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Last Look Back as Construction Begins on Corner of Lawton Road and Route 44

Remembering Canton’s Historic Everest Homestead

The arguments were made. The zoning approvals granted. CVS will soon become the latest addition to the commercial landscape on Route 44, at Lawton Road in Canton.

Thriving commercial development along Albany Turnpike dates back to the early 1800s, when taverns, inns, manufacturing concerns, small businesses and stagecoach stops dotted the roadway; including the area around Lawton Road. 

There remains, however, an historic sentimentality about the Lawton Road site in its original iteration as a Colonial farmhouse in the pre-Canton-Suffrage parish of Simsbury.

So as the field on Lawton Road, with its crumbled, solitary chimney and large old trees becomes an active construction site, About Town takes one last look at the history of the place; remembering some things that are too interesting to ever forget about Canton’s past.

The Colonial Farmhouse

The road that would become Albany Turnpike was constructed between the French and Indian Wars. The sandy, graveled, swampy roadway and community which grew up around it, was busy from the start with travelers, new commerce and early settlers moving west into the Suffrage area of Simsbury.

It was here in 1796/97 that Solomon Everest, a well-regarded Revolutionary War physician and surgeon, built his 2-½ story white Colonial farmhouse.

Inside the home, guests walked on floors made of wide, hard pine. They moved through wood paneled hallways, climbed narrow-treaded stairs and enjoyed the two fireplaces. Outside, the well-kept grounds were known for their beautiful shading trees, on the expansive lawn.

An interesting design element was a wooden wheel on the second story of the house. This large implement was used to bring water up from a well on the property.

Solomon Everest presided over a very active medical practice at the bustling Lawton Road site. And while Everest is known as Canton’s first doctor, he was also recognized throughout the territory for his work as an ethical and common sense pharmacist, therapist, dentist and optometrist — all in the days before formal medical school training.  

Everest was deeply involved in his growing community. He held a number of key leadership positions including: Charter member of the local Masonic Order; Founding Fellow of the Connecticut Medical Society’s Hartford County branch; Deacon at Canton Center Congregational Church; Justice of the Peace; and Notary Public.

Most important, Everest was an early and committed advocate for the independence of his home parish of Suffrage from Simsbury.

Everest is largely credited with leading the successful 1806 petition to Connecticut’s General Assembly that resulted in Canton’s incorporation into, “…a distinct town, with all the powers, rights and immunities which other towns in the State by law have and enjoy….” Everest went on to become Canton’s first Representative to the Connecticut Legislature.

After the passing of Everest and his wife, generations of the George Mills family would own the home and the land surrounding it. William Lane, the last surviving son of Josephine Mills, left the property to his partner and executor, Thomas Killeen.

Killeen sold the land to Konover Development Corporation and the house to a private party. In 2002, the house was dismantled with the expressed purpose that the structure would be reassembled in Sharon Connecticut, at a later date. 

As site work and construction begins this week on Lawton Road, some of the property's large, still healthy trees will remain, according to plan. But, the old chimney is already gone.

Very soon a new CVS pharmacist will be in town, serving dentists, physicians, surgeons, therapists and optometrists, in this historically busy commercial space; with only the oldest shading trees left to bear witness to Canton’s history.

Here’s the Deal 

Very special thanks to the following individuals who shared their insights, experiences, historical information and photos: Lawrence S. Carlton, M.D.; Kathy Jenkins; Jane Latus; and Katie Perry.

Additional Resources: Canton Public Library & Canton Historical Museum 

 

Corey Lynn Tucker March 23, 2012 at 11:50 AM
tragic. as joni mitchell would say, "they paved paradise and put up a parking lot. you don't know what you've got until it's gone."
Scott Lonkoski March 23, 2012 at 12:38 PM
couldn't agree more, with a CVS in Avon, Simsbury, Unionville, and Burlington, all within a few miles, did we really need another one?
MARK BARCA March 23, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Oh, great ANOTHER CVS.....maybe another bank would be nice also...Mark B
stone March 23, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Its completely pointless, but hey there's land on Rte 44 so lets put up another banal building hawking stuff we can get already. The other thing that is lost is the vista of something other than commercial construction. It was always nice to see that solitary chimney out in the field and the way someone would hang a wreath on it at Christmas.
Wyatt March 23, 2012 at 01:34 PM
This is only the beginning. The Economic Development Commission recently stated that it wants to see over $40 million in new commerical/industrial development in Canton...that is an awful lot of strip malls. This is what happens when a town grows without a clear vision of what it wants to be. Canton is the next Bristol.
Karen's Dog Training Blog March 23, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Tragic - will not shop there. Person who sold the land to Konover must have no heart
Tom Tallmadge March 23, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Used to embark at that corner from the school bus, to meander up Lawton Rd. to home.Sometimes we would take the old railroad bed behind Bradleys, just as a change of pace.I remember the hoards of cats at Nellie Lawtons place, the old tobacco barn across the street,long abandoned,but still of interest.Finally wed reach the Carpenters old farm, with the wide verandas where we used to play as kids.Across from the driveway was path down to Jim brook, to the site of an old bottling plant.The path , as we grew older led us to our friends at Juniper Circle.It was a great place to grow up.Suffice to say,were happy we knew it then.
Mary Tullis Engvall March 23, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Great article, Sylvia! I enthusiastically encourage and welcome anyone interested in helping shape the future of Canton in a way that balances a thriving local economy with the special qualities and characteristics of Canton that we all treasure, to join Canton Advocates for Responsible Expansion (C.A.R.E., Inc). C.A.R.E is a smart growth group established in 2000 in response to the proposed Target store for this same parcel and the golf course having then been recently rezoned for commercial development. Development and quality of life issues are complex matters. Check out the New Updates page of our website( http://cantoncare.org/index.html ) to get a glimpse of the in-depth work C.A.R.E. members do to fully comprehend the varied components, on both a local and national level, that impact land use decisions. (It needs updating, but, hey, we're all volunteers...yet it will give you a great understanding of the complexity of these issues and C.A.R.E.'s in-depth, responsible approach.) Our Contact page links to the membership form and gives you ways to contact C.A.R.E. if you want to learn more. In addition to specific development proposals, C.A.R. E. provides educational seminars, is a proponent of open space preservation, founded and runs the Collinsville Farmers Market and provides a regular update newsletter, "About Town" which we started in 2002. Come to our next meeting & see how you can add your talents to our grass-roots group of volunteer, dedicated residents.
Corey Lynn Tucker March 23, 2012 at 04:12 PM
walgreens in canton and avon too.
Corey Lynn Tucker March 23, 2012 at 04:13 PM
fond memories i'm sure. you painted a beautiful picture. thank you.
Andrew Ziemba March 23, 2012 at 04:13 PM
As we witness the destruction of the US dollar through inflation, we will see more and more people who have something beautiful, special, unique, and or historical be sold to people with big bucks just to survive. The sad truth is that because of the collapse of the dollar, foreign interests will also buy up things that are held dear to many. The mega rich will simply absorb all of the money from people with less money. Sad but true. I wonder when the Gallery On The Green will be demolished so they can "develop" that land. It appears to be right along 44. I give it 10 years.
dccb9 March 23, 2012 at 05:10 PM
The US dollar hasn't been destroyed by inflation. Inflation is at a very normal level and the dollar has hardly witnessed a "collapse." Maybe you need to tone down the paranoid inflation,anti-business and anti-free market rhetoric and read a few less liberal media hit pieces.
John Fitts (Editor) March 23, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Folks please stick to the topic at hand.
John Bolton March 23, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Really not looking forward to even more accidents at that intersection, they are already an all too common occurrence without the added traffic. Sad to see the Chimney go, always enjoyed seeing the stockings hung around xmas time. Though not a resident, I feel for the people of Canton who fought to oppose this development. I can only hope it will continue to bring awareness to the fight against over-development in town.
Linda Mahoney March 23, 2012 at 09:23 PM
I drove past the site on my way home from work today and it broke my heart, the beautiful house that many families had lived in. In many old houses you can still feel the presence of all the people that had passed through. And all the old trees the history they saw what a shame for a CVS store.
Jane Latus March 23, 2012 at 09:52 PM
It's clear, and no surprise, that Canton residents care a great deal about what is happening to their town. Be sure to attend the planning charrette this Mon. March 26, 7 p.m. at the Community Center. It will focus on the future of Rt. 44 as well as Canton Center. This is your opportunity to voice your opinion on how you want Canton to look in the future, and the results of this charrette will likely be included in the revision of the town Plan of Conservation and Development. I am on the board of C.A.R.E. and this charrette is something we have been eagerly advocating for some time. If you want to learn more about what charrettes are and their value, see www.charretteinstitute.org
Linda Mahoney March 23, 2012 at 10:08 PM
I past the site on my way home from work today and it broke my heart. All the families that lived in that house left alittle piece of themselves there. The old trees that saw so much history are gone all this for a CVS. Hopefully the house was dismantled and put back together somewhere. Canton really lost out letting this house go. SHAME SHAME!
Joyce March 24, 2012 at 01:01 AM
I grew up on Juniper Circle. I know live out of the country, and this article and your comment brought back great memories.
N. John I. Twist March 24, 2012 at 11:48 AM
OMG!
N. John I. Twist March 24, 2012 at 12:05 PM
Heaven forbid Canton steps into the 21st century. Why shouldn't a landowner be able to do what he wishes with his land if it's within his rights? Would a little civic pride kill us? Landowners- please spruce up the eyesores on Route 44 and stop embarrassing the rest of the town.Don't worry conservationists, no one is going to try and develop anywhere outside of the currently established commercial or industrial zones.
Ed Murphy March 24, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Too bad no one had the foresight to incorporate the fireplace into one of the buildings or make it part of the grounds
Theresa Taylor March 25, 2012 at 04:53 PM
I agree that they should have had the foresight to incorporate the fireplace into the construction plan. Seeing the rubble Friday evening brought tears to my eyes
Linda Mahoney March 25, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Afraid to keep alittle history in Canton!
Linda Mahoney March 29, 2012 at 08:51 PM
There will be a strip mall in Canton Center before you know it. The developers don't care about open land they just want money, money!

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