his military plane. The Press reports: “He dipped his 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 the Ridgefield Bakery had a chance to run out and see him fly by.”  

May 8, 1945 – The town observes VE Day [Victory in Europe] quietly on with a special service in St. Stephen’s Church.  

May 31, 1945 –With Gray Court Junior College defunct, 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 half.  

July 12, 1945 – Pvt. John Evald Nelson dies of wounds in Northern Luzon, the Philippines.  

Aug. 23, 1945 – The “Victory Edition” of The Press reports that more than $6 million in war bonds are purchased by Ridgefielders. 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 for “extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight on June 6, 1945.”  

Sept. 24, 1945 – The Rations Board office closes.  

Oct. 15, 1945 – Laurence I. Graham of Wilton buys the Outpost Inn from the Conley estate.  

November 1945 – The town has a memorial service for its war dead and adds two new names to the list: John Gully, killed in action on July 23, who had lived on one of the Mallory farms in Ridgebury, and Charles 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 Association presents the town with a silver cup, a permanent trophy, honoring Ridgefield’s “vision in purchasing the Lounsbury Estate for a park and recreation grounds.”  

December 1945 – Ridgefielders learn of the possibility of the town’s becoming the site for the United Nations Organization headquarters. Mrs. Ruth Cutten offers her property on Old West Mountain Road.  

Dec. 20, 1945 – A total eclipse of the moon is followed 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 in 2.2 inches of rain.  


1946 – After 20 years of debate and acrimony, zoning is adopted.  

1946 – Electro Mechanical Research opens a lab here.  

January 1946 – One day early, a caravan of 11 cars full 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 Ridgefield Boys 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 Country Club, closed four years earlier because of the war rationing, are announced.  

February 1946 – Dr. Gordon G. Pettit, recently a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, opens his dental practice on Main Street.  

Feb. 7, 1946 – Mrs. Raymond Sears and her son, Raymond, die in a car crash in Westport. She is the widow of Pvt. Raymond Sears of Ridgefield, who was killed in the Battle of the Bulge on Feb. 3, 1945.  

June 1946 – Thirty-four Ridgefield High School seniors take the traditional class trip to Washington, D.C., the first since 1941.  

Summer 1946 – Edward Smith of New Haven buys the Mignerey Drug Store from George A. Mignerey who had been in business for 35 years.  

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 draws 1,000 spectators, but just meets expenses.  

September 1946 – Frank and Fred Montanari open their fuel and range oil business on East Ridge. The brothers are just back from military service, Frank in the Pacific and Fred in Europe.  

Sept. 2, 1946 – Stonehenge Inn opens for business under the ownership of World War II veteran Victor Gilbert, who names it for the mysterious monument he saw in the service in England.  

Fall 1946 – Ridgefield schools supervisor of music Robert 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 increases in teachers’ salaries, taking the maximum from $2,900 to $4,300.  

April 1947 – Ridgefield’s Sally Ann Reid, 12, using her stage name Sally Swan, appears in her second movie, Unfinished Dance, with Margaret O’Brien.  

Spring 1947 – The selectmen appoint a committee of 25 to study the need for a Planning Commission that could help control development of the town.  

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 apply for the bonus offered by the state. To pay for it, and other post-war expenses, the new 3% state sales tax goes into effect July 1.  

September 1947 – Maestro Arturo Toscanini leads members of the NBC Symphony Orchestra in a concert at the high school to benefit the library and Boys Club. The only other small town in which he had ever conducted was Giuseppe Verdi’s birthplace in Italy.  

October 1947 – Harry E. Hull is elected first selectman, the first Democrat to hold the office since 1910. He replaces the ailing Winthrop E. Rockwell, a Republican who’d held the office since 1926. Seven weeks later, Mr. Rockwell is dead.  

October 1947 – Ridgefield’s tax base would be increasing: Townspeople learn that Schlumberger Well Surveying Corporation of 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 the money 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 next to Bissell’s. It later becomes Brunetti’s Market, and then Gail’s Station House restaurant. [The building burned down in 2005.]  

1948 – The installation of high-candlepower streetlights begins in the village.  

1948 – The selectmen name a committee of 10 to consider a town building code.  

January 1948 – Joseph A. Roach, 50, dies as the result of wounds incurred during the First World War; he had been a patient at the Veterans Hospital.  

Jan. 17, 1948 – Under the weight of recent snows, huge old Sperry’s Garage on Catoonah Street – a landmark since its livery stable 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 is formed at St. Mary’s Church, serving women from 16 to 25.  

April 1948 – Pietro Giannotti, 72, sells his shoe store and shoe repair business to retire to his home in Pesaro, Italy. There, awaiting him, are his wife and family, whom he hasn’t seen in 36 years. He left Italy 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 Gilbert’s business.  

May 14, 1948 – Ridgefield Hardware moves into its new building on the west side of Main Street.  

Summer 1948 – Eastern Military Academy of Stamford looks at the F.E. Lewis estate on West Lane as a possible new home, but facing public opposition, opts to move to Long Island.  

Summer 1948 – Seventy-five petitioners ask the selectmen to install traffic lights on Main Street at Governor Street and Gilbert Street.  

August 1948 – The town learns that the late Mrs. Mary Frazier of North Street has bequeathed a fortune to the small coal-mining town of Perryopolis, Pa., where she spent her early years, but had left 60 years before. Her last two years were in Ridgefield, living alone with her servants. The early estimate of a $10-million bequest eventually shrinks to $1.5 million by October. [$1.5 million then would be about $13 million in 2008.]  

October 1948 – A caucus, the largest in local Republican history, selects Ralph Cramp for judge of probate, ousting eight-year incumbent Joseph H. Donnelly.  

Fall 1948 – The PTA announces plans to investigate the prevalence of “low grade” comic books in the hands of the town’s students.  

Fall 1948 – A joint meeting of the American Legion and 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 the town.  

December 1948 – The Parks Commission votes to clear brush to create a sledding area in Veterans Memorial Park (east of the present school).  

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 Main Street.  

1949 – The Town Farm on North Salem Road, a home for indigents since 1882, is closed down.  

1949 – Schlumberger opens its new lab on Old Quarry Road.  

February 1949 – Outpost Nurseries asks the Zoning 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 repeal zoning; a huge town meeting rejects it, 633 to 359.  

March 1949 – The Jewish People’s Fraternity, the new 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 fraternity says 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 Stonecrest mansion on North Street.  

May 1949 – Prominent contractor Achille Bacchiochi dies.  

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 author and lecturer, speaks at St. Mary’s. In the 1950s, he becomes the most-watched religious personality on television and in 1999, he is nominated to sainthood.  

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 Town Meeting rejects moving town offices to the Lounsbury mansion, later the Community Center, to handle overcrowding. Instead, existing town hall will be remodeled.  

October 1949 – Arturo Toscanini gives his second Ridgefield concert, raising $11,000 [$95,000 in 2008 dollars] for the library 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 renovate the town hall, adding a second interior floor.  

March 1950 – Westbrook Pegler writes in his widely syndicated column that “Ridgefield … an old aristocratic town of moldering white mansions on a wide street, has quietly become infested with wealthy Sixth Columnists.” The Press pooh-poohs Pegler, quoting a critic who says he is “too riddled with phobias.”  

Spring 1950 – The Zandri brothers – Primo, Harry, and Louis – buy the Italian grocery store founded by Benvenuto Carboni at the corner of Prospect Street and Bailey Avenue.  

June 1950 – The League of Women Voters publishes “Where is Ridgefield Heading?” a slick, 26-page booklet that predicts Ridgefield’s 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 the center.  

June 1950 – One hundred children from New York City 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 West Mountain. [It is now Sturges Park.]  

July 1950 – A “twister” wrenches part of the roof off Ridgefield High School, and cuts a path of felled trees down Governor Street, 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 reserves. Two others enlist.  

Fall 1950 – The Zoning Board of Appeals rejects August Zinnser’s plan to turn Dunbankin, a 23-room South Salem Road mansion, into a hotel.  

Fall 1950 – The Port of Missing Men property, some 1,700 acres in Ridgefield and North Salem, goes on the market for $195,000. [That’s $115 an acre, and includes all of today’s Eight Lakes development.]  

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 commercial that summer. The library sells it at a dollar a hunk.  

October 1950 – The Town Planning Committee, 27 people from 22 organizations, meets to mull over traffic, parking and other growth problems.  

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 of a different sort.  

Oct. 1, 1950 – The Rev. William B. Lusk retires as rector of St. Stephen’s Church after 35 years of service – the longest term of service of any Episcopal rector in Ridgefield.  

Dec. 15, 1950 – The Rev. Aaron Manderbach becomes rector of St. Stephen’s Church, serving until 1980.  


1951 – The school census finds 1,168 children in town. That’s a quarter of the population.  

1951 – The Ridgefield Branch of the NAACP, 50 members 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, moves its research kennel from the Route 7 and 35 circle to Illinois.  

February 1951 – International Business Machines – now IBM – wants to turn the former Cutten estate on West Mountain into a company 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 fails.  

March 1951 – Chef John Scala buys The Elms Inn. A few weeks later, his young son Robert unearths a Revolutionary cannonball in a rotted tree trunk in front of the inn. A month later, another cannonball is found under floorboards in a rear room of the inn.  

Spring 1951 – The Port of Missing Men Inc. is created by Solomon Gilbert and Ira Kavanau of New York City to develop the historic “Port” tract of 1,750 acres west of Mamanasco into house lots.  

May 14, 1951 – The Clarence Korkers buy the Ridgefield Photo Shop from the Frank Gordons.  

May 23, 1951 – Ridgefield gets dial telephone service.  

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 would give greater control over subdivisions.  

January 1952 – A zoning appeal to establish an “old people’s home” at the Ridgefield Country Lodge on Tackora Trail is vetoed.  

January 1952 – Reed F. Shields becomes town attorney.  

February 1952 – A proposal to turn the Lounsbury House – now the Community Center – into an elementary school is rejected by the state.  

March 1952 – Robert R. Keeler starts an “I like Ike” Club.  

April 1952 – The PTA learns that the Garden School on Bailey Avenue is a “fire trap.”  

April 1, 1952 – The W. Knox Denham home, a Colonial-era saltbox, burns to the ground. The family escapes through a second floor window.  

Spring 1952 – Harry S Truman tells real estate agent James Belote, who had heard a rumor the president might retire to Connecticut and had written him about the Cutten estate, that he plans to return to Missouri upon retirement.  

June 1952 – The selectmen, who’d already banned the sale of fireworks, tighten the regulations further.  

July 1952 – Several residents reported seeing flying saucers.

Summer 1952 – A plan for a new elementary school is vetoed at a town meeting, 360 to 216. Voters feel it is too expensive. The building committee vows to get the cost down to $661,000.  

September 1952 – William Keeler, three years old, falls 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 Adlai” 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 Veterans Park School.  

January 1953 – An ice storm leaves some parts of town without power for five days.  

February 1953 – The League of Women Voters is resurrected.  

February 1953 – The Ramapoo Rifle and Revolver Club is established with William Allen as its first president.  

February 1953 – Boy Scout Troop 49 is chartered.  

April 9, 1953 – The Marianite Sisters of The Holy Cross begin serving in St. Mary’s Parish.  

July 1953 – Work begins to create Great Pond beach, now Martin Park, and by August as many as 700 people are using the beach on weekends.  

July 1953 – The Morelli family buys Bedient’s Hardware and Aldo “Squash” Travaglini buys United Cigar Store.  

October 1953 – Democrat Harry E. Hull beats Republican Harvey 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 Wilton Road West, Leo F. Carroll, is named head of the Liquor Control Commission.  

October 1953 – The village stinks after the dump catches fire, particularly wastes tossed by the Oriented Plastics plant on Grove Street.  

Fall 1953 – The police and fire departments get two-way radios.  


1954 – Three fire departments – engine, hook and ladder, and hose – vote to consolidate into Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department.  

January 1954 – Voters approve paying taxes four times a year instead of two, as most towns do.  

March 1954 – Atilio Cassavechia is spading near the front wall of his son’s home on Danbury Road when his fork strikes a cannonball, fired during the battle of Ridgefield in 1777.  

March 1954 – St. Mary’s buys land on High Ridge for a school, and first through third grade classes open in temporary quarters in 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 Great Pond 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. More than 1,200 people are counted on the beach one hot Sunday.  

July 1954 – Officials decide to call the new school under construction “Veterans Park School.”  

August 1954 – The school board says it can’t legally provide busing for St. Mary’s School pupils.  

September 1954 – The town-owned Lounsbury house on Main Street gets an official name: The Ridgefield Community Center.  

October 1954 – The entire five-member Zoning Commission resigns, saying that town fathers won’t support its efforts to crack down on zoning violators.  

October 1954 – In a closely watched election in which two native sons, both attorneys, battle for probate judge, incumbent Democrat John 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 Patterson’s Men’s Store on Main Street and open Allan’s Men’s Store.  


1955 – The Vincentian fathers buy the Cutten estate on West Mountain to use as a novitiate.  

February 1955 – Veterans Park School, the town’s first modern elementary school, opens, six months late. East Ridge School students move out of classes in cloakrooms and have some breathing space.  

February 1955 – George Smith, 45, dies of suffocation in a mattress fire at his Silver Spring Road home.  

March 7, 1955 – Construction begins on St. Mary’s School.  

