Tag Archives: Stamford Connecticut

Lost Legends of Stamford

 

Halloween 2020 is upon us folks and this year has certainly proved to be an interesting one (so far!). However, even with all of the craziness of these past months, we still come together whether virtually or at home to celebrate the wonderful holiday that is…Halloween.

I’ve had a tradition here on WOTM of writing about the legends, lore and twisted tales of Stamford in hopes of getting more and more of you interested in our history so that we can help preserve what is left of it.

History doesn’t have to be boring, in fact, it can be downright creepy! So what a fun way to learn about our past, pique some interest and help keep the stories alive.

As I’ve said in past editions of this series, these are but snippets of time. While the research that goes into these pieces is extensive, (and the full writings will hopefully be coming in a different form one day), these passages are here to allow you the reader to get a peek into our past. All folklore comes from somewhere and I’ve taken it upon myself to find their origins…or at least…try my best to do so.

So let us get to it…Welcome to the Lost Legends of Stamford!

from my personal collection

The Addicted; The Insane; The Exhausted: Once upon a time, Lock City was home to several sanitariums. When I first started doing the research on this topic, I thought there were only two. But the more I dug into the subject, the more I found that there were at least 8 documented hospitals labeled sanitariums here in our fair city.

Not going to lie, there was so much information that my original write up for this post could easily have been its own entity. However, these facilities have a disturbing history. So whether you checked into the “elite” Dr. Givens Sanitarium with its tennis and croquet courts, views of Long Island and the Sound and (my personal favorite quote from their advertising), where the “climate is free from extreme heat in summer, and is exceptionally mild in winter” or were sent to the Stamford Town Farm aka Poor Farm/House or Alms House (depending on the writing)…these hospitals were not the luxury vacation spots that some tried to mask themselves to be.

In the case of the Dr. Barnes Sanitarium alone, there were reports of suicides and sudden deaths of some patients who were admitted for one ailment but died of something completely different. In a strange twist to this place, their head physician, Dr. Frances Lawless, passed away by taking a sleeping potion and then died at Grand Central Station. The facility had such a creepy vibe to the local residents that parents would sometimes use it as a threat to their kids by saying such things as, “shape up or I’ll send you to Dr. Barnes”. I dont’ know about you, but that would certainly have made me do MY homework!

The Stamford Town Farm was a notoriously sad place as it was a town run facility that housed the poor, the sick, the ‘crazy’ and those who were substance abusers. Patients were often referred to as ‘inmates’ and there were many, many deaths which unfortunately included several infants. There was even the murder of the superintendent Mr. James Parker of the House when in 1898, according to newspaper articles, after Mr. Parker went to break up a fight between two female patients, one took an iron bar and smashed him in the head killing him. This was not a place you would wish anyone to be in but was all that was available at the time for those who had nothing but were in need of ‘treatment”.

Remember too that in the late 1800’s-early 1900’s medicine was much different than it is today. Lobotomies, electric shocks and restraints as well as experimental drugs were often performed and used on those who were deemed “insane” and these inhuman treatments were unfortunately all too common. There were reports of escapes from Stamford Hall with a few making it all the way to New York City.

Oddly, these Stamford facilities also had a run of fires as well. Dr. Wiley’s on Palmer’s Hill was destroyed by a fire in 1911; Dr. Gray’s on Strawberry Hill was also destroyed by a fire in 1931 and in this case, there was the added tragedy of the death of patient Alice Emerson in the fire. Dr. Given’s place also had a couple of fires including one in 1900 and the other in 1910. No deaths were reported or massive damage done, just part of the history of the property.

This leads us to what was left behind. Some say that where there were tragedies or sudden deaths, spirits linger. Many who perished at the Poor House, were buried in the Potter’s Field nearby without proper markers but rather numbered markers stripping what was left of their dignity away even in death.

While I have previously written about the Potter’s Field location, where the Givens facility was, (lower Ridges area from Lord & Taylor, Long Ridge and up to Roxbury Rd), there are stories of strange happenings in the buildings from those who worked in the offices built on the land where the Santiarium once stood. Shadows, things being moved, noises and more have been reported. Same can be said for those who live near the former Dr. Barnes site. Also of note, Dr. Givens himself is buried on the former grounds of his namesake Sanitarium.

