Editorial: Darien will celebrate its bicentennial in 2020
As the new year approaches, we have the usual thoughts about resolutions, yet the change of year means much more to Darien, as it celebrates its bicentennial.
Originally part of Stamford, Darien became Middlesex Parish in 1737. It was incorporated as the Town of Darien in 1820. Settlement truly began about 1700 when the first roads were cut “in the woods.” In 1703, a school district was set up in Noroton. A number of houses were also built at an early date near Gorham’s Pond.
There are many historical significances to Darien. In 1864, during the Civil War, the first home for disabled war veterans and soldiers’ orphans in the United States was built at Noroton Heights, named after its founder, Benjamin Fitch of Darien.
The Mather Homestead was built by Joseph Mather, a deacon in Middlesex Parish, in 1778 during the Revolutionary War. Over nearly two and a half centuries, the home was kept within the Mather family, passed down through seven generations. Stephen Tyng Mather inherited the house including 22 acres, which stretched over the Norwalk town line in 1907. Stephen Mather used the home during vacations while he spent time out West, making his mark on our country by founding, and becoming the first director of, the National Park Service
Darien’s Bicentennial Opening Ceremony will be held on Friday, Jan. 10, in the Town Hall auditorium, 2 Renshaw Road. The event is free but has limited seating. Darien’s Scott Pelley will be keynote speaker.
Following the Opening Ceremony, there will be a ticketed Bicentennial Reception at the Darien Arts Center, hosted by the Darien Arts Center and Darien Historical Society. Refreshments and hors d’oeuvres will be served. Tickets cost $45 if purchased in advance and $50 at the door. To purchase tickets, visit the Darien Arts Center website and Darien Historical Society website.
Darien, today, often can be stereotyped by others as shallow, wealthy and out of touch. It has been marred in the past by accusations of exclusivity, and worse, and some paint it as all the same people filling its many houses, churches, schools and shops. But the truth is that Darien, just like any other town, is made up of many different kinds of people. Unlike any other town, it has a vital and vivid history that is a critical part of our country’s earliest building blocks.
It celebrates our veterans like no other and proudly tends to and honors the many veterans buried in Spring Grove Veterans Cemetery — some dating back to the Civil War — during Wreaths Across America in December, a ceremony at the Memorial Day parade, and a Veterans Day ceremony at the Veterans’ circle at Town Hall.
Darien is made up of many different people — long time families, those who have just moved here, young families, children, students, parents, shop owners, businesses, teachers, town officials and volunteer. But though they are different — they do have one thing in common. They are proud of, grateful for, and love Darien. This is our year to celebrate this town.
Happy New Year, and Happy Bicentennial year, to all.