March 1955 – The New England Institute for Medical Research opens on Grove Street.  

July 1955 – Dr. James E. Sheehan opens the town’s first practice of pediatrics and Dr. Peter Yanity opens an office of dentistry.  

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 demolish 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 87 students in temporary quarters. By 1963, enrollment grows to 456.  

September 1955 – 78 Ridgefield babies are born in Norwalk Hospital during the past 12 months.  

October 1955 – The Ridgefield Police Commission is created, meaning that the town moves from a constabulary/state police combination, to having its own, fully empowered police department. The first selectman is no longer the police chief. James Brady, a longtime constable, is named the first chief. As officials learn a year later, the Police Commission is also the town’s traffic authority.  

October 1955 – 13.8 inches of rain in three days cause the worst flood of the century. In one 24-hour period, 7.82 inches fall. Many bridges, roads, and railbeds in the Norwalk and Titicus River valleys are washed out, and some buildings are destroyed. State and Army Corps of Engineers soon undertake the still-incomplete Norwalk River Flood Control Project.  

October 1955 – During the height of the flood, a 50-year-old unused gas tank in the basement of the Meisner home on Peaceable Street explodes, injuring three firemen.  

Nov. 13, 1955 – Wayne Arnold, chairman of the Zoning Commission, is killed in a crash at the south end of Main Street where it becomes Wilton Road West. Several others have died here over the years, prompting a state investigation of the curve.  

December 1955 – The Lions Club strings Christmas lights 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 former Freund estate on Main Street and establishes its meeting place in the carriage house. Three years later, the lodge sells the main house to the Methodist 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 Perry Scott’s nearly completes houses on St. John’s Road.  

Jan. 10, 1956 – The school board votes to provide psychological services in the schools for the first time.  

Jan. 24, 1956 – Five members of the Julian Junsch family, formerly of Ridgefield, die in a fire in Milford. Only an 11-year-old boy survives.  

Feb. 23, 1956 – Sculptor Frederick Shrady of Route 7, who is creating 53 sculptures for the new St. Mary’s School building, describes his plans to St. Mary’s Mothers Club. [Today, Mr. Shrady’s work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Vatican, and museums around the world.]  

Feb. 24, 1956 – Behind the 27 points of Fred Mazzi, Ridgefield High beats Bethel and wins the Southern Housatonic Valley League basketball championship with an 11-1 record.  

March 9, 1956 – The League of Women Voters begins petitioning for the establishment of planning, to help control residential development.  

March 12, 1956 – President William W. Allen is worried that lack of parental support will mean there will be no third season of Little League.  

March 19, 1856 – A weekend blizzard drops 22 inches of snow on the eve of spring.  

March 31, 1956 – Seth Low Pierrepont, for more than 40 years a prominent Ridgefield citizen and town official, dies at 71. His huge estate is now Pierrepont State Park and the Twixt Hills subdivision.  

April 1956 – Efforts to get the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad to change “Branchville Station” to “Ridgefield Station” fail because the railroad feels there would be confusion with the Ridgefield freight station in the center of town.  

April 1956 – The school board increases teacher salaries so that a beginner makes $3,500 a year and top veterans, $7,200.  

April 7, 1956 – Fire heavily damages the Main Street home of Dr. Edward T. Wagner.  

April 12, 1956 – A geologist says he has found uranium in the Branchville mica mine.  

April 20, 1956 – Mrs. Edwin Reich of South Salem opens “Ellen Roberts,” a women’s clothing store on Bailey Avenue. Ellen and 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 their chests 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 pilots a new DC-7C airliner from Miami to Paris in what is then the longest commercial 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 reviving a Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce.  

June 1956 – The Connecticut Supreme Court of Errors rules 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 of the Circle. Veterinary hospitals are allowed only in industry zones.  

June 2, 1956 – Bishop Lawrence J. Shehan, later a 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 ordination at St. Mary’s.  

June 7, 1956 – 24 girls and 12 boys graduate from Ridgefield High School.  

June 18, 1956 – A Zoning Commission proposal to zone for industry almost the entire length of Route 7 in Ridgefield – some 850 acres – is vehemently opposed. Only one of 28 speakers favors it, and the commission abandons the plan.  

June 23, 1956 – Heavy vandalism is reported at Great Pond beach.  

June 28, 1956 – Margaret McGlynn, a member of the Board of Assessors, sues chief assessor B.B. Morgan, charging he grabbed and pushed her during an argument a few months earlier, causing her to fall. She seeks $10,000 damages.  

July 12, 1956 – 36 New York City children arrive for two weeks in the country, sponsored through the Lions Club’s Friendly Town Program.  

July 30, 1956 – Enrollments are growing fast, and the school board learns that remodeling the East Ridge School and an addition to Veterans Park will cost the town $1.2 million.  

August 1956 – The Public Utilities Commission approves the sale of the Ridgefield Water Supply Company to the New Canaan Water Supply Company.  

August 1956 – At an auction on the steps of the town hall, real estate agent Edward Gradess pays $600 for the old Bennett’s Farm Schoolhouse, and the sixth of an acre it’s on.  

August 1956 – Norman Craig buys Craig’s Jewelry Store 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 superintendent, replacing retiring Dr. Edward H. Fuller.  

Sept. 5, 1956 – 1.081 children show up for school, an increase of 75 over the previous year. Another 206 are in the new St. Mary School’s first through fifth grades.  

Sept. 6, 1956 – Wilton First Selectman Harry Marhoffer crashes his town-owned pickup truck into the side of a car driven by Ridgefield 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 town’s 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 when his small plane runs out of gas and crashes in woods off Silver Spring Road.  

Sept. 24, 1956 – Theodore Case of Peaceable Street finds 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 child.  

October 1956 – Msgr. James J. McLaughlin becomes pastor of St. Mary’s Parish, replacing the Rev. Edward J. Duffy, who moves to Danbury.  

Oct. 5, 1956 – After many years as a six-man team, Ridgefield High School plays its first 11-man football game. It loses to Brewster, 39-19.  

Oct. 15, 1956 – A 16-year-old Ridgefield youth leads police on a six-mile chase at speeds of up to 90 mph, ending in a five-car crash 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 to provide free bus transportation for St. Mary’s School students.  

Oct. 21, 1956 – W. Knox Denham, 68, shoots and kills himself on the lawn of the state police barracks on East Ridge A South Africa 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 planning school additions, and names 23 people to a school building committee.  

Oct. 27, 1956 – Jesse L. Benedict, the town treasurer since 1917, dies at 78.  

November 1956 – It is the last year the District Nursing Association sells Christmas Seals. The sale brings in $3,000.  

November 1956 – St. Mary’s Parish holds its first “minstrel show.”  

Nov. 6, 1956 – Dwight D. Eisenhower carries Ridgefield by a 3.8-to-one margin.  

Nov. 23, 1956 – Petitioners force an all-day referendum on the adoption of planning, but the proposal goes down, 1,011 to 744.  

Dec. 1, 1956 – Octavius “Tabby” Carboni is named town treasurer.  

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 rule to allow three-family houses.  

February 1957 – Voters approve an addition for Veterans Park School but reject buying Barlow Mountain Road land for a new school site.  

February 1957 – The Ridgefield Home Owners Association 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 leaves the Sipes family homeless on Bailey Avenue.  

March 1957 – Dr. Jordan R. Dann submits petitions with 600 signatures, asking zoners to allow veterinary hospitals in business zones. They soon do.  

March 1957 – A League of Women Voters survey finds the most common reason for not shopping in Ridgefield is “not enough choice,” followed by “prices” and “parking.” Danbury is the most popular shopping destination.  

March 14, 1957 – A steam engine chugging down the Danbury-Norwalk rail line sets off a rash of grass fires.  

March 31, 1957 – A fire destroys the Charles Weedon home in Ridgebury.  

April 1957 – Romeo Petroni joins Judge John E. Dowling’s law practice.  

Spring 1957 – Principal Isabel O’Shea bans water pistols at Veterans Park School.  

Spring 1957 – Dominic Gaeta buys Pilgrim Lodge, the Odd 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 high school principal. Philip Pitruzzello of Roger Ludlowe in Fairfield is picked as his replacement.  

June 1957 – A Town Meeting votes to lease Governor 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 Wilton addresses the 31 Ridgefield High School graduates.  

July 1957 – Edward Benenson of Stamford announces he 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 okay the plan in the fall.  

August 1957 – Voters turn down a $1.2-million expansion and renovation of the East Ridge School, 834 to 571.  

August 1957 – At a Republican primary, Ridgefield newcomer John B. Jessup challenges Paul Morganti’s nomination for selectman and loses.  

September 1957 – 1,300 children show up in school, 200 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 industry zone 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 Leo F. Carroll defeats Democrat Richard E. Venus by 203 votes to replace retiring Democrat Harry E. Hull as first selectman.  

November 1957 – The Ridgefield Library creates a special “students library” for young people.  

Nov. 21, 1957 – The watering trough that once stood in the middle of the Main and Catoonah Streets intersection, and was later placed 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 announces its intention to build a four-lane expressway between Norwalk and Danbury. A 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 lab from Main Street to Sarasota, Fla.  

January 1958 – Twenty-one townspeople meet to begin planning the town’s semiquincentennial – 250th anniversary – celebration. Press editor and publisher Karl S. Nash is chairman. The committee organizes parades, concerts, exhibits, special events, and the publication of Silvio Bedini’s history of the town, Ridgefield in Review, a 400-page book that starts out as a pamphlet.  

Winter 1958 – The Zoning Board of Appeals rejects 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. Carroll tells the League of Women Voters.  

March 1958 – The town votes to renovate the East Ridge School into a real high school and junior high, including a gym. Cost: $1.1 million.  

March 1958 – The Methodists decide to buy the Freund estate at Main Street and King Lane for a possible new church.  

April 1958 – St. Mary’s School basketball team wins the state championship.  

Spring 1958 – The state straightens Route 102 in Branchville.  

May 1958 – In honor of the town’s 250th anniversary, Larry Aldrich gives the town land in Farmingville. It becomes known as Aldrich Park.  

June 1958 – After four earlier tries over the years, townspeople vote 1,125 to 1,054 to adopt planning, giving the town more control over subdivisions.  

July 6, 1958 – More than 2,500 people attend a mass in a field at the McKeon farm in Ridgebury. The Bishop of Worcester delivers the sermon. In 1781, French troops encamped at this site are believed to have celebrated the first mass in Ridgefield.  

July 1958 – Ground is broken for the new Boys Club building.  

Summer 1958 – Judge Joseph Donnelly announces he’ll build a shopping center off Governor Street [Balducci’s et al. in 2008] in back of the old Boys Club building, which he tears down.  

Summer 1958 – William Winthrop says his Ridgefield Taxpayers Association will join the Citizens Committee Against Town Planning in an effort to rescind the just-adopted planning ordinance. They don’t succeed, but they force yet another vote.  

August 1958 – Dr. Jordan Dann opens the town’s first veterinary hospital.  

September 1958 – The Red Raiders, the town’s first midget football squad, organizes.  

Nov. 4, 1958 – Abraham Ribicoff, winning re-election as 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 school 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 when the 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 north end of the Grand Union shopping center.  

March 1959 – An 18-year-old cat tips over a can of turpentine, which drips through the floor of artist Richard Rainsford’s remodeled barn on Florida Road, hits a furnace and starts a blaze that levels the building. A dog and five cats – including the culprit – are rescued but a 5,000-volume library with many rare books is lost.  

March 20, 1959 – Arthur F. Eilenstein of West Lane, 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 will build the town’s first drive-in bank on Governor Street on the old Boys Club site.  

May 25 1959 – Five huge arches of the new Ridgefield High School gymnasium on East Ridge collapse during construction, delaying the project for months. Contractors eat the $30,000 loss, but sue arch supplier for $100,000.  

September 1959 – Overcrowded Ridgefield High School goes on double sessions for two years.  

Fall 1959 – The Ridgefield Community Kindergarten opens.  

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 of a gangster, and plan to operate the 40-room mansion at Lake Mamanasco as a retreat house.  

January 1960 – By this time, the new Ridgefield Cookbook has sold 900 of its 1,000 copies.  

February 1960 – The Zoning Commission zones Ridgebury for two-acre lots.  

Feb. 27, 1960 – Fire guts La Bretagne Inn on West Lane, 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 an aerial ladder truck.  

March 1960 – Philip Pitruzzello resigns as high school 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 feel their address lacks class and successfully pressure town officials to change it to Peaceable Ridge Road.  

April 1960 – The local NAACP plans to picket Ridgefield chain stores with outlets in the South that practice segregation.  

April 1960 – The town votes to build Ridgebury School at Todds Farm.  

Spring 1960 – Stonehenge Inn owner Victor Gilbert runs for state representative, but eventually drops out.  

May 1960 – Dr. Harold E. Healy of Portland, Conn., is named new principal of Ridgefield High School. He remains 28 years.  

July 1960 – 10 boys who’d been “engaged in a gang fight at Lake Mamanasco” and two other boys caught stealing auto parts all get off in Town Court on legal technicalities, prompting Trial Justice Carleton A. Scofield to resign in a rage over “this circus-like treatment of justice.” He later returns.  

June 1960 – The Thrift Shop moves from the Masonic Hall building to its current quarters in the old Catholic church on Catoonah Street.  

