Beacon Falls, Connecticut
Location in New Haven County, Connecticut
|Metropolitan area||New Haven|
|• Type||Selectman-town meeting|
|• First Selectman||Gerard Smith (U) |
|• Total||9.9 sq mi (25.6 km2)|
|• Land||9.8 sq mi (25.3 km2)|
|• Water||0.1 sq mi (0.2 km2)|
|Elevation||207 ft (63 m)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (Eastern)|
|GNIS feature ID||0213387|
Beacon Falls is a town in New Haven County, Connecticut, United States. It lies in the southwestern part of the state, and is bisected by the Naugatuck River. The population was 5,246 at the 2000 census. The population increased to 6,049 at the 2010 census.
The area that was to become Beacon Falls was first inhabited by tribal communities of Paugusetts and Paugusucks and was originally known as Nyumps. Early history texts indicate that a former Native American slave called Toby bought much of the land that was to become the town on September 7, 1693 for 10 pounds and a barrel of cider.
Settlers from Derby, Connecticut moved to the area in 1678 and the town was incorporated in 1871 on lands carved from the neighboring towns of Bethany, Seymour, Naugatuck and Oxford. The town was named for Beacon Hill, although it is said that was a desire to call it Home after the Home Woolen Mill.
The history of Beacon Falls is tied to the series of manufacturing concerns that operated in the town's impressive brick factory buildings on North Main Street, adjacent to the Naugatuck River. The last and most successful of those concerns was the Beacon Falls Rubber Shoe Company. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries rubber manufacturing thrived in the Lower Naugatuck Valley. This followed the invention and 1844 patent, by Connecticut native Charles Goodyear, of a chemical process called Vulcanization to convert natural rubber into a durable, flexible, waterproof material. In the 1850s the American Hard Rubber Company built a brick factory in Beacon Falls, utilizing water power from the Naugatuck River. The company made buttons, whip sockets, and powder flasks. After that company was acquired and moved to Long Island, the empty brick building was bought by the Home Woolen Company, which in the 1860s expanded and manufactured woolen shawls, popular at the time with men, women and Civil War soldiers. The Home Woolen Company operated for 20-plus years until it became insolvent in 1887.
The 1898 inception of the Beacon Falls Rubber Shoe Company lay in the decision of Samuel J. Lewis, President of the Goodyear Metallic Rubber Shoe Co. of Naugatuck, Connecticut, and his son Tracy S. Lewis, Secretary and Treasurer of that company, to resign and start a new business together. In 1898 the two Lewis men bought the Home Woolen Company facility and started the Beacon Falls Rubber Shoe Company. The new company enjoyed great success for over two decades. From 150 pairs of shoes manufactured in 1899, by 1920 5.5 million pair were shipped; during that same time the town's population doubled. The company specialized in rubber soled boots with leather uppers (like today's "L.L. Bean boots"), and rubber soled athletic shoes with canvas uppers (now called "sneakers"). The footwear was marketed under the brand name, "Top Notch."
The Beacon Falls Rubber Shoe Company was a tremendous physical, economic, and cultural presence in Beacon Falls. It made major civic efforts to enhance the town and the lives of its employees, including building a movie theater, with an assembly room and dance hall for public use, sponsoring a musical band that gave daily performances, and commissioning the influential landscape architectural firm Olmsted Brothers to create an overall design for company lands and buildings. The resulting plan embraced the Tracy S. Lewis House and a neighborhood of workers' homes above the factory.
Tracy Lewis died prematurely in 1921 at age 47, marking the demise of the Beacon Falls Rubber Shoe Company, followed by the gradual end of manufacturing at the Beacon Falls facility. After Lewis's death the company was acquired by the United States Rubber Company in Naugatuck (formerly Goodyear Metallic Rubber Shoe Co., renamed Uniroyal, Inc. in 1961), and the Beacon Falls athletic shoe was renamed "Keds." Production in the elegant brick factory buildings ended during the Great Depression in 1930, after which the buildings were used only for storage. Several buildings associated with the company, including the movie theater, were destroyed when the State of Connecticut widened the road in front of the factory in 1949, and when the Flood of 1955 (Connecticut) flooded the Naugatuck River, causing extensive damage through the valley. In 1984 the brick factory buildings were placed on the National Register of Historical Places as the "Home Woolen Company" (#84000410—"also known as Beacon Falls Rubber Shoe Factory"). In the late 1980s the buildings were converted to a 188-unit, full-amenity apartment complex called Beacon Mill Village. The "Depot Street Bridge," spanning the Naugatuck River across from the old brick factory, is also on the National Register of Historical Places (#07000108). Built in 1935 of riveted steel, it was designed by engineers from the Public Works Administration and the Connecticut Highway Department. The bridge joins the two parts of Beacon Falls bisected by the river.