While I personally have no doubt that those who perished are hoping to be remembered in some way, the question is, just how far is their reach? Stone from the Dr. Barnes site was used to create such roads as Oaklawn and Belltown. Poor Farm stone was also used in the roads creation project in North Stamford…so it makes you wonder then doesn’t it? Did their already restless souls attach themselves to the very earth they once stood on which is now distributed around the city? Or by the scattering of these stones, were their spirits released and set free? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it was the latter?

photo credit: national maritime historical society

A Pirate’s Life For Me: After travelling around the world, taking treasure, ships and even lives, the infamous pirate, Captain Kidd sailed the waters of Long Island Sound. Thinking he would be granted clemency, he was tricked into going up to Boston, where he was ultimately captured and arrested in 1699. Before he made it up to Massachussetts, he set sail from New York where he traveled the Sound burying treasure along the way so as not to have it all in one place for his enemies to find. The most famous of rumored spots is Charles Island in Milford. However, there are stories that he made a stop here in Stamford to bury some of his riches. 

There is also there is also a connection to Stamford involving Major Selleck and his warehouse along the water. The man received goods and treasure brought to him by “one Clarke of this town from Kidd’s sloop and lodged with Selleck,” which added even more to the Captain Kidd legend in our area.

While exact locations have not been found, who knows? Maybe the next time you venture out to one of our beaches or take your metal detector out for a spin, you may just come upon some extra special treasure that Kidd had hoped would be buried forever!


The Legend Laddins Rock: On the western edge of Stamford lies Laddins Rock. While Rosa Hartman Park and Laddin Rock Sanctuary are combined on Stamford/Old Greenwich land, it once was all Stamford property. Thankfully it survived a possible development proposal years ago, something not often done these days. This is a good thing as it is legendary for having a bit of a haunted reputation.

The legend behind the ghosts dates back to the 1640’s…not too long after Stamford’s founding in 1641.

The story goes that after the first round of Dutch settlers took over Manhattan, another group came up to this area to settle on the land. A man by the name of Cornelius Laddin brought his wife and daughter with him and moved into a little colony on what is now, the Waterside area of Stamford. The Native Americans who lived here were feeling very cheated by those who were now making this area their home. Often over bargaining, bartering and taking advantage of the Natives, these settlers created a hostile atmosphere while buying and taking away more land for their own.

According to the story, the Indians had enough and decided to “exterminate the little colony” where Laddin’s family lived. While Cornelius was working in the field, he saw smoke coming from the area where his home stood. Thinking of his family, he rode towards the colony and found many dwellings had been set ablaze. When he got to his own house and after securing his horse, he went inside where his wife and child were. He then barred all the windows and got his gun ready to protect his home and family from possible attack.

As the Natives approched his home with flaming torches, he picked them off one by one, shooting them as they got ever closer to his dwelling. Finally, the Indians teamed up and approached the home in a group. They used a log as a battering ram and broke the door down. His gun failing him now, he was at a great disadvantage. His extraordinary wife called to him and said, “fly husband fly! They will surely respect our sex” and with that, she begged for him to escape and out of the back of the house where his horse was waiting for him and she hoped he would bring help back with him.

Unfortunately, as soon as Cornelius was making his departure in the back, the battering of the front door commenced and with it, came the brutal killings of Laddin’s wife and daughter before his very eyes. The Natives were swift with their tomahawks and they were killed within seconds. Laddin had no time to mourn as the Indians instantly turned their attention to him and began the pursuit to kill the husband/father who had just lost his everything.

Cornelius Laddin, rode his horse to the top of the rocky cliff and realizing he had no other choice, had the animal charge to the edge and the two went over the side and plunged to their deaths.

In total, 15 townsfolk lost their lives in the massacre that day while others were able to flee and escape with their lives. So who is it that haunts these woods? Is Cornelius Laddin still in mourning over the death of his heroic spouse and child? Are those who perished that day unaware that they have left this earth? And what of the horse? He too is a victim! I guess we will never know the answers to these questions, but we can honor their memory by remembering what happened that tragic day oh so long ago.

photo credit:  wikipedia

The Great Escape: Halloween and famed magician/escape artist Harry Houdini are synonymous together. Almost impossible to believe that it’s been so long since his passing, his death occured on Halloween 94 years ago today after attempting a new stunt while suffering from a ruptured appendix and peritinits. 

Becoming a master debunker of sham psychics who could only pretend to contact the lost and take money from those desperate to contact loved ones, he made it a mission in his life to expose those guilty of fraudulent activity. Even so, Harry had a famous ‘death pact’ with his wife Bess that after he passed, she would hold a seance every year for 10 years on the anniversary of his death to try and make contact with him. He even gave her a secret phrase that only she knew so she would know if anyone was trying to scam her. Since his death occured on Halloween, it was almost a perfect day to hold these seances for the next 10 years as it is the belief that the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest on that day. But alas, Bess did not get the phrase she had waited a decade for and never again tried to conjure up her husband’s spirit.

