December 5th to December 7th is a BIG weekend in Newtown!
This year, Newtown's Holiday Festival will be held from Friday, December 5th to Sunday, December 7th! The Holiday Festival is an annual event that is the main fundraiser for Newtown Youth and Family Services (a joining of the Family Counseling Center and Newtown Youth Services). This is the Festival's 23rd year and there are many events over the weekend. Some of them include: a Festival of Trees (in the library) that are auctioned off, a Victorian Tea, performances of the Nutcracker and an original holiday play, an artisan's shop, children's activities including crafts and a gingerbread house contest (all at the town hall). On December 5th, Newtown's Christmas tree will be lit during a ceremony attended by many town residents. The roads leading to the Christmas tree will be lined with luminaries (decorative bags that candles in them).
There will be four homes on the Holiday Tour this year - all of which are located on Main Street. The Holiday Tour will be held on Sunday, December 7th. You will need to purchase tickets to see these beautiful antique homes. Below are descriptions and the addresses for each home on the tour. We will both be volunteer guides at 63 Main Street from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm on Sunday.
74 Main Street, Newtown - "Hillbrow" - Home of Dorothy and Richard Mulligan:
A colonial Georgian house built about 1720. It is a fine example of pre-Revolutionary architecture that has been restored and well preserved by its current owners.
The house's deed calls it "Head of Main Street" because it is located at the top of Main Street where many of the original Newtown settlers lived. The early owners called the house "Hillbrow" because of its location on the brow of the hill. They had a granite marker engraved with "Hillbrow" included in the front steps by the rock wall.
The house has two very unusual features; the rare side-by-side beehive ovens at the rear of the huge kitchen fireplace which helps date the house, and the curved entry staircase that splits in two directions on the second level leading to the front and back halls and then continues to the third floor.
The land the house sits on was acquired by John Blackman in 1715 and was passed down through several generations of the Blackman family. In the mid 1700's the house was acquired by Ziba Blakeslee, the famous Newtown clockmaker, silversmith and bellfounder. Blakeslee is credited by some as the creator of the rooster that sits atop the original Congregational Church.
It is said that a ghost inhabits the house. He is the ghost of a main who lived in the house during the Revolutionary War when Rochambeau and his men were encamped in Newtown. After refusing to give some of the soldiers food (the owner was a British sympathizer) some of the men made the elderly owner run up and down Main Street. He died that night and has been haunting the house ever since.
63 Main Street, Newtown - Home of Chris and John Reed:
This beautiful Bungalow-style home was built in 1900 as the town library. The Beach family donated the land to the town. The cornerstone was laid on July 23, 1900 by John Francis Beach. Beach was seven generations removed from his lineal ancestor, the Reverend John Beach for whom the library was named and the first Episcopal Rector of Newtown. The library was dedicated and opened on December 11, 1900 and remained the town library until 1932 when the Cyrenius H. Booth library opened.
The house has a fieldstone foundation and upper story covered by a hip-roof with gables and an arched eave over the front door. A hearthstone in the house is said to have been original to the Caleb Baldwin house at 32 Main Street.
This home is currently owned by Chris and John Reed. Some may know John Reed from the twenty years he served as Newtown's Superintendent of Schools. The town named the Intermediate School in his honor.
51 Main Street, Newtown - Home of Lucy and Chris Sullivan:
This property was originally part of one of the 1709 home lots of Joseph Gray. The house was built in the latter part of the eighteenth century as a gable-roofed Colonial with a centered chimney. The front porch and exterior shingles probably date to the Colonial Revival period, 1900-1930.
In 1867 the house was one of two buildings, the second being 53 Main Street, owned by C. Fairman. It is believed that 53 Main was built to house the married daughter of this home's owner. The property just to the south of this one, 49 Main Street, was originally part of this homestead. The house that currently sits on that lot was moved from across the street. In the 1930's a Judge who was also a Justice of the Peace lived here. He kept his law books on the mantle in the home's dining room and there counseled residents on legal matters. The house was recently used as a two-family home until the current owners purchased it in 2000 and opened up some walls to create a single-family living space.
12 Main Street, Newtown - Home of Deborah Munday:
This beautiful seven-gabled home began its life with a holy obligation. In 1874, toward the end of its rector's lengthy tenure, the Trinity Church built the home for The Reverend Dr. Newton E. Marble. Pallister and Pallister of Bridgeport, respected architects of the era, designed this Eastlake gothic style house. The staircase is an impressive feature to the architecture. Built of Georgia pine with a newel which extends to the ceiling of the second floor, the staircase is a featured object of pride in the architects' writings.
There is a corner fireplace between the parlor and the dining room. Although many Pallister clients desired a fireplace in the center of a side wall, the architects spoke pragmatically to the infeasible economics of this idea. The architects won the debate.
The house originally had no "water closet" (i.e. lavatory facilities), but it did have a well-ventilated "earth closet" in the rear hall. Floorings boast Georgia pine also.
The current owner, Deborah Munday, purchased the house last year.
Why not visit Newtown during the Holiday Festival & get to see New England at its best?