Brief History of Stamford

Fairfield County, Connecticut



Cove (condos dominate)


Glenbrook (condos dominate)

Hubbard Heights

Long Ridge


North Stamford (expensive single-family housing)


Shippan (expensive single-family housing)

South End (heavy manufacturing section and parts known for poverty)


Turn of River

Waterside (parts known for poverty)

West Side (parts known for poverty)

Westover (expensive single-family housing)


Pre-Colonial Times --Stamford was known as Rippowam by the Native Americans.

1640 – the deed to Stamford was signed between Captain Turner of the New Haven Colony and Chief Ponus. The deed was renegotiated several times. The name of Rippowam was changed later to Stamford after a town in Lincolnshire, England.

1641 – 29 families from Wethersfield settled along the Rippowam River.  Some common family names of the early inhabitants of Stamford were Scofield, Smith, Lockwood, Weed, Hoyt, June.

1699 – Hoyt Barnum House built.

1700 – the final deed negotiation; the Native American received a more substantial sum of money.

1758  --  during the French and Indian War, 500 recruits under the command of Captain David Waterbury of Stamford participated in an assault on Fort Ticonderoga. Seven men died and 400 disappeared during the attack.

1775-1783 – the American Revolutionary War.  The leading Patriot in Stamford was the Honorable Abraham Davenport, the wealthiest property owner in town.  He was part of the inner circle of Governor Jonathan Trumbull.

1789 – President George Washington stayed at Webb Tavern in Stamford.

1790  --   the population of Stamford was 4,051. Along with agriculture and fishing, one of the primary industries was that of shipping.

1829  --  Albert Hanford established the Advocate. It is the oldest business in continuous operation in Stamford.

1830  --  the Stamford Foundry Co established.  In 1851 it moved to Canal Street.  It lasted until 1954. 

1834  --  the first bank in Stamford, the Stamford Bank, opened on Main Street. 

1844 – the Union House Hotel built. (The name of the hotel was later changed to the Grand Union Hotel then the Carlton Hotel.) Burned down in 1920.

1844  -- the Union House hotel, built by Thomas P. Dixon, on the north side of Main Street opposite Stage Street.  (In 1891 it became the Grand Union Hotel.)

1847  --  a stone arched bridge built spanning the Mill River between Greenwich Avenue and South Street.

1848 (Christmas Day) – the first train to Stamford.

1849  --  completion of the New York to New Haven line. 

1850-1900  --  Dantown, in North Stamford near New Canaan and Pound Ridge, was a basket making center.

1850  --  Thomas P. Dixon build the Concert Hall at the northeast corner of Main and Gay Streets. 

1853 – foundation laid for the lumber business Hoyt, Getman and Judd (among many other variations of partner names).

1860s  --  George A. Hoyt residence (Main Street and Greyrock Place) built.  Hoyt built an entire area, known as Hoytville, south of the railroad tracks.

1861-1865  -- the American Civil War. 500 plus Stamforders participated in the war. 

1866  --  huge gathering of the Hoyt family at the Congregational church on Atlantic Street. 

1867  --  the long, brick Stamford Railroad Station built. 

1867  --  the Gillespie family acquired the Advocate.

1868 – William H. Judd entered the employ of the future Hoyt, Getman and Judd.

1868 – the Stamford Depot of the New York and New Haven Railroad built.

1868 – C.O. Miller Company, the downtown department store, founded by Mr. Miller. For some 106 years the store was a Stamford fixture.

1868  -- the Webb Tavern razed and replaced by the Washington Building.

1869 – William H. Judd became a partner. The firm name was changed to St. John, Hoyt & Co.

1869  --  the Yale Lock Manufacturing Company opened.  The name was later changed to Yale & Towne Mfg. Co. 

1870  --  the Ocean House built on the east shore of Shippan Point.  It later became the Shippan Point Hotel. 

1870 – cornerstone laid for the Universalist Church.

1871 – the old Town Hall erected at Atlantic and Main Streets.

1871- 1897  --  the Fourth of July fountain in Central Park commemorated the opening of the first water mains in Stamford by the Stamford Water Company.  (The water came from Trinity Lake, 12 miles away.)  