So where is the Stamford connection you are asking? It turns out that the Great Houdini had a house here in North Stamford! After being diagnosed with an illness a few years earlier, Harry had decided he wanted a place to ‘rest’ a bit and bought a large farm on Webbs Hill in 1904.

Houdini’s stay in Stamford was short-lived and he sold the farm a year later. He had hopes of using the home as a place of rest for himself, his wife and his mother. But “rest’ and ‘farm’ don’t necessarily go hand in hand and his plans for the land had him working quite hard. But why the sale? He was no stranger to hard work and even considered a job here in the city at the Yale and Towne Lock factory. (Who better to work on such locks as the master escape artist himself?!)

The original 1830 saltbox home that housed Houdini and his family had burned down in the 1960’s leaving only a fireplace, foundation and chimneys, but there are original structures that are still on the land that are supposed to have been there when Houdini lived on the hill. There is now a replica of the original home in its place.

According to an old Stamford Advocate article and Stamford historian Renee Kahn, his home was just down a bit from the resting place of Webbs Hill namesake Nathaniel Webb and his three wives, all named Esther. Could it be that the man of mystery and magic had some visits by those who came before him? Perhaps they were not happy when Webbs Hill was nicknamed “Weiss Hill” in honor of Houdini’s given name Erich Weiss, which he used to sign for the land.

While Houdini kept diaries, there is no documentation from his writings that any seances had been performed at the Stamford home during his time there but it is certainly fun to imagine him doing so! I for one am keeping the illusion alive…and Houdini was certainly all about illusions. 

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Thank you for helping me keep this tradition alive and more importantly, for helping to keep Stamford history alive! Let’s keep helping to preserve it as best we can!!

To read my previous Halloween posts here on WOTM:

Legends and Lore of Stamford (WOTM Halloween 2019)

Twisted Tales of Stamford (WOTM Halloween 2018)

The Stranger Side of Stamford (WOTM first in series 2015)

Featured in Ignacio Laguarda’s Halloween piece for CT Insider in 2019!

Bonus info: 

Houdini Museum — more information on the Stamford house.

Stamford History Center — Stamford roads project

Stamford Historical Sketches  — While months of research went into these pieces, as soon as I caught the Laddin’s Rock story in this 1922 book, I knew I had to share it. If you are interested in learning more about Stamford’s history, this is a great place to start. Full disclosure, this link is an Amazon affiliate link and helps to support this site. 

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#wotm #keepitlocal #stamfordhistory #stamfordct #learnwhereyoulive

#halloween #keepitspooky #stamfordhistorycenter

Help Save Our History Stamford!

Thanks to Typewriter Collector on YouTube

Hello all, if you have been following WOTM over the years, you know of my deep love of Stamford’s history. I’ve written about it numerous times here and I’ve been a big supporter of the work that the  Stamford History Center does for our city.

So when there is a call for help from them, I must share it.

Once again, BLT/Harbor Point is planning to demolish historic buildings in the South End to build yet more towers that we certainly do not need.  The buildings on the chopping block in question are on National Register Historic District and if you go to the page dedicated to listings in Stamford, you will see that quite a few are no longer with us…and how sad that is. We need to save what few we have left!

BLT has a history (pun intended) of tearing down historic buildings and landmarks  acting first and answering questions later.

THIS NEEDS TO STOP!

BLT is now planning to destroy even more historic buildings to put more ugly towers blackening out the sun to the South End and blocking the views to those who used to have them. Knowing first hand how they operate, I’m thinking they are also hoping that we will all be so distracted by current events, that they can fly under the radar and destroy even more of what’s left of Stamford’s  history.

Here is just part what we are in danger of losing: This building, the old Blickensderfer Typewriter Factory is where, after George Blickensderfer invented a new and popular portable typewheel typewriter in his home on Bedford Street, he grew out of his original small factory and moved into this large one in the South End on Atlantic Street. The  pictures here will give it more of a personable experience than just reading about it: Blickensderfer Factory

Better yet, to see it in action, check out this YouTube video by user:  Typewriter Collector

(The image for this piece is from a screenshot from this video. Stamford, CONN clearly marked on the typewriter.)

Please sign the petition to help stop BLT and show those in Stamford Government that’s we are sick of the Harbor Point group just doing what they want without caring for our city.  SIGN THE PETITION

If you’d like to learn more about the Blickensderfer Typewriters and Stamford History, please head to: George Blickensderfer

Thank you all for reading, following and as always Keeping It Local!

Be safe Stamford!

