Colchester is a town in Connecticut that was initially settled in 1692. The original settlement began as “Jerimiah’s Farm” and was built on land given to Jerimiah Adam, originally from Hartford, by Uncas, a sachem of the Mohegan tribe.
The town is thought to be named after the city of Colchester in Essex County England, about 70 miles outside of London. Many of the original colonists of Colchester emigrated from that area.
This collection of pictures was taken by Jack Delano and shows what life was like in Colchester, CT in 1940.
1. Having a beer in “Art’s Sportsman’s Tavern”
On a rainy day in Colchester, Connecticut, three friends came to Art’s Sportsman’s Tavern to enjoy a beer. This picture was taken in November, 1940.
2. A game of cards in “Art’s Sportsman’s Tavern”
Four men enjoying a game of cards in Art’s Sportsman’s Tavern.
3. Sitting at the Bar in Colchester, CT
Notice the two guns in the background? That’s definitely not something you would see today. The sign behind the men reads “The drinking of alcoholic liquors other than beer or cider is not allowed”.
4. The Colchester Green
A group of three men sitting on a car and smoking a pipe near the Colchester Town Green in November, 1940.
5. Outside a Store in Colchester, Connecticut
The original photo was labeled “Outside a Jewish Store”. Based on the signs the store seems to have sold fresh fish, fresh vegetables and other groceries.
6. Outside the Grocery Store in Colchester
Here’s a closer image of the man from the previous picture.
7. Main Street in Colchester, Connecticut
The main street of Colchester was once home to “J Agranovitch’s General Store”, the Colchester Bus Station, and the “Ye Old Bell” restaurant.
8. The Main Square in Colchester
The old square in Colchester had a package store, a pharmacy and a small diner serving “Donuts, Lunch and Black Coffee”.
9. Characteristic Rocky Land of Colchester
A picture showing the rocky landscape characteristic of Colchester, CT. Picture taken in December 1940. Many of the fields in town still look like this.
10. Street Scene in Colchester, CT
This street housed a series of stores selling animal feed, grains, gasoline, and ladies coats. Based on this picture, Chevy’s seemed to be the car of choice.
11. Levine & Levine Ladies Coats Colchester, CT
Levine and Levine, manufacturers of ladies coats. According to the book Picturing Faith: Photography and the Great Depression, Jewish men and women worked at the Levine and Levine factory making tweed coats.
12. Another View of the Coat Store
A closer view of the Levine and Levine building. During the 1930’s and 40’s Colchester also had dress and leather factories. The average wage was 20 cents per hour.
13. Harness Maker’s Store on Main Street
The harness maker made dog collars, dog harnesses, and repaired shoes.
14. Waiting for the Bus to Hartford
The bus from Colchester went to New London, Hartford and Norwich.
15. Lining Up for the Bus
A well dressed group waits to board the bus.
16. Bus to Hartford
Boarding the bus to Hartford.
17. Armistice Day Parade in Colchester, Connecticut
This is a picture of Colchester’s Armistice Day in 1940. Armistice Day is celebrated each year on November 11th to mark the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany that marked the end of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I.
18. Armistice Day Parade in Colchester, Connecticut
This picture shows local boy scouts marching in the Armistice Day parade with an American Flag and a Colchester, Connecticut flag.
19. Bacon Academy in Colchester, CT
In 1800 a prominent Colchester farmer, Pierpont Bacon, died and left an endowment of thirty-five thousand dollars (the equivalent of about 2.2 million dollars in 2016). The endowment was for
inhabitants of the First Society of Colchester for the purpose of supporting and maintaining a school…for the instruction of Youth in Reading and writing English, in Arithmetic, Mathimaticks, and the Languages, or such other branches of Learning.
This established Bacon Academy, which first opened its doors to the children of Colchester in November 1803. The picture above was taken in November 1940, 137 years after its initial opening.
20. Union Monument on the Town Green
This photo shows the Union Monument on the town green in Colchester. The state was erected on September 17, 1875 and is a tribute to the sons of Colchester who died in the Civil War.