Tour historic Wilton

WILTON – The Heritage Commission has just released a new six-panel folding brochure describing a self-guided driving and walking tour of town. Beginning at the kiosk in the Police Department parking lot, the tour route includes stops at the Commission’s ten historic markers with a brief history of the area.

The guide, produced by local business Steven Lewers and Associates, is plastic coated. It will be available at various places around town including the library and the town office, for a cost of $2.

The suggested tour begins from the parking lot with a walk along Main Street with notes on the Town Hall (built in 1883 and home to the Town Hall Theater), No. 43, the only building to survive three fires that destroyed Main Street in the 1800s, the origin of the granite blocks forming the retaining wall, and the repurposed railroad station and former Abbott Machine Company complex.

The driving tour includes the site of the Whiting Dairy at the top of the hill behind the elementary school, once the largest local supplier of milk to Boston; Carnival Hill, site of the famous Wilton Winter Carnival from 1926 to 1936 which attracted thousands of people, and The Frog Pond, now a town-owned natural area.

Going west on Rte 101 is the marker for French Village, the site of several mills.

Wilton Center is the original cultural and social center of the town, deserted by industry when the railroad arrived in the downtown in the mid-1800s. Here are an early school, Andy’s Summer Playhouse (once the town hall and Grange hall), the earliest cemeteries, the restored Town Pound, the Unitarian Red House, and many gracious old homes.

Davisville, to the west of the central village, is the home of Frye’s Measure Mill, listed on the National Register and one of the oldest continuously operating water-powered measure mills in the country.

A side trip off Rte 101 and over Abbott Hill takes you past Four Corners Farm, the oldest dairy farm still in operation. A scenic drive brings you back to 101 at Gray’s Corner. Farther west on Route 101 is the turn to West Wilton which was the site of early mills and has a unique double stone arch bridge.

The West Wilton Common was used as a militia training ground prior to the Civil War.

– JESSIE SALISBURY