2011 Vibrant Cities Application to
Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation
The Town has submitted an application to the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation for a $50,000 grant to be used to establish a comprehensive plan and community consensus for the fairgrounds and surrounding historic assets. The goal of the program is to further enhance Ledytard's town center.
Question 1: The crossroads in the center of Ledyard have been an important gathering place in North Groton, as Ledyard was originally known, for over 200 years. Initially, the open field created at the intersection of crossroads was used for militia drills and today the space is used for major holiday celebrations as well as the annual Ledyard Fair and seasonal farmers market.
Despite its central location and importance in the community, the Fairgrounds/Town Green is an underutilized landscape that has not been looked comprehensively. Over the years, sections have been developed in a piecemeal fashion. Buildings needed for the annual agricultural fair have been constructed; fences erected carving the space into small sections; memorials erected and pathways put in; but nothing has tried to consider the space as a whole. What has resulted is a “mish mosh” of elements, some higher quality and some utilitarian, with the net result that the landscape can not easily be used except for the specific uses it has been programmed for. As a result, this historic space is used only sporadically throughout the year. What could be a true town gathering point sits for the majority of the year. (Attachments: Aerial photographs of Fairgrounds/Town Green area; photographs)
For several years, the Town of Ledyard has been working to create a village center in Ledyard Center, and has taken several steps toward encouraging development that creates “a sense of place.” Village District Zoning was adopted in 2005 and the Ledyard Town Center Committee completed a reporting 2007 that looked at the whole of Ledyard center and development ideas for the area.
The goal of this project is to determine how to better utilize this untapped resource and to bring the community together to experience the historic fabric of Ledyard Center. Goals and objectives of project are a follows:
• To create a cohesive and comprehensive plan for the Town Green/Fairgrounds that enables greater community use while preserving the historic elements of the buildings and cultural landscape in the area
• To enhance the gateway to Ledyard Center and to encourage traffic to slow down and experience the historic nature of the area
• To identify lower cost, high impact goals and prioritize their completion
Ledyard Center is the Town’s government and retail center with a small cluster of historic buildings. The Greek Revival Congregational Church (1843) and the shingle-clad, Queen Anne-style Bill Library (1892), mark the “gateway” to Ledyard Center on the east side of Colonel Ledyard Highway, a state road that bisects the Center. Adjacent to these visual landmarks are a one-room school and the original Ledyard Town Hall (circa 1930). Approximately .25 miles north are two municipal buildings: the blond brick Ledyard Center School (1949) on the east side of the highway, and the Colonial Revival Town Hall (1956) on the west.
At the center of this historic node, and tucked away from view from the street are the historic Fairgrounds/Town Green. First held in 1927 as a Grange fair, the Ledyard Fair preserves the Town’s agricultural heritage and the tradition of New England fairs. Fairgoers from around the region are drawn by “traditional” agricultural fair events such as horse and oxen pulls; carnival rides and food tents.
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