 

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#wotm #keepitlocal #learnwhereyoulive

#SAVEOURHISTORY #stamfordhistorycenter #blickensderfertypewriter

WOTM in the News!

Hey  guys!  I’ve been busy getting this year Halloween piece ready for you. But to get you in the mood for the big day you should check out this article in the CT Insider section of the Stamford Advocate. (Don’t worry, it’s free and only takes a quick email signup to see the whole piece.)

Scary Stamford Stories to Tell On Halloween

Not only does this have some great local tales in it for you but myself and WOTM  are in the piece as well!

This is is a fun article that will get you in the Halloween spirit and I’d like to thank Ignacio Laguarda for speaking with me. I’m honored to be a part of this piece.

Hope you all enjoy it and stay tuned for this year’s Halloween installment of some twisted tales of Stamford!

Until next time…

#wotm keepitlocal #stamfordct #learnwhereyoulive

Hauntings and History at Hoyt-Barnum is Back!

Get in the Halloween Spirit and “Learn Where You Live” Stamford by heading to the Hoyt-Barnum House for the annual  Hauntings and History event!

Tonight and tomorrow with three opportunities each evening, you can learn more about the house, Stamford’s past and the former residence who may still linger within its walls. (Man I love this stuff!)

Space is limited, so head to the Stamford History Center’s site for tickets and info: http://stamfordhistory.org/event/hauntings-and-history-at-hoyt-barnum/

Keep it Spooky a Stamford!

#wotm #keepitlocal #learnwhereyoulive

#stamfordct #stamfordhistory #hauntings

 

National Day of Healing

With thanks to Jane L. Love for the following…

On Sunday August 25 at 3:00 p.m., First Presbyterian Church of Stamford will be ringing the Carillon Bells to commemorate the National Day of Healing for the 400th anniversary of the first landing of enslaved Africans in English occupied North American. The bells will toll 4 minutes, one for each century.

The first landing of enslaved Africans was at Point Comfort in Hampton, Virginia, now part of the Fort Monroe National Monument, a unit of the National Park System. The anniversary will be commemorated at Fort Monroe as a day of healing and reconciliation. The park and its partners have invited all 419 national parks, NPS programs, community partners and the public to come together and ring bells simultaneously across the nation.

After the 4 minute bell tolling, carillonneur Marietta Douglas will give a short concert commemorating the occasion. The carillon at First Presbyterian Church stands 260 feet and contains 56 bells weighing from 15 to 6,820.

#thefishchurch
#RingtoRemember
#400years

https://www.nps.gov/subjects/partnerships/bell-ringing-for-400th.htm

#wotm #keepitlocal #stamfordhistory #knowwheretogo

Best of the Gold Coast CT 2019–Discount & CONTEST!

Hey guys I’m here to let you know that the party of the year, the 15th Annual, Best of the Gold Coast CT is coming up and WOTM has the info you need to make sure you are a part of the fun!!

If you’ve never been to one of these amazing nights let me tell you, this is a great way to try the best of the best of the Gold Coast. Voted on by Moffly Media  readers, categories include such things as best massage, best wedding venue, best local band and food categories like best Italian, best tapas, best outdoor bar, etc. So many categories, so little time.

While you can find the full Gold Coast Winners list on the site, being that WOTM is a Stamford-based website, I’d like to celebrate those Stamford businesses that won. Here is the complete Stamford List.

The party to celebrate all the winners is one of the hottest tickets of the year and for good reason. This event is so much fun and you will certainly not leave there hungry. Food, drinks, music, goodies; it’s huge! The best part? It’s all for a GREAT cause! This year’s party will benefit: Kids In Crisis

A wonderful organization, “In addition to being an emergency shelter, Kids In Crisis provides crisis counseling and community educational programs for children and families dealing with a wide range of crises.” Also helping runaways and homeless youths, “Today, Kids In Crisis provides housing and comprehensive medical, educational and therapeutic support services for underserved and underprivileged children of all ages in Fairfield County.”

The Best of the Gold Coast event is Thursday, May 30th from 6-9pm and tickets cost $65 in advance, $75 at the door the day of the event and takes place at the Greenwich Hyatt.

Moffly Media has extended the following offer to my wonderful WOTM followers: 25% off on tickets for the event when you purchase tickets in advance!! Just use code: MOFFLYFRIENDS at checkout and the discount will be applied to your ticket costs.

To purchase tickets, full list of winners and find out more about the party, head to: https://bestofgoldcoastct.com/party/

To top all this off, they have also offered to give me 4 tickets to give away! I will be doing them as two sets of two, so your chance to win just doubled!