A second major historical Beacon Falls business, where many town residents worked over the years, was the Homer D. Bronson Company. In 1884 the company moved to Beacon Falls from Waterbury, Connecticut (known as "the brass capital of the world"). The Homer D. Bronson Company manufactured a multitude of brass items, specializing in hinges used in industry and homes; automobile hood hinges were a major product. The company survived both the Great Depression and the Flood of 1955. Now named HDB Inc., its present-day website states that it has been "a leader in the engineered hinge and metal stamping markets since 1839." In 1986 the company moved to Winsted, Connecticut.
Significant people and events
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 9.9 square miles (26 km2), of which, 9.8 square miles (25 km2) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) of it (1.01%) is water.
The village of Pine Bridge, once known as Pines Bridge, is located within the town, south of the town center. Beacon Falls has been known as Beacon Falls Station, Beacon Falls Village, and the Beacon Falls Postal District within Bethany.
On the National Register of Historic Places
On the State Register of Historic Places
- Tracy S. Lewis House: Home of the Beacon Falls Rubber Shoe Company President. Originally built c. 1855 by the American Hard Rubber Company, 35–37 Wolfe Avenue
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2010, there were 6,049 people, divided into 2,509 total households, with 2,360 occupied households in the town. The racial makeup (population) of the town was 91.2% White, 1.4% African American, 1.2% Asian, and 0.8% from two or more races. 5.0% identified as either Hispanic or Latino.
As of the census of 2000, there were 5,246 people, 2,032 households, and 1,450 families residing in the town. The population density was 536.6 people per square mile (207.1/km²). There were 2,104 housing units at an average density of 215.2 per square mile (83.1/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 96.97% White, 0.72% African American, 0.08% Native American, 1.03% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.40% from other races, and 0.76% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.13% of the population.
There were 2,032 households out of which 34.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.2% were married couples living together, 9.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.6% were non-families. 23.0% were made up of individuals and 6.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.58 and the average family size was 3.08.
In the town, the population was spread out with 25.2% under the age of 18, 6.5% from 18 to 24, 35.1% from 25 to 44, 23.6% from 45 to 64, and 9.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 100.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.5 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $56,592, and the median income for a family was $62,461. Males had a median income of $41,696 versus $34,844 for females. The per capita income for the town was $25,285. About 4.2% of families and 5.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.8% of those under age 18 and 4.6% of those age 65 or over.
Beacon Falls is home to Woodland Regional High School, which opened in 2001. Woodland is part of Regional School District #16 (Beacon Falls and Prospect), which also consists of Long River Middle School (P), Laurel Ledge Elementary School (BF), and Prospect Elementary School (P).
|Voter registration and party enrollment as of October 29, 2019|
|Party||Active voters||Inactive voters||Total voters||Percentage|
- "Beacon Falls". connecticuthistory.org. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
- Mark Heiss; Beacon Falls Historical Society (2012). Beacon Falls. Arcadia Publishing. pp. 1–. ISBN 978-0-7385-9143-8.
- The Connecticut Magazine: An Illustrated Monthly. Connecticut Magazine Company. 1903. p. 330.
- "Acquisition of the land and first settlers" (PDF). beaconfalls-ct.org. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
- Puffer, Michael (16 May 2018). "Tornado leaves dangerous conditions in its wake: Aftermath is 'horrifying'". Republican-American. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
- Geographic Names Information System database
- "The Valley of the Naugatuck", National Magazine, January 1858, pg 11-20
- "Indians of the Housatonic and Naugatuck Valleys", Samuel Orcutt, Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, pg 44, 1882
- "Estimated Populations in Connecticut as of July 1, 2017" (PDF). State of Connecticut, Department of Public Health, Health Statistics and Surveillance, Surveillance Analysis and Reporting Unit. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
- "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Archived from the original on April 26, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
- Connecticut State Data Center. (2011). Connecticut Town Population 2010 & 2000. Retrieved from "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-03-21. Retrieved 2011-04-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2020-02-12. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Registration and Party Enrollment Statistics as of October 29, 2019" (PDF). Connecticut Secretary of State. Retrieved 2020-02-17.