August 1960 – While the Republican Town Committee picks four-term incumbent Nancy-Carroll Draper to run for state representative with John Kelly, a caucus drops her in favor of native son Romeo Petroni. Democrats put up David Marlin and John Sjovall.  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 has messed up Main Street’s business district nearly a year is finally finished.  

Nov. 8, 1960 – Petroni and Kelly are elected, two to one [see August 1960].


1961 – Ridgefield is ninth in the state in spending on schools – $593 per pupil.  

1961 – John Yervant takes over ownership of the Fox Hill 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, Yervant 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 home should have a fallout shelter with a two weeks’ supply of food. Civil Defense 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 free public library instead of charging membership fees.  

1961 – Jerry Tuccio begins developing the 93-lot Twixt Hills subdivision.  

September 1961 – Because the new Ridgebury School isn’t ready, Veterans Park School goes on double sessions for several months.  

September 1961 – The Lions Club sponsors its first annual 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 parking lot proves unsuccessful.  

December 1961 – The first service of the newly formed Ridgefield Baptist Church takes place in Masonic Hall.  


1962 – The Conservation Commission is established.  

1962 – Congregation of Notre Dame, based in Quebec, acquires the Lynch estate on West Mountain for an American novitiate, U.S 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 million.  

Jan. 23, 1962 – The A&P supermarket and liquor store 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 planning Farmingville School, but reject $4,500 to include a fall-out shelter in the building.  

Feb. 11, 1962 – Ridgebury School is dedicated. The school, which then held 600 pupils, cost $977,000.  

February 1962 – Philip Pitruzzello, former principal of Ridgefield High School, is picked to be the next school superintendent, 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 Avenue apartment.  

March 1962 – Richard J. Bellagamba is appointed to the seven-man police force. He eventually rises to become second in command of the department.  

March 1962 – Overcrowding at Ridgefield High School prompts the school board to consider asking the town for a junior high school.  

March 1962 – Telephones go all numbers. No longer are we ID8-6544. ID stood for Idlewood.  

March 18, 1962 – The Ridgefield Post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars is organizing, mostly thanks to Gene Casagrande of West Lane, the first commander.  

July 1962 – A fire badly burns artist Bernard Perlin’s home on Shadow Lake Road, prompting the Ridgebury Community Association to petition the town to build a Ridgebury firehouse. Six years later, it opens.  

September 1962 – Voters approve $1.1 million to build Farmingville School.  

Oct. 25, 1962 – “Ridgefield’s Civil Defense organization, meeting in emergency session yesterday noon, urged townspeople to be prepared but not panicky over the present crisis in Cuba,” says the lead story in The Press.  

November 1962 – The Kiwanis Club organizes. Robert A. Kane, the funeral director, is elected first president.  

November 1962 – The First Congregational Church celebrates its 250th birthday with special programs and a 56-page 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 best-attended referendum of the century, 62% of the voters turn out to approve the town’s providing school bus transportation to St. Mary’s Catholic School children. 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 the 4-H Club.  

March 1963 – The school board approves a $1.8-million budget, up 21%. Meanwhile, faced with a deficit, the board threatens to cancel hot lunches for 900 elementary school pupils, prompting parent outrage. A reluctant Board of Finance appropriates $11,000 so lunches continue.  

April 1963 – Two hundred supporters of “New Route 7 Now” travel to Hartford to demand a new highway from Norwalk to North Canaan.  

April 15, 1963 – William R. Coleman, a 42-year-old pilot, 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 upstairs, becomes trapped, and dies of a broken neck trying to leap from a balcony.  

May 1963 – In the annual battle of the school budget, the 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 Eleven 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 others object. The disagreement spends years in court.  

June 1963 – Richard E. Venus is officially appointed the town’s postmaster by President John F. Kennedy; he’d been acting postmaster since 1961.  

June 29, 1963 – St. Mary’s Parish lays the cornerstone for a new convent and school addition.  

July 1963 – Realtors Sal Monti and James Hackert propose a 367-acre light-industry zone in Ridgebury. The Ridgefield Community Association opposes it.  

Summer 1963 – To meet its budget cut, the school board begins charging for community use of the schools and makes kids walk farther to bus stops.  

Summer 1963 – The Ridgefield Fire Department asks the town to buy land at Danbury and Copps Hill Roads for a new firehouse.  

August 1963 – The Good Government Party is formed, saying it is “dissatisfied with the leadership and control of the two existing parties,” especially with respect to the schools. The GGP runs candidates in 1963 and 1965. None wins, but some come close.  

August 1963 – Francis D. Martin urges the town to buy Camp Adventure, 100 acres on Route 7 with 700 feet of shoreline on Great Pond. 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 children, 340 more than a year earlier. Parents don’t like the new, longer walking distances to bus stops, but the school board says: Tell the budget-cutting Board of Finance.  

Fall 1963 – Governor John Dempsey helps dedicate the 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 desirable natural assets and to suggest how they may be permanently preserved.”  

Oct. 30, 1963 – One of the biggest barns in Ridgefield burns to the ground at the Jacob Baker place on Barlow Mountain Road.  

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 because the Rockwell family does not want to sell. Voters are unwilling to condemn the land.  

November 1963 – Late that month, 500 people gather in front of town hall to hear First Selectman Leo F. Carroll read the selectmen’s letter to the family of John F. Kennedy. “We shudder at the deed which has violently deprived this nation of its constitutional head by the assassin’s bullet, an act of unparalleled atrocity – shocking to all mankind,” the letter says in part.  

December 1963 – The Board of Education rejects a request to rename the Farmingville School, still under construction, the “John F. Kennedy School.” Schools here are named for parts of town, not individuals, the board says.  

December 1963 – Author Cornelius Ryan asks that the new 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. Kennedy’s name.  

December 1963 – The Zoning Commission creates a 300-acre light industry zone in Ridgebury.  

December 1963 – Benrus decides to buy the old “labor camp” on Route 7 for a watch-making plant and headquarters.  

December 1963 – The Volunteers of America buy Camp Adventure at Great Pond to use as a summer camp for underprivileged city children.  

Dec. 1, 1963 – The new St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church has its first service, with 125 people gathered in Cleves Auditorium, Veterans Park School.  

Dec. 17, 1963 – Fire Warden Richard McGlynn is overcome by smoke while rescuing a German Shepherd from the burning home of Jerry McNally at Lookout Point. Both Mr. McGlynn and the dog recover quickly.  

Dec. 28, 1963 – Fire heavily damages the Earl Harris home of Nod Road, killing six canaries and a puppy, and sending Firefighter Frank Santini to the hospital for two days with smoke inhalation.  


Jan. 2, 1964 – Richard McGlynn becomes first paid fireman to be chief of the Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department.

Jan. 6, 1964 —Neighbors sue Zoning Commission for creating an industrial park zone in Ridgebury.

Jan. 12, 1964 — Blizzard offers 50 mph winds, 5 degree temperatures, and a foot of snow.

Jan. 14 1964 — Town OKs 80-lot development called Twin Ridge.

Jan. 16 1964 – Massachusetts company plans 150 homes on the 230-acre estate known as Westmoreland.

Jan. 20 1964 — Townspeople debate the pros and cons of fluoridating water.

Feb. 3 1964 — Bissell’s Drug Store closes its 68-year-old soda fountain with a day of free ice cream.

Feb. 6 1964 — 285 new houses were built in the past year, the assessors report.

Feb. 8 1964 – The last freight train comes up the branch line from Branchville. By year’s end, rails are gone.

Feb. 13 1964 — Dr. Theodore Safford and associates announce plans to create the “Rippowam Field Club” on 13 acres off West Lane.

Feb. 24 1964 – The new Farmingville School opens, ending double sessions at Ridgebury School.

March 1 1964 — Thomas Dyer joins the Ridgefield Police force.

March 5 1964 — Otto Pambianchi marks 25 years of driving a school bus without a single accident.

March 10 1964 — Eugene Lavatori opens Nina’s Restaurant on northern Main Street, featuring Italian specials made by his mother, Nina.

March 20 1964 — Ridgebury Congregational Church decides to buy back the 1844 parsonage it sold in 1958.

March 21 1964 — James Leonard, Michael Skandera, and two other teachers dress up like the Beatles to perform at the Ridgebury PTA Fair.

April 2 1964 — Dr. Philip Pitruzzello quits as school superintendent.

April 6 1964 — Connecticut National Bank opens an office on Danbury Road.

April 9 1964 — It’s Bob Tulipani’s first year of teaching here, a story reports.

April 16 1964 — Ridgefielders were still puffing away, despite recent surgeon general’s announcement that cigarettes cause cancer.

April 25 1964 – Town votes to buy 14 acres on East Ridge for a new junior high school.

April 28 1964 — CTS Microelectronics will move into empty industrial building on Grove Street and Old Quarry Road.

April 30 1964 — Developer Jerry Tuccio says he’s buying Casagmo, the Olcott estate on Main Street, and plans 300 apartment units.

May 13 1964 — Voters approve raising tax rate from 44 to 46 mills.

May 17 1964 — Father James J. McLaughlin, St. Mary’s pastor, celebrates his 25th year in the priesthood.

May 20 1964 — Philanthropist Anne S. Richardson is feted as Rotary Citizen of the Year.

May 21 1964 — 75 people petition the town to rid the dump of its stench.

May 31 1964 — The last service in the historic Jesse Lee Memorial Church takes place after Methodists vote to sell the building at Main and Catoonah Streets to a group of investors. The old church is torn down.

May 26 1964 — Bishop Walter W. Curtis dedicates new novitiate for Sisters of Notre Dame on West Mountain (now Ridgefield Academy).

May 27 1964 – Ridgefield teachers apply to start an American Federation of Teachers AFL/CIO Chapter and 50 join.

May 30 1964 — At Memorial Day ceremonies, the town dedicates a new monument at Community Center to those who died in World War II and Korea.

June 2 1964 — George Leeman is named top student among seniors at RHS.

June 6 1964 — 150 dealers turn out for the Flea Market at Veterans Park field, sponsored by the Community Center.

June 14 1964 — Elizabeth Biglow Ballard dies at 88, and bequeaths her Main Street homestead to the town as a park.

June 16 1964 — Tom Belote is elected president of the RHS Student Council.

June 18 1964 — Ridgefield High School graduates 129 students.

June 24 — Five-year-old Jennie Dudics catches 121 fish at Lake Mamamanasco, breaking a Kiwanis Fishing Derby record.

June 25 1964 — Benrus Watch Company buys 47 acres on Route 7 to build corporate offices and a plant.

June 26 1964 — The new Keating Shell gas station opens at Danbury and Farmingville Roads.

July 2 1964 — Because of drought conditions, the Ridgefield Water Supply Company bans lawn sprinkling.

July 4 1964 — A Navy band performs at the annual Kiwanis Club fireworks in Veterans Park.

July 7 1964 — Two teenagers are arrested for stealing hubcaps — off a police cruiser!

July 13 1964 — Mary Boland retires after 45 years of teaching, mostly RHS English.

July 14 1964 — Two Ridgefielders petition the Zoning Commission for a business zone on Route 7 from Haviland south to the Ridgefield Motor Inn (Day’s Inn) in Redding.

July 18 1964 — 1,400 people attend the Firemen’s Ball at the East Ridge field.

July 20 1964 — The Women’s Republican Club unanimously backs Barry Goldwater for president.

July 23 1964 — Dr. Clark A. Heydon opens an orthodontics practice.

July 31 1964 — Dr. James Inkster moves his home and his practice to Newtown after 20 years here. Newtown had only two doctors.

July 31 1964 — Dr. Joseph Buchman opens a practice in internal medicine.

Aug. 1 1964 — The police force grows to 11 men with the hiring of Kenneth Shannon.

Aug. 4 1964 — Gov. John Dempsey breaks ground for the new Benrus Center.

Aug 10 1964 — Oexle Supply Company opens new headquarters on South Street.

Aug. 13 1964 — 700 people petition for a firehouse in Ridgebury.

Aug. 17 1964 — The school board approves plans for a $2.5-million junior high school.

Aug. 30 1964 — 100 entrants take part in the annual Kiwanis Club Horse Show at the Anne Richardson estate.

Sept. 1 1964 — The historic Ballard house is torn down to make way for the new park.

Sept. 3 1964 — Ridgefielder Carol Corn Rosenberg dies in a mountain-climbing accident on Grand Teton in Wyoming.

Sept. 4 1964 — 44 new teachers attend orientation.

Sept. 8 1964 — Two gunmen rob Connecticut National Bank of $64,000, but are caught within 24 hours.

Sept. 9 1964 — 3,021 children show up for school, 335 more than a year earlier. The high school begins double sessions.

Sept. 12 1964 — Nearly 200 cars are on exhibit at the Lions Club Antique Car Show at Veterans Park.

Sept 17 1964 — Consultants recommend the town replace the stinky dump with an incinerator.

Sept. 18 1964 — Dr. Jordan R. Dann is named head of Ridgefielders for the election of Johnson and Humphrey.

Sept. 22 1964 — Matthew Rich wants his land at the north corner of Danbury and Copps Hill Roads rezoned for business so he can open a Chrysler Plymouth dealership there.

Sept. 26 1964 — Mrs. Richard W. Osborn, Ridgefield’s oldest resident, turns 100.

