Historic Village of Groton Bank

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Groton Bank--History
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Groton Bank--Notable People
Groton Bank--Historic House Plaques
Groton Bank--Places to Visit
Groton Bank Historical Association--Activities, Contacts and Membership

Welcome to the Historic Village of Groton Bank in Groton, Connecticut, USA

This website is currently under development. If you have any suggestions or comments, please contact us!
 
 
June 14, 2014--The City of Groton's Summer in the City program in conjunction with Connecticut Open House Day will feature a  walking tour of the village of Groton Bank and a number of its historic buildings will be open to the public.  An approximately hour-long walking tour led by GBHA president Tom Althuis will start at 10 AM at  the Groton Monument, go through Fort Griswold (site of the 1781 Revolutionary War battle and Connecticut's major defense in the War of 1812), past the Enz. Ebenezer Avery House in the Fort, and point out a variety of architectural styles and notable historical events that occurred along Thames, Broad and Monument Streets.
 
Buildings along the tour and open to the public free of charge from 11AM to 3PM will be manned by their respective organizations:
  • Groton Monument (1830) and Monument House Museum
  • Fort Griswold (1775) and Enz. Ebenezer Avery House (c. 1750)
  • Avery-Copp Museum (early 1800s)
  • Mother Bailey House (Dr. Amos Prentice house of 1782)
  • Groton Congregational Church (1901)
  • Bill Memorial Library and Museum (1890)

            Lite refreshments will be available at some of the sites.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
2013-14 Meetings of the Groton Bank  Historical  Association
 
 
FALL MEETING--Nov 11, 2013, 7 PM at Groton Conregational Church, 162 Monument Street.  Subject:
"Everyting You wanted to know about Groton Bank, Part II."  This meeting will focus on the history of churches on Groton Bank and organizations associated with Fort Griswold.  Speakers Barbara Frucht, Lorraine Chappell, Janet Purinton and Cathy Jonson will  share  the history of the Groton Heights Baptist Church (originally the Groton Bank Baptist Church, the Groton Congregational Church,  the Anna Warner Bailey Chapter of the DAR and the Avery Family Association.
 
WINTER MEETING--January 27, 2014: Jim Streeter, Groton Town historian and GBHA member, will speak about Civil War Veteran Robert A. Gray, a resident of Groton Bank and the only person from Groton to win the Medal of Honor.  Meeting will be at 7:00PM at the Groton Congregational Church, 162 Monument Street, Groton, CT preceed by a social gathering at 6:30PM.
 
 
SPRING MEETING--April 14, 2014:  Kevin Johnson, of the CT State Library's History and Genelogical Unit, will portray "Jordan Freeman: The Fight to Set a People Free".  Freeman was the body servant of Col. Ledyard, commander of Fort Griswold during the American Revolution and Benedict Arnold's assult that occurred there on September 6, 1781.  Freeman was  one of the two black defenders of the Fort in that battle.
 
 
 
 
2013 Meetings of the Groton Bank Historical Association
 
 
 
CANCELLED WINTER MEETING: Feb 11, 2013, 7pm Groton Congregational Church 162 Monument Street Groton, Connecticut. Program: Everything you wanted to know about Groton Bank Part II: History of Churches, Organizations associated with Fort Griswold, and Historic Artistic presentations. Speakers include Lorraine Chappell-Groton Congregational Church, Cathy Johnson-Avery Memorial Family Association, and Barbara Morin-DAR. Liz McGee-noted Watercolor Artist, will present some of her works on local historic sites. Refreshements will be served beginning at 6:30 pm.
 
 
SPRING/ANNUAL MEETING: April 29, 2013 "Groton Bank and the War of 1812",  Speaker: Tom Althuis, president of GBHA.  The Thames Harbor with New London on the west and Groton Bank on the east was clearly Connecticut's major arena of continuous activity in the War of 1812.  On June 1, 1813 the British fleet chased Commodore Stephen Decatur and his 3 ship squadron (the "United States", the "Macedonian" and the "Hornet," comprising 1/5th or more of the US Navy) in to the river and blockaded them there for the remainder of the war.   British war ships manevering  in eastern Long Island Sound off the mouth of the Thames River first produced panic and then continued fears among local residents that an attack was eminent.  For the next 20 months the blocade of this port became a British center of activity and had a severe economic effect essentially curtailing trade not only in the harbor but Long Island Sound as well.  Constant fear of an attack led to continued improvements in coastal defense. At Groton Bank, Fort Griswold, 150 feet above sea level, with a battery 75 feet above the river, was the most significant defense for the harbor and the state.  Decatur helped to reinforce it in the early days of June 1813 as did troop regiments and improvements continued through the year.  The smaller Fort Trumbull at water level in New London was the district's military headquarters.  But most of the militia, at times approaching two thousand men, were stationed on the Groton side of the river.  The strong force at, and the strategic location of Fort Griswold coupled with Fort Trumbull less than a mile across the river probably discouraged the British from attacking this harbor as they did Sept. 6, 1781 during the Revolutionary  War.  After all any cannon shot coming from either of the Forts could strike an enemy ship anywhere in the entrance of the river.  What happened here is a largely ignored story of successful harbor defense.  Nevertheless in late 1813 through 1814, constant harassment by the British ships resulted in skirmishes, capture of some American ships, a number of raids and some small battles elsewhere along the Connecticut coast. 
 
