Settled in the 1720s, Litchfield is one of the finest surviving examples of a classic late 18th century New England town. American history for 250 years is reflected by the buildings which comprise the Borough of Litchfield and its Historic District. The Borough is home to America’s first Law School and school of higher education for women. It is also the birthplace of Founding Father Andrew Adams and influential author Harriet Beecher Stowe.
The political structure of Litchfield was changed in 1818, when the boundaries of a smaller village, separate from the town, were established by the Connecticut General Assembly. Then in 1885 the Borough was chartered and the present form of government was established.
As established by its Charter, The Borough of Litchfield is governed by a Warden and a Board of Burgesses, separate from the Town of Litchfield’s Board of Selectmen. The Borough Board and its Historic District Commission work together to preserve the Borough’s charm and history, while promoting a greater sense of community among its residents.
HISTORIC DISTRICT COMMISSION
In 1959, the entire borough was designated a historic district by a special act of the Connecticut General Assembly, with the name “Old and Historic Litchfield Historic District”. It was the first such district in Connecticut. Subsequently, on November 24, 1968, a central portion of the borough was given National Historic Landmark status as “Litchfield Historic District”, and on November 29, 1978, the entire borough, including its 475 structures, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) as an historic district.
As a result of the historic district designation, exterior changes to structures in the district that are visible from a public way must be reviewed and approved by the Historic District Commission. The review process is intended to prevent changes that would be “incongruous with the District’s historic and architectural character” and serves to retain the Borough’s distinct combination of grace, charm, and historic integrity.
LITCHFIELD HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Established in 1856, The Litchfield Historical Society is a private non-profit organization dedicated to collecting, preserving and interpreting the history of Litchfield County, through its museum, research library and historic house. Photographs and information on specific structures within the Borough of Litchfield may be found in The Litchfield Historical Society’s archives.