Sept. 30 1964 — The Shapley School buys the old Outpost Inn property it’s been using for a year as a prep school. It’s now Fox Hill condos.

Oct. 1 1964 — Ridgefield Police force climbs to 12 with addition of William Greene Jr.

Oct. 3 1964 – First Church of Christ, Scientist, opens its new church on Main Street.

Oct. 4 1964 — State says town’s population is 11,900.

Oct. 5 1964 — Dr. Thayer D. Wade, head of North Salem’s schools, is named Ridgefield superintendent.

Oct. 8 1964 — 96% of Ridgefield is residential, zoning officials learn.

Oct. 12 1964 – The Girolmetti family opens a 16-lane bowling alley, called Ridge Bowl, on Danbury Road.

Oct. 17 1964 – 400 attend art collector Larry Aldrich’s black-tie gala marking the opening of his Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art.

Nov. 1 1964 – After much debate, Prince Chambliss, a black teenager from Alabama, is admitted to RHS, the first beneficiary of Carol Rosenberg Memorial Education Fund. He later becomes a prominent Memphis attorney.

Nov. 3 1964 – Lyndon B. Johnson outpolls Barry Goldwater by 740 votes, a very rare win in Ridgefield for a Democratic presidential candidate.

Nov. 4 1964 — Town officials approve installing walk lights on Main Street.

Nov. 14 1964 — The 45-unit Ridgefield Arms, the town’s first apartment complex, opens on Prospect Street, offering free TV antenna, free parking and “dream kitchens.” Rents range from $125 for an efficiency to $190 for two bedrooms.

Nov. 17 1964 — Jerry Tuccio buys the 33-acre Mimosa estate  on North Street, and plans to build houses.

Nov. 18 1964 — Hardie Gramatky, author of Little Toot, visits Veterans Park School.

Nov. 20 1964 — Voters approve planning a Ridgebury firehouse.

Nov. 23 1964 — Constance Churchill, who was active in community work, dies when the TWA jetliner, on which her husband, John, is second officer, crashes on take-off in Rome. He survives.

Nov. 24 1964 — The town votes to buy 75 acres from Evelyn Luquer, land that now includes the Scotland and Barlow Mountain Schools, plus nature preserves.

Nov. 30 1964 — The school board recognizes the Ridgefield Teachers Association as a bargaining agent for the teachers.

Dec. 3 1964 — First Selectman Leo Carroll recommends turning the recently abandoned railroad bed into a walking path and bridle trail.

Dec. 5 1964 — Adolf and Lori Gaub’s Ridgefield Diner on Route 7 at the Danbury line opens an addition, doubling its size and prompting a name change to Ridgefield Restaurant.

Dec. 7 1964 — As the town population continues to burgeon, the school board agrees to add 25 teachers, five counselors, and a principal to the staff next year.

Dec. 10 1964 — “Ridgefield has a good educational system — but not an excellent one,” new Superintendent Thayer Wade tells the Jaycees.

Dec. 14 1964 — Teachers ask school board for a pay raise. A beginner, getting $5,300 a year, would earn $5,500, and annual increases would be 5%.

Dec. 21 1964 — The Lions Club skating rink at the East Ridge tennis courts opens.

Dec. 27 1964 — More than 700 people attend the sixth annual Rotary Jazz Festival in the high school gym.

Dec. 29 1964 — Voters accept 30 new roads as town roads.


1965 – The year is the driest of the century, with only 26 inches of precipitation in the region.  

1965 – The Ridgefield Symphonette, now the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra, is founded. Its budget is $3,000.  

Jan. 24, 1965 – The Rev. Harold Wheeler begins his pastorate at Ridgefield Baptist Church, which is meeting in Ridgebury School with about 50 people.  

April 1965 – Bongo’s, a Western Auto outlet and one of the village’s most charismatic stores, announces it’s closing.  

April 1965 – Morganti Inc. is low bidder at $2,559,000 to build the East Ridge Junior High School.  

Summer 1965 – Benny Goodman and his orchestra play before 2,500 people in Veterans Park.  

September 1965 – By a six to one margin, voters at a referendum combine the Planning and Zoning Commissions into one agency.  

Dec. 4, 1965 – A TWA 707 and an Eastern Airlines Constellation collide over Ridgefield. The Constellation crashes on Hunt Mountain, just over the state line in North Salem. Ridgefield Fire Department, 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 first meeting.  

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 or central heat, and Mrs. Gage was sitting next to a space heater when the fire broke out.  

March 1966 – State Senator Romeo G. Petroni announces he’ll run for Congress, the first Ridgefielder ever to do so. He is unsuccessful.  

September 1966 – East Ridge Junior High School opens.  


1967 – David E. Weingast is named school superintendent 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 have often wondered what would have happened if I had accepted that instead,” said Dr. Weingast in a 1977 interview.  

Winter 1967 – Temple Shearith Israel is established. The Doubleday mansion is purchased a year later and dedicated as a temple in 1970.  

Feb. 3, 1967 – Fire destroys the James H. Hackert family 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 rejects AT&T’s request to build a 162-foot-high microwave tower on Peaceable Ridge. AT&T sticks it just across the line in South Salem.  

Summer 1967 – The 203,000-square-foot Benrus Center, Ridgefield’s biggest industrial building, opens on Route 7.  

September 1967 – Theodore Stainman becomes the first rabbi serving Temple Shearith Israel.  

Sept. 13, 1967 – Varian Fry, a journalist and classics scholar who is credited with helping more than 2,000 anti-Nazi and Jewish refugees escape from Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, dies alone in Easton at the age of 59. He had lived on Olmstead Lane in the 1950s and early 1960s.   

October 1967 – J. Mortimer Woodcock is elected first selectman, replacing retiring Leo F. Carroll.  

December 1967 – The Ridgefield Baptist Church has its first service in its new Danbury Road home.  


January 1968 – Scotland Elementary School opens.  

Feb. 27, 1968 – Fire heavily damages the Main Street home 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 later restored, including letters from George Washington to John Jay, the first U.S. Supreme Court chief justice, an ancestor of Mrs. Pierrepont’s late husband.  

March 1968 – Joseph Egan carries his six-year-old daughter, Lisa, to safety through an upstairs window of their burning Twixt Hills home. His wife and two other daughters are rescued by firefighters.  

May 1968 – The new Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church is consecrated.  

May 30, 1968 – Ridgebury Firehouse opens.  

September 1968 – The Sisters of Notre Dame on West Mountain open Notre Dame Academy, a Catholic girls high school. It closes four years later because of lack of enrollments.  

Fall 1968 – The Planning and Zoning Commission creates a light industry zone along Bennett’s Farm Road at and about the Fox Hill Inn property.  

Oct. 31, 1968 – Just after midnight on Halloween, a suspicious fire levels a 19th Century barn on Ridgebury Road.  

Nov. 5, 1968 – Attorney Herbert V. Camp is elected state representative.  


1969 – The Charter Revision Commission proposes a nine-member town council to replace the Town Meeting, but a referendum defeats the plan by only 33 votes – with more than 3,000 people voting.  

1969 – St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church opens its church on Ivy Hill Road.  

February 1969 – Voters buy 575 acres amassed by the late Otto H. Lippolt, the largest open space acquisition in the town’s history.  

April 1969 – Irked by teenagers hanging out on Main Street, voters approve an ordinance banning loitering. Three years later, the U.S. Supreme Court rules a similar law unconstitutional.  

June 1969 – Due to lack of vocations, the teaching nuns will leave St. Mary’s School as the school year ends.  

Sept. 19, 1969 – Fire destroys the Old West Mountain Road home of photographer Jacqueline Seligmann, whose family owns the noted Seligmann art gallery. She and 27 of her cats escape; several other cats perish, and many antiques, rare books, and Miss Seligmann’s negatives, photographs and cameras are lost.  

Fall 1969 – Branchville Elementary School opens.  


1970 – Ridgefield’s population is 18,188, more than doubling in a decade.  

1970 – The Ridgefield Branch of the American Association of University Women is chartered.  

1970 – IBM buys the Fox Hill Inn and some 700 acres on Bennett’s Farm Road. Part of the land is zoned for light industry.  

Spring 1970 – A huge outbreak of leaf-eating caterpillars prompts townspeople to vote to hire helicopters to spray town with insecticide the next year. The spray company backs down under threat of suit by environmentalists.  

June 1970 – Declining enrollments, increasing costs, and lack of available nuns prompt Pastor Martin O’Connor to close St. Mary’s School after 16 years in operation.  

July 1970 – Voters defeat $2 million to build the West Mountain Elementary School on Oscaleta Road.  

September 1970 – Morganti Inc.’s additions to the junior and senior high schools are erected over the summer to handle overcrowding (the senior high addition is now the “town hall annex”).  


Feb. 11, 1971 – Recycling comes to town as the Ridgefield Environmental Action Program is born. REAP later builds today’s recycling center.  

March 1971– Barlow Mountain Elementary School opens.  

March 1971– The town votes to buy the 26-acre Holy Ghost Novitiate on Prospect Ridge, now the site of congregate and affordable housing, 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 after the Board of Finance refuses to provide more money for gas and maintenance. The action makes national news; the New York Daily News runs a cartoon of a Ridgefield policeman on a tricycle. The finance board soon caves in.  

April 1971– A study committee recommends that the town have a second high school built by 1977.  

June 1971– A company hired by the selectmen to aerially spray the town to halt the plague of gypsy moth caterpillars backs down after conservationists threaten a lawsuit. The caterpillars eventually die of a naturally caused disease.  

September 1971– To fill the gap caused by the closing of St. Mary’s School, parents create Holy Innocents, an independent Catholic grade school. It lasts five years.  

November 1971 – J. Mortimer Woodcock retires as first selectman. The voters elect Joseph McLinden, another Republican, as his successor, but he lasts only two years.  

Dec. 18, 1971– Golfers vote themselves a Christmas present as just under 2,000 people turn out for a referendum to approve buying land for and building the Dlhy Ridge Golf Course.  


1972 – After 264 years without Ridgefield’s having an 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 Road.  

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 opposes 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 “lily-white Ridgefield” and loses on a technicality.  

April 1972 – Ridgefield makes national news after the school board refuses to allow high school seniors to read Boss, columnist Mike Royko’s book on Chicago Mayor Daley, in a political science elective. “I don’t think it’s a good book,” said one board member. Royko hears about it, calls the board “rubes.” The board later reinstates the book.  

June 1972 – Ridgefield High School on East Ridge closes.  

September 1972 – The new Ridgefield High School on North Salem Road opens.  

September 1972 – Enrollment in the Ridgefield schools reaches an all-time in the school year that begins this month: 6,037 children.  

September 1972 – W.T. Grant, the town’s largest store, 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, Caldor goes belly up.  


Winter 1973 – The Board of Education votes that to remove Eldridge Cleaver’s book, Soul on Ice, and another book critical of police from a high school elective, sparking a controversy that lasts for months and draws national attention. Teachers and many parents are incensed. It’s called Ridgefield’s “book burning” and more than 700 people attend some board meetings on the issue.  

January 1973 – Elfrieda Travostino, the head of the 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 said: “We 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 board 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, Louis Garofalo, Ridgefield Taxpayers League president, refuses to leave a “private” budget meeting of the Boards of Education and Finance, saying the “public has a right to be present.” Police arrive, but the boards give up and allow Mr. Garofalo and 10 others to attend.  

March 1973 – “Firefighters burn over lack of men,” says the Ridgefield Press headline about the firemen’s union maintaining 18 men, not 15, are needed to provide adequate ambulance and fire protection.  

March 1973 – The OWLS, the “Older, Wiser, Livelier Set,” is founded.  

May 1973 –In the wake of the town’s many school crises, the Connecticut Education Association publishes a 38-page booklet, Responsible Academic Freedom: Challenge to Ridgefield, which criticizes the outbreak of “academic vandalism” in the schools and suggests ways to resolve differences.  

September 1973 – The first St. Mary’s Fall Festival takes place.  

Nov. 6, 1973 – Louis J. Fossi, a Democrat in a largely Republican town, is elected first selectman. He is subsequently re-elected to three more terms, retiring in 1981.  

Mid-December 1973 – The worst ice storm of the century hits town. Temperatures dip to below zero and some neighborhoods are without 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 tops at $11,404  

1974 – Voters abolish the Village District.  

1974 – IBM proposes a school for corporate executives on part of its 700 acres off Bennett’s Farm Road.  

1974 – The Village Bank and Trust Company, the town’s only locally owned commercial bank, opens in the former Ridgefield Playhouse building on Prospect Street.  

1974 – Boehringer Ingelheim buys 134 acres of old farmland off Shadow Lake Road for its new laboratory and corporate headquarters.  

February 1974 – Joseph Heyman announces he will run for the state senatorial seat held by retiring Romeo G. Petroni. He is unsuccessful.  

February 1974 – The Ridgefield Guild of Artists organizes.  

April 1974 – The Ridgefield Recycling Center opens.  

Spring 1974 – Dlhy Ridge Golf Course opens.   

Sept. 6, 1974 – The town buys the old state police barracks and begins to convert it to the Ridgefield Police headquarters.  

Fall 1974 – Two Ridgefield teenagers, on their way to set fire to the old state police barracks [Sept. 6, 1974], are stopped and arrested by police, who find cans of gasoline in their trunk. The two later confess to six cases of arson in a month, including three empty old houses, a High Ridge barn, and an old wooden water tower owned by IBM.  