1873 --Charles H. Phillips, a pharmacist from England, who had established the Phillips Camphor and Wax Company, concocted what he called Milk of Magnesia (as in Phillips Milk of Magnesia).

1876  --  Jacob Miller established a tavern (Miller's Half Way House) on the Boston Post Road.  (Today it is Giovanni's Restaurant.)

1877 – St. John, Hoyt & Company moved to the larger and more convenient premises on the Canal Dock.

1879  --  home of Henry Towne, owner of Yale & Towne Manufacturing Company) built at Henry and Atlantic Streets.  In 1892 Mr. Towne left the house, which later became the Rockland Hotel.  

1879-1899  --  Pastor Samuel Scoville served the Congregation Church, lead a crusade against intemperance and (in the depression of the 1880s) worked to alleviate poverty.

1880  -- the population was 11,000. 

about 1880 – E.B. Hoit Company had a flourishing market, the Grand Central Market, on 480 Main Street.

1882 – death of Charles H. Phillips. His sons ran the corporation until 1923 when Sterling Drug, Inc. purchased the firm.

1882  -- the YMCA established here.

1882  --  opening of the Ferguson Library (second floor of the Payne Building at Atlantic and Luther Streets) following a donation of $10,000 dollars from John Day Ferguson. It later moved to the former Leeds home on Atlantic Street opposite St. John's Roman Catholic Church.

1884  --  the Armory built on River Street. 

1885  --  the Stamford Fire Department organized; it operated out of the Luther Street Station. 

1886  --  a trolley car barn built at Liberty Place (later called Woodside Street) to accommodate ten cars and forty horses. 

1886  --  funds received from Congress to build the Stamford Light House.

1886  --  George W. Sawter published and edited the Stamford News.

1886-1889  --  Zipf's Hotel built as a summer resort.

1887  --  death of George A. Hoyt of Hoytville fame. 

1887 – the Stamford Horse Railroad ran the first horse car in Stamford.

1887 – Dr. Francis J. Rogers, Physician & Druggist, moved from Ohio to Stamford. With Wilbur E. Lewis, he owned the "Little Store around the Corner" on Atlantic Street above Park Row.

1888 – the Stamford Street Railroad purchased the Stamford Horse Railroad.

1888 – Mr. St. John retired from the lumber business and his firm’s name changed to its present title, Hoyt, Getman & Judd.

1888 – the Great Blizzard of 1888.

1888 photo --  shows the Gillespie family sitting on the porch at their cottage home in Silver Beach, Shippan Point.  The Gillespies owned and operated the Advocate for many years.

1888  --  the Eagle Bicycle Manufacturing Company (patented by Stamforder Leonard B. Gaylor five years earlier) incorporated.  

1889 photo – shows Atlantic Square, the focal point of downtown life. (The city’s first meeting house built here.) On the left side of the photo is Central Park. The photo also show the old Town Hall (1871).

1889  --  home of Dr. H. P. Geib built on Strawberry Hill (where many beautiful homes were built). 

1889  --  home of James J. Raymond, importer of oriental wares in New York City, on Strawberry Hill.  The former home is now apartments on Hackett Circle. 

Late 19th & early 20th centuries – the Shippan peninsula and Shippan Point were a popular summer resort. The Ocean House Hotel was here. Later it was purchased by Michael McDevitt who renamed it "Shippan House."

1890s  --  the new four-track railway system installed. 

By 1890 – to the Shippan House, McDevitt added a pavilion, bath houses, a casino, and a carousel from Asbury Park, N.J.

1890 – William Street School built.

1890 -- the Stamford Yacht Club founded.

1890  --  Suburban Club organized. 

1890s  --  bicycle riding flourished with several wheel clubs. 

1891  --  the Stamford Yacht Club opened on the west side of Shippan Point. 

1891  --  the Mechaley Brothers established their auto sales and repair business.  It lasted to 1923. 

1891  -- the Union House hotel became the Grand Union Hotel.  (It was later called the Carlton Hotel.)

by 1892  --  the Yale and Towne Manufacturing Company employed nearly 1000 people.

