Explore the Historic Homes & Districts of Sharon

 

Sharon’s Earliest Homes & Farms

The town of Sharon was incorporated in 1739, and home lots were soon laid out and sold. Log cabins were built in the earliest years, soon to be replaced by many of the elegant homes that still line Sharon’s famous Green.

99 Main Street, possibly the oldest house in Sharon, stands on the west side of the Green on part of the Original Home Lot #26. Land records reveal that a Town Meeting was held here on December 11, 1739. On July 6, 1742, owners Nathaniel Skinner and his son Thomas sold their houses and 90 acres to Joshua Gibbs for very little money. By 1748 Zebulon Badcock bought the same parcel for almost three times the sum, suggesting that an early log structure had been torn down and replaced with the fine house that still graces the town green. The stone foundation may be original to the first structure. It then passed into the Patchin family for 122 years, during which it saw life as a Publik House. For much of the 20th century, the house was the home of Dr. Jerome Chafee, founder of Sharon Hospital.

12 North Main Street is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is a fine brick mansion that is a commanding presence at the north end of the Green. John Pennoyer purchased the lot in 1769 and built what is now used as the kitchen wing. He lived in the house until 1775, and in 1779 sold it to Samuel Elmer, who added a small shop in the southeast corner. The Sharon Land Records, Volume 8, page 139, record that George King bought the house and a barn on 11.75 acres in 1783. At the time of his death in 1831, the property was listed as “2 acres with brick house, store, small house and outbuildings, ½ acre with small red house and new barn, and ¼ acre with small red house.” The King Homestead was distributed to his heirs and stayed in the family until 1906. Architectural details are available from the CT Society of Colonial Dames.

South Main Street in Sharon is known for its grand mansions, many of them built in The Guilded Age of the late 19th century. But scattered among those more recent gems are a few of Sharon’s earlier homes. One fine example is The Pennoyer House at 44 South Main Street. Original Home Lot #22 was drawn by Samuel Calkin. It was bought from Stephen Calkin in 1743 by John Pennoyer of Stamford. Pennoyer first built a small stone dwelling, which now is the rear “ell”. By 1757 he had completed the handsome brick building now standing, and inscribed his name and the date over the front door. The house has had quite a “colorful” history, ranging from sheltering Hudson River refugees during the Revolutionary War to standing guard over a mulberry orchard for a fledgling silk industry. General Augustine Taylor, Commander of the troops for the defense of New London, owned the house from 1784 to 1816. Taylor served for many years as Justice of the Peace for Sharon, and his signature appears as such on many early Sharon land deeds.

Historic Places

Click on one of Sharon’s historic districts below to learn more about how it was settled, who its original settlers were, and how the area has evolved over time.

Very early in the history of Sharon the area known as Ellsworth developed an identity separate from that of the larger town, culminating in the establishment of a second ecclesiastical society in 1800. Ellsworth also supported Reverend Daniel Parker’s large boarding school (1805) where within three years 200 young men came to study from as far away as Ohio, Maine and Virginia. Construction of the Sharon-Goshen Turnpike (1803) increased traffic through the settlement, which by mid-century supported two churches, two district schools, two sawmills, gristmill, blacksmith shop, cemetery, doctor’s office, and two stores. The Methodist Church building, an excellent example of Greek Revival architecture, was erected shortly after 1839 when worshippers acquired land from Erastus Lord and Lewis Peck. In the late nineteenth century (1894) the Morey brothers acquired the property and operated a store here for a time. In 1928 the Taghhannuck Grange #100 purchased the property and retains ownership to this day.

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There is a small and little know hamlet, a gem of rural beauty that is shared by the towns of Sharon, Connecticut and Amenia, New York. It may be little appreciated by those who hurriedly and perhaps warily pass through its miniature traffic circle where the road from Leedsville joins the Sharon-Wassaic road. The travelers should pause and look about them to enjoy the tranquility of the scene. We now know this village as Amenia Union. Long before the days of traffic circles there was a real corner where the roads met, and throughout most of its past, when the locality hummed with the sounds of various industries, it was called Hitchcock’s Corner. In this history it seems appropriate to honor that name.

