East Hampton, CT

A Rich History - A Bright Future
East Hampton Connecticut History

A Brief History of our Town

The Town of East Hampton Connecticut has a Rich History spanning nearly 300 years, comprises 36.8 square miles with 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. (Candlewood Lake in Fairfield and Litchfield counties of western Connecticut being the largest in the State.)

The Town offers outdoor activities for the entire family including camping, fishing, boating, and hiking trails. There are specialty and antique shops on Main Street in the Village Center, Restaurants, and Seasonal Boat Cruises on Lake Pocotopaug.

 

Main Street East Hampton, CT

Historic Main Street

East Hampton Train Station

 Train Station

Belltown Diner

Belltown Diner

Chatham CT Store

Chatham, Connecticut

Did you know that East Hampton was originally named Chatham?

In 1767, the town was incorporated as Chatham in honor of the Earl of Chatham in England for his support of the American colonies at that time.

The Town of Chatham, CT was officially given the name East Hampton in the year 1915, which is said to have been selected by some of the first settlers who had previously lived in Eastham, Mass.

 Belltown USA

 Belltown, CT

In the 19th century, The Town of East Hampton became the center of the manufacturing of bells. So many bells were made in East Hampton that the town was given the nick 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, Bevin Bell, The N. N. Hill Brass, The East Hampton Bell Company, Watrous Manufacturing, and Gong Bell Manufacturing.

 When Bell Companies Dominated the Economy 

Belltown Connecticut

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.

Outdoor Activities

East Hampton offers activities for the entire family.

Comstock Bridge

Comstock Bridge

The Comstock Covered Bridge is located on 14 Bridge Street at the junction of Colchester and East Hampton crossing the Salmon River.

Nelson Campground

Nelson Campground

Nelson’s Family Campground is located at 71 Mott Hill Road in East Hampton. Whether for the day, week, month or season, the campground is an ideal place to camp, relax and enjoy the great outdoor life with your friends and family.

Air Line Trail

Air Line Trail

The Old Air Line Trail in East Hampton dates from the 1870s, and today draws walkers, horseback riders and bikers for the views, and relaxation.

Sears Park

Sears Park

Sears Park is situated on Lake Pocotopaug the park was donated to the Town in 1910 by the Sears family.  The Park, Pavilion and Willian O’Neill Performing Arts Gazebo are located at 68 North Main Street in East Hampton, Connecticut

Lake Pocotopaug

Lake Pocotopaug

Lake Pocotopaug is a big part of East Hampton’s History and in recent times has become a popular resort area surrounded by numerous homes

Hurd Park

Hurd Park

Enjoy scenic views of the Connecticut River while surrounded by nature.  Activities at Hurd Park include birding, hiking, mountain biking, picnicking, and camping. Parking is available at the intersection of 151 and Hurd Park Road.

Historic Companies

N.N. Brass Hill Factory

N.N. Brass Hill Factory

The success of the N.N. Hill Brass Company was largely based upon Norman Hill’s innovation of stamping bells from sheet metal.

Gong Bell Mfg

Gong Bell Mfg

As far back as 1866, The Gong Bell Manufacturing Company began producing bells and toys in the Town of East Hampton, CT

American Distilling

American Distilling

The history of American Distilling dates back to the 1800’s, its establishment became the cornerstone of the Witch Hazel industry and a part of Americana.

Restaurants

Some of East Hampton’s Most Popular Restaurants

Angelicos Lake House

Angelicos Lake House

81 N Main St, East Hampton, CT

Angelicos Lake House Local favorite overlooking Lake Pocotopaug. 

Loco Perro

Loco Perro

191 E High St, East Hampton, CT

Loco PeroAuthentic Mexican Food Restaurant featuring live Music.

Po's Rice and Spice

Po's Rice and Spice

97 Main St, East Hampton, CT

Po’s Rice and SpiceAuthentic Asian and Thai Food Restaurant.

Website Links

Town Website

Town Website

20 East High Street East Hampton, CT

The Town of East Hampton

Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation

240 Middletown Avenue, East Hampton, CT

Parks and Recreations

Chatham Health District

Chatham Health District

240 Middletown Ave, East Hampton, CT

The Chatham Health District

Timeline
In Honor of East Hampton's 250 Year Anniversary
The Nineteen Seventies

1976
All probate court records now stored on microfilm at Iron Mountain. Bellwood Court, housing for the elderly, accepted its first tenants.
East Hampton Connecticut Youth Services system established in June.

