Whenever I’m heading home from New Jersey or New York or points south, I always like to stop in at Old Wethersfield, Connecticut: it’s a beautiful village just off the highway and just outside Hartford: a convenient respite for a weary traveler. Old Wethersfield is a National Register Historic District, comprising 100+ houses from the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries situated along a main thoroughfare and a slender rectangular green, which is part of the larger town of Wethersfield. I had two restless guys with me yesterday but they still let me stop for a bit, to take pictures of some of my favorite houses and briefly run into Comstock, Ferre & Company, which has been selling heirloom seeds for two centuries. Wethersfield is known not only for its colonial architecture, but also for its venerable seed companies, including Comstock and the Charles C. Hart Seed Co. in the present and a whole host of provisioners in the past. The most profitable product of these companies, a red “Wethersfield Onion”, even gave the old town the nickname “Oniontown” for a while. I am also compelled to mention Wethersfield’s fascinating/notorious founder, John Oldham, who was exiled from the Plymouth Colony for “plotting against pilgrim rule” and went on to establish settlements in Hull, Gloucester, and Watertown, Massachusetts, and eventually Wethersfield, the first English settlement in Connecticut. (Oldham seems to have rubbed shoulders with Salem’s founder, Roger Conant, on more than one occasion). Travel and Leisure magazine just designated Old Wethersfield one of America’s “prettiest winter towns”, and it certainly appeared so yesterday afternoon with snow lining the brick sidewalks and artfully draped on the colorful colonial houses.
Just a small sampling of Old Wethersfield, New Year’s Day 2013:
The plaques and signs refer to the house above, as in the case of one of Old Wethersfield’s most famous houses, the Webb House, pictured below with its neighbors.
More!!! And as you can see, there are “newer” houses in Old Wethersfield too.
The Comstock building, obviously a livelier place in the summer but still very much open, and an 1899 seed catalog cover featuring the Wethersfield Onion, the “greatest onion on earth”, from the Smithsonian Institution Libraries’ Collection.