Ridgefield was first settled by English colonists from Norwalk and Milford in 1708, when a group of settlers purchased land from Chief Catoonah (also known as Chief Katonah) of the Ramapo tribe. The town was incorporated under a royal charter from the Connecticut General Assembly issued in 1709. The most notable 18th-century event was the Battle of Ridgefield on April 27, 1777. This American Revolutionary War skirmish involved a small colonial militia force (state militia and some Continental Army soldiers), led by, among others, General David Wooster, who died in the engagement, and Benedict Arnold, whose horse was shot from under him. They faced a larger British force that had landed at Westport and was returning from a raid on the colonial supply depot in Danbury. The battle was a tactical victory for the British but a strategic one for the Colonials because the British would never again conduct inland operations in Connecticut, despite western Connecticut’s strategic importance in securing the Hudson River Valley. Today, the dead from both sides are buried together in a small cemetery on Main Street on the right of the entrance to Casagmo condominiums: “…foes in arms, brothers in death…”. In the summer of 1781, the French army under the Comte de Rochambeau marched through Connecticut, encamping in the Ridgebury section of town. There are many landmarks from the Revolutionary War in the town, with most along Main Street.
During the weekend of April 29th 2017, the 1777 Wooster-Sons of Liberty Foundation, and Jerusalem 49 Masonic Lodge of Ridgefield sponsored and hosted a reenactment of the 1777 Battle of Ridgefield. The reenactment included personalities in full period costumes. British troops bivouacked in an encampment at Ballard park; the 5th Connecticut Regiment of the Continental Army and colonialist militias established their encampment at Keeler Tavern Museum.
This is the closet you could come to being there 240 years ago—as ordinary Americans, local militias and Washington’s Continental Army, confronted and engaged the superior British force that had just destroyed Danbury and the Continental Army’s supplies for the war effort.
A rememberance of the Americans fighting for and believing in freedom and liberty not yet secured in the newly birthed United States of America.
Guests observed the march of the British from Danbury through Ridgefield, the live smelting and pouring of musket balls, canon fire, live skirmishes and reenactment practice drills with the soldiers.
There was an eye opening look into the past, including the chores, responsibilities and lifestyles of American and British Soldiers, the conditions and challenging hardships endured and conquered by Americans as a high but critical price for liberty.
Our appreciation to Addessi Jewelers for the reenactment photos above.
For much of its three centuries, Ridgefield was a farming community. Among the important families in the 19th century were the Rockwells and Lounsburys, which intermarried. They produced two Connecticut governors, George Lounsbury and Phineas Lounsbury. The Ridgefield Veterans Memorial Community Center on Main Street, also called the Lounsbury House, was built by Gov. Phineas Chapman Lounsbury around 1896 as his primary residence. The Lounsbury Farm near the Florida section of Ridgefield is one of the only remaining operational farms in Ridgefield.
Ridgefield has a traditional New England Board of Selectmen–Town Meeting form of government, which is created by Town Charter and approved by the voters. The chief executive is The First Selectman, who also serves a legislative function as a member of the Board of Selectmen. The current First Selectman, Rudy Marconi (D), was first elected in 1999.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 35.0 square miles (91 km2), of which 34.4 square miles (89 km2) is land and 0.5 square miles (1.3 km2), or 1.52%, is water. The town is bordered by the towns of North Salem and Lewisboro in Westchester County, New York to the west, Danbury to the north, Wilton to the south and Redding to the east.
The town has a Metro-North Railroad station called Branchville in the Branchville corner of town.
Attractions, Landmarks, and Institutions
The Ridgefield Playhouse is a venue known for music events and performing arts, located in Ridgefield, CT. Opened in 1938. The venue features seating for 500 people and has hosted events for Paul Anka, Bruce Hornsby, Metropolitan Opera, Ron White, and Jewel, among other concert, comedy, and theatre events.
The Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra began as the “Ridgefield Symphonette” in 1965 with 20 players, only a third of them professionals. It became fully professional by the end of the decade and today has 75 musicians and draws soloists of international reputation.
The Keeler Tavern Museum preserves an early 18th-century house that, by the time of the Revolution, had become a tavern and inn. The tavern was a center of community activities, an early post office, and a stop on the northern New York to Boston post road. In the early 20th century, it was the home of noted architect Cass Gilbert. The tavern is open several days a week, offers tours, and has a gift shop. The Keeler Tavern features a British cannonball still lodged in the side of the building.
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum is a leading venue for the world’s best contemporary artists. Its exhibitions have attracted national attention and respect. The museum was redesigned and expanded in 2004, and offers many special programs, including concerts.
The Ridgefield Playhouse opened December 2000, is housed in the former Ridgefield Alternate High School auditorium, and was remodeled as a playhouse. It is the year-round venue for dozens of concerts and other performances, many by internationally known artists. The Playhouse also shows movies, many of them first-run.
Weir Farm National Historic Site, which straddles the Ridgefield-Wilton border, preserves much of the farm of J. Alden Weir (1852–1919), a painter of the American Impressionism style. The property was later used by his son-in-law, Mahonri Young (1877–1957), noted sculptor and a grandson of Brigham Young. The site includes the Weir Farm Art Center and a gallery, and many special events take place there, including shows by visiting artists in residence. Weir Farm is one of only two official National Park Service units in the state.
The Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance was founded as the Ridgefield Studio of Classical Ballet in 1965 by Patricia Schuster. In 2002 it became the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance, a non-profit 501(c) 3 organization.
Ridgefield Golf Course is the town’s municipal 18 hole golf course designed by George Fazio and Tom Fazio and opened in 1974.
The town’s largest industry is Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, whose United States headquarters are located in the Ridgebury section of town.