 
 
2011-2012 Meetings of the Groton Bank Historical Association

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November 12, 2012--"Everything you wanted to know about Groton Bank: Part I, "What's happening withThames Street and the Mother Bailey House",  Marion Galbraith, Mayor, City of Groton   Part II, "Avery Copp Museum"  Leslie Evans, Curator; "Frederic Bill and others", Hali Keeler, Director, Bill Memorial Library
April 16, 2012 (Annual Meeting):  Joanna Negri, owner of English Borders in North Stonington,  will speak about "Histories of the English Garden".   Joanna specializes in perennial garden design and eco-friendly gardening.   She has a keen interest in the history of colonial homes and people who settled this area.  She and her husband have appeared in HGTV's "If Walls Could Talk", a show exploring historic homes and their hidden stories. 

Joanna was born a stone's throw away from the famous Kew Gardens in London, England where childhood walks instilled in her a life-long love of plants.  Originally trained as a research chemist, in 2005 she followed her bliss and made working with plants her profession.  She is passionate about sustainable organic gardening and working in harmony with both nature and architecture.  

Joanna's talk promises to be filled with ideas that could be applied to lawns/gardens in our historic neighborhood.

  • February 6, 2012:  Dr. Glenn Gordinier of Mystic Seaport and the University of Connecticut at Avery Point spoke about "The War of 1812, Connecticut, and Groton Bank".  He put Groton Bank in context of the larger developments of the war and included comments about Mother Bailey and other Groton Bank residents of the time. 

The War of 1812 became a serious concern for Groton Bank on June 1, 1813 when the British fleet blockaded Commodore Decatur's squadron in New London Harbor for the remainder of the War.  Area residents remembered Benedict Arnold's bloody September 6, 1781 attack on Groton and New London.  Fearing a repeat, the militia was sent out, forts were reinforced and women, children and portable possessions were evacuated.  Although there were a number of times in 1813 and 1814 that a British attack seemed emment, an invasion attempt never materialized perhaps due to better fortifications and more manpower on land than we had during the Revolution. 

Glenn is a visiting scholar at U. CT Avery Point and the Robert C. Albion Historian  and co-director of the Frank C. Munson Institute of American Maritime Studies at Mystic Seaport.  He is also writing a book, "Rockets Red Glare" in conjunction with a Lyman Allyn Museum exhibit on the War of 1812.

  • November 14, 2011:  GBHA president Tom Althuis kicked-off the association's 40th season by stepping back in time with a visit to Groton Bank more than a century ago.  Using slides of old photos of houses, businesses and maps, Tom took the audience on a tour of sites and architecture, describing historical events and people that made the growing village of Groton Bank notable in local, state, national and occasionally even world history.   Did you know:
    • The largest ship in colonial America was launched here in 1725 and shipbuilding here has set records ever since.
    • Almost all men who lived in the village were killed or wounded in 1781 during the Revolutionary War Battle at Fort Griswold.
    • A heroin of the War of 1812 who lived on Thames St. received national attention later to be visited here by 3 U.S. Presidents.
    • The most notabe and successful sea captains of the whaling era lived here.
    • Groton Bank is an architectural gem with colonial to Victorian styles.
    • Ferries were the only form of transportation across the Thames River until the first railroad bridge opened in 1889 followed by the first car bridge in 1919.

Come join your friends and neighbors and learn about the people who lived in our neighborhood and what happened here a century ago.

Unless otherwise noted, meetings are held  at 7 PM in Fellowship Hall at the Groton Congregational Church, 162 Monument Street, Groton CT and preceded by coffee/tea and desserts at 6:30 PM

Some examples of historic houses, buildings and sites  at Groton Bank:

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Ensign Ebenezer Avery House, ca. 1750

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Captain Ebenezer "Rattler" Morgan House, 1851

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Avery-Copp House Museum

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Groton Congregational Church, Fourth Meeting House, dedicated 1902

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Thomas Avery Miner House, 1894

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Capt. Rufus Avery House, 1787

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Monument House Museum

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Fort Griswold, ruins of the Revolutionary War Fort built 1775-1777

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Samuel Moxley, Jr/Capt William H. Allen House 1850

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Bill Memorial Library, dedicated 1890

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James A. Morgan House, 1875

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Groton Monument, dedicated 1830, oldest patriotic monument of its kind in the U.S.

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Joseph Latham House, 1717

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Groton Heights Baptist Church, originally Groton Bank Baptist Church, Second Meeting House, 1872

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Deacon William P. Harris House, 1842

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Col. Hubbard D. Morgan House, c. 1860

This web site is sponsored by the Groton Bank Historical Association, Inc. (GBHA). GBHA’s objective is to research and promote the history of Groton Bank and to maintain the historical architecture and village character of this area listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  To accomplish this GBHA publishes information about Groton Bank and sponsors several historical-educational meetings annually.