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Sharon Valley is a small group of modest buildings, most from the mid-19th century, centered on the intersection of Sharon Station, Sharon Valley, and King Hill Roads. Two small streams, the Webatuck and Indian Lake Creeks, run nearly parallel through the valley, and most of the settlement lies between the two. The land there is flat, but rises sharply as one travels west on Sharon Station Road toward the New York border. In the nineteenth century, Sharon Valley was the site of several industrial enterprises, and remains of two of these, a limekiln and the ruins of an iron furnace, are included in the district. Most of the houses in Sharon Valley are quite plain, with only a hint of a stylistic reference, but there are also three finely detailed houses from the Federal period. Other buildings in the district include five workers’ houses built by the iron companies, a former store and company office at the major intersection, the former town poor farm, and several old barns.

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We’ve updated our house histories, added virtual walking tours and scanned our photo archives to give you a new and improved look at our town green. We hope you enjoy it!

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Sarah Coon recently gave us a list of old Sharon farms compiled around 2000 by her father, Morris Paley, and Jimmy Morehouse. There are 89 farms on this impressive list, sorted by the road on which they were located. Not being from Sharon, I always enjoy documents like this because they help me to become more familiar with the town’s history and also with the background of some of the objects in our collection. As I skimmed the list, a few of the names stood out because they were dairy farms and we have milk bottles with those names on them.

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Calkinstown Road runs in an easterly direction from Gay Street (Route 41) to the junction of White Hollow Road (the Lime Rock Road). The earliest reference to the road appears in the town record of land transfers in 1780 when Stephen Calkin, Sr., the original owner of home lot #31 (and #35), granted “40 acres including the house and barn where I now live” to Amos Clakin. In the description he refers to a “boundry line running west by the highway that goes by my house.” The term Calkinstown describes the area of about a mile along that highway where Lt. Stephen Calkin’s home was built and James Calkin built and about 1/5th of a mile around the bend of the road toward West Cornwall where Amos Calkin built what seems to be the last of the Calkins’ houses in 1808.

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The sale of the rights to the land in Sharon was completed in January 1739 at New Haven. Soon after, the Proprietors met in Sharon and organized in accordance with the Acts of the Colonial Assembly. Committees were appointed, the main town street laid out from Amenia Union to the Salisbury line and the home lots surveyed and numbered.

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The two West Woods Roads are essentially still the same, we believe, as they must have been 150 and 200 years ago, except for a short portion near Ellsworth which was widened a few years ago, but not macadamized. The road winds through the woods with stone walls on both sides much of the way. During the spring, the woods are pink with thousands of Mountain Laurels, the state flower of Connecticut. In the summer the trees on both sides form a cathedral-like vault. It is a monument to the people who opened up this country and laid the firm basis on which it still rests. We hope these roads will continue in its present form for a long while.

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Sharon's-History-Feature

 

A Guide to the Old Homes of Sharon

This guide is designed to help you find out more about the history of your old house in Sharon, Connecticut. You can find who owned your house; locate it on town maps, see old pictures and learn more about its style.

Your House’s Prior Owners

Start finding out about prior owners using the title search completed when you bought title insurance.

This should give you the first list of names associated with your house, perhaps going back 50 years. Next, visit the Sharon land records, located in the Town Clerk’s office in Town Hall. There you can do a detailed title search yourself, or hire someone to do it for you.

If your house is in the Historic District, you may find that a title search has already been done and is on file at the Historical Society. The SHS has title searches for properties outside the District as well.

Maps & Other Resources

The Historical Society has maps on which you may be able to locate your house. Map resources include:

1739- The Original Home Lots
1853- Town Map
1859- Clark’s Map of Litchfield County
1874- Town Map

The People Who Lived in Your House

Through its genealogical resources, the Historical Society may be able to provide information on the earlier owners of your home. We also have information on Sharon’s past businesses and farms. We may even have a picture of some of your house’s prior inhabitants!

Genealogical Resources

Photos of Your House or a Similar One

The Sharon Historical Society has a rich collection of pictures of Sharon taken over the years. Local photographer George Marckres captured the town from 1882 to 1937 and Sharon native Fran Kelsey took town photos from 1939 to 1999.

If you live in the village of Sharon, particularly the Historic District, the SHS may just have a picture of your house. If not, there are often pictures of houses similar to the style of your house on file. Our collection of street scenes and vistas can give a historical view of the area in which you live. Prints of many of these images may be purchased at SHS. View hundreds of photos online in our photo library.

View Our Photos

 

Help Us with the House Photo Collection

Help us improve our photo collection by donating photographs of old Sharon. The SHS can make copies for you to donate or provide archival protection for your donated originals.

The Historical Society also appreciates pictures of your house as it looks right now.

Remember, people in the future- 50 years from now- will want to know what your house looked like at the turn of the 21st century. We are especially interested in having copies of pictures taken before and after any construction projects or architectural changes you make.