Torrington is on the northern end of the Naugatuck River in scenic Litchfield County. It was established as a daughter town of Windsor in 1732 and was incorporated in 1740 when there were just 12 families living here. Torrington’s hills on either side of the river valley provided the best agricultural land for the early settlers and their agrarian lifestyle.
Torrington was the birthplace of the abolitionist, John Brown (1800). He moved with his family to Ohio while still a young boy. Nevertheless, Torrington was a center of abolitionist activity and Brown visited here often. The Litchfield County Anti-Slavery Society was established here and at least one home was a stop on the Underground Railroad.
Industrial growth began here in 1813 with the construction of a water-powered woolen mill on the Naugatuck River. This was the beginning of a village that today is downtown Torrington, a National Register Historic District. By 1835 there were two brass mills operating here. This was the start of the brass industry in Torrington, an industry that would later be synonymous with the entire Naugatuck River Valley. Immigration swelled the population in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. New arrivals, mostly from Europe, came here to work in the growing mills and factories that produced: brass, woolen cloth, machinery, needles, bicycles, wooden products, hardware, ice skates, and much more.
During the late 1920s and early 1930s, the downtown district experienced a facelift, which reflected the Art Deco and Art Moderne architectural themes of that period. Beautiful examples of that architecture are visible today in downtown Torrington, now home to a lively arts, culture, and restaurant scene.
Hotchkiss-Fyler House Museum. An outstanding early 20th centuryw house museum with elaborate woodwork and decorative arts. The house museum is furnished as it was in 1956 and is operated by the Torrington Historical Society. 192 Main St. www.torringtonhistoricalsociety.org
Torrington History Museum. The museum features an award-winning permanent exhibit of Torrington’s history with objects and photographs from the collection of the Torrington Historical Society. 208 Main St. www.torringtonhistoricalsociety.org
John Brown Birthplace. This 40 acre site includes the location where the John Brown house once stood and a two-thirds mile walking trail loop. John Brown Road. www.torringtonhistoricalsociety.org
Five Points Gallery. A not-for-profit art gallery showcasing professional regional, national, and international visual artists. Five Points has earned the reputation as one of Connecticut’s outstanding contemporary art venues. 33 Main St. www.fivepointsgallery.org
KidsPlay Museum. A place where children between the ages of 1 and 8 can learn through hands-on and multi-sensory activities. Exhibits and programs include science, arts, and literacy. 61 Main St. www.kidsplaymuseum.org
Warner Theatre. A beautiful art deco movie house now operated as a performance venue and arts education center by the NW CT Association for the Arts. 68 Main St. www.warnertheatre.org
Burr Pond State Park. Located between Torrington and Winsted on
Burr Mountain Rd: hiking, canoeing, and swimming. The park includes the site of the Borden condensed milk factory.
Sunny Brook State Park. Located on Newfield Rd. between Torrington and Winchester Center: numerous hiking trails along and near the East Branch of the Naugatuck River.
Mark McEachern, Executive Director, Torrington Historical Society
This is an excerpt from the book, The Connecticut 169 Club: Your Passport & Guide to Exploring CT. It was written by local residents to encourage people to visit the beautiful 169 towns and cities in Connecticut. The 8.5 by 11 hardcover book contains 368 pages and over 180 illustrations, maps, and photos. It was edited by Marty Podskoch, author of eight books including the Conn. Civilian Conservation Corps Camps, Catskill & Adirondack fire towers, Adk CCC Camps, Adk 102 Club, and Adk illustrated stories. The travel book will be available in late summer 2018. One can pre-order a signed book with free shipping by sending $24.95 plus CT sales tax $1.58 to: Podskoch Press, 43 O’Neill Lane, East Hampton, CT 06424 Also available in late summer 2018 at local stores, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Information (860)267-2442 firstname.lastname@example.org or https://martinpodskoch.com