District Overview Inventory List District Map

Canton Center 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:
District Authority:
Canton Center Historic District Commission
Link to Commission or Municipal Website:
District Character:
Small Town Center

Buildings, Open space, Cemetery

Architectural Style:

Colonial, Greek Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival

18th Century, 19th Century, 20th Century; Period of significance- 1785-1941

The formal history of Canton Center Historic District began in May 1750 when the Connecticut General Assembly established the First Ecclesiastical Society of West Simsbury, as it was initially named. After the Town of Canton was incorporated in 1806, the center for town government was in the district for over a century, until the village of Collinsville on the town's southern border became the seat of government in 1920.Early settlers came to farm the land, raising rye, Indian corn, cattle, sheep, swine, and apples. Existing Colonial-style houses were built starting toward the end of the 18th century when the farming community had become well established and prosperous. Cherry Brook also offered waterpower potential which was soon developed. There were several dam sites, three of which survive but not in anything like original condition. Over the years, water powered enterprises included eight distilleries to process alcoholic cider, three tanneries, three grain mills, four sawmills, two fulling mills, one powder mill, and one tin factory. In general, the mills serviced and supported the agrarian economy. [NR]

Architecture, Agriculture: Canton Center Historic District exhibits good examples of well-preserved buildings constructed in the Colonial, Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate, and Queen Anne architectural styles which were erected to support the agricultural district's farming activities during the 18th and 19th centuries. The many open spaces, which to a significant degree are still used for farming, define the historic agrarian environment characteristic of the rural setting. Nine of the properties in the Canton Center Historic District are larger than 20 acres, the largest 163. The Canton Center Historic District also fulfilled multiple additional functions as the seat of town government and the center for social, religious, and mercantile activities essential to a 19th-century agrarian society. The total resource of farmland, associated buildings, and town-center cluster constitutes a good example of a well-preserved rural agricultural district in its entirety, unusual in Connecticut's Central Valley Historic Context Region. [NR]

[1] District information retrieved from the town website http://www.townofcantonct.org/.
[2] Canton Center Historic District, Preliminary report of the Historic District Study Committee, 1974, SHPO Library, Hartford.
[3] Historic district ordinance accessed in the town website, http://www.townofcantonct.org/filestorage/6800/6417/8184/Ordinance_124-Canton_Center_Historic_District.pdf.
[4] GIS information and Parcel IDs retrieved from http://www.cantonassessor.com/ and http://www.crcog.org/gissearch/Default.aspx.
[NR] Ransom David F., Canton Center Historic District, National Register Nomination Number- 97000831 NRIS, National Park Service, 1997 - http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Text/97000831.pdf; http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Photos/97000831.pdf.

The local historic district, subject to setbacks does not share the boundary with the corresponding National Register historic district.

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