December 1974 – Yankee Ridge Shopping Center, on Main Street and along Prospect Street, opens its stores.  

December 1974 – Most Copps Hill Plaza stores announce 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 the town, and eventually becomes a restaurant.  

1975 – Police investigate 834 auto accidents during the year. Ten years earlier there were only 389 crashes.  

February 1975 – The selectmen create the Commission on Aging.  

February 1975 – Sugar Hollow Racquet Club has its first “Fairfield County International” tournament, slated to feature number-one-ranked Jimmy Connors as well as Ilie Nastase. Nastase shows, Connors doesn’t.  

April 1975 – 911 emergency phone service begins.  

June 3, 1975 – While attending the Community Center’s Outdoor Flea Market, Tom Pearson of Overlook Drive discovers a canteen owned by General David Wooster who, 198 years earlier, had been mortally wounded fighting the Battle of Ridgefield. “My knees were water for two hours after,” he says. “It has to be a one-in-a-million shot that it would just pop up like that.”  

June 1975 – Arma Tool & Die Company opens on Route 7.  

Summer 1975 – After vandals continue to damage the building, IBM tears down the Fox Hill Inn on its Bennett’s Farm Road property. 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 all-time high of 6,029 children.  

Fall 1975 – Townspeople don’t seem to mind IBM’s plan for a corporate school on its Bennett’s Farm Road property but many vociferously oppose a helicopter landing pad and IBM drops its plans for Ridgefield and goes elsewhere. It holds onto the land until 1998.  

October 1975 – A Ridgefielder is arrested for murder 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 the ground.  

November and December 1975 – The Ridgefield Press marks its 100th anniversary by publishing a 184-page tabloid-sized history 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 year, 57% more than the year before.    

1976 – The Ridgefield Family Y opens with offices at St. Mary’s School.  

January 1976 – The Rev. Harold Wheeler, pastor of Ridgefield Baptist Church, leaves after 11 years. When he arrived, the church had 50 members meeting in Ridgebury School.  

January 1976 –Ann Marie Sheehan joins the Democratic Town Committee. At 18, she is the youngest person ever elected to a political town committee.  

Jan. 2, 1976 – Karl F. Landegger of Wilton Road East, a 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 the Bahamas.  

Jan. 22, 1976 – An early morning blaze levels the Alibi restaurant on Route 7.  

 Feb. 9, 1976 – A Marcus Dairy milkman is found dead in his truck on Ramapoo Road, the apparent victim of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Feb. 11, 1976 – Owners of W.T. Grant, Ridgefield’s 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 outlet will reopen briefly for a liquidation sale. [Grant’s space is in 2008 Kohl’s.] 

Feb. 18, 1976 – Voters approve a program of tax relief 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 closed on Sundays, have started opening on the Sabbath. A&P is first, followed by Grand Union and Grand Center. Only Stop & Shop remained closed.  

March 25, 1976 – First Selectman Louis J. Fossi calls town and school budget proposals a “shocker.” If approved, town taxes would rise around 14%; the current year increase was 11%. That’s 25% in two years.  

March 26, 1976 – Renovation of the old state police barracks into a new Ridgefield Police headquarters begins after a referendum 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 fountain, Primo Polverari and his son, Bill, puts it back together again.  

Spring 1976 – Lenard De Lescinskis opens Chez Lenard on Main Street, which soon becomes Connecticut’s most famous sidewalk hot dog stand.  

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 kind of 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 gives $100,000 to Danbury Hospital for its new tower project.  

April 8, 1976 – The bishop of Bridgeport formally names Ridgefield’s new Catholic parish for St. Elizabeth Seton.  

April 11, 1976 – Comedian Rodney Dangerfield appears in two shows at the high school to benefit for the Police Supervisors Benevolent Association.  

April 23, 1976 – The Town Meeting approves expanding the historic district to southern High Ridge and eastern West Lane.

April 16, 1976 – Robert P. Scalzo, who is active in Little League, Pop Warner and Townies basketball, dies at 45. He was an eight-year resident who worked for IBM. A year later, Scalzo Field on Prospect Ridge is dedicated in his honor.

May 3, 1976 – The Ridgefield Family Y opens its first office at 616 Main Street, near Joe’s Corner.

May 14, 1976 – Two hundred Ridgefield High School 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 for a 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 Branchville, handcuff 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 and school 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 Street.

May 29, 1976 – St. Elizabeth Seton Parish officially 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. Mary’s Parish.

June 1976 – Baron, the police department’s new dog, goes on duty, handled by Officer Scott Clark.

June 12, 1976 – Samuel O. Perry, who operated Perry’s Market on Main Street from 1929 to 1949 when he sells to Gristede Brothers and retires, dies at 88.

June 16, 1976 – Harry E. Hull, who retired as first 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 Ridgefield High School.

June 26 and 27, 1976 – “Colonial Commons Days,” Ridgefield’s principal Bicentennial salute to the nation’s birthday, 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 activity are Veterans and Ballard Parks.  

October 1976 – A 15-year-old girl is severely injured when a sudden storm fells a tree on her father’s car driving on Main Street. Power in some parts of town is out for two days.  

December 1976 – The owner of the Ridgefield Cinema at Copps Hill Plaza promises in that he won’t book any more X-rated movies after 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 with needs and problems of the community’s youngsters.  

January 1977 – Ridgefield police add a second German shepherd to the staff.  

January 1977 – The second coldest winter of the century sends heating costs skyrocketing and by mid-month, the schools’ energy budget is $90,000 in the red.  

Jan. 6, 1977 – John F. Haight announces he will retire after 11 years as the town’s second police chief.  

Jan. 12, 1977 – Voters agree to lease most of the old high school to Boehringer Ingelheim as its headquarters until an administration building in Ridgebury is erected.

Jan. 23, 1977 – Lori Jean Pinkerton is named Connecticut Junior Miss.

Jan. 24, 1977 – Pat Freeman of the Toy Caboose is elected president of the Chamber of Commerce.

February 1977 – The FBI is investigating the “mysterious” disappearance of $5,000 from the Ridgefield office of the State National Bank.  

Feb. 2, 1977 – A Town Meeting agrees to lease 6.6 acres next to the skating center to the Ridgefield Family Y for $1 a year.  

Feb. 4, 1977 – It’s Vinnico Carboni Day, in honor of 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 challenged in town. At the end of the month, a referendum rejects the contract, 664-358, feeling raises are too high.

Feb. 10, 1977 – Dave Kingman, New York Mets outfielder, speaks to Little League players and families.  

Feb. 22, 1977 – Neighbors of Jack B. Ward’s Ward Acres oppose his plan to subdivide 16 of his 55 acres into one-acre lots.

Feb. 25, 1977 – First Selectman Louis J. Fossi appears in Hartford, seeking money to build a sewer line on Route 7, from Georgetown to the Danbury line.

 Feb. 26, 1977 – 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 announced: $373 million.  

March 2, 1977 – Ridgefield police set up roadblocks as two women are found shot to death in a house on Route 123 in nearby Lewisboro  

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 charged with stabbing a Ramapoo Road man 22 times in an alley off Main Street. The man nearly survives.  

March 20, 1977 – Dr. Francis B. Woodford, longtime town health officer, dies one day before his 80th birthday.  

March 22, 1977 – Paul Properties, builder of Casagmo and Fox Hill condos, files for bankruptcy protection.  

Spring 1977 – The Community Gardens program begins with 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: Bronze and 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 a shovel, Boehringer Ingelheim breaks ground on its $20-million research center in Ridgebury.  

April 24, 1977 – Nine women vie for the title of Miss 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, marking the conflict’s 200th anniversary, which was actually April 27. Main Street is closed Sunday and covered with dirt to provide realism in a battle reenactment. Special effects from blood (fake) and smoke (from theatrical bombs) are used. Between 7,500 and 15,000 witness the show.  

May 1977 – Faced with battles over the budget, its contract and conditions in the school system in general, The National Education Association-Ridgefield – the teachers’ union – appoints a Strike Committee.  

May 11, 1977 – Dr. Peter Yanity is elected chairman of 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 Relations orders 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 years, the Ridgefield Taxpayers League’s efforts to get budgets cut at a referendum 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 September.  

June 16, 1977 – 450 seniors graduate at Ridgefield High School.  

June 18, 1977 – Teachers picket in front of town hall over stalled contract negotiations.  

July 1, 1977 – Elliott Landon becomes superintendent of schools.  

July 1, 1977 – Thomas Rotunda becomes the town’s third police chief.  

July 1977 – High costs force the Rotary Club to abandon its annual Fourth of July fireworks displays, started in 1960.  


1978 – The average price of a new house sold this year is $135,000.  

March 1978 – The Board of Education votes to fire high school guidance department chairman Walter Bishop for knowingly submitting false class rankings to colleges. Many rally to his defense, but to no avail.  

May 1978 – The school board begins fining the Dunn Bus Company after dozens of complaints that school buses are late.  

June 1978 – Dr. Harold E. Healy retires as high school principal and goes into the real estate field.  

Summer 1978 – A referendum approves giving the Ridgefield Family Y five acres off Ivy Hill Road, but the gift is quickly challenged on the grounds that government is unconstitutionally supporting a private, religious organization.  

December 1978 – The first masses are celebrated in St. Elizabeth Seton Church.  

Dec. 3, 1978 – A child playing with a candle sets fire to the First Congregational Church House, destroying the building. The church escapes.  

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, Ridgefield is 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 protection, public works, or the library.  

1979 – Dwindling enrollments prompt the Board of Education, amid much acrimony, to vote to close Barlow Mountain School fewer than nine years after it opens.  

June 1979 – Late one night, under a full moon, a policeman responds to a call that chanting in a foreign tongue is coming from 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 there’s evidence that a vacant house nearby was used by devil worshippers.  

Sept. 29, 1979 – The Most Rev. Walter Curtis, bishop of Bridgeport, dedicates the new St. Elizabeth Seton Church on Ridgebury Road.  

October 1979 – Ballard Green housing for the elderly is completed.


1980 – Ridgefield’s population climbs to 20,120.  

1980 – The Ridgefield Family Y proposes building its recreational complex on land donated by Francis D. Martin north of Lake Mamanasco. The land’s high water table and inability to handle a septic system sinks the plan. The Y then agrees to pay “fair market value” of $60,000 for 7.5 town-owned acres off Ivy Hill Road.  

1980 – Teachers win a 9% pay increase. The starting wage is $11,262.  

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 wants a $7,000 study of whether to build a town indoor swimming pool.  

January 1980 – The Planning and Zoning Commission vetoes architect Victor Christ-Janer’s plan for corporate offices on 68 acres along 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. Fiala of Ridgefield says he’ll run for Congress.  

February 1980 – Prescott Bush tells Republicans here that his presidential candidate brother George “is as clean-living a man as you’ll ever see.”  

February 1980 – Lewis and Barry Finch propose Wedgerock Corporate Park on 44 acres east of Ridgebury Road, south of Shadow Lake Road.  

Feb. 26, 1980 – Police Sgt. George Kargle dies when his 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 back Ronald Reagan over George Bush and Jimmy Carter over Senator Edward Kennedy.  

April 1980 – Linda Arciola is hired as the first female patrol officer on the Ridgefield police force. She does not stay long.  

April 3, 1980 – Brutus, the three-year veteran Ridgefield police dog, is stolen from the dog pound. “The dog is basically friendly, but is trained to become aggressive upon command,” say police.  

May 1, 1980 – After 15 years on the job, Tax Collector Alice P. Besse announces she’ll retire. A week later, she is suddenly stricken ill and dies.  

May 18, 1980 – The First Congregational Church lays the cornerstone for its new church house to replace the one that burned in 1978.  

May 25, 1980 – Conservative Archibishop Marcel Lefebvre of France, soon to be excommunicated by the Pope, comes to town to dedicate the St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in the former Manresa retreat house on Tackora Trail, and conduct ordination of new priests. Bridgeport Bishop Walter Curtis declares the ordination is “illegal.”  

June1980 – The Planning and Zoning Commission rejects 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 Founders Hall.]  

Summer 1980 – Real estate times are tough. More than 80 new houses sit unsold. Their average selling price: $180,000.  

June 1980 – Ridgefield gets Touch-Tone telephone service.  

August 1980 – The town landfill shuts down, replaced by the transfer station. The fee for dumping is $1.50.  

Summer 1980 – Perp’s Cafe on Grove Street begins providing go-go dancers, and business booms. First Selectman Fossi says it’s “promoting neighborhood discomfort.”  

Summer 1980 – Also causing discomfort that year are gypsy moths, which are chomping leaves. Many want aerial spraying. Many don’t. The don’ts win.  

Fall 1980 – The Planning and Zoning Commission approves a corporate office complex north of George Washington Highway, but times are tough and it’s never developed.  

Fall 1980 – Cable TV service becomes available in densely populated parts of town late in the year.  

Nov. 4, 1980 – Ronald Reagan takes Ridgefield and the nation, and while Republican James Buckley wins Ridgefield in the U.S. Senate race, Chris Dodd takes the state. Democrat William Ratchford retains his congressional seat.  

November 1980 – Citing vandalism and insurance risks, IBM 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 learn Gov. Ella Grasso is resigning because her cancer has spread. She dies Feb. 5, 1981.  

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 elementary school classrooms, “seem completely out of place.”  

