District Overview Inventory List District Map

Borough of Litchfield Historic District

LHD boundaries as described are approximate and subject to change. Consult the LHD Study Report on file with the relevant local district commission or municipal authority to verify district boundaries and whether a specific property, particularly one in proximity of a boundary line, is within the district. Also note that LHD boundaries may differ from those of State or National Register Districts.

Year of Establishment:
Notes on Establishment:
Litchfield historic district was the first historic district established in the State of Connecticut by special act of the General Assembly in 1959.
District Authority:
Historic District Commission
Link to Commission or Municipal Website:
District Character:
Town center/ Town green

Primarily a residential community, the district comprises of approximately 475 sites and structures including the town green.

Architectural Style:

Although the district has gracious colonial homes on wide, tree lined streets, for which Litchfield is widely known, it also contains 19th century Greek Revival, Stick Style, Italianate, Queen Anne, and turn-of-the-century vernacular structures, and contemporary 20th century houses. [NR2]

18th century, 19th century and 20th century

Litchfield is probably New England's finest surviving example of a typical late 18th century New England town. Litchfield is an old Connecticut hill town, elevation 960 feet, settled in 1719 in the northwest quarter of the state between the Shepaug and Naugatuck river valleys. The first settlers arrived in 1720-1721 and named the town Litchfield, after the old cathedral city of Litchfield in Staffordshire, England. The town was an outpost and trading center for the northwest frontier until late in the 18th century. Early maps of Litchfield show the streets located substantially as those in existence today. The four main thoroughfares, stretching toward the cardinal points of the compass, in time became known as North, South, East, and West Streets. At their intersection was the central common, now called the Green, around which the town gradually developed. The Litchfield Historic District in the town of Litchfield, Connecticut, is approximately one mile wide by two miles long, centered on the principal east-west and north-south streets. The boundaries of the district are coterminous with those of the village of Litchfield, the borough of Litchfield and the National Register historic district. In 1968 the north-south central section of the district received recognition as a National Historic Landmark historic district. [NR1&2]

Architecture, Community Planning, Exploration/ Settlement, Law, Religion:Litchfield is a good example of a late 18th century New England town. American history for 250 years is reflected by the buildings which comprise the Litchfield Historic District. The architectural excellence of the village is matched by the interest of the events that are associated with the buildings. The district provides an exceptional opportunity to study buildings of architectural merit that tell the history of a Connecticut village.

During the Revolution Litchfield's remote location was an asset, both because it was many miles from the seacoast where towns were subject to British raids and because it was on the great, safe inland routes from New York to Boston and from New Haven to Albany. These considerations made Litchfield a good site for a supply depot, in which capacity it functioned throughout the war. Among other activities, iron from northwestern Connecticut mines was forged into articles of war at Litchfield. General Washington paid a well documented visit to the town, stopping at Sheldon Tavern. In the post-Revolution years Litchfield's citizens further developed the entrepreneurial talent and commercial expertise of the war years and entered into a remarkable period of prosperity, known as the Golden Age, that lasted until the War of 1812. At the conclusion of the Civil War Litchfield became a summer resort town. Its high altitude and nearby mineral springs were thought to be healthful.

The architectural excellence and historic interest of Litchfield have developed in a sequence of understandable steps. Specific economic and political events have a relationship with specific Litchfield buildings that can be clearly observed. The people who made the steps have left their presence in the village. The past is present today and the ambience and historic character of Litchfield are built upon and reflect the district's history and development over a period of two and one-half centuries. [NR2]

[1] District information retrieved from the town website http://www.litchfieldct.com/index.html.
[2] Litchfield Historic District Report, 1959, SHPO Library, Hartford.
[3] Assessors information and Parcel IDs retrieved from NR2.

[NR1] Snell Charles W., Litchfield Historic District, National Register Nomination Number- 68000050 NRIS, National Park Service, 1968 - http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Text/68000050.pdf;http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Photos/68000050.pdf.

[NR2] Ransom David F., Litchfield Historic District, National Register Nomination Number- 78003456 NRIS, National Park Service, 1978 - http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Text/78003456.pdf; http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Photos/78003456.pdf.

Litchfield local historic district is coterminous with Litchfield National Register historic district and the village and borough of Litchfield. [NR2]The entire District, which includes more than 475 buildings, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A portion of the Borough is designated as a National Historic Landmark District. All structures within the Borough of Litchfield are included in the Historic District. [District Commission]

Date of Compilation:
Manjusha Patnaik, CT Trust for Historic Preservation