1892 – Arnold Kurth, Stamford's first bicycle policeman

1892 – Grover Cleveland visited the Luther Street Fire Station.

c. 1892 photo   --  shows the George E. Waring home at Broad and Bedford Streets that is now the site of the Ferguson Library.  Mr. Waring was owner of the Stamford Stove Foundry. 

1892  --  Dr. Given came to Stamford.  He established a sanitarium for weight reduction on Long Ridge just north of Bull's Head. 

1892  -- John H. Lee opened his Silver Dollar Cafe with a long bar that required six bartenders to service at 165 Main Street at Quintard Place.

1892  --  Arnold Kurth, Stamford's first bicycle policeman.

1893 – Stamford incorporated as a city.

1893  --  the Suburban Club rented the George A. Hoyt home.

1894 – the Stamford Street Railroad system electrified.

1894  -- Ennis' Patent Swimming Baths (at the tip of Shippan Point)  destroyed.

1894  --  first uniformed police of Stamford.

1896  --  opening of Stamford's first hospital (E. Main Street at the foot of Noroton Hill).  (A donation of $43,000 by Judge John Clason got the ball rolling.)

1897 – S. Grosvenor Fessenden and Henry Provost founded the Diamond Ice Co., located at 30 Main Street. They took their ice from the mill pond of the Rippowam River.

1897  --  the Fourth of July Central Park Fountain dismantled. 

1897  --  the Diamond Ice Co. established on the site of the old Woolen Mill near the West Main Street bridge. (The ice came from Mill Pond on the Rippowam River.)

c. 1898 photo – shows the interior of the Getman & Judd office.

1898 photo  --  shows Buffalo Bill's Circus Parade in Atlantic Square. 

1900-1902 – Homer Cummings, Mayor of Stamford. (Cummings Park is named for him.)

1900  --  John M. Ferris built the stone  bridge over the Rippowam River (known as the North Street Bridge).

c. 1900 photo  -- shows Gutzon Borglum (Mt. Rushmore sculptor) sculpting at his studio next to his home on Wire Mill Road. 

c. 1900 photo  --  shows a line of horse and buggies of the Adams Express Company waiting to pick up freight and baggage from the train. (By 1919 the horses and buggies were replaced by taxicabs.)

c. 1900  --- shows Wilbur Lewis with his Stanley Steamer, one of the first autos in Stamford. 

1902  --  William Patrick Shea established his P. W. Shea Groceries and Feed store at 17 West Main Street. 

1902  --  Stamford Rifle Club incorporated (with a clubhouse in Long Ridge, Gun Club Road, off Erskine). 

1904-1906 – Mr. Cummings, Mayor of Stamford.

1904 – the old Town Hall burned.

1905 – Old Town Hall (now unoccupied) built.

1905 – corner-stone of the New Municipal Building laid.

1905  photo --  shows a circus parade on Main Street approaching Atlantic Square from the west. 

1906  --  Halloween Park acquired by the city on Halloween night.  Mayor Homer Cumming broke the tie vote.  The park later became Cummings Park.  (The park was created by pumping sand onto the salt marshes.)

1906 photo   --  a huge boulder, known as Rock Rimmon Rock, just south of the junction of Rock Rimmon and Briar Brae Road, was an early Native American rock shelter that became a popular tourist attraction.

1907  --  the railway track between New York and Stamford electrified.

by 1907  --  the Yale & Towne Mfg. Co. had 3,000 employees.

1908 photo  -- shows members of the Stamford Rifle Club easting watermelon outside their clubhouse on the eastern slope of the Mianus Gorge.

1909 – death of Dr. Francis J. Rogers.

1910  --  Harold S. Lynn built and flew a glider. 

1910  --  the Trolley Car Barn (built 1886) at what became Woodside Street collapsed during a windstorm.

1911 – Leonard Barsaghi renovated the Shippan House.

1911  --  the new Armory dedicated by Governor Baldwin.  (The Alhambra Theater moved into the old 1884 Armory).

