Wonderful Wilton, Connecticut

Wilton1

I grew up here in Wilton, Connecticut, a small town in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Population 17,600. It's a lovely, quaint New England town. It was and still is a bedroom community for those who work in Manhattan. That's how my family landed here in the '60s. My Dad took a job in New York, so my parents needed to find a town with good public school and close-ish to New York. Wilton it was.

Wilton Town Hall

The Town Hall is quite a building. When I was six years old I told my Mom that I wanted a house just like the Town Hall. She almost drove off the road. I guess she was expecting me to say, a white house or something a little more simplistic than a grand building with columns that was a landmark in town.

Wilton Congregational Church

Like a lot of New England towns, Wilton has its share of churches, many that epitomize the quintessential New England architecture, complete with clapboard siding and black shutters. Very striking. This is the Congregational Church, located on Ridgefield Road, the road that connects Wilton to, well, Ridgefield. It was built in 1790.

Wilton  Old Town Hall

Across from the Congregational Church is Wilton's Old Town Hall. It was the Town Hall from 1832. It served two purposes. The ground floor was a meeting place for the town officials and residents to discuss town-related stuff, while upstairs offered private schooling to prep Wilton students for college. Now the Wilton Garden Club maintains it and it's used for parties, even weddings. Sweet, isn't? In 1931 the Town Hall (pictured at the top) became the new Town Hall.

Wilton Playhouse

Until recently, Wilton was a dry town. What's that? It means the town couldn't sell alcohol. There could be no bars, no booze sold in restaurants, no liquor stores. Period. So we had very few restaurants. In fact, we had two diners, and that was about it. Now, it's moist, meaning that restaurants can sell alcohol, but there still can be no bars and no liquor stores. The horror. So when it came down to stuff to do there, well, it was limited. There is, however, a strong arts culture in Wilton, including a devoted theater company and theater-going following. We have the Wilton Playshop located on Lovers Lane (you can see the sign peaking through in the background). They put on a fair amount of plays during the year. It's a treat to go.

Wilton Playhouse2
Wilton Merwin Meadows

At the bottom of Lover's Lane is Merwin Meadows, the town's public watering hole. I logged a lot of hours here, especially across the pond in the shade (Irish skin). It was here in high school that I got in a boatload of trouble one night when a good ten of us decided to take a night time swim, naked. Let's just say the Wilton police didn't appreciate our nocturnal urge to do laps. Perhaps it's because we parked behind the town's bank, thinking the cars would never be spotted. If you're a cop in Wilton and there's not a whole lot to patrol, the one thing you probably can't fall down on is to check on the local bank. And so they did. Spotting the two cars parked behind the bank triggered the Wilton police's version of Code Red raid.

Wilton Cemetary

This is Wilton's Hillside Cemetery used from 1734-1924. It's located right on Wilton's Route 7, the main thorougfare for our town.

Wilton Cannondale

If you're a biker, you'll recognize this name and perhaps this building. And if you're old enough, you may even have Cannondale gear that has a graphic of this train station on it (I still have the old stuff). This is Cannondale, a section of Wilton that offers a train stop, but more noteworthy, where Cannondale bikes started. Joe Montgomery, Jim Catrambone and Ron Davis started it in 1971. The history goes that the payphone here was used by the owners to take orders, and in the early days, when the company was nameless, one of them was asked what name should go on the invoice. He looked up at the train station and thought Cannondale seemed as good of a name as any. And so it was.

See that platform? That was never there when I was growing up. If you wanted to board the train, you did it the old fashioned way. You stepped up from the ground and then took the one-car train to South Norwalk, got off and switched trains to go into Manhattan.

Wilton Cannondale Train Crossing

Wilton Schoolhouse Restaurant

Across the street from the train station is the Old Schoolhouse Restaurant, a wonderful dining experience where the food and service are first rate.

Wilton Hurlbut

This is another old schoolhouse, the Hurlbutt Street School. It started in 1834. I'm guessing you can figure out where it's located.