I will be running a FACEBOOK ONLY contest on Sunday, May 26th running through Monday the 27th, so be sure to go to our Facebook page to follow us there. YOU MUST BE A WOTM FACEBOOK FOLLOWER TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE CONTEST.

Now I understand it is Memorial Day weekend and many are away, so the two winners will be announced Monday evening.

In the meantime, be sure to head over to our Facebook page, hit the almighty “like” and follow us there to be sure to take part in this contest! Facebook.com/onthemenuct

Be sure to share this with your friends and hope to see you there!

#wotm #keepitlocal #celebratestamford #knowwheretogo

Gala Benefit for Stamford History Center

Press release:
STAMFORD HISTORY CENTER TO HONOR EMMETT, MILLER, AND PASTORE AT 2019 ANNUAL GALA
 
STAMFORD, CT (March 2019)- Kathryn Emmett, Corporation Counsel of the City of Stamford, Connecticut State Representative Patricia Billie Miller, and Fran Pastore, CEO of the Women’s Business Development Council, will be the Honorees at the Stamford History Center’s 2019 Gala. The event title is “Forging the Future: Honoring Women’s Leadership”.
 
“For the past six months, we have been celebrating the impact of women on the history of Stamford through our current exhibit, “Fabric of Stamford: Women, Costumes & Textiles 1860-1960″.  Fran, Pat, and Kathy are great examples of the leadership women have brought to our city in the current generation,” said Marshall Millsap, Chair of the History Center.
 
“As our exhibit features banners, dresses, and actual voting records to commemorate the anniversary of the passage of women’s suffrage in the US, hundreds of Stamford students have been reminded of how women have shaped our city and our country,” added Dr. Thomas Zoubek, President and Executive Director of the Center.  “The objects, dresses, photos, and furniture – highlighting the lives of women over the past century- are a demonstration of how women have always undertaken multiple roles. Our Honorees represent the leadership and drive that inspires the coming generation of Stamford women to feel empowered as they face the future and its challenges.”
 
“We are thrilled that Kathy, Pat, and Fran accepted our invitation to be honored,” stated Joe Maida, Board Director and Chairman of the History Center’s Nominating Committee. “We also plan to honor current Stamford students as they complete their high school education, as they will truly be forging the future. This is a great opportunity for the community to celebrate the historic and soon to be historic record of Stamford women.”
For tickets and additional information: http://stamfordhistory.org/gala2019/
 
The Gala will be held at Waters Edge at Giovanni’s on April 18.
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#wotm #keepitlocal #learnwhereyoulive #knowwheretogo

Share the Spirit Stamford!

It’s Christmas Eve Stamford and I don’t know about you, but I’m in full Santa crunch mode!

On this special night, I wanted to post some ways you can give back in our community. To support the people, animals and organizations that rely on donations to keep them going.

What a special way to Keep it Local!

This of course is by no means a complete list or organizations , but maybe it will be enough to get you in the spirit!

So let’s get to it…

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While we humans, for the most part, can find help for ourselves and others, animals have to rely on their human friends when they are sick, lost or looking to find a forever home. Stamford has wonderful places all around the city that do just this. However, they can’t do it alone. Here are three such places that could use donations of money, food, blankets, newspapers, etc to help care for those who cannot care for themselves. (And PLEASE if you are thinking of adopting, don’t just adopt for a gift only to have to give the pet back a few weeks later. If you are planning to adopt–COMMIT.) Stamford Animal Control: http://www.stamfordct.gov/animal-control-center OPIN: Outreach for Pets in Need: http://opinpets.org/ Friends of Felines: http://www.adoptapet.org
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Whether it’s food, money or your time, these organizations can really use your help: The Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County: https://www.foodbanklfc.org/ Shelter for the Homeless: http://shelterforhomeless.org/ DOMUS Kids: http://domuskids.org/ Sexual Assault Crisis Center: http://www.thecenter-ct.org/ Salvation Army Stamford: http://ctri.salvationarmy.org/SNE/Stamford
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Looking more to donate goods? While these places will also take monetary donations, clothes, furniture, books, etc. are their main goal:  Laurel House:
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How about helping out places around our city? There are so many ways to use your time to help out and it’s also a great way to get outdoors: SoundWaters: http://www.soundwaters.org/ Scalzi Riverwalk: http://www.scalziriverwalk.org/  Mill River Park Collaborative: http://www.millriverpark.org/ East Side Partnership: http://eastsidepartnership.org/support/Friends of Mianus River Park: http://friendsofmianusriverpark.org/index.htm Cove Island Wildlife Sancutary: https://www.facebook.com/Cove-Island-Wildlife-Sanctuary-156082077767515/?fref=ts
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There you go. Again, this is a far cry from a complete list. But hopefully it will get you thinking of ways you can help out your community, your city and how you too can KEEP IT LOCAL STAMFORD!!
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A very Happy and Healthy Holiday to all of you

Keep the Holidays Local Stamford!

