The Flagpole in Newtown, CT Newtown, CT and its flagpole go hand in hand. Located in the middle of the street at the Main Street, Church Hill Road and West Street intersection, Newtown's glorious flagpole stands proudly in the middle of the road. One question that people commonly ask: "Why does Newtown have a flagpole in the middle of the road?"
Well here is a little history on the flagpole in Newtown, CT. It was written by Dan Cruson, the Town Historian, and I located this article in The Rooster's Crow, a newsletter printed 5 times per year by the Newtown Historical Society. The information below comes from the September/October 1994 issue and is not reproduced in full.
There appears to be no public flagpole in Newtown until the first of modern sequence of poles is erected in 1876. That was the year of the nation's centennial and a number of Newtown's leading men came together to decide how best to celebrate this event in Newtown. A "liberty pole" was decided upon and donations were taken up to pay for the cost. 43 people contributed $107.50 for the "liberty pole". The complete cost of obtaining and erecting the pole was $131.65. One of the contributors made up the deficit of $24.15.
Before the placement of the modern day steel flagpole in Newtown, there was a succession of three wooden poles that stood in the intersection. The first one deteriorated as the typical New England weather took its toll on the exposed wood. Until recently, it was not known when the original pole was replaced. The recent discovery of a news item, in the April 1, 1892, issue of The Newtown Bee has reduced our ignorance. It states that, "Lawrence Mitchell has been at work on a new flagpole for The Street (the old name for Main Street) ... "
The second flagpole took quite a beating before it was replaced in 1914. By the time of Newtown's bicentennial celebration in 1905, the flagpole was leaning to one side. The Men's Club, in whose hands the bicentennial planning had been placed, arranged a set of guy wires to hold the flagpole upright. A year after Newtown's bicentennial celebration, the Newtown flagpole was struck by lightening. It was badly damaged and repaired within a short time. Within 6 years of the repair, the whole flagpole came crashing down one night. The pole snapped off about 15 feet from the base and the stump remained for two years while the Men's Club and town fathers decided what to do about is replacement.
On July 4th, 1914, the third flagpole in Newtown, CT was installed. The top mast, surmounted by a gilt ball, was then added to the main mast raising the total height of the Newtown flagpole to a dizzying 100 feet. In 1947, the old wooden flagpole was in need of maintenance. Extensive repairs were made to Newtown's flagpole that were expected to last another quarter of a century. It barely lasted for three years. By late 1949, examination of the lower portion of the top mast indicated that it was so badly rotted that three feet of the mast bottom was going to have to be cut off. Bids were taken in for this work and it was decided by the First Selectman, A. Finn Dickenson, that they were too expensive for temporary measures to repair the deteriorating flagpole. In reaction to this, plans were made to replace the ailing wooden flagpole with a more substantial one made of steel and measuring 100 feet, the same height as the pole it was replacing.
Late in January 1950, the old wooden pole was dismantled and a hole 12 feet deep and 7 feet in diameter was dug in the pavement of the intersection just north of the previous pole. Into this hole a galvanized steel cylinder 21 inches in diameter was lowered to a depth of 11 feet and concrete was poured around the steel to firmly secure it in place. Into this cylinder the new steel pole was lowered on Monday, January 23, 1950. It came in two parts that were welded together on the ground and swung into position by a gigantic crane. This pole was 16 inches in diameter at the base. The modern Newtown flagpole cost $2,900 - just 10 times as much as the pole it replaced.
This flagpole, the present one, has been in place for the past 59 years with little deterioration, even after having been hit by a car in 1979 which was traveling at an estimated 55 mph late one night. The injury sustained by the Newtown flagpole was a minor dent. The car was demolished. Such resilience is due to its weight of 2.5 tons and the fact that is buried to a depth of 11 feet below Main Street.
In the morning when you listen to the traffic on the radio, you'll hear something like "15 minute backup at the Newtown flagpole". We always find this funny - there's just something about the flagpole that makes you smile.
We hope that you'll think the flagepole in Newtown, CT is as great as we do. It is one of the things that makes Newtown, CT a special place to live.
* The flagpole photo on the above left is courtesy of David Rowe, Monroe, CT.