Lost Tracks: Norwalk's Trolley Tour
The Norwalk Preservation Trust will present the Third Annual Norwalk's Living History Tour on Sunday, September 15, 2013 at 12:30 pm.
This year, we'll follow the Norwalk Trolley to travel back in time along Norwalk's trolley routes, in existence from the 1860s to the 1930s. The trolley-bus tour will stop and explore various historic sites on the route, including buildings in Sono and Rowayton. Trolleys were the main means of transportation for most people from the end of the 19th century through the rise of the automobile in the 1920s. Norwalkers took the trolley to school, to work, to the beach and to the store.
Lost Tracks is based on a similar tour presented by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1901. That tour is documented in the book Norwalk After 250 Years, which describes the week-long celebration of the city's sesquicentennial. Many of the places visited in 1901 are gone and there will be pictures of some of our lost history in the program provided for all tourgoers. Former City Historian Ralph Bloom, along with NPT president and architectural historian Tod Bryant, will be on the buses to guide the tour and to comment on our lost and existing architectural heritage. The trolleys will stop at several locations where actors in period costumes will bring the history of Norwalk in the streetcar era to life. A reception at Tinto in the old Trolley Barn building at 10 Wall Street will follow.
The Lost Tracks tour is now sold out!
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Second Annual Living History Tour: Norwalk's 19th Century Rural Communities
On September 30, 2012, NPT's "Hamlet Hop" bus tour visited the 19th-century rural hamlets embedded in our current neighborhoods of Brookside, Broad River, Cranbury, and West Norwalk, stopping at the chapels, schools, and stores that defined these early communities — some remarkably intact and some quite visibly changed.
Brookside, Broad River, Cranbury, and West Norwalk were once much more remote than they are today. The farmers, homesteaders, and mill owners were miles away from the center of Norwalk. Getting to church, schools, or shops required bone-rattling travel in carts over roads that were little more than wagon ruts.
As these communities grew and prospered, the residents began to yearn for a place to worship in their own community — one where they would not be considered "outlivers" as they were in the Norwalk and Darien parishes. Starting in the early 1800s, these communities began to establish themselves as separate "hamlets" within Norwalk. They began to organize as citizens of that community and created community centers that included a chapel that also served as a meeting house, a small school for local children, and a store to provide basic provisions.
The tour took participants to all four hamlets with a stop in each to visit the surviving buildings — the chapel, the schoolhouse, or the store. Architectural historians, current owners, and reenactors provided insight into the history of the buildings and the area and address how the buildings have been changed and modified over the years. We now know these as Norwalk's neighborhoods but the roots of our neighborhoods stretch back to the earliest residents who gathered together to create the buildings that provided a service to the community and served to give the area its unique identity.
A reception at the Cranbury Chapel followed the tour. Awards were presented to the individuals and organizations that have preserved and maintained these important elements of Norwalk's history.
Norwalk's Living History Tour: Historic Homes from 1675 to 1830
On September 18th, 2011, Norwalk house experts gave a behind-the-scenes bus tour of homes built in Norwalk's early days. The tour was a trip through the town's early history, with a rare treat—Norwalk's two oldest houses, both of which date from about 1675, were open for tourgoers. An exceptionally well-restored home from 1784 was also open, along with a beautiful Federal-era house from about 1810. In addition, the tour route led past twenty other historic homes from these early periods. Tour leaders spoke about their architectural styles and their place in local history. Norwalkers in period costumes boarded the bus from time to time to talk about the town as they knew it and what it was like to live there.
The event was organized by NPT board member Georgette Blau, who is also President of On Location Tours, the world's largest TV and movie tour company. "I am a native Norwalker," she said, "and I've always been interested in historic homes and the stories they can tell." The tour also featured an introduction to early Norwalk architecture by NPT president and architectural historian, Tod Bryant.
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