The Holiday season is upon us Stamford and what better way to Keep it Local than to shop and support local?!

While by no means is this meant to be a complete list, I’m hoping that this will give you ideas on where to shop with the focus being small and family owned businesses.

Please note that no compensation was paid to get on this list.

You’ll find everything from jewelry and gift shops to spas and salons and even package stores (for a touch of the holiday ‘spirit!’). So whether you’re looking for something handcrafted or a gift certificate to get the hair and nails done, hopefully, you’ll find something here.

PLEASE NOTE: at the end of the list, you’ll find ways that you can shop and help to support and keep WOTM going at the same time.

Here we go…

Gifts: the fun and funky, to the unusual and more:

The Funky Hippie Wellness and Gift Shop: 101 Glenbrook Rd.– Handcrafted items by local artisans, crystals, oils and more.

Friends Book Shop @ Ferguson Library: One Public Library Plaza Downtown — Books from every genre including local history, now includes a pop-up shop in the former Starbucks library location and they offer book baskets and gift certificates! Same hours as the library so head on down!

Heart of Gold Fine Jewelry: 930 Hope St. — Handcrafted items including jewelry as well as home decor, candles, ornaments, ceramics and more!

Happy Life Studios CT: Etsy shop — Stamford artist and crafter Heather P has beautiful artwork, painted glass and luminaries and crocheted pieces that will keep you warm all season long! (look for her ‘messy hair hats’ –they are so cool!)

Big Dreams Gallery: 96 Franklin Street — From the guys who brought you Big Dreams Tattoos (located on Bedford Street), Big Dreams Gallery has raw, unique art from local talented artists that range from HipHop to Marvel and so much more. You never know what you’ll see here and they also do arts shows and paint nights!

Pacific Cycling & Triathalon (and Cafe!) 984 High Ridge (across from Trader Joes) — Have an athlete on your list? Check out the gear here or grab a gift certificate.

United House Wrecking: 535 Hope Street — A Stamford icon, you can find big and small items here and the more unusual the better!

Stamford Toys: 970 High Ridge Road (behind FEDEX) — Why go to the big stores when you can grab a new favorite toy at this Stamford legend? Great finds for all ages here.

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Coffee Shops–think gift cards, coffee presses, and baked goods:

Lorca Coffee Bar: 125 Bedford St. Downtown

Beanz Coffee Bar: 1032 Hope St. Springdale

Humbled Coffee House: 575 Hope Street Glenbrook

Bonjo Coffee Shop: 345 Elm Street Shippan/East Side

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Looking good–Hair, nails, spas, fitness for ‘me day’ gift ideas:

La Jolie Salon: 388 Summer Street

Mint Spa & Nails: 2344 Summer Street

Noelle: 1110 High Ridge Rd.

Harbor Point Nail & Spa: 711 Canal Street

Family Tree Yoga: 980 Hope Street

Vertical Addiction CT: 575 Pacific Street

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Holiday Spirits:

LaRocca’s Country Wine & Spirits: 105 Old Long Ridge Road

Wagon Wheel Fine Wine & Spirits: 1051 Long Ridge Road (cigars too)

Franklin Liquor Store: 99 North Street

Beverage Barn: 1232 East Main Street

Crazy Grapes: 491 Hope St.

Stamford Wine and Liquor: 583 Newfield Ave. (Newfield Green)

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Baked Goodies (no need to turn your oven on with these folks around!):

DiMare Pastry Shop: 12 Largo Drive South

Beldotti Bakery: 605 Newfield Ave (Newfield Green)

Matthews Bakery: 71 West Broad Street

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Stamford love:

Stamford Magazine: Give the gift of a subscription this year.

Half Full Brewery: Grab a shirt, a glass and more.

Stamford History Center: Give a membership, a Stamford at 375 DVD or check out their bookstore to find a hidden gem.

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Shop and Support WOTM:

Here are ways you can shop for gifts and help keep What’s on the Menu? Going:

WOTM on CafePress: From shirts to mugs to puzzles and more–each link has a different WOTM theme. Perfect for showing some Stamford pride and great for those away at college to remind them of home, these are the official WOTM shop pages. Note, these will be closing up shop in 2019 so grab the goods while you can! Great ways to KEEP IT LOCAL STAMFORD!

