Litchfield's History

LITCHFIELD IS A SMALL TOWN of approximately 8,000 people located in northwestern Connecticut.

Founded in 1719, Litchfield has a rich history. The town was the home of the first law school in the United States as well as an early school for girls. At the end of the 19th century, Litchfield residents became leaders in the Colonial Revival movement. Today, carefully preserved 18th and 19th c. homes share space with innovative 20th c. architecture. Travelers from all over the world visit Litchfield to enjoy its architecture, shops, restaurants, and natural beauty.

Favorite pastimes include outdoor sports such as hiking, boating, and cycling. The town is one hour from Hartford and New Haven and two and a half hours from New York City and Boston.

Litchfield During the Revolutionary War

Litchfield’s inland location on major trade routes gave the town unique role during the American Revolution. Because Litchfield’s inland location made it a “safe town” the community was used to house important loyalist prisoners and as a supply depot for military stores.

The Society's 2006 exhibition The Tale of the Horse presented information about both the activities of Litchfield's residents during the war and their efforts to memorialize it in subsequent years. Click on the link to see objects and documents included in the show.

After the Revolutionary War

The fifty years between 1784 and 1834 were a time of growth and prosperity for the community. During these years Litchfield was an active growing urban center, and by 1810 the town had become the fourth largest in the state. During these years Litchfield was home to two pioneering educational institutions, the Litchfield Law School and the Litchfield Female Academy.

The Litchfield Law School

With more than 1,100 students attending from every region of post-revolutionary America, the Litchfield Law School, America’s first law school, launched the careers of many well-known politicians, jurists, educators as well as leaders in the nation’s emerging corporate, mercantile, industrial and financial establishments.

The Litchfield Female Academy

The Litchfield Female Academy was one of a small group of schools that played a critical role in shaping later educational, social and economic opportunities for women in the United States. Over its forty-one year history the academy attracted over 3,000 students from fifteen states and territories, Canada, Ireland and the West Indies.

During the Colonial Revival

By the 1840's water power and railroads had become critical components in the growth of manufacturing. Industries by-passed Litchfield’s hilltop location in favor of valley towns, and the village settled into a sleepy existence.

Modern Litchfield

Today, Litchfield is a vibrant community. The town’s population continues to grow, and residents and visitors alike treasure the historic character of the architecture and landscape.

My Country

My Country Society, Inc., founded in 1967, encouraged new and established authors to write articles on all aspects of American history. In 2008, the journal transferred publication to the Litchfield Historical Society blog with a greater emphasis on Litchfield history. The complete run of published My Country issues, as well as the records of the My Country Society, are available to researchers at the Society's Helga J. Ingraham Memorial Library.