Washington, Connecticut, population 3900 and 38.7 square miles is comprised of 5 “Villages” – Washington, Washington Depot, New Preston, MarbleDale, and Woodville. History tells us that George Washington passed through and spent the night at Cogswell Tavern in what is now the New Preston section, (presently a privately owned residence). Simple to deduce where we got the name “Washington” .
Many home walkways and patios have been crafted with marble mined from the quarries in MarbleDale, hence the name. Polish farmers traveled from Preston, Connecticut to settle new fields and crops in New Preston, hence the name.
Washington Depot, that’s simple – the railroad passed through along the river and stopped in the center of town to pick up milk from the Borden Creamery in Torrington and to drop off travelers from New York City.
The rail beds are still very much evident in Steep Rock Preserve, a local nonprofit land trust, administered by a Board of Directors and enjoyed by people from all over the State for hiking, kayaking, trail riding and communing with nature.
Woodville leaves us stumped. It’s very wooded, it used to have several farms and and an antique store, we guess you could call it a “ville”. But no history exists to speak to the name, other than it was the location of a dam failure in August,1955 during a week long deluge of rain, followed by a hurricane, that eventually flooded Washington Depot and created the need for a new downtown traffic and retail infrastructure.
Washington is the collective Village of all of the smaller ones, and we have the good fortune to have 3 zip codes.
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Washington was never the wealthy enclave that it has become in the last 20-25 years. It did attract many summer residents because of Lake Waramaug and other areas for vacations. Eventually summer residents became “weekenders”, mostly from NYC, and even some of those became full timers as children grew up and retirements ensued. The 2010 Census tells us that 29% of the homes owned in Washington are second homes.
During the late 80’s and well into the 90’s, the home prices spiraled up rapidly, and put home ownership out of reach for much of the younger generation. Homes were purchased, gutted, remodeled, expanded and made into show places in many instances. There are a lot of reasons to move to Washington, but if night life and entertainment are important to you, think twice. Everything closes at 6, but the liquor store is open until 8!Many of the people who make the move here and remodel their homes,literally get bored after a couple of years and put the home back on the market. Up until about 6 years ago, most of these homes resold without any issues and turned a profit for the Sellers.
It sure is different now, as most of you know. People who purchased within the last 6 years, and are back on the market are not seeing a profit and are staying on the market a lot longer. Washington, year to date, has maintained pretty much the same levels of pricing and units sold as during the same period in 2010. But the inventory is at a very high level (88 homes on the market)and by calculating the “absorption rate”, it would take 31 months to sell all the homes that are currently on the market.
During 2010, from January to the end of September, 30 homes sold with an average sale price of $1,205, 217. In 2011, same period, 26 homes have sold with an average sale price of $1,082,577. So you can see that the levels are pretty steady from year to year, one of the few Litchfield County towns that can claim that statistic. Currently the average list price is $1,374,308 and average market time of 209 days. Last year for the same period the average list price was $1,385,537 (DOM not available)
Don’t get us wrong – there are lots of wonderful people that live and work in Washington who don’t live in mansions or on estates. We have homes for everyone and every lifestyle. Granted, home ownership is a challenge for many of our young people who want to return to the town they grew up in to raise families, start households and participate in the many activities our Town has to offer. But there is a real sense of community here and we invite you to come visit at any time of