Enfield Historic District – #ThursdayDoors

I love the roof angles and the porches, and the details.

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.

You’re not.

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.

Sorry to make you study. There will not be a quiz.

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.

75 thoughts on “Enfield Historic District – #ThursdayDoors

Add yours

  1. Fascinating about the town being residential for so long.

    I’m always struck by how American, American houses look… if that makes any sense? There’s a kind of grandeur to them while they remain functional.

    The top one, though, looks like it could be a haunted house or even a doll’s house!

    How are you and your family, Dan? I’ve been away from my blog and reading other people’s for quite a while and don’t really know what’s been happening to you. Are you coping okay in this crisis?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for asking, Val. We are well and we are getting along well in this mess. Shopping as necessary (fully protected as recommended), otherwise staying close to home. We walk for exercise in the neighborhood or in the park.How are you guys?

      I do understand the ‘American’ look comment. It’s true. The rare find in these historic homes are the brick ones. Even though, brick making was a large industry 10 miles down the river in Windsor, CT, most early New England houses were made out of wood.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Is the amount of wood because there are a lot of forests, or is it financially easier on housebuilders?

        We’re okay, thankfully. Having a garden helps as we’ve got so many restrictions placed on us in the UK at the moment (which I’m glad exist as we need them) and I’m personally self-isolating to protect my health, though of course anyone could have the virus without knowing it, so protecting others is important too.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Initially, trees were here in abundance and had to be cleared for farmland. They started making bricks in Windsor, CT in the 1830’s but I would imagine they were expensive. There are small brick houses from that time period, but even today. most houses around here a wood framed and sided with either wood of vinyl.

          I grew up in Western Pennsylvania, and brick homes were common.

          Take care.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a Widow’s Walk, and you probably could see the river from there. That house would be almost directly across from the northern terminus of the canal, so there would have been a lot going on for about 15 years, while the canal was in operation. The railroad eventually took over, and ran between these houses and the river.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Not often, but yes, they do come up for sale from time to time. If you bought one, you’d need to set aside a lot of money for upkeep. Being in a historic district, the maintenance might break the bank.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a beautiful collection of grand homes. The brown house with the fantastic brickwork entryway and pale green door is awesome. The white house that got ‘bumped out’, the left side looks like separate living quarters from the main house. Two beautiful blue doors. The last home is stately. The blue garbage can not so much! Lol.

    Sure is a lovely residential area Dan.
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think they would understand my taking the picture, if I explained the Thursday Doors thing. Moving the garbage can might get me in trouble, and old-stick-to-his-guns Norm still won’t put up bail for us.

      I love blue doors. I don’t have the desire to paint ours blue, but I do like it when it works.

      It is a beautiful area. The parades all start at the intersection at the south end of this neighborhood and run about 3-4 miles north to the new Town Hall. Unfortunately, they just cancelled their rather elaborate 4th of July celebration. It’s a 4-day affair, and they can’t hold it this year, as the plans would already be in effect.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the map and background. It’s interesting and the houses are lovely. I can’t decide about the shutters on the one house. I like it both ways, but I love it without all those bushes and shrubs covering it up!

    The brick stately house has two widow walks! I love those as much I love verandas. Neither of which I’ve ever owned or lived with. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the map. I started to write “I could explain this if I had a topographical map” and then it occurred to me how easy it is to get one. All the early towns in New England were formed around the rivers, and then the railroad followed that same path. The railroad tracks run along the river behind the houses on the west side (but there are more houses there, too).

      That brick house is on the west side of the street, so you can probably see the river from the upper widow’s walk.

      I agree about the shutters. I imagine the original ones were operable, and that they were perhaps too expensive to replace. Being in a historic district, they would have to use properly sized, operable shutters. I also agree about the bushes.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Being able to see the river would be really neat and a great incentive to have 2 widow walks.

        I didn’t realize the shutters were actually operable! It would be expensive to replace those.

        Oh, I meant to tell you I had no idea that bump out was called a Saltbox! I made a note to myself to look up why they called it that, but haven’t done it yet. I found that curious.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It looks like the salt box style homes. Those are two stories in the front with a long steep roof in the back.

          I think, if homes in a historic district have shutters, they have to be operable.

          Like

  4. What do you call the little windows under the eaves on the green house? I imagine that to be the best spot in the house–kind of like a secret treehouse. All of these are so pretty.

    Like

  5. I particularly liked entrance of the “saltbox” house. There certainly was an elegance to the architecture of times past. Thank you, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My grandmother’s house and my sister’s house both had balcony porches. The doors were nailed shut because the structures were not stable. If I had such a house, I would restore and use them. Especially now in times of quarantine. All beautiful, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. These houses don’t change much. Partially because of the restrictions, but I also think people that buy these homes buy into the idea of keeping them true to their history.

      Like

  7. I liked the two 1979 photos. The current houses look so much better. The first one lost the electric wires which is a big improvement. I also liked the fact the shutters are gone. The second house looks pretty much like the before shot. I see they kept the two brick light columns in the front. Not sure but I think I might lose those. Thanks for the lesson on urban planning, Dan. I’m ready for the quiz.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OK, John, A train leaves Enfield, CT traveling 80 MPH heading south…

      I’m not sure if I like the house better with or without the shutters. I’m sure they were expensive to maintain, in that the historic commission would require that they remain properly sized and operable. I like the lamps, but that entrance looks a little tight. I wonder if those lamps date back to the point where they were gas lamps.

      I like some of these old towns because they are closer to urban evolution than planning. I still hope to travel up the CT River to see one of the earliest towns that was planned to take advantage of the river. I’m not sure if I can visit, even if I go alone.

      Like

  8. Nodding as scrolled through these thinking to myself how very New England these are. These gorgeous historic grand old homes are the reason why I whenever I can when travelling in that part of the U.S., I like to take my time, pull off the highway and explore the older towns and villages.
    Thanks for the tour Dan :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is an abundance of historic neighborhoods in this are, Teagan, I feel fortunate in that regard. Then again, we have staggering property tax rates that would preclude us owning any of these houses, even if we could afford to buy them :(

      I have always liked that library, but long before Thursday Doors was a thing, I was sad that they replaced what must have been a beautiful wooden door at some point.

      Take care, hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for the map, Dan! It really helps. This is a great collection of houses and doors. I do feel sorry for the house that has two water towers behind it. I enjoyed seeing a brick home, as that was the norm where I grew up.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I continually find the variety of types of houses interesting. Yours are so very different from the Spanish style that predominates here in the Southwest. There are other styles of course, but they always make me think of the Midwest rather than the Southwest. I also like the adobe houses, or that look, although I think they’re much more common in New Mexico. There are also more two-story homes here than there used to be. They take up less space but from what I understand (and what makes sense), cooling them in the summer can be very costly. I looked for a one-story rental and was blessed to find a good-sized one.

    Happy Friday!

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the thing that attracts me to these neighborhoods is the unique nature of the houses. They did that when it was really hard to build houses. Now, it’s easy to build houses, but they all look the same.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If I am honest, I don’t know if it will be “wonderful” because for me, the more people the better, but I have prepared myself mentally – and luckily it’s only one day, not like Christmas!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Dan – house building in the States was by necessity of wood – made sense – we’d used ours building HEnry VIII’s warships!!. I hadn’t heard the term widow’s walk – over St Ives in Cornwall – a steeple burial memorial was built – where an outlook could be posted to see the herring shoals and then notify the town. The saltbox – has an interesting development – I was convinced it was because of the snow … which would slip off more easily … but no – I learnt: interesting name. Architecture is always interesting … all the best – Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

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