THE CONNECTICUT REVOLUTIONARY ROAD NEWSLETTER-NO. 4

October 24, 1998

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 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.

Value In Heritage Preservation Based Tourism (Comments overheard at the 17 October meeting of Connecticut municipal historians.)

New Englanders must live by their wits because they lack many natural resources. Heritage preservation based tourism is one of the ways we can build our economies using our wits. Massachusetts may seem to have co-opted the American Revolution, but the other colonies have just as much right and just as much to gain by developing their resources of Revolutionary heritage.

The development of a tourism route along the Revolutionary Road is a linkage that by proxy will allow each state to share the benefits of the heritage of each of the other states along the route. It will be a national trail with the exquisite Newport mansions of Rhode Island at one end and historic Williamsburg and Yorktown at the other. Each state will have major benefits from this partnership and it will open up not only American tourism, but most certainly foreign tourism.

State Preservation Officer Speaks

Dr. Jack Shannahan, Director of The Connecticut Historical Commission addressed the Association of Connecticut Municipal Historians on October 17. The theme was the Revolutionary Road, and the importance of partnering for historic preservation. Several success stories were given including the Freedom Trail (an Amistad connection) and the Old Connecticut Path (the route the original Hartford settlers took in 1636).

Dr. Shannahan described the Revolutionary Road as having at least three phases. The first phase will yield the map of the road through Connecticut, the encampment sites, and at least fifty existing structures and markers. Encampments from Plainfield to Bolton plus one at Breakneck will be examined by archaeologists in the first phase.

Phase 2 will complete the archaeological documentation of the route in Connecticut, include locations such as Lebanon on Lauzun’s route, and Wethersfield where Washington and Rochambeau met. It will also begin the process of listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

Phase 3 will include the activities of Lafayette which will expand the linkages within Connecticut.

The Bolton Historical Society and the Inter Community Historical Resources Committee say, “Preserve Campsite #5.”

On September 29, Dr. Robert Selig, a noted expert on Rochambeau in America, reviewed the historical significance of the Revolutionary Road and camp site in Bolton. Dr. Selig was selected by the State Historic Preservation Commission to document the significant structures and monuments along the route. He said that Bolton was fortunate to have one of the few remaining undisturbed Rochambeau campsites.

State Representative Pamela Sawyer indicated that the guidelines for CT matching of town open space purchases would be issued in January 1999. The town probably could expect about a 50% match. State Senator Mary Ann Handley said the matching possibly could be more since the state would also help out a non profit museum or similar use of the property. The historic value would be a big factor when considering eligibility for matching state funds.

State Senate candidate Susan Falcetta stated she also would support Connecticut open space funding for Campsite #5 if elected.

Dr. Selig said that Congress recognized the route in 1976 and federal support might also be possible. Hans DePold mentioned that other towns typically create non profit corporations to manage properties with operation financially independent of the towns.