Strong's PavilionA Brief History of Strong's Pavilion
It All Began With Guy Strong
In 1885 Guy Strong bought one plus acres from Lyman Oliver Wells. Strong was a trapper, a guide to hunters and a fisherman, well known in Connecticut. He started a boating and fishing camp.
By 1900 Guy had a building with supplies plus an ice house along the shore of Lake Pocotopaug. In 1902 he built a 60’ by 50’ dance hall. All Old Home Day dances took place there. Strong had a 25’ Naptha powered launch for transporting passengers and supplies to cottages and homes around the shores of Lake Pocotopaug.
When Guy Strong died in 1904, Leo Guy Strong continued on with rowboats, canoes, sailboats, a grocery route, a swimming beach, a bath house, clothes lockers, a passenger service, plus weekly cookouts for Moodus Resort patrons who could walk or be jitneyed to Strong’s Pavilion for the day. Strong usually served homemade clam chowder. Old Home Day was always a big event bringing people from all over Connecticut.
State of Connecticut Granted Riparian Rights
In 1923-24, the State of Connecticut granted riparian rights to the Strong family to move the dance hall 85’ over the water on Lake Pocotopaug. The second floor had 200 bathing lockers, a 12’ walking porch on both floors, plus a menu of full sandwichs, soda, popcorn, and ice cream on the ground level. It also had six skeeball alleys.
Activities varied, with two motor launches, speed boat rides, a water slide, a ferris wheel, sideshow attractions and fireworks stands. At the end of prohibition, the skeeball alleys went to a relative in North Hampton, Mass., and the tavern and restaurant were leased to the DeStefano family. Later it went to the Joe Biondi family.
The Guy Strong’s Pavilion housed many lake side functions over 50 years. It included dances, roller skating, bumper cars, a penny arcade, and trick roller skating duos. For fourteen years Eddy Gustafson ran passenger rides in his 28’ Garwood Block Speedster Runabout. In 1937-38, Charley Arnold’s High Wing Seaplane offered 25 minute plane rides from Strong’s docks. In 1945 – 48, Hap Maitland’s Luscomb plane on floats catered to flying patrons.
In 1938, Leo Guy Strong was old enough to help with the 1938 Hurricane clean up. The Hurricane took the pavilion roof off and destroyed half of the canoes. It left about 15 canoes and 28 rowboats. After 1945 there was an outboard boat rental available, and later a 22’ 1928 Chriscraft passenger boat that made weekly stops at hotel docks. With everyone getting their own boats and trailers, business started to decline until it closed in 1955. Leo Guy Strong, Sr. died in 1959 and in 1960 Leo Guy Strong, Jr. and friends dismantled Strongs Pavilion.
Guy Strong and Leo Guy Strong were moulders by trade for Bevin Brothers Manufacturing Company and other local foundries. Both were avid baseball players. Leo Guy Strong was a pitcher and Charley Metcaf was catcher when East Hampton held League Championship.
Our Lake Resorts
Many might be skeptical today, but East Hampton was one of the recreational hotspots for the central Connecticut area. Our town’s livelihood depended, to a great degree, on the summer patrons and guests that made this community the vacation destination of choice. Weekends would see couple from Middletown, New Britain or Hartford jumping into the old jalopy to seek out dancing and entertainment. The recent deliberations by our Town Council to enact a noise ordinance have caused a certain degree of angst. And I guess analogous with the oft heard definaition of “what is art – art being in the eyes of the beholder,” noise, or the level of noise, is relative to the individual experiencing the type and intensity of the sound. But throughout much of the 20th century, our citizens relished spring turning into summer and what it brought to our economy.
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Present Day East Hampton
Landmarks Worth Exploring
The Comstock Covered Bridge is located on 14 Bridge Street at the junction of Colchester and East Hampton crossing the Salmon River.
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
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.
Hurd State 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.
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.
The Official East Hampton, CT Historical Society Website
Welcome to the Official East Hampton, Ct Historical Society Website! This site intends to provide information to the public about the Chatham Historical Society’s upcoming Calendar of Events and Programs with the purpose of bringing together people interested in the History of Cobalt, Middle Haddam, and East Hampton, Connecticut.