1981 – When told that the 1980 census counted 123 blacks in Ridgefield, a town official remarks: “There’s that many? I’d never’ve known it. Where do they all live?”  

January 1981 – Selectman Josette William complains that town employees may take home town-owned cars, sparking a months-long debate. “The town has lost control over gas consumption, insurance claim exposure and wear and tear on town cars,” she says.  

January 1981 – A years-long drought prompts a regional water agency to propose that the Norwalk River be considered as a drinking water source.  

March 1981 – Voters approve selling 7.5 acres on Prospect 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 England Institute for Medical Research to the brink of financial ruin.  

March 1981 – The Charter Revision Commission proposes that the three-member Board of Selectmen be expanded to five.  

April 1981 – Boehringer Ingelheim, which is renting the old high school, announces it wants to lease the Barlow Mountain School for office space. Neighbors begin a fight that includes two lawsuits.  

Spring 1981 – A brawl at a high school girl’s party on Ramapoo Road results in the stabbing death of a Waterbury man. A Ridgefielder arrested in the case is later freed after authorities rule that the stabbing was in self-defense.  

Spring 1981 – The talk of the retail community is the proposed Danbury Fair mall. A Chamber of Commerce luncheon concludes that personal service and small-town flavor will keep local stores alive.  

Spring 1981 – As rumors spread that Louis J. Fossi will retire as first selectman, three Republicans say they want the seat: Selectman Josette Williams, Planning and Zoning Chairman Sue Manning, and Walter Gengarelly, who ran in 1979. None is the eventual choice.  

May and June 1981 – The “Mill Rate Watchers” petition 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 okays the Ridgefield Family Y’s plans for a recreational complex and pool off Ivy Hill Road.  

July 1981 – The Planning and Zoning Commission takes the Zoning Board of Appeals to court over a variance that would allow apartments at Main and Gilbert Streets.  

July 1981 – The Good Government Party, born in 1963 to support the schools, officially dies. In its heyday, it has 75 members and 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 condominiums for his Main Street property, prompting many debates, but no condos.  

August 1981 – Westport developer Edmund Cadoux asks the Planning and Zoning Commission for 61 condominiums on the old Sullivan property 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 referendum rejects the selectmen’s effort to exempt town property from zoning. Exemption would have allowed Boehringer Ingelheim to lease the former Barlow Mountain School as a commercial use in a residential zone. Boehringer gives up on using Barlow.  

September 1981 – On the bus trip to a football game, several members of the high school band get drunk. The band’s appearance is cancelled.  

October 1981 – On the 200th anniversary of the event, 1,000 militiamen re-enact the encampment of General Rochambeau’s troops in Ridgebury.  

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 Leonard, the first woman to be first selectman, is elected. It’s not exactly a victory of women over men – her opponent is Selectman Lillian Moorhead. The score: Leonard, 3,895; Moorhead, 2,061. Moorhead outpolls Robert Swick for selectman, and keeps her seat on the board.  

November 1981 – The A&P supermarket closes its doors, 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 Israel.  

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 Laszig Fund to aid Ridgefield’s elderly.  

January 1982 – Republican Martha Rothman narrowly defeats Norman Craig, 1,707 to 1,588, in a special election for state representative after Elizabeth Leonard resigns in November 1981 to be first selectman.  

Winter 1982 – Walter Gengarelly announces he’ll run for governor on the Libertarian Party ticket. He winds up getting 130 votes (of 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% raise over three years. The high school principal’s salary would go from $39,000 to $51,000.  

February 1982 – One night that month, a Copps Hill Shell 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 woods off 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 Medical Research on Grove Street files for bankruptcy. The institute later closes, its buildings catch fire and burn, and the place is razed for office condominiums.  

March 1982 – Counts of egg clusters on trees confirm that the Gypsy Moth caterpillar, which defoliated thousands of trees for the past few springs, will not return in record numbers. They tended to have population explosions every eight to 10 years.  

March 18, 1982 – More than 50 children are sent to three 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 the crash 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 referendum.  

April 1982 – Against the order of the Pope, traditionalist French Bishop Marcel Lefebvre comes to St. Thomas Aquinas Seminar on Tackora Trail to ordain seminarians. Six years later he is excommunicated.  

Spring 1982 – A development corporation owned by the Rockefeller family options 58 acres in Ridgebury for development. The sale never goes through.  

Spring 1982 – Genoa Deli opens on Danbury Road, in the old Wayside Market location.  

Spring 1982 – A 26-member study panel recommends 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 parade, and the selectmen ask coordinators to have one July 4.  

June 1982 – In heavy rains, 175 dealers for the Community Center Flea Market arrive at the traditional location, Veterans Park field, but their wheels do thousands of dollars in damage to water-softened playing fields. The Parks and Recreation Commission subsequently bans use of the fields for vehicular events, including the long-running Lions antique car shows each September.  

Summer 1982 – James Spafford resigns after four years as high school principal.  

July 4, 1982 – The town has its first – and only – “Heritage Day,” with the Connecticut Fifth giving military displays, a Dixieland jazz band at the community center, and special shows at the Keeler Tavern.  

July 1982 – A year after a car smashes it, Dr. Robert 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 kills both his parents with a shotgun. He flees, is later captured in California, convicted and sent to prison.  

August 1982 – Prompted by incidents of late-night revelry, a Town Meeting approves an ordinance banning drinking in public without a permit. The 65-24 vote is dominated by senior citizens.  

October 1982 – Rick and Donna Addessi buy the Scott Block, in which their Main Street jewelry store has been located since 1966.  

Nov. 2, 1982 – Republican Martha Rothman beats Democrat Linda Bohacek for state representative by what is called a record margin: Rothman gets 71% of the vote.  

Nov. 12, 1982 –.Safe Rides, which offers drives home to kids who are intoxicated or want to avoid being with drinkers, launches in Ridgefield. A year later, it has provided 626 rides with the help of 3,500 volunteer hours.  

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 separate incidents at Mimosa. The man is never caught.  

Fall 1982 – The Ridgefield Family Y, fearing the high price of developing its Ivy Hill Road site, says it wants to buy the closed Barlow Mountain School and build a pool there.  

Fall 1982 – As school officials decide whether to close Branchville or Veterans Park Schools, First Selectman Elizabeth Leonard proposes 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 three to five members to give it greater representation. In the 19th Century, it had been a five-member board.  

January 1983 – WREF’s 180-foot transmitting tower is erected at the edge of the old town dump.  

February 1983 – More than 700 people pack a town meeting to approve the sale of Barlow Mountain School to the Ridgefield Family Y for $625,000.  

February 1983 – Because of enrollment declines, the 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 Council reports that Ridgefield is the 12th richest town in the state in personal income.  

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 building.  

June 1983 – A 23-year-old Ridgefielder is arrested after 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 in the town’s history, four people die when their light plane crashes and burns off 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 school board allows four students who had flunked English to participate in graduation.  

June 13, 1983 – On commencement night, a hit-and-run driver kills Christopher Ely, 17, outside a North Salem Road graduation party. An 18-year-old classmate is later arrested and convicted. He subsequently commits suicide.  

June 23, 1983 – A town meeting votes to spend $600,000 to create three new athletic fields and renovate many others.  

July 1983 – A federal judge rules that the town cannot give land to the Boys’ Club for a swimming pool unless the club opens its doors equally to girls. The club refuses and the land deal gift falls through. 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 land.  

Summer 1983 – Ken Carvell, named the town’s first appointed assessor in 1975, leaves to take a job in Westport.  

August 1983 – The U.S. Postal Service says that it’ll 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 creating a historic district in Ridgebury.  

Fall 1983 – First Selectman Elizabeth Leonard, who once opposed the Ballard Green senior housing, proposes adding $1.5 million more housing for the elderly.  

Fall 1983 – Two tokens replace eight quarters as admission to the trash transfer station.  

Nov. 8, 1983 – Elizabeth Leonard beats Mike Venus, 4,243 to 1,801, for first selectman, but Mr. Venus ekes out a seat on the board, 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 involved cars crashing into deer.  

December 1983 – Group W reported that it was providing cable TV service to 70 of the 200 miles of road in town.  


1984 – A total of 561 houses, worth $125 million, are 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 state, based on federal criteria.  

1984 – With a $1-million anonymous donor’s gift and another $500,000, the Ridgefield Library undertakes a major expansion during the year. After closing for the final month work, the library reopens just after Christmas more than double its previous size.  

March 1984 – School Superintendent Elliott Landon calls the leaking high school roof “a disaster.”  

March 1984 – Affected property owners reject a new historic district along upper Ridgebury Road.  

March 1984 – Since 1982, developer Peter Friedman has been purchasing corporate-zoned land in upper Ridgebury. Now, more than 200 acres in hand, he reports that “it’s my grave desire to have a Rolls Royce project there. What is right for Ridgefield is a Chesebrough-Pond’s, an American Can, an IBM and not Union Carbide. I don’t want to build a city.”  

March 1984 – In a presidential primary, Ridgefield Democrats join the state in supporting Gary Hart (62%) over Walter Mondale (26%) or the Rev. Jesse Jackson (6.5%).  

Spring 1984 – The town settles a lawsuit, brought by Attorney William Laviano on behalf of a man arrested for drinking in public. Mr. Laviano claims the town’s anti-public-drinking ordinance is unclear, unfairly enforced, and violates civil rights. The town abandons the law and passes a clearer version that still stands.  

Spring 1984 – All town vehicles that sport front plates saying “Ridgefield Home of Champions” after Ridgefield High football, boys and girls soccer, hockey, and girls cross country teams all win state championships that school year.  

April 1984 – Conductor Maxim Shostakovich, who recently fled Russia and is the son of composer Dmitri Shostakovich, leads the Ridgefield 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 two-story office condominium, called the Executive Pavilion, at the old New England Institute site on Grove Street. Zoners approve.  

Spring 1984 – Lack of members prompts the Women’s Town Club to fold after 28 years. “They’d rather earn $10 or $15 in an afternoon than sit in a meeting all afternoon,” said the last president, Elaine Knox. “I think we just got caught up in the times.”  

June 1984 – In an unusual referendum, voters reject the school budget because it’s too low. A higher budget later passes.  

Sunday, June 24, 1984 – The first parent-sponsored, alcohol-free post-graduation party takes place. It is a year after a drunken 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 DePencier is named principal of Scotland School.  

Summer 1984 – The Ridgefield Youth Orchestra travels to Europe and gives concerts on both sides of the Iron Curtain.  

Aug. 1, 1984 – The trash transfer station switches from quarters to tokens.  

August 1984 – After holding up a Wilton bank, a Bridgeport man robs the Ridgefield Savings Bank branch on Governor Street. Ridgefield police capture him a short while later. It’s the fourth and last bank robbery of the century. All four cases are solved.  

August 1984 – Rick and Donna Addessi buy the Gaeta block on Main Street.  

Aug. 12, 1984 – Barbara (Mrs. John) Grasso of Ridgebury Road gives birth to Alyssa Brook, Joseph Anthony, and Scott Andrew.  

Summer 1984 – The town undertakes a $600,000 renovation of many athletic fields, including installation of underground irrigation. The project drags on into the fall, causing many game-scheduling headaches.  

Summer 1984 – A $1.5-million asbestos-removal project begins in the elementary schools. It, too, drags into the fall.  

September 1984 – The selectmen approve $5,000 to begin work on a Danbury Road bypass. The road opens 15 years later.  

September 1984 – Big cement blocks barricade a ramp connecting Yankee Ridge shopping center with parking lots to the south. Yankee Ridge owners disliked it’s being used as a shortcut. Despite much criticism of the move, the blocks are still there.  

Fall 1984 – James Lapak, director of the Ridgefield Family Y, says membership has grown to 4,000 people. He expects another 2,000 once the pool is completed in 1985.  

Nov. 6, 1984 – Republican John Rowland beats incumbent 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 opens.  

Fall 1984 – Ridgefield’s Center Historic District is 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 monoxide poisoning caused by a small fire started by a space heater he was using because the fuel tank for his town-owned house at 21 Gilbert Street was empty.  The town had been paying for the oil.  

Jan. 10, 1985 – Cardiologist Dr. Joseph Buchman says the town’s ambulance service should be staffed by paramedics.  

Jan. 10, 1985 – There are 138 computers in the town’s six schools, and Superintendent Elliott Landon wants more.  

Jan. 19, 1985 – A seven-year-old Ridgefielder is arrested 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 working on creating a local chapter of A Better Chance to bring gifted inner-city students 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 million.  

January 1985 – The fire department says its Catoonah Street headquarters are overcrowded, and First Selectman Elizabeth Leonard says the town should determine whether to build a new center station or a smaller satellite one.  

February 1985 – The first townwide revaluation begins, led by Assessor Al Garzi.  

February 1985 – Charles Szentkuti gets a $5.3-million mortgage to build the 50,000-square-foot Executive Pavilion on Grove Street.  

Feb. 13, 1985 – The RHS hockey team finishes the regular season 19-0.  

February 1985 – Coyotes are being spotted in Ridgebury and cats are being reported missing.  

Feb. 19, 1985 – Leo F. Carroll, former state police executive and longtime first selectman, dies at the age of 84.  

Feb. 18, 1985 – School Superintendent Elliott Landon, the town’s highest-paid employee, gets an 8.5% increase, for a $68,250 salary for 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 budget request to $18.6-million, up 11%.  

