In 1789, exactly 225 years ago this year, the winter parish of Newbury — made up of parts of Danbury, Newtown and New Milford — was officially incorporated as the Town of Brookfield, taking the name of the parish’s first permanent minister, Rev. Thomas Brooks.
In honor of the quasquibicentennial, a 225th Celebration Committee was brought together by local volunteers to organize events throughout the year highlighting Brookfield’s history.
Nearly a year and a half ago, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Susan Murphy helped bring together the leaders of several local organizations, each taking on a different event for almost every month of the year. (Nothing has been scheduled yet for August.)
Some of the events, such as the Memorial Day Parade, are annual events, however this year Murphy said they plan to “Jack it up — make the floats more historic,” focusing on Brookfield’s past as well as the veterans that fought so it can exist.
Others, like Brookfield Days in October, are special gatherings being held this year specifically for the 225th Celebration. The two-day event starts out in the Ironworks District, the area around the Brookfield Craft Center and Brookfield’s historic industrial center. According to Murphy, committee members are currently working to get a special visit from the Housatonic Railroad. The second day, held at Town Hall, will include the digging up of the bicentennial time capsule, buried in 1998.
The capsule — which, if Murphy remembers correctly includes a few bottles of DiGrazia wine — will be filled with a few more things and buried again for the next anniversary celebration.
“When you’re in Europe, someone says, ‘That building is 1,000-plus years old,’ and we’re only 200-plus years old, so there is some perspective,” Murphy pointed out. “But it’s important to recognize our history.”
Selectman Howard Lasser, one of the initial organizers of the Celebration Committee and an admitted history major during undergrad, agreed.
“Every so often, on major milestones, we should take some time to look back over our shoulder to celebrate our accomplishments, to learn from our missteps, so we can be more certain of where we want to go,” he said.
“In our founding and through the Civil war, up to today, you can find examples of Brookfielders disagreeing but still coming together in the end,” Lasser said. “Our history shows that even as the faces and — some of — the names have changed, we are still a community that values volunteerism, public debate and coming together in the end.”
There are 13 more events planned between now and December [see schedule below]. Check back with Brookfield Patch as they get closer for more on each celebration.
225th Celebration Schedule of Events
- 225th Birthday Gala at The Candlewood Inn, sponsored by the Brookfield Chamber of Commerce — March 16
- Brookfield Historical Society and Museum Open House Exhibit — April 6 and 7
- Historical Memorial Day Parade and Strawberry Festival, sponsored by the Lions Club of Brookfield — May 26
- The Victorian Lady, sponsored by the Brookfield Library — June 8
- Garden Club of Brookfield Historical Garden Tour — June
- Band Concert at Town Bandstand with Fireworks Display — July 5
- Historical Site Tour of Candlewood Lake and Lake Lillinonah — July
- Historical Farm Day at Gurski Farm — September 22
- Brookfield Days in the Ironworks District — October 5
- Brookfield Days at Town Hall with Time Capsule Opening — October 6
- Historical Home Tour, sponsored by the Women’s Club of Brookfield — October 19
- Festival of Crafts at Whisconier Middle School — November 2
- Brookfield High School Band Concert Honoring the 225th Birthday — December