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Local History Buffs Working to Update Book on Woodbridge Historic Houses

Local History Buffs Working to Update Book on Woodbridge Historic Houses

“Historic Woodbridge — An Historic and Architectural Resource Survey,” published 20 years ago, is a compilation of historic homes in Woodbridge, shown with black and white photographs. That first edition has been sold out for several years now, and needs to be updated, said Sheila McCreven, a member of the committee. The advisory committee also includes Town Clerk Stephanie Ciarleglio, Kathryn Gartland, Beth Heller, Richard Jeynes and from the Amity Woodbridge Historical Society Don Menzies, Martha German and Mary Dean. Jean Cunningham, the architectural consultant the Historical Society used for the first edition, is also in contact with the group.

It turns out to be a much larger project than first anticipated, as the original printing files do not exist any longer and it all has to be recreated digitally. They have contacted the homeowners of the 186 houses featured in the first edition, and McCreven has been driving around town, taking digital pictures.

In addition to color photos, there will be some expanded content with new information that surfaced along the way. When a press release from the group appeared in the New Haven Register, they were contacted by a lady from Madison, whose grandfather had been town clerk in Woodbridge in the 1840s. Among his materials, they found pictures of the people who lived here at the time, and a hand-written listing of all houses in Woodbridge.

“We had a great deal of information and feedback from contacting the present homeowners,” said Ciarleglio when she, McCreven and Gartland approached the Board of Selectmen to ask for funding for the project. They also dug through old photo albums in the archives of the Historical Society or personal collections, to understand the different family trees and how they interconnected. “My mother used to joke there are just four families in Woodbridge,” said Richard Jeynes at a recent committee meeting. “The Sperries, the Pecks, the Baldwins and the stones – referring to the stone walls.”

This will not be an inclusive listing of all historic houses in Woodbridge, McCreven said. Rather, like the title of the original publication says, it is a survey; highlighting good examples of different historic styles, which at the same time represent the history of the town. It includes houses from 1820 to 1947. “It is a very exciting project and has been greeted with just a tremendous amount of enthusiasm, Ciarleglio said in her presentation to the Selectmen.

The committee is at a point where they are putting the information together for print. They are still accepting pictures, and are especially interested in portraits of people who lived in the houses featured in the first edition.

Of the 186 properties, five have been demolished since the first edition appeared, and four are abandoned and boarded up. They will still be included in the book, the committee decided, but with a little banner indicating their status.

Books will go to the printer sometime before the end of the year. They will have 1,000 copies printed, which will be sold for $45, and will be available sometime in January.

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