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Farmington, Connecticut

HistoryEdit Eighteenth and nineteenth centuriesEditTownDate of separationSouthington1779Berlin1785Bristol1785Wolcott (eastern part)1796Burlington1806Avon (as Northington)1845New Britain1850Plainville1869 Farmington was originally inhabited by the Tunxis Indian tribe. In 1640, a white settlement was established by residents of Hartford, making Farmington the oldest inland settlement west of the Connecticut River and the sixth oldest communities in the state. Settlers found the area ideal because of its rich soil, location along the floodplain of the Farmington River, and valley geography. The town and river were given their present names in 1645, which is considered the incorporation year of the town. The town's boundaries were later enlarged several times, making it the largest in the Connecticut Colony. The town was named after Farmington, in England.[3] Farmington has been called the "mother of towns" because its vast area was divided to produce nine other central Connecticut communities. The borough of Unionville, in Farmington's northwest corner, was once home to many factories harnessing the water power of the Farmington River. Farmington is steeped in New England history. Main Street, in the historic village section, is lined with colonial estates, some of which date back to the 17th century. During theRevolutionary War, George Washington passed through Farmington on several occasions and referred to the town as "the village of pretty houses."[4] In addition, French troops under General Rochambeau encamped in Farmington en route to Westchester County to offer crucial support to General Washington's army. Nineteenth centuryEdit Northwest View of Farmington from Round Hill, a sketch by John Warner Barber (1798–1885) for his Historical Collections of Connecticut (published 1836), shows Barber in the picture, across the Farmington River from the town. The majority of Farmington residents were abolitionists and were active in aiding escapedslaves. Several homes in the town were "safe houses" on the Underground Railroad. The town became known as "Grand Central Station"[5][6] among escaped slaves and their "guides". Farmington played an important role in the famous Amistad trial. In 1841, 38 MendeAfricans and Cinqué, the leader of the revolt on the Amistad slave ship, were housed and educated in Farmington after the U.S. government refused to provide for their return to Africa following the trial. The Mende were educated in English and Christianity while funds were raised by residents for their return to Africa. The Farmington Canal, connecting New Haven with Northampton, Massachusetts, passed through the Farmington River on its eastern bank and was in operation between 1828 and 1848. The canal's right of way and towpath were eventually used for a railroad, portions of which were active up to the 1990s. Part of the canal and railroad line has now been converted to a multi-use trail. Important institutions in townEdit UConn Health Center Just above the village, off Mountain Road, lies the Hill-Stead Museum. The estate, completed in 1901 and designed for Alfred Atmore Pope by his daughter Theodate Pope Riddle, one of the first woman American architects, is known for its Colonial Revival architecture. Now a museum, its 19 rooms hold a nationally-recognized collection ofImpressionist paintings by such masters as Manet, Monet, Whistler, Degas and Cassatt. It is the site of the annual Sunken Garden Poetry Festival and is a National Historic Landmark. Miss Porter's School, an exclusive college preparatory school for girls, is in Farmington. The school, whose buildings occupy much of the village center, is a significant historic and cultural institution in its own right. Founded in 1843 by educational reformer Sarah Porter, Miss Porter's has long been one of the most selective preparatory schools for girls in the country. Famous alumni include Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Lilly Pulitzer and members of the Bush, Vanderbilt, and Rockefeller families. The town is home to the University of Connecticut Health Center, which employs over 5,000 people.[citation needed] The Health Center also houses John Dempsey Hospital. The hospital provides the only full-service emergency department in the Farmington Valley and a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), one of only two in Connecticut. Farmington is home to TRUMPF Inc., the largest manufacturer of fabricating machinery in the United States and a world market leader in lasers used for industrial production technology.[citation needed] Development issuesEdit Post office and stage coach, 1907 postcard Many residents have repeatedly fought proposals by the state to widen Route 4, a main thoroughfare linking northwestern Connecticut to Interstate 84, fearing that such a move would compromise the character and integrity of the town. With the recent relocation of Parsons Chevrolet, "on that crazy corner" just above the village, there is some suspicion that this widening of Route 4 will come sooner rather than later. Work has been delayed because of the town's fight to maintain the village aesthetic and requests for modifications to the proposed plan. Farmington faces a relatively strong demand for housing. The lure of Farmington's quality public school system, convenient location for commuters, charm, and name recognition continue to attract new home buyers. As such, town officials are faced with the task of accommodating new growth while respecting the preservation and need for open space. Farmington's real estate values are among the highest in Greater Hartford. In January 2008, town residents overwhelmingly approved the purchase of nearly 100 acres (0.40 km2) of farmland. This blocked a proposal to convert the farm into a residential strip, something many feared would have compromised the town's rural feel.

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