Shop 1: https://www.cafepress.com/onthemenuct

Shop 2: https://www.cafepress.com/onthemenuct2

 

The Goblet on Etsy: For 19 years I’ve been creating handcrafted jewelry. Now in my Etsy shop, I sell not only my handcrafted items but also vintage pieces. All items created by myself are one of a kind and what may be there today, may be gone tomorrow! Be sure to follow my shop on IG: Instagram.com/gobletdesignsjewelry for info on sales, new pieces and more. Free US Shipping and Free Gift Pouch with each item.

Stamford Books: Great as gifts for the person who wants to learn more about where they live. Note each purchase done through this site, helps support it.

         

 

Thanks so much all and remember to support our local businesses…they keep Stamford going!!

 

#wotm #keepitlocal #knowwheretogo

#supportlocal #supportsmallbusiness #stamfordstrong

Twisted Tales of Stamford

“Ghosts are history demanding to be remembered.” — Jeff Belanger

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Whether skeptic or true believer, all ghosts, legends and tales have to come from somewhere and most times, they come from our past. Founded only 21 years after the pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, Stamford has a storied history and with it comes a whole lot of stories just waiting to be told.

A few years back around Halloween, I decided to write a post about some locals legends that may or may not have been widely known. From ghosts at Fort Stamford to the creature in the Noroton River to Stamford’s own Witch Trials, it was possibly the most popular post I’ve ever done and I swore to do it again. Which brings me to today…

Halloween 2018 is once again upon us and there are still so many tales to be told. And while my intention was still to tie these stories in with our history, this year I put the call out to Stamford residents asking them to give me some direction and send me their own story ideas: Were they told not to go near a certain house as a kid? Is there an ‘unwanted’ guest in their home? Or maybe they heard a local park had some extra visitors, among others. While it got off to a slow start, in the end the response was overwhelming! I was sent so many messages, emails and comments that it was truly hard to narrow it down to just a few for this piece. But rest assured, the rest will NOT go to waste and it seems that because of the response, a new project may be in the works (stay tuned!).

In the meantime, let’s get to why we’re here now. If you are a regular follower of WOTM either here on the site or on social media, you know that I am passionate about our local history. So why not have fun learning more about it while celebrating that which is Halloween?

Now remember, these are but snippets. It took a lot of willpower not to add more stories and include more details for the stories I chose to include here. Hopefully you will enjoy this piece and maybe get you excited for more!

Now, let’s get to it as we begin with the obvious for this holiday…

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Halloween and Shippan:  This is interesting as there are a couple of stories about how a park was formed: One reads that on Halloween night in 1906, Stamford Mayor Homer Cummings cast the deciding vote to allow 95 acres of Shippan to be bought and turned into a public beach after there had been interest in having a local public park. Halloween Park as it was known included a 9 hole golf course and a big, beautiful pavillion. Halloween Yacht Club was formed later in 1926 and is still in operation today on the park’s west side. The other story reads that the City of Stamford took title to the Cummings property on Halloween Eve of 1926 (not 1906 in a vote)  and the name stuck. Either way, we now know it as Cummings Park and we have it today to enjoy because of our late former Mayor.

To learn more, check out: A Maritime History of the Stamford Waterfront

(Postcard image courtesy of Stamford History Center)

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Dantown: When you think of a ghost town, you normally think of someplace out west where there were gunfights in saloons over shots of whiskey and dancing girls. But did you know that there is a ‘ghost’ town that lives below the surface of the Laurel Reservoir? Dantown, once located in the North Stamford area where Stamford, Pound Ridge (think Scot’s Corner) and New Canaan meet was once a bustling community of basket weavers. The heavy duty baskets were used in for oyster and clamming gathering in local waters, for picking fruit in the local orchards as well as coal and more. There were many families involved in the business and handcrafting of each piece and the baskets were well known even in New York City. They also produced shoes, cider and potatoes and there was even a school for the town’s children Named after Francis Dan who settled in the area in 1684, those who lived there harnessed the power of the Rippowam to use for their mills. They flourished until around the early 1900’s when it went into full decline. In 1923, the local water company dammed up the river, flooding and submerging the town creating the 256 acre reservoir we still have today. When there is a drought, you may be able to see some of the remains of the once thriving town but other than that, the only reminder of what was still there are now just the street signs that bear its name. Dantown; Stamford’s own Atlantis.

