THE REVOLUTIONARY ROAD NEWSLETTER NO. 20

October 19, 1999

Editor: Hans DePold, Bolton Town Historian

Purpose

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 on the National Register of Historic Places. Rochambeau’s French army defines the Revolutionary Road when they marched from Newport to Yorktown and back to Boston. The goal is to encourage registration of the entire route that passes through Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia and raise to a higher level the quality of heritage preservation along the route.

Vote Immanent on Preserving the 5th French Camp

The first town meeting to decide if the Rose Farm, the site of Rochambeau’s 5th encampment is to be preserved will be on November 2. The town audits of the Rose Farm are done but as with most things associated with the farm, the price is still a secret. The cost is expected to be slightly less than $1.2 million. Apparently the appraisals are within range of the owner’s asking price.

Now is still the time to write to support the preservation of that historic site. Often something is only fully appreciated when others point out the importance.

Please write to the Bolton Selectmen and the Open Space Commission, C/O Carl Preuss, First Selectman, at 222 Bolton Center Road, Bolton, CT 06043 or FAX to 860-643-0021.

The November 2 vote will be for the purpose of applying for a state open space grant. Our goal should be a unanimous town vote in favor of it. Once the amount of the state contribution is known, the amount that the town of Bolton will have to raise will be known. Then there will have to be another town vote to allocate the money. That town vote will be difficult if the open space grant is not the maximum allowed. Anything less than the maximum will imply that it is not highly valued historic property for the state. So we could then expect some people to oppose the purchase by the town of Bolton if the state does not fully recognize the historic value.

All the state agencies are answerable to Governor John Rowland. Therefore please also write to:

Governor John Rowland State Capitol Building 210 Capitol Avenue Hartford, CT 06106 FAX 566-4677 or 524-7396 governor.rowland@po.state.ct.us

Governor Rowland initiated this open space plan so he certainly is interested in it. Letters from the SAR, DAR, Society of the Cincinnati, and others will certainly get his attention. He will forward them to the people with responsibility and ask for a report. That can be very effective in getting the necessary attention.

We can also mention that the Connecticut Historical Commission recently did research and archaeological digs at the property and have documented its historical significance. Dr. John Shannahan is their director and also reports to the Governor. He should be mentioned because the archaeological finds were significant enough to warrant secrecy via state statute.

Of course Representative Sawyer has been involved all along and will continue to help. Right now she says we need to make a list of possible uses for the land once it is preserved. I expect we will be buying 99 acres of fields plus two acres with the house barn and other structures. It is possible the house and barn could be sold off if the state does not want to contribute. Therefore our plans should consider the whole farm plus the second possibility that we will just preserve the fields.

Approximately 20 acres are of high archaeological importance. My concern is that the armies and officers approached the house and so a small portion would be lost if the house were sold off. The foundation is original but in 1830 the house was reconstructed in Federalist style after the colonial home suffered fire damage. As I reported in newsletter 19, this house was visited by General Washington and slept in at least once (possibly three or four times) by General Rochambeau. We only know where Rochambeau slept on three of six trips and once (June 21, 1781) was certainly in the Colton home. We also know from a diary that he was present another evening (Nov 4, 1782) but he may have left to go sleep at a tavern.

We would welcome your ideas for the future use of this property. Better yet, examples of actual successful use of other historic properties would be beneficial. These examples would be suggested at the town meetings. You could email them to me. Also, some of your letters to the town may be read at the meeting as well.

One danger is to propose a single course of action before an option to buy is in hand. The owners could disagree and kill any single idea. That happened before when senior citizen uses were suggested several years ago when the Economic Development Commission looked into the property. The specific use does not have to be decided until the sale is secured.

The preservation of Camp 5 would be a fine way to end this millennium. This year we partnered and got all the remaining Connecticut funding needed for the Revolutionary Road. Now we have the opportunity to preserve the most significant intact site in Connecticut of the Rochambeau march to Yorktown. Now more than ever we need your help in our partnership. I am sure that together we will succeed.