March 6, 1985 – The Nolan brothers of Danbury propose building 24 units of affordable housing on Prospect Ridge, if the town will provide the land.  

March 11, 1985 – WREF, Ridgefield’s radio station, begins broadcasting.  

March 14, 1985 – With an assessment of $21.8 million, Boehringer Ingelheim is the town’s top taxpayer, followed by Schlumberger, Perkin-Elmer, IBM, and CL&P.  

March 1985 – Draining half the water out of Lake Mamanasco and new methods for disposing of sewage in and around the lake are recommended in a new environmental report on saving the troubled, weed-filled lake.  

March 1985 – Another study, prepared for the Police Commission on improving traffic flow, recommends moving the fountain and 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 is probing four suspicious fires in the past week, including a large, abandoned Ridgebury barn.  

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 hours.  

April 1985 – The fire department receives its new $350,000, 45-foot-long tower truck that can reach 100 feet in the air.  

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 town $1.1 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 gyrate as long as 12 hours at SuperDance, raising $28,000 to fight muscular dystrophy. To celebrate, popular teacher Bob Cox shaves his beard.  

May 18, 1985 – 85 volunteers install a tire playground at Scotland School.  

May 29, 1985 – Ridgefield State Rep. Martha Rothman is 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 half hours, some 90 concerned citizens and community leaders put together a ten-point agenda for action against teenage drug and alcohol abuse.  

June 1985 – The Youth Service Bureau sets up an emergency hotline for teens with troubles.  

June 1985 – The Parking Authority votes to recommend acquiring land to build a new parking lot in a grassy area off Governor Street, 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, the town’s only bowling alley, will close soon and its space will become offices and shops.  

June 1, 1985 – Geno Torcellini retires after 40 years as manager of Silver Spring Country Club.  

June 5, 1985 – The Parks and Recreation Commission says it will study a request from East Ridge Middle School student Cabe Chaplain to provide a skateboarding ramp in town, addressing the increasingly popular sport.  

June 9, 1985 – More than 1,000 people walk up to five miles in a benefit raising $32,000 for African relief.  

June 18, 1985 – A man who had befriended a number of 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 in a heroin-induced coma, suffering from lacerations and bruises.  

June 23, 1985 – 400 seniors graduate from Ridgefield High School.  

July 1985 – Dr. Clifford Heidinger opens a veterinary medicine practice at 614 Main Street.  

July 4, 1985 – While Ridgefield has no fireworks, Keeler Tavern celebrates the state’s 350th birthday with a party that includes old-fashioned military music. And the Democratic and Republican party leaders square off in a softball game at Veterans Park.  

July 10, 1985 – Norman Craig, chairman of the Democratic Town Committee, quits, citing frustration over the “lack of activity” within the party. He rejoins the Republican party, where he was also once a town committee member.  

July 26, 1985 – A leaking hose from a propane tanker causes an explosion that demolishes Galloway’s Restaurant in the Grand Union shopping center, destroys three cars, damages 32 more, and blows out windows of many nearby businesses. Only three people are injured, and then only slightly. 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 sewer plant goes online.  

August 1985 – Joseph Sweeney retires after 14 years as assistant school business manager and becomes a candidate for the Board of Education.  

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 describes as a “rash” of resignations continues as two more officers announce their departure. Pay scale and working conditions have “something to do with it,” he says.  

Aug. 14, 1985 – A panel of experts recommends the town employ Norwalk Hospital to provide around-the-clock paramedics.  

Aug 28, 1985 – East Ridge Middle School is closed after an industrial hygienist determines that areas where asbestos removal work is going on aren’t properly sealed off. The problem is fixed in time for the opening of school the next week, but causes much concern – and expense.  

September 1985 – The sixth grade, which had been in the elementary schools, moves to the East Ridge Junior High, which is renamed East Ridge Middle School.  

Sept. 11, 1985 – State Rep. Martha Rothman says she’s retiring and moving to California, and recommends Selectman Josette Williams to run for her seat.  

Sept. 11, 1985 – Med-I-Chair, a Danbury firm, is picked by the selectmen to work with Ridgefield firefighters to provide “interim” paramedic service.  

Sept. 9, 1985 – Attorney Rex E. Gustafson, Ridgefield’s 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 buildings, damaged by a December fire, are razed to make way for the new Executive Pavilion.  

Sept. 23, 1985 – A GOP caucus picks Jane Jansen to run for state representative, turning down Josette Williams and Leslie Morelli.  

Sept. 24, 1985 – Democrats pick Diane Crehan to run against Jane Jansen.  

Sept. 28, 1985 – Verbal SAT scores of 486 for the Class 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 state senator and state representative, begins running for governor.  

Oct. 9, 1985 – The town’s Electronic Data Processing Steering Committee tells the selectmen a $281,000 Burroughs “A Series” computer is needed to replace the town’s six year old Burroughs 1815 computer, which handles all the town’s accounts and payrolls.  

Oct. 11, 1985 – Betty Dolen, a 58-year-old mother of eight, becomes one of only 1,394 people to hike the entire 2,047-mile Appalachian Trail.  She does it over a period of eight years.  

Oct. 13, 1985 – Senator Christopher Dodd tells Ridgefield 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 or aid terrorists, as Egypt seems to have done in this instance.  

Oct. 16, 1985 – The Firehouse Needs Committee tells the selectmen Ridgefield needs a third firehouse, located in the Copps Hill vicinity, costing $1.2 million, and holding six trucks.  

Oct. 22, 1985 – A recent incident, in which a caretaker 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. [The caretaker was arrested for reckless endangerment.]  

Oct. 19, 1985 – An earthquake rumbles Ridgefield, registering 4.0 on the Richter scale. A Columbia University geologist notes that Ridgefield straddles a collision point, called Cameron’s Line, between two ancient continental plates – a North American land mass and a Euro-African land mass –  that undergo 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 teams at 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. Unopposed Elizabeth Leonard wins first selectman. Only 34% of the eligible voters turn out.  

Nov. 6, 1985 – Roger Carpenter shows the Parking 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 Jewelers and asks to see Rolex watches.  Wayne Addessi shows him a diamond-studded model worth $9,800. The man grabs it and 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 Building Committee reports.  

December 1985 – Fire Marshal Francis P. Moylan sues the selectmen and fire chief for removing him from his job without a fair hearing.  

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 over the Westport school system. In 2008, he is still there.]  

January 1986 – “Five years of work” goes up in flame as the Tower of Pizza on Route 7 burns down.  

January 1986 – Danbeth Partners proposes a $45-million corporate park in the northwest corner of town. The company gets approval but the market for offices collapses. The land is now the Turner Hill subdivision.  

Feb. 1, 1986 – Around-the-clock paramedic service begins.  

February 1986 – Charles Szentkuti proposes building 426 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, “the American dream for all Americans,” newcomer Jeffrey Peters announces he’ll run for Congress. He doesn’t make it past the convention. In 2000, living in New Hampshire, he’s a candidate for president on the ticket of the We the People Party, which he founds in 1994.  

March 1986 – Jennifer Benusis, a Ridgefield High School senior, is named Ms. Connecticut. Three years later, sister Alison Benusis, an RHS junior, becomes Connecticut Teen All American.  

March 1986 – The Zoning Board of Appeals rejects Pamby Motors’ application to put a Yugo sign at its Danbury Road dealership. [Remember the Yugo?]  

March 1986 – Gasoline prices fall below $1 at a couple of gas stations, but others are charging as much as $1.60 a gallon for regular.  

May 1986 – The Annual Town Meeting rejects a plan to spend $2 million on a third firehouse somewhere north of the village.  

June 1986 – Ridgefield native Romeo Petroni, who’s been seeking the GOP nomination for governor, bows out of the race. “I don’t have the votes,” he says.  

Spring 1986 – Despite youngsters’ repeated pleas for a place to go skateboarding, town officials shy away, fearing injury lawsuits.  

Spring 1986 – Saying that its numbers have dwindled from more than 100 to “30 good, active members,” leaders of the Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department fear the organization may die.  

Spring 1986 – The state realigns the intersection of Route 7 and Simpaug Turnpike, called one of the most dangerous intersections in town.  

Summer 1986 – The town rallies around an American Elm, 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 Dutch elm 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 Judith 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 representative moves closer to November, GOP incumbent Jane Jansen quits, citing family considerations. Jan Johns fills the slot, but loses in November to Barbara Ireland, the first Democrat to hold the job since 1911. The Ridgefield Press’s Nov. 6 headline: ‘Irish’ Eyes Are Smilin’.  

November 1986 – Brunetti’s Market, a Main Street 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 on Fairview Avenue to house girls from the inner city who will attend Ridgefield High School.  

November 1986 – Tree Warden John Pinchbeck reports that “maple decline” is killing many roadside trees and a virus is attacking many ashes.  

December 1986 – David Larson, a former math teacher and football coach from Southington, is hired as school superintendent.  

December 1986 – The town has an advisory vote on whether 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 official policy on the road for years to come and eventually, Governor Rowland shelves the project.  

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 accidents with 63 reported.  

April 1987 – Citing her painful rheumatoid arthritis, Elizabeth Leonard announces she won’t run for a fourth term as first selectman.  

April 3, 1987 – John and Patricia Manningham die of smoke inhalation after a baseboard heater starts a fire in their Twin Ridge home.  

June 1987 – A Ridgefield man is arrested for shooting an 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 principal, resigns. He is the third principal to leave in two months – Bernadette Marczely left the high school in May and Angela Wormser-Reid quit Ridgebury in June. “It’s a difficult time,” says fledgling Superintendent David Larson.  

Summer 1987 – First Selectman Elizabeth Leonard proposes converting the former Holy Ghost Novitiate on Prospect Ridge, then the school 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 $350,000.  

1988 – Books Plus on Main Street, the town’s oldest bookstore, closes.  

January 1988 – School board offices move from the old novitiate to former Branchville School, but by May school officials are wondering about reopening Branchville due to signs enrollment would start rising again.  

March 1988 – State Rep. Barbara Ireland says Super 7 “certainly seems to be coming.”  

April 1988 – Eleven classrooms at Scotland School have plastic sheeting for ceilings after melting ice and snow cause widespread leaks in the flat roof.  

Spring 1988 – Morganti Inc., a Ridgefield contracting firm for 68 years, is bought by a Greek concern.  

Spring 1988 – Claiming a violation of free speech, supporters of Lodestar sue the school board after the high school literary 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 becoming big news.  

Spring 1988 – A pick-up truck driven by an off-duty Norwalk policeman shatters the Cass Gilbert fountain, the fourth time in 12 years, prompting the state to recommend the monument be surrounded by guardrails.  

June 1988 – Stonehenge Inn’s 170-year-old building is destroyed by a fire of undetermined origin.  

July1988 – Boehringer Ingelheim announces plans for a 250,000-square-foot corporate headquarters in Ridgebury.  

July 1988 – An outcry is heard after the school board 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 High School senior, wins a silver medal as a member of the 400-meter women’s medley relay team at the Olympics in Seoul. She is the only person ever to win an Olympic medal as a Ridgefielder.  

October 1988 – The Housatonic Area Regional Transit District (HART) announces it will start running buses between Danbury and Ridgefield every 45 minutes Mondays through Saturdays. The service lasts 10 months before HART figures out it will never come close to being self-supporting.  

Fall 1988 – The library decides to add a program room.  

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 that Carol M. McConnell, a Danbury Hospital nurse from Ridgefield, has a right to die. Mrs. McConnell has not regained consciousness since a January 1985 auto accident, but the state has fought removal of life support. Support is removed; she dies Feb. 28.  

Spring 1989 – Amid a poor national economy, it takes a record three budget referendums to pass the budgets. Many town and school employees are laid off. “Cuts sink morale,” says a July 6 headline.  

June 1989 – A life-care complex is proposed for the Ippoliti land on Danbury Road and zoning for it is approved the next May. Nothing happens.  

June 1989 – A strange fungus is killing most of the Gypsy Moth caterpillars in the latest outbreak of the tree defoliators. “We’ve never seen anything like this,” said the state entomologist. It is the last year Gypsy Moth caterpillars create a defoliation problem in Ridgefield.  

June 1989 – The school board names Jerry Marcus of White Plains as superintendent.  

July 1989 – The Republican Town Committee rejects former 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 occupied the old First National since 1974, says it will close. “We’re just not getting support,” said an executive. [Balducci’s occupies the space in 2008.]  

September 1989 – Times may be tough but the town’s Dlhy Ridge Golf Course has 2,000 Ridgefielders registered as users, a record in its 15 years.  

Oct. 30, 1989 – Richard Nagle, a former New York City firefighter, a thespian, and an amateur entomologist, becomes fire chief, replacing Richard McGlynn, who retires.  

November 1989 – A 130-foot pole, the tallest structure in the village, is erected over the police station to hold cellular phone communications as well as police radio antennas.  

Fall 1989 – To save money, the school board offers teachers $27,000 in cash if they’ll retire early. Many jump at the chance.  

November 1989 – A Waterbury firm proposes in building a senior housing and health care complex called Laurelwood on Route 7.  

December 1989 – Despite the budget battles of the spring, Ridgefield’s tax hike of 11.6% was the biggest in Fairfield County, says the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities. But the Connecticut Public Expenditure Council notes a month later that Ridgefield ranked 122nd among 169 towns in taxes.  

