I had a few leftover doors from my ride through the Enfield Historic District last week. I thought I’d look into the district a bit more. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to learn much more than I already knew. Main Street, a.k.a. US Route-5 runs along a high ridge to the east of the Connecticut River. High enough that these houses would never have to worry about flooding. When you drive down the street, as you look to the east, you get the sense that you’re looking into the river valley.
The river is to the west, but it’s a sharper drop and it isn’t easy to look through beyond the houses. The valley that lies to the east of Main Street is actually Interstate 91, a major highway that is over six lanes wide at this point and some low lands spreading out to the eastern ridge of the Connecticut River Valley. Most of these houses would have had long back yards, used for agriculture, heading back toward either the highway or the river.
The most interesting thing about the historic district, is that it is almost entirely residential. Although the town was settled in the mid-1600s, the area in and around this district remain residential for over 350 years. If you will indulge my curiosity, I think I can explain.
If you look at the topographical map below, you can see that the land itself dictated the way the town developed. First, the historic district, as mentioned earlier, lies on a ridge, high above the river. Second, the river curves east toward the location of the district, leaving a steep, somewhat narrow slope to the river, difficult to use for industry. Third, the river curves back to the west about two miles north of the historic district and the terrain is lower and flatter. Finally, Freshwater Brook runs through this low flat area and could easily be dammed to provide waterpower to the textile mills that were constructed along the river. In the early 1800s, the Windsor Locks Canal was built and these mills were provided easy access to the Connecticut River which was then navigable all the way to Long Island Sound.
In my research, I located the National Registry of Historic Places nomination form which resulted in the entire district being added to the Registry in 1979. In two cases, I have included a 40-yr-old photo as well as one from two weeks ago.
This post is part of Norm Frampton’s fun weekly blog hop known as Thursday Doors. Each week, Norm sends out the call to door aficionados around the world. They gather their doors and leave a link on Norm’s page in a comment. So, visit Norm’s page, see his doors, see others’ doors and link to your doors.