Fairfield, Connecticut’s David Ogden House was built in 1750 and is an exceptionally well preserved example of a mid 18th Century Connecticut farmhouse. It was built in the style of a traditional saltbox with a lean-to roofline and massive central stone chimney topped with brick.
The house is believed to have been built for David Ogden at the time of his marriage to Jane Sturges. Its mentioned in an 1750 deed as the “New House”. They had 10 children, three of whom died in infancy. For the next 125 years it was home for the Ogden family.
The David Ogden House exterior is composed of hand-hewn shingles and brick red windows, door and trim overlooking Brown’s Brook in the Mill River Valley. A bridge across the brook leads to a foot trail lined with native Connecticut shrubs and wild flowers.
It has an eighteenth-century style kitchen garden behind the house featuring herbs used in the era. Without much of a cash economy in the 1750s, the Ogdens made cider and grew corn and other veggies that they bartered for the things they needed to survive.
The interior of the house is centered around the massive fieldstone fireplace lined with cooking pots and tools. To the left of the fireplace are shelves lined with cups, drinking mugs and jugs with a powder horn and laundry irons of the period. Butter churns, barrels and other food preparation tools line the hardwood floors.
The well worn work table where Ogden kept records of his trades with his neighbors has a five inch “Sugar cone” as it was kept in the day. Children where said to be “Nippers” who stole bites from it. The upper portion of the David Ogden House was the family’s sleeping quarters, including a master bedroom with a four-post bed and fireplace.
One of the reasons the David Ogden House is one of the few standing structures in the area from the mid 1700’s is that it escaped the burning of Fairfield by the British during the Revolutionary war. On July 7, 1779 the British anchored warships in the Long Island Sound off the coast of Fairfield. An estimated 2,000 British troops, under the leadership of General William Tryon had been sent to burn Fairfield for being a stronghold of support for the Patriot cause in Loyalist territory.
The British were forced to wait for the fog to lift before coming ashore, and when the ships were spotted by townspeople many fled to safety in nearby Greenfield Hill, while others stayed to protect their property. Once ashore, the troops quickly went to work and before they finished the next day left the town in ashes burning 97 homes, 67 barns, 48 stores, 2 schools, the courthouse and other community buildings.
A decade after the burning, President George Washington visited Fairfield and commented on the extent of the devastation still visible saying, “The destructive evidences of British cruelty are yet visible both in Norwalk and Fairfield; as there are the chimneys of many burnt houses standing in them yet.”
Many of Fairfield’s citizens who had lost their homes were offered an equivalent value of land in what was known as the “Connecticut Western Reserve” in what today is part of Ohio. When these early settlers left for what came to be known as the “Fire Lands” they didn’t come back leaving the land more depopulated, and changed Fairfield’s boundaries with areas eventually being annexed to form the town of Westport.
Today, the David Ogden House is a museum for the Fairfield Historical Society, which also operates the Fairfield Museum and History Center. The Museum has a stunning, 360 degree view of the house – both interior and exterior that is a delight to view on its website at: http://www.fairfieldhistory.org/visit/ogden-house/
The David Ogden House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, making it one of Fairfield, Connecticut’s most important historic homes.
Author of Hiring The Best People, Steven Penny writes on Connecticut’s best communities to live for your home and family. If you are looking for Real Estate Fairfield CT visit http://www.Prudentialct.com