June 8, 1999
Editor: Hans DePold, Bolton Town Historian
This newsletter is to provide a means for keeping historians, re-enactors, and other interested people aware of the activity to list the Revolutionary Road in the National Register of Historic Places. The Revolutionary Road was the choice of Rochambeau’s French army when they marched from Newport to Yorktown and back to Boston. The goal is also to encourage registration not only the Connecticut portion, but also the Revolutionary Road that passes through Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.
The worst thing about history is that each time it repeats itself the price goes up.
The Revolutionary Road… Lucky 13
It is official… the Connecticut Legislature passed the funding for both the second and third phase of the Rochambeau Trail in Connecticut. It includes $30,000 for fiscal 1999-2000 and $25,000 for 2000-2001. State Representative Pamela Sawyer championed it for us in the state legislature. She kept us informed of the hurdles and thanks to you, the SAR, historical societies, the re-enactors, and Society Français; we cleared all the hurdles. That should allow the route to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places with some money to document parts of Lauzun’s route and Lafayette.
But that is not the end, this is the beginning. The entire route from Newport to Yorktown needs to be registered. We need to promote this history in tourism guides especially the Michelin guides. We need to bring back to life the living history of the Revolutionary Road. Once again our patriots will rise to protect the heritage and beauty of the route. In saving their memories and artifacts they return to us to preserve their encampments, build new museums, and preserve the old taverns and stagecoach stops.
Rochambeau Encampment 5
The Rose Farm open space application is planned to go in this October. A partial exploration of the site yielded 60 artifacts in two days. But the town had done nothing serious about acquiring the farm for almost two years, so the owners threatened to put it back on the market. That precipitated a town preservation plan and a town letter to the owners asking for more time. The cost will be $1,200,000 with half coming from the town and half from the state of Connecticut as an open space grant. To keep the tax impact low some of the family offered to accept payment over five or ten years.
The Rose Farm was visited by Lafayette in mid February 1781, General Washington ate lunch there March 4, 1781, and Rochambeau stayed there June 21, 1781 and visited again November 4, 1782, and thousands of Continental Army regulars camped in the area on several campaigns. It was situated half way between Connecticut’s largest and third largest towns, Hartford and Lebanon and exactly one day’s march. Therefore everyone going by road between Hartford and Boston, Lebanon or Providence passed by this farm during the Revolution. It was the Bolton parsonage property on the town green and therefore was available to patriots in need.
It would be an excellent Connecticut Revolutionary Road museum to honor General Rochambeau and the French Army that made all the difference in the outcome of the Revolutionary War. We need a land use plan and a museum is one option to seriously consider now. The house was rebuilt but could be restored to the 1781 exterior design when the patriots visited. We could rent a room for meetings, and the outside for outdoor activities to augment the museum income. We would need 50% donations in time and materials to get state matching funds.
Heard from New Jersey
Members of the NJ Historical Commission and the Washington Association of New Jersey expressed interest in including the Rochambeau Route in the “Crossroads of the Revolution” project which is just getting underway.
Serge Gabriel of, Souvenir Français, said he will be in France on Independence Day, where he will visit the chateau of the Count of Rochambeau. He plans to place a wreath on Marshall Rochambeau’s grave in the name of the state of Connecticut. Two years ago Serge brought back a bronze medallion of the Count and we had it set in the Coventry CT monument.