December 1989 – After a complaint that it violates separation of church and state, the Crèche is moved from the Community Center grounds, where it stood each Christmas since 1952, to private property on Main Street.  


1990 – Ridgefield’s population growth, slowed by 1980s recession, reaches 20,919.  

January 1990 – First Selectman Sue Manning announces plans to give the village business district a facelift, with old-style lighting fixtures, benches, and brick walks.  

February 1990 – A real estate official reports 76,000 square feet of office space are vacant in town.  

March 1990 – The town begins charging for ambulance calls. They had been free rides.  

April 1990 – Ground is broken for the new Ridgefield Bank headquarters on Danbury Road.  

May 1990 – Romeo Petroni, a lifelong Ridgefielder, is named a Superior Court judge.  

Spring 1990 – Encore Books opens at Copps Hill Plaza.  

June 1990 – The first three ABC students graduate from Ridgefield High School.  

June 1990 – Lacking enough money, The Ridgefield Family Y announces it will close immediately. “We have done all that we can do,” says President Bruce Hopkins.  

July 1990 – The Ridgefield Press announces that despite an earlier announcement, it will not be sold to the Times-Mirror Corporation.  

August 1990 – Ridgefield Cinema, the town’s last movie house, closes.  

September 1990 – For the first time in years, school enrollment increases, albeit slightly: from 3,284 the previous September to 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 to jump 15 cents a gallon almost immediately.  

Fall 1990 – Vivian Schneider becomes the first Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department woman firefighter.  

Fall 1990 – Joseph Ellis is named high school principal.  

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 bill into law creating the Weir Farm National Historic Site.  

November 1990 – Men working on a new slate roof for a century old Main Street mansion at King Lane set it afire, causing $500,000 in damage.  

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 sure families 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 16-page special supplement, “Ridgefield and A World at War,” marking the 50th anniversary of the start of World War II and containing stories of war and the home front.  

January 1991 – A town employee is found to have embezzled $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, electing State Rep. Barbara Ireland its first female member.  

February 1991 – Thirty-two yellow ribbons are tied on trees at the middle school honoring the Ridgefielders serving in Operation Desert Storm.  

March 1991 – Two dogs corner a rabid raccoon in Ridgefield   late 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 – Sean, Brittany, Tyler, and Ryan – are born.  

June 1991 – Hay Day Country Market opens in the old First National/GranCentral space [in 2008 occupied by Balducci’s].  

July 1991 – A black bear visits town early in the month, the first time one had been sighted in many years.  

Summer 1991 – As Bridgeport Hydraulic Company prepares to take over the Ridgefield Water Supply Company, residents of High Ridge are without water for two weeks in late summer because of pressure problems.  

Aug. 22, 1991 – The state income tax passes in the state Legislature.  

Fall 1991 –  Prospect Ridge affordable housing and the Congregate Housing, both built by the Housing Authority, open as does Halpin Court, affordable housing built privately by the Nolan brothers of Danbury.  

Nov. 5, 1991 – Regina Yannuzzi wins two seats on the Board of Education, running as a Democrat write-in candidate for a four-year seat and the party’s nominee for a two-year seat. She can hold only one.  

November 1991 – President Bush signs a bill providing $1.75 million to establish Weir Farm National Historic Site.  


January 1992 – The school board votes to eliminate the outdoor smoking area at the high school.  

Spring 1992 – The Class of 1992 has a record-breaking 11 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. The schools, 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 7.  

April 1992 – Boehringer Ingelheim opens its new administrative building.  

July 13, 1992 – Elizabeth Leonard resigns from the Board of Selectmen because of ill health. Two weeks later, she is dead.  

Summer 1992 – Less than three years after he’s hired, 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 expressway from Norwalk to Danbury would be put on hold at least 10 years.  

May 1993 – The town votes to buy the old Barlow Mountain School from Village Bank, which had foreclosed the mortgage on the Ridgefield Family Y.  

June 1993 – The town votes to reopen Branchville School to serve the growing elementary enrollment.  

June 1993 – Beechwood wells off Farmingville Road go online for Ridgefield Water Supply Company, ending a two-year moratorium on new hook-ups.  

July 1993 – The pilot dies, but a young passenger escapes as a vintage airplane crashes on Pine Mountain.  

October 1993 – Woolworth’s, the town’s only “five and dime,” closes at the end of the month.  


January 1994 – A major fire shuts down Pizza Hut on Danbury Road for weeks.  

January 1994 – A suspicious fire levels Altnacraig mansion, a 90-year-old High Ridge landmark. Firemen are at the scene 14 hours.  

Jan. 15, 1994 – The Ridgefield Recreation Center opens.  

Feb. 1, 1994 – Jo Ellyn Schimke is sworn in as first 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 have fallen during the winter season, canceling school 12 times.  

Spring 1994 – The Allan brothers sell 440 Main Street, now the Gap et al.  

June 1994 – Duchess restaurant opens on Danbury Road.  

June 1994 – The town rents part of the old high school to the District Nursing Association.  

Summer 1994 – With a $250,000 state grant, the town begins village beautification that includes new sidewalks, hedges, and streetlights.  

October 1994 – Voters agree to re-open Branchville School.  

Nov. 8, 1994 – Chris Scalzo defeats Di Masters for state representative, the first time in eight years a Republican holds the office.  

November 1994 – A Norway Spruce is felled and shipped to 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 for the schools, 101 to 81.  

December 1994 – The Barn, a long-awaited teen center, opens. 

Dec. 25, 1994 – Some 3,500 homes spend part or all of Christmas without electricity after a Christmas Eve storm.  


February 1995 – Ridgefield Girls Initiative is founded by the American Association of University Women to boost girls’ self-esteem.  

April 1995 – The Planning and Zoning Commission asks the selectmen to buy the IBM property, suggesting a $5-million offer.  

April 1995 – Beatrice Brown ends her 25 years as conductor of the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra.  

June 1995 – Eight-term Town Clerk Dora Cassavechia announces she’ll retire.  

June 24, 1995 – Eleanor Karvelis, only the second woman to be a school principal here, dies at 67.  

July 1995 – A Superior Court judge overturns the school board’s 1993 firing of teacher Nancy Sekor, but the battle continues [see February 1997].  

July 1995 – John P. Cooke announces he will run for first selectman on the Independent Party ticket.  

Aug. 8, 1995 – The U.S. Postal Service issues a 78-cent stamp honoring suffragist Alice Paul, designed by Ridgefielder Chris Calle. She is the first Ridgefield resident ever pictured on a postage stamp. However, three years later, a second Ridgefielder – Henry Luce – appears on another stamp.  

August 1995 – Rainfall is 10 inches below normal, wells are running dry, and the selectmen impose a water emergency at the end of the month.  

September 1995 – The Alternative High School opens.  

October 1995 – A parade of 55 Bernese mountain dogs marches down Main Street in the first of what becomes an annual tradition lasting ten or so years.  

Nov. 7, 1995 – Sue Manning is elected to her fifth and final term as first selectman, defeating Barbara Manners by 450 votes. Independent John Cooke is a distant third.  

Dec. 13, 1995 – Dr. John Heller, who brought the New 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, ending its 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 inches.  

Jan. 7-8, 1996 – the town gets 21 inches of snow in 24 hours.  

Jan. 7, 1996 – Pamby Motors opens its new showroom on Route in middle of the blizzard.  

May 1996 – As it attempts an emergency landing at Danbury Airport, a plane crashes on Pine Mountain, killing two.  

Spring 1996 – The town pays $2 million for development rights to the 101-acre Brewster farm in Farmingville, the first such arrangement in the town’s history.  

June 1996 – The Alternative High School has first graduation.  

July 18, 1996 – Pilot Richard G. Campbell, the flight engineer, is among the dead as TWA Flight 800 explodes off Long Island.  

July 31, 1996 – Dr. James Sheehan retires after 41 years as a Ridgefield pediatrician.  

Aug. 1, 1996 – Silicon Valley Group (SVG) buys the 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 at the resurrected St. Mary’s School, the beginnings of an elementary school that expands to higher grades in the years that follow.  

October 1996 – To avoid a long and possibly costly lawsuit over zoning – and the threat of a big multifamily housing project, 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 new music 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 to allow the First Church of Christ, Scientist, to put vinyl siding on its church, sparking a two-year lawsuit. The church loses.  

January 1997 – The town’s first portable classroom in years opens at Ridgebury School.  

February 1997 – The State Supreme Court upholds the school board’s right to fire Nancy Sekor in 1993.  

March 1997 – The Zoning Board of Appeals rejects a variance that would have allowed the town to double the size of East Ridge Middle School.  

March 1997 – Ottaway, a division of Dow Jones – then in the midst of financial changes – decides not to buy Acorn Press, publishers of The Ridgefield Press and four other weekly newspapers. It is the publisher of the neighboring Danbury News-Times.  

April 1997 – Voters reject an attempt to exempt town from zoning in order to build the expanded middle school.  

May 14. 1997 – Bob and Lessley Burke win $37 million in the Connecticut Powerball lottery.  

May 1997 – With the Junior Prom that year, the high school begins using Breathalyzers before admitting students to major social events.  

July 1997 – Jeffrey Hansen announces he’s quitting as school superintendent.  

Aug. 21, 1997 – The Gap opens on Main Street.  

Summer 1997 – The town creates a 59-lot subdivision from its 1996 Ridgebury purchase from Peter Friedman to sell at $11.7 million.  

Summer 1997 – A merger between the Nash family, owners of Acorn Press – The Ridgefield Press’s parent – and the Hersams of New Canaan Advertiser fame, creates the seven-paper Hersam Acorn Newspapers.  

September 1997 – Ruth McAllister becomes first woman police sergeant.  

Fall 1997 – IBM signs a contract with Toombs Development 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 old Notre Dame Academy on West Mountain for its prep school. It does, and the renamed Ridgefield Academy opens the next year.  

February 1998 – The school board picks Dr. Ralph Wallace, outspoken and sometimes controversial superintendent in Cheshire, as the new school superintendent.  

Spring 1998 – Bedient’s Hardware closes. The town’s oldest store dates to the 1783 [q.v.] when it was King and Dole.  

April 1998 – Voters approve up to $7.55 million to buy the 58-acre Ippoliti tract on Danbury Road for a possible new school.  

Spring 1998 – Ridgefield Bank opens a branch at Ancona’s Market, the first banking office in Ridgefield to be open Sundays.  

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, rain cancels the Memorial Day Parade.  

Spring 1998 – Governor John Rowland taps State Rep. Chris 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 middle school on the just-purchased Ippoliti property. On Nov. 21, they do it again.  

November 1998 – The Board of Selectmen votes to outlaw skateboarding in the village, but also establishes a skate park on East Ridge.  

November 1998 – The Girl Scouts give the town 42-acre Camp Catoonah after the Sturges family, the original donors of the land, point out that it cannot be sold. In May 2000, the camp is renamed Sturges Park.  

December 1998 – The new owners of the old IBM land unveil plans for a corporate center, 150 units of multi-family housing, a conference center and hotel, and a 27-hole golf course. The land is called Bennett’s Pond.  


1999 – After 22 years as police chief, Thomas Rotunda retires to become executive director of the Connecticut Division of Special Revenues, the agency in charge of casino and other gambling income.  

1999 – After 22 years as the town’s department store, Caldor closes. Kohl’s arrives in April 2000.  

February 1999 – When a proposal for a bypass between Route 102 and Route 35 is announced, residents of Quail Ridge – through which the road would go – are up in arms. The plan dies quickly.  

February 1999 – A group forms to save the Scott House on Catoonah Street. The 1740s building will be moved to a pocket park at Grove Street and Sunset Lane to become the Ridgefield Historical Society headquarters.  

February 1999 – Phyllis Paccadolmi retires after 53 years at the library.  

March 1999 – The school board votes to build a new middle school.  

March 1999 – Priceline, an online buying service, goes public and Ridgefielder Jay Walker, its founder, is suddenly a billionaire.  

April 1999 – Pinchbeck’s Nursery closes after 96 years in business.  

April 1999 – The school board votes to build a sixth elementary school rather than add onto the existing five.  

April 22, 1999 – Richard Ligi is named the town’s fourth police chief.  

May 1999 – Chancellor Park at Laurelwood opens.  

July 1, 1999 – It’s been a dry spring and BHC, the water company, orders water use restrictions.  

August 1999 – The Ramapoo Road sewer line, the first sewer system expansion in many years, is completed to serve 170 homes.  

September 1999 – Voters adopt a pooper scooper ordinance, but nary a ticket is issued for unscooped poop in the many months that follow. No enforcement method is provided.  

September 1999 – State officials are watching Great Swamp mosquitoes for both encephalitis and the new West Nile virus.  

September 1999 – The remains of Hurricane Floyd dump 12 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 some repair.  

Fall 1999 – The town votes to renovate the old high school auditorium on East Ridge, unused since 1972, into a playhouse for the performing arts.  

October 1999 – Bypass Road, between Old Quarry and Farmingville Roads, is opened more than 25 years after it’s first proposed.  

Nov. 2, 1999 – Rudy Marconi is elected first selectman. 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 candidates for selectman – Joseph Heyman and Michael Jones – tie at 3,787 votes each! In a runoff election, the first of its kind here, Heyman wins by 400 votes.  

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.