The other day I read an article announcing a walking tour of Hopmeadow Street in Simsbury using “new technology”; a guided tour using a cell phone.
The article instructed me to dial 860-323-9029, follow the prompts and told me that the tour started at the Webster Bank at the south end of downtown Simsbury. At each stop on the tour is a small sign briefly describing the significance of the building and a flyer box with maps of the tour.
The article intrigued me. So I drove to Webster Bank and dialed 860-323-9029. I listened to a brief introduction by First Selectman Mary Glassman. Then I was prompted to enter my first stop number. I learned a lot of great information about the historic buildings on Hopmeadow Street and the Town of Simsbury.
Below are photos of the buildings included in the tour and some questions answered during the tour.
Settled slowly between the 1640’s and the 1660’s, Simsbury was not incorporated as a town until 1670. Prior to 1670, the town was known by another name. What was that name?
Stop 1 – Joseph. R. Ensign House (now Webster Bank and Arts Exclusive Gallery) was built between 1905 and 1910. The original owners of this home were the first in Connecticut to own something. What was that something?
Stop 2 – First Church of Christ. Originally built in 1830. Two additions were added to the church, one on the southwest and the other on the north. What are the names of these wings?
Stop 3 – Simsbury Town House (now Boy Scout Hall) Simsbury’s 1st Town Hall. Built in 1839 after a state law prohibited towns from holding their meetings in churches. Where did “town hall” move when it out grew Boy Scott Hall?
Stop 4 – The Courtyard and carriage house (on Mall Way). Built between 1904 and 1914. To which estate did these belong?
Stop 5 – Elisha Phelps House “Eaglewood” (now Simsbury 1820 House). Built in 1922. The name sake of a famous 300 yr. old tree was born here. What was his name? He is also known as the founder of what organization?
Stop 6 – Eno Hall (The Simsbury Casino). In 1896, when Eno Hall was built, what was a casino?
Stop 7 – Simsbury Free Library (home of the Simsbury Genealogical and Historical Research Library, the Chamber of Commerce, and the William Phelps Eno Library). Built in 1890. What famous civil rights leader worked in the tobacco fields of Simsbury at the age of 15?
Stop 8 – Simsbury Cemetery – the oldest tombstone dates back to 1688. What is the name on the oldest tombstone?
Stop 10 – Captain Elisha Phelps House & Tavern, the main attraction of the Simsbury Historical Society & Museum (aka Massacoh Plantation). Built in 1771. What other buildings are on the Massacoh Plantation?
Stop 11- Simsburytown Shops (built from a barn that dates back to 1743). What parts of the barn are still visible in this shopping center?
Although not official stops on the tour, the following buildings are mentioned during the tour:
Pettibone Tavern (now Abigail’s Grille & Wine Bar). Built in 1801. Is it haunted?
Old Drake Hill Road Bridge (open to pedestrians only)
Robert & Julia Darling House (now the Cannon Medical Building). Built in 1927.
Captain Jacob Pettibone House (now Sovereign Bank). Built in 1790.
The Simsbury Bank & Trust. Built in 1918.
The Methodist Church – wonderful carillon bells. Built in 1909.
Cast iron Boston Clock donated by Simsbury’s Volunteer Fire Co. to commemorate the fire company’s 50th anniversary. The clock sits on front lawn of Town Hall. In what year was it donated?
Simsbury Train Station (now Plan B Restaurant). Built in 1874.
The tour takes about one hour. And in that hour you may just learn one thing about Simsbury that you didn’t know before; like what Simsbury’s name before it was called Simsbury? It’s educational, lots of fun, something to do alone or with the family, and it’s FREE!