Rezo Waters with son Ernest c.1900

(photo credit Stamford History Center)

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The House of Stamford Hill: On a corner of Cascade Road there lies a beautiful home that dates back to Revolutionary times. The 1780 House or Woodpecker Ridge Farm as it’s sometimes known was built by the Augustus Weed Family in the area that was once Chief Ponus’ private hunting ground. The house stayed in the Weed family until 1927 and then changed hands a few more times over the years. But in 1955 a couple purchased the house and noticed they weren’t alone. It is said that there were sightings of a figure of a Native American in the kitchen, unexplainable music coming from an upstairs bedroom and moving shadows in the parlor area among other things. In 1964, the couple was getting ready to sell the house and called in legendary paranormal investigator and author Hans Holzer to investigate. They stated that they never felt threatened but rather wondering more what the visitors wanted. Mr. Holzer brought a psychic medium with him and during the time(s) they spent at the house they had quite a number of experiences there themselves. They were able to contact quite a few spirits including a Revolutionary War soldier as well as several entities who came through the medium. What I personally found interesting about this story is that this one was submitted to me by quite a few! So apparently the legend continues. To read more about Hans Holzer’s investigation you can find it in his book: Ghosts: True Encounters from the World Beyond

(photo credit: mysticartdesign pixabay)

Just a side note: Also on Cascade Road lies the home of baseball legend Jackie Robinson. I’ve been curious if anyone has had any experiences in his home. While the house looks like an old farmhouse type, the original #42 had it built for his family in 1955 and he lived there until he passed in his home in 1972.

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Stamford Town Center: Yes, you read that right. There have been many stories over the years from directories being upset in their holders when no one was there, voices in the elevators and even the vision of a lady in red running. No one knows exactly who (or what?) is doing all of this. The mall has somewhat of a tortured history that sadly, includes a few folks taking their lives there. But as we all know, the mall, no matter how ugly, was not always there and like any area, has a history. The streets were not the bustling and congested nightmare they are today. Horse and buggy was the way to travel for many years and an investigation done and found that a woman had been hit by one in the area back in the day. Some of the activity did begin after some mall renovation happened and it’s known that happens many times in places where renovations have taken place; it tends to stir the pot. As someone who years ago experienced the rattling of closed store gates there myself, I have to admit, that mall can be one creepy place.

Dr. Francis Rogers in front of his home, depicting carriage life downtown on the corners of Cottage & Atlantic Streets.

(Photo credit: Stamford History Center)

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Cove Island Park: Originally called “Bishop’s Cove” this is quite simply my favorite spot in Stamford. If you follow WOTM on Instagram and go through the pics, you will find dozens taken down there. But like all of Stamford, it’s roots can be traced back for hundreds of years. The island and the surrounding water, including Holly Pond has gone through several incarnations. One of which was the now legendary, Cove Mills. The mills along the water there began in 1792 as a tidewater gristmill. They evolved over the years changing with the times and growing to its peak in 1890 when it grew to 70 acres with 500 employees and became a textile dye company. On February 19, 1919, a great fire took out the entire factory after a small fire started in the acid storage room. The irony of this was the fact that they claimed that the 25 building complex was ‘fireproof’. It was said that 100 employees were still inside the building when the fire took place. Now having stated that, it does not say if they got out or became casualties of this tragedy. You can still see remnants of the factory today if you look carefully. The old ice house is near the playground. There are bricks that can be found in the dirt and of course there is the iconic old bridge foundation as you come in from the parking lot. There is also incredibly large, rusted pipe segments that become visible at low tide and have become a reminder of how massive the structure once was. It is said that to this day, there are reports that the smell of smoke from the fire with a distinct scent can still come to life now and then. There have also been shadow figures seen walking around the park grounds and beach area. Are these folks who perished in the fire? Maybe. But again, so much history has happened there, anything is possible.

Large pipe structure seen at low tide at Cove.

(Personal photo.)

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I hope you’ve enjoyed these new Twisted Tales of Stamford. Honestly, this is just the tip of the iceberg! There are so many more to tell and my goal is to be able to bring them all to life for you in one way or another.

I would very much like thank all of you who sent me your stories and requests and allowed me to interview you. This has been a long time coming and I’m so grateful for the outpouring of support this idea has gotten.

If you like this piece and know of more stories of Stamford you’d like to see in a future piece, please feel free to let me know: onthmenuct@yahoo.com  Subject: Twisted Tales

Connecting the past with the present is so important; and the past, needs to be remembered.

Keep Halloween Local Stamford!

Dedicated to Dantown

(photo courtesy of  Tom Ryan and Stamford History Center)

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#wotm #keepitlocal #knowwheretogo

#twistedtales #learnwhereyoulive

#stamfordhistory #happyhalloween