East Hampton Connecticut

A Rich History – A Bright Future
East Hampton Connecticut History
Belltown USA - East Hampton, Connecticut

A Brief History of our Town

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

Why do they Call it Belltown?

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 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 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 The Gong Bell Manufacturing Company.

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.

Sites and People

Just a few of the Landmarks and People that make up East Hampton’s History

Lake Pocotopaug East Hampton, CT

Lake Pocotopaug

Popular Resort Area

Lake Pocotopaug East Hampton, CT

N.N. Brass Hill

Bell Factory

Bevin Bell Factory

Bevin Bell

Historic Bell Factory

Bevin Bell Factory

Gong Bell MFG

Antique Toys

Comstock Bridge East Hampton,CT

Comstock Bridge

Covered Bridge
Comstock Bridge East Hampton,CT

Camp Wopowog

Summer Resort

Air Line Trail State Park in East Hampton

Air Line Trail

State Park
Air Line Trail State Park in East Hampton

Wangunk Tribe

Indigenous People

Historic Timeline

1976 – 2018

In Honor East Hampton’s 250 year Anniversary

Compiled by the East Hampton Public Library with special thanks to Jane Dumont, Colin Piteo, 250th Anniversary Committee, The Chatham Historical Society, East Hampton Police Department, East Hampton VFW, Water Pollution Control Authority and the Parks and Recreation Department.

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.
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.
High School renovations and upgrade completed.
Playscape at Memorial School built by volunteers.
George C. Fowler, East Hampton’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” 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.
East Hampton 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 12-and-under indoor Club.
Permanent panel oversees the health of signature natural resource, Lake Pocotopaug.
Middle Haddam, CT 170-year-old historic old stone bridge abutment reconstructed.

 

1996
Town 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.

 

2000
Gill affliction from dead algae toxins suffocated 10,000 fish in Lake Pocotopaug.
Air Line Trail connected Route 85 to East Hampton with new footbridge spanning Jeremy River.
State’s last Ben Franklin store closed in East Hampton Mall.

2001
Skateboard Park behind Fire station completed.
Lightning strike damaged phone lines and electronic equipment in town hall complex.
East Hampton’s police force received two donated AR-15 assault rifles.
Students firmly on the information fast track with 77 donated personal computers.

2002
Town joins regional health district anchored in East Hampton.
Joseph N. Goff house completed with original doorbell made by town’s Gong Bell Co.

2003
Firefighters receive new fire coats and trousers.
90-year-old Sears Park pavilion destroyed by fire.
New $2.1 million high school athletic facility dedicated in April.
VFW receives a long awaited piece of history, AH-1 Cobra gunship for permanent display.

2004
State funded repairs for popular artesian drinking spring in Salmon River State Park.
Sear’s Park Lions Club picnic shelter, donated and built by local members, was dedicated in July.
Town approved Sears Park expansion and purchased $310,000 lakefront parcel.
Bellwood Court and Chatham Acres underwent makeovers with $500,000 in federal grants.

2005
East Hampton Lions Club sponsored fundraiser to benefit victims of the South Asian tsunami.
Rebuilt Sears Park lakefront pavilion dedicated in April.
Police Department participated shutting down two methamphetamine drug labs in homes.
Newly formed Chatham Party wins a majority of Town Council seats in November election.

2006
Summit Thread Powerhouse contamination cleaned with $2,000,000 grant.

2007
Town approved One Million Dollars to rebuild small Main Street Bridge.
Town received $400,000 federal grant to clean up contaminated Gong Bell site.
Governor William A. O’Neill, 77, of East Hampton, died peacefully at his home.
Chatham Party, in control of the East Hampton Town Council, votes out longtime Town Manager Alan Bergren.
Chatham Dental Care opens for business in East Hampton.
Hundreds gather in St. Patrick Church to remember former CT Governor and East Hampton resident William (Bill) O’Neill.
The Republican Party retakes control of the Town Council and fire new town manager James Thomas a week before his start date.

