The Town of East Hampton comprises 36.8 square miles and has a population of approximately 13,000. Sitting on the Connecticut River’s eastern bank, East Hampton has one of the state’s largest inland bodies of water, Lake Pocotopaug.
In the 19th century, East Hampton became the center of the manufacturing of bells. So many bells were made in East Hampton that the town was given the name Belltown USA. The first factory was constructed in 1808 by William Barton on Bevin Hill later renamed Barton Hill. During the 1800s, thirty firms were said to have built and run shops, or small factories producing bell and bell related products. The most prominent names include William Barton and the numerous Barton companies of his sons, Bevin Brothers Manufacturing Company, The N. N. Hill Brass Co., The East Hampton Bell Co., Watrous Mfg. Co, and Gong Bell.
The bell companies that dominated the economy of East Hampton by making metal bells continued to flourish until the era of the bells used for horses and buggies gave way to the era of automobiles. Two firms continued to flourish into the 1950s by changing from making predominantly metal bells with bell toys being a minor part of their production in the 1800s, to primarily making bell toys. These two firms N. N. Hill Brass Co. and Gong Bell Mfg. Co., survived till the 1960s. The last remaining original operating bell shop, operated by Bevin Brothers, was razed by fire on May 27, 2012, but continues in full operation in a new East Hampton location; some other structures shut down while still structurally intact but remained unavailable for adaptive re-use, due to the presence of toxic substances at levels that resist remediation. Other mills, which were remediated or did not contain toxics, have been converted into offices, stores, and other small businesses.