1977
Lifetime sporting licenses issued for residents over 65.
Middle Haddam Historic District Commission established by vote of land owners in April.
Dr. Stewart Danziger opens Belltown Dental 
Municipal sewer system approved in May and includes Colchester CT.
Recreational facility including basketball and tennis courts developed adjacent to Sears Park.

1978
East Hampton resident William (Bill) O’Neill elected Lt. Governor of the State of Connecticut.
Most severe winter in 100 years highlighted by “Storm Larry”.
East Hampton joined the regional communications system using the 911 phone number.
Due to vandalism, Sears Park begins manning entrance and charging parking fees.
Old Home Day Parade tradition resurrected after the event ended in 1961 due to lack of interest.

1979
Water Pollution Control project began construction.
East Hampton acquired real estate to build a multipurpose center to house the East Hampton Public Library, Senior Center and Child Care.
Completed house numbering system set up to assist residents, emergency services and post office.
Economic Development Commission established by town ordinance.
Jaws of Life purchased for $6,000.

The Nineteen Eighties

1980
East Hampton resident William (Bill) O’Neill becomes the Governor of Connecticut when Governor Ella Grasso resigns due to health reasons.
Town Planning Department established to coordinate activities of various real estate commissions.
Middle Haddam Elementary School closed due to cost saving reorganization.
New 16 mm projector donated for use at the East Hampton Public Library.

1981
$30 million dollar sewer project commenced and installation of all major sewer lines completed.
Town acquired three year $1.2 million grant to rehabilitate the Village Center.
Special education system established in each school.
Two new 2,000 gallon water tankers purchased for the EH Fire Department.

1982
East Hampton Resident William (Bill) O’Neill elected to a full term as Governor of Connecticut.
Feds declared East Hampton a natural disaster area due to June storm flooding.
Water Pollution Control Plant opened in October.

1983
HUD grants received to revitalize the Village Center and improve housing in the lake area.
Operations for the East Hampton sewer system and treatment plant began in July.
Fire Company #3 was constructed on White Birch Road and dedicated in July.
Home occupations and uses of property now required a permit from Zoning.
East Hampton residents voted to appropriate $2,280,000 to build a new town library

1984
Police Department presented with VCR system by community for training and investigations.
“Smoke” K9 a welcome addition to the Police Department.
Elderly housing project, Chatham Acres, completed in May.
East Hampton Community Center ground breaking celebration November with site work well underway.

1985
Fire department took delivery of a new rescue vehicle and a tele-squirt in June.
Town Clerk’s office became computerized for land records and dog licenses.
Library is integrated as a town department.
Water contamination involving benzene and industrial solvent pollutants found in town center wells.
Hurricane Gloria hit East Hampton causing downed trees and power loss for many residents.

1986
East Hampton Resident William (Bill) O’Neill re-elected as Governor of Connecticut.
East Hampton Community Center housing the Library, Senior Center, and child care was dedicated in July.
500 lb bronze bell cast in 1909 raised to the bell tower of the new Community Center.

1987
The town purchased property north side of Sear’s Park for picnic area and Recreation offices on Lake Pocotopaug.
Charter Revision Commission appointed by the selectmen in January.
New East Hampton town flag design unveiled in June.

1988
East Hampton Social Services Department created.
East Hampton High School granted full accreditation for ten years.
The East Hampton Public Library joined the LION (Libraries-On-Line) automation system.

1989
Recycling program for waste oil and newspapers established.
Police Commission disbanded in favor of Town Council oversight.
Lake Patrol formalized by Police Department.
East Hampton Conservation Commission formed.
Rural Route Transit System began providing bus service to and from Middletown.
Old town garage in Village Center demolished.
The East Hampton Public Library Advisory Board disbanded.

 

The Nineteen Nineties

1990
No Smoking policy adopted for public buildings.
Drug Awareness Resistance Education program D.A.R.E. established and introduced into school system.
Reconstruction of boat launch at Sear’s Park and Pavilion 
Graphic Information System (GIS) used to develop new zoning map.

1991
Memorial School added 22 new classrooms and a gymnasium.
Roof replaced on the East Hampton Community Center.

1992
East Hampton Public Library went online.
East Hampton High School renovations and upgrade completed.
Playscape at Memorial School built by volunteers.
George C. Fowler, East Hampton Connecticut’s first police chief and a former chairman of the board of selectmen, died at the age of 80.