1911  --  a new Ferguson Library completed (head of Atlantic Street).

1913  --  first main, 100-bed building of the Stamford Hospital opened on Broad Street. 

1913-1921  -- John Bohl, postmaster. 

1913  --  the Stamford Yacht Club (built 1891) burned. A new one built in 1914. 

1913-1915  --  Mayor of Stamford Walter G. Austin. 

1914  -- the Suburban Club built their own home (Suburban Avenue and Main Street). They lasted until 1935.

1916-1919  --  Luders Marine Construction Company at Waterside built submarine chasers. 

1916  --  the Stamford Postal Service building constructed at Atlantic and Federal Streets. 

1917 – to reduce his waistline, Teddy Roosevelt visited Jackie Cooper's health farm on High Ridge Road.

1917  --  Battery F sent to England; they saw action at Ostelt, Chateau Thiery and the second Battle of the Marne. 

1918  --  sculptor Gutzon Borglum and his wife used their home as a military camp for Czechoslovak-American recruits waiting to be sent to France.

1918  --  the YMCA built a new brick building farther south on Atlantic Street next to the 1916 post office. 

1919 – the Willard School welcome home local soldiers serving in World War I. Later the School erected a memorial plaque honoring those who served in the war. The school was later named the Martha Hoyt School. (It is currently the headquarters of the Stamford Historical Society.)

1919  --  veterans of World War I return to Stamford. 

1920 – the old 1844 Union House Hotel burned down.

1923 – the Halloween Yacht Club near Cummings Park founded..

1923  --  a dam was built across the Rippowam River to create Laurel Reservoir.  The waters flooded the Dantown area. 

1923  --  dedication of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in St. John's Park at Tresser Boulevard and Main Street. 

1928 – Frank Bogardus elected president of Getman & Judd.

1930  --  Ferguson Library on Atlantic Street expanded.

c. 1933 photo – shows the Strand Theatre on Upper Atlantic Street; the movie running was The Bowery starring Wallace Beery, George Raft and Jackie Cooper.

1933 – the street railroad discontinued.

1934 – ground broken for the Merritt Parkway (named for Stamford's own Schuyler Merritt, then serving his eighth term as the district's congressmen; he was also chairman of the Parkway Commission).

1935  --  Suburban Club forced to close by the growing number of automobiles and the rural country club. 

By 1940  --  Colonel Jacob Schick employed almost 1000 workers at his Schick Dry Shaver Company on Atlantic Street.

1940s – the shopping center Ridgeway Center opened.

1942 – birth of future U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman in Stamford. He went to the public schools in the city.

1941-1945  --  American participation in World War II. Stamford had 9500 men and women serving in the armed forces

1954  -- the 1830 Stamford Found Company closed due to competition.

1959  --  the Yale & Town Mfg. Co. closed to move elsewhere.   

1970s – massive urban redevelopment campaign destroyed many historic buildings.

1970 (October 12) – Richard and Pat Nixon dedicated the newly completed Italian Center on Newfield Avenue..

1970  --  the Rockland Hotel (former Henry Towne residence) burned. 

1975 & 1980  --  archeological excavations found Native American point and tools at Rock Rimmon Rock. 

1976 – the production of Milk of Magnesia in Stamford was phased out.

1980s - a lot of New York companies moved to Stamford: UBS AG, International Paper, and Purdue Pharma in the downtown area; Pitney Bowes in the South End; World Wrestling Entertainment and Clairol on the East Side; and Xerox on Long Ridge Road, several miles north of downtown.

1980 – opening of the shopping mall, Stamford Town Center.

1982  --  Ferguson Library on Atlantic Street expanded.

1998 – the University of Connecticut opened a branch campus in Downtown Stamford (housed in an old Bloomingdales)

2000  --  the city had a population of 117,083.


Bonnie K. Bull. 1997.  Images of America: Stamford.  Charleston, SC: Arcadia Press.

The Stamford Historical Society, Inc.

The Stamford Historical Society: A Condensed History of Stamford, Connecticut - 1

Stamford, Connecticut.,_Connecticut.

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