2008
Obsolete, deteriorating water tower on Walnut Street demolished using $300,000 federal grant.
Bellringers girls won Class SS Cross Country CIAC state championship.
School board looks at possible East Hampton High School renovation.
Belltown native starts Salon d’Amore.
Nine-hour standoff with police ends in East Hampton man’s death.
Hope Church comes to East Hampton CT.
Belltown welcomes Heather’s Fine Jewelry store.

2009
Route 66 renamed to Governor William A. O’Neill Memorial Highway in December.
Future water rights secured with $790,000 Okum Dock permanent easement purchase.
East Hampton Council merges boards and committees. Brownsfields Steering Committee and the Redevelopment Agency become the Brownsfield and Redevelopment Agency. The Lake Pocotopaug Commission and the Conservation Commission become the Conservation and Lake Commission.
East Hampton residents approve water source acquisition in Cobalt.
East Hampton joins six other towns for new probate court.

2010
Town council approved ordinance exempting certain disabled veterans from paying property taxes on their residences.
East Hampton Shaw’s becomes Stop & Shop.
Sears Park celebrates 100 years.
Town Manager Jeffrey O’Keefe eliminates police chief position; controversy ensues.
Former Police Chief Matt Reimondo sues East Hampton to get his job back.
Town manager Jeffrey O’Keefe resigns.
Former Police Chief Matt Reimondo is reinstated.

2011
Police Chief Matt Reimondo under fire after racially insensitive emails surface.
Bellringers won first Class S Baseball CIAC state championship.
School start delayed one week due to Tropical Storm Irene damage and power outages.
Construction begins in East Hampton on New Hope Church.

2012
Bevin’s Brothers Factory destroyed by fire.
Michael Maniscalco appointed Town Manager of East Hampton CT.
The inaugural season for the East Hampton Hawks Youth Football and Cheerleading Association was a rousing success.

2013
East Hampton, CT resident Erin Brady crowned Miss USA. Ms. Brady went onto place 6th in the Miss Universe competition that same year.
Sears Park’s new gazebo dedicated Governor William O’Neill who died in 2007.
Voters in East Hampton pass a $50 million East Hampton High School renovation project.
East Hampton introduces electric car charging station.
Chatham Historical Society to celebrate 50 years with celebration.

2014
Bellringers boys won Class S Soccer CIAC state championship.
K. LaMay’s opens up in cobalt serving the CT classic steamed cheeseburger.
East Hampton awarded $500,000 STEAP grant toward phase 2 of Watrous St. Redevelopment Project.

2015
East Hampton High School $51 million overhaul renovations continued.
Natural gas available in town for the first time with 11 mile pipeline completed.
First annual ‘Hometown Heroes’ celebration honors seven residents in East Hampton.
East Hampton Board of Education sues the Town over the process to appoint new members resulting from vacancies.
East Hampton voters pass new fire truck purchase.

2016
East Hampton council sends Town Charter revision to a vote.
Voters decide to bifurcate the town and school budgets and swear in new office holders immediately after an election.
State awards $583,800 grant to connect East Hampton Air Line State Park trail to Portland.
Police Department Prisoner Processing Room remodeled and updated.
Parks and Recreation installs new temporary ice skating rink at Sears Park.

2017
250th Anniversary Celebration is declared, a committee is formed, an anniversary logo is designed, banners and signs commemorating the occasion are hung in town, events planned throughout the year.
The bridge over Christopher Brook is dedicated to Jim Morris.
Bevin House Mansion turned into new East Hampton, CT Bed & Breakfast
New Town Hall, Police Station, Board of Education and Parks and Recreation Facility is proposed and will be voted on November 7.
East Hampton High School Principal John Fidler dies suddenly while on vacation in Maine.
250th Anniversary Celebration culminates with the November 5th Gala at St. Clement’s Castle in Portland (originally Chatham).

2018

ECO Coffee House serving  locally roasted small batch organic Espresso and Coffee open on Main St

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The Chatham Historical Society was established in 1963 and today operates a complex
which includes an 1840 one-room school house and a museum, opened in 2006.
The present museum houses artifacts and memorabilia
that tell the stories of East Hampton, Middle Haddam and Cobalt history.

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