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