1993
Difficult winter with 46.5 inches of snow. 15 inches from the “Storm of the Century” as reported by Connecticut News and Weather Channels in March.
Schools adopted an AIDS curriculum K-12 as well as Drug and Alcohol curriculum.
Community Water System completed in Village Center.
First annual Belltown Business Showcase.
Loyalty Day Parade (VFW) held in East Hampton.
Fifty thousand little white bells, each emblazoned with the Presidential Inaugural Committee’s seal, were made by workers at Bevin Brothers Manufacturing Co. and delivered in time for President Bill Clinton’s pre-inaugural Bell for Hope ceremony in suburban Virginia.

1994
Center Elementary School renovations and upgrade completed.
The Town of East Hampton, Connecticut was  blanketed in 84.9 inches of snow over the winter.
Ice dam caused damage in Community Room of Community Center.
Spring fever took a curious turn at Center School when five fifth-grade boys arrived for class in skirts. Their play for cooler clothing got them credit for creativity, while the principal won praise for taking their dress in stride.
High school offers laboratory-based course, Scientific Principles of Technology.
East Hampton schools linked through cable television to other local schools.

1995
East Hampton High School under a new roof.
East Hampton Middle School teachers have a motto of “learning to learn.”
First state championship for the East Hampton Soccer Team
Permanent panel oversees the health of signature natural resource, for Lake Pocotopaug.
170 year old historic old stone bridge abutment reconstructed in Middle Haddam Connecticut.

 

1996
The Town of East Hampton, Connecticut’s land records micro-filmed.
East Hampton Ambulance Association purchased 1996 Horton ambulance.
The Comstock Bridge historic site received facelift, lights and paint job.
$24.5 million major reconstruction of the four schools in town completed.
Youths learn diversity with IDEAS, state-funded local program linking local schools.
Library Card Catalog replaced with computer.

1997
East Hampton Youth Center, located in a former movie theater finally opened.
Telecommunications tower erected atop Baker Hill, former site of World War II navigation beacon.
Community billboard placed at the entrance to the East Hampton mall.
Seven of East Hampton’s eight Police cruisers now equipped with IBM 380 laptop computers.
Center school’s “Auction for Technology” raised funds to upgrade the computer lab and purchase additional computers

1998
Technology plan for town and schools developed to take the town into the 21st century.
Sears Park renovated.
Swimming temporarily suspended at Sears Park public beach due to high levels of bacteria.
Three day Carnival to celebrate Fire Department’s 75th anniversary and express gratitude.
O’Neil Cove on the east side of Lake Pocotopaug undergoes major dredging project.
Historic “Book Passing Line” from old library to new celebrated Library 100th anniversary.

1999
Memorial Elementary School parents and staff held auction to acquire new computers.
Joseph Goff house reconstruction broke ground.
Second phase commenced on the town’s section of “Air Line” rail trail.
Access to an abandoned, dilapidated railroad bridge in the village section of town was cut off.
Storm Floyd takes life of state’s largest paper birch tree.

East Hampton, CT Timeline from 2000 -2017 is being updated the spring of 2019.

 

Chatham Historical Society

The Chatham Historical Society has been preserving East Hampton History since 1963

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Local News, History, and Upcoming East Hampton Events

Seamster Park Playground

Seamster Park Playground Rebuild Become a Sponsor Today! For more information please contact: Jeremy Hall jhall@easthamptonct.gov August 6th - 11th 2019 will be the build date for the new Seamster Park Playground. The committee is looking for volunteers to join the...

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Stephen Soreff February 23 2019

Saturday, February 23, 2019 @ 1pm.  The Chatham Historical Society and East Hampton Library are co-sponsoring a talk by Dr. Stephen Soreff who will share stories about his father Dr. Louis Soreff who was a general practitioner in East Hampton, CT for 45 years from the...

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East Hampton Prevention Partnership

This Council is a grassroots organization that focuses on substance abuse education, awareness and providing alternative activities to the youth of East Hampton, Connecticut. East Hampton Prevention Partnership is looking to increase our communities education and...

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Welcome to the Official East Hampton Historical Society Website. This site intends to provide information to the public about the Chatham Historical Society’s upcoming Calendar Events and Programs with the purpose of bringing together people interested in the History of Cobalt, Middle Haddam, and East Hampton, Connecticut.

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