While Lakeville’s civic improvement and long-term vitality, as one of the town’s two main villages, are at the core of our mission, we also recognize that gardens and parks do not exist in a vacuum. While Lakeville’s natural surroundings make it special, its beauty can also be attributed to the historic buildings and homes and centuries old architecture. This year the LCC has begun the groundwork for highlighting our history with enhanced signage and housing plaques.

The Conservancy, working with the Salisbury Association and the town, has identified eight potential sites to erect historic signage. Containing both text and photographs they would highlight our architectural treasures, early inhabitants beginning with indigenous peoples and the farm, dairy and iron ore industries.

The Conservancy has hired a state-approved historian to research the WPA era 1940s painting in the Lakeville Post Office depicting the Revolutionary Era manufacture of cannon balls in Lakeville. This large mural has long been a source of local pride. An informational sign will be permanently mounted in a brass case in the Post Office with photos and text describing the mural and its history. See below.

The Lakeville National Register Historic District was designated in 1996, comprising 10 acres in the center of the village with 22 buildings and three sites. To launch our historic district program we are focusing first on the old railroad depot next to Pocket Knife Square. The depot looks much as it did in 1871, when it was built by the Connecticut Western Railroad. Reorganized under the Central New England Railway in 1899, passenger service and freight ran on the line between Hartford and Millerton, New York, until 1938.

The Conservancy has been designated as part of a citizens committee working with the town and other civic groups to refurbish and revitalize the building which lends so much character to the village center. We have pledged funds to begin a full rehabilitation of the structure. The LCC believes the depot could become a highly visible center for local non-profits to provide a welcome center for Lakeville. Since everyone passes by this important building on the way to the Town Grove it would be a convenient place for businesses to display brochures, provide space for the elementary schools’ Extras program, and space to celebrate Lakeville’s history, the iron ore industry and long ignored Native American presence in the area.

Historic Signage Initiative

Inset of George Cox’s 1942 mural depicting Ethan Allen and the local manufacture of cannon balls which aided the American Revolution and were an important byproduct of the local iron ore industry in the 18th century. 

Post office lobby signage giving history of the Cox mural and its importance.

Lakeville Post Office Historic Mural

The Lakeville Community Conservancy decided in 2022/23 to launch its own signage program to expand upon the iron industry signs and to celebrate other aspects of Lakeville’s history and culture.   Indeed, Lakeville was so defined by the iron industry, that it was called Furnace Village into the late 1800s.

The town of Lakeville currently has four widely dispersed signs describing various aspects of the Lakeville iron ore industry.  These were erected by the Salisbury Association several years ago.

We are particularly focused on providing information about the historic aspects of our town center which is a generally intact and in situ example of what State Historian Walter Woodward has called “Connecticut’s villes.”  Woodward’s article published in Connecticut Explored magazine (summer, 2021) entitled “The American Factory Village—Made in Connecticut,” served as both inspiration and a wake-up call to our organization.  As Woodward’s article suggests, Lakeville is a unique remnant of the early age of manufacturing and deserving of both preservation and celebration.

As our first effort, we have installed a sign in the Lakeville Post Office which gives background on our 1942 WPA Era mural, its artist, George Cox, and the mural itself (above).  For this sign and several more we hope to erect in the village center itself, we hired a state-sanctioned, highly experienced Connecticut preservation historian who has consulted on a wide variety of projects, some in Lakeville, and Salisbury and many signage initiatives across the state.  In addition, we worked with Bob Segal, a graphic designer specializing in museum signage, to produce a sign which is both informative and visually arresting.

Their work is continue and they are now completing a sign to be placed outdoors at the Town Grove which details the history of the Lake Wononscopomuc from the time of the Native American presence, through the early manufacturing era, the period of tourism to the present.  They have made extensive use of both our local library and Salisbury Association’s photo archives and to show both commercial use (ice production, fishing, etc.) and recreational activities.

It is our hope to erect signs which illuminate our understanding of our historic railroad station, our magnificent Federal architecture, Lakeville native and Revolutionary War hero Ethan Allen, the former factory pond associated with the iron ore forge, blast furnace, the Holley Knife Factory and the several examples of Victorian homes at the southern end of Lakeville.

Topher Cox: Professional photographer from Massachusetts and grandson of mural artist George Cox. 

Directional Signs in the Post Office Foyer

Living with History in Lakeville



In terms of other new initiatives, the LCC began an Education and Signage Initiative, LIVING WITH HISTORY IN LAKEVILLE.
Because of the many articles and editorials written about Lakeville in the past year or so, and its revitalization, we thought it was appropriate to bring attention to Lakeville’s history. Perhaps you saw the three Public Service Articles we compiled, wrote and had published in the Lakeville Journal and other media outlets in June and July, 2023. See the he Articles entitled: LIVING WITH HISTORY IN LAKEVILLE below.

While the village has a local historic district in 1996, the Department of Interior National Park Service certified a considerable part of the village center as The Lakeville National Register Historic District. Unlike other community’s which have been so honored, this distinguished designation has for some reason gone somewhat unheralded. WE THINK IT’S TIME TO TAKE NOTICE! WE HOPE YOU WILL ENJOY READING ABOUT OUR AMAZING HERITAGE AND WORK WITH US IN KEEPING ITS MEMORY ALIVE AND ITS PHYSICAL HERITAGE INTACT.

We urge you to pay particular attention to LIVING WITH HISTORY IN LAKEVILLE Part 3, “THE TRANSPORTATION SIGNIFICANCE OF HISTORIC LAKEVILLE AND THE ICONIC RAILROAD DEPOT BUILDING”. Working as a community, we can be sure that this town treasure is promptly cared for and utilized to the benefit of all.

Our initial SIGNAGE INITIATIVE work commenced with the interior sign at the Lakeville Post Office described above and will be followed with historic signage at the Lakeville Town Grove.

Historic Photos from The Salisbury Association Archives.

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