Wilton Amber Farm

I love barns and Wilton has them, especially red ones. This one is part of Ambler Farm. The farm was there when I was growing up, but it's now owned by the town, thanks to the generous donation of the Ambler family. They have a small weekend farmers market there and an annual fall event that's fun for families.

Wilton Garden

There are a lot of beautiful homes here and along with them, beautiful gardens, like this one on Nod Hill Road.

Wilton Black eye Susans

I'm a huge fan of black-eyed Susans.

Wilton Llewellyn House

Wilton has a variety of architecture. Some homes are stone.

Wilton Big House

Some homes are newly built with three car garages.

Wilton Colonial

And some date back a long way. This one is by my house. I can't get enough of white picket fences. You don't see them much in the Bay Area. They're so very New England.

Wilton Yellow Clapboard

This is another of my favorite houses. This time a yellow clapboard house with black shutters.

I got a chance to spend a fair amount of time here two years ago before my Dad passed. It was a bittersweet time. He was sick for awhile so that meant many trips back here to help out. During that summer I re-explored every neighborhood in Wilton, driving on streets that weren't there when I was growing up.

A lot has changed since then. New houses. Bigger houses. Alcohol-serving restaurants. But some things are exactly the same, like deer still rushing in front of your car when you're driving on dark streets. It still has the same quaintness that I loved then and love now. My Mom always referred to it as Wonderful Wilton. I used to roll my eyes at that and now, I say it.

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  1. 1
    Michelle Cote says:

    I too grew up in Wilton in the 50, 60 and 70s. It is a wonderful place and I hope to visit Wilton again some day soon. My mother also grew up there. She moved to Wilton when she was 2, in 1928, she lived right on Route 7 when it was a dirt road, just across from the old St. Matthews church! My heart aches when I look at your pictures. I spent many summer days at the Yankee Fair at the Congregational Church auctions. My mother and father lived in Wilton until they both passed away about 18 years ago. They are both buried in Hillside Cemetery. Thank you for your pictures, they are lovely.

  2. 2
    Mariana Hall says:

    Hi Mugs,
    It’s Mudd. Just saw this piece on Facebook. Thanks for bring back such sweet memories of Wonderful Wilton. Although I love living on the south Carolina coast, I sure do miss the fall in Wilton.
    Hope all is well in your world.
    -Mudd (Franco) Hall

  3. 3
    Barbara Stead Hrivnak says:

    I, too, grew up in Wilton. We moved there from Norwalk when I was 7. For a tiny little town it was one of the most beautiful, and enjoyable places in the US. NYC was right around the corner, as were all the other beautiful cities in New England. Anything you ever wanted to do or experience was all less than 4 hours away with the safety and comfort of home always within arms reach. At 18 I couldn’t wait to get out in the world and make my way….but could not have done it without the prime, preparatory education to be able to move forward in my difficult field of study…art and music. Now in my late 50s, and pretty much retired…all I desire is to go home. I love my little town. Thankyou for molding me into the person I am today.

  4. 4
    Jay says:

    I grew up in Wilton too. Nice work and great pictures.

    You are getting a lot of compliments in the “I Grew Up In Wilton And Should Not Be Defriended Because I Disagree Facebook forum.

  5. 5
    Steve Bullinger says:

    Mugs, thanks for the Wilton memories. Best, Steve

  6. 6
    Frank Kulla says:

    Thanks for the wonderful walk through Wilton again. Lived there from 1969-1984. Still miss the town and return as often as I can.

  7. 7
    Bob and Tony Vos says:

    Your article certainly brought back pleasant memories having lived in Wilton for 39 years before moving to Virginia Beach in 2002. We lived on Hulda Hill Rd close to the center of town. I recall the time that Wilton did not have a police force but a non resident state trooper. Kindest regards Bob and Tony Vos

  8. 8
    Rebecca C. McCue says:

    4841 Tanglewood Ct.
    We raised two daughters in Wilton…then moved to Colorado Hi to all who made my time wonderful there, especially the Girl Scout leaders and Gourmet Group and all the young people my girls knew. Hi to Mudd and Mugs! (Can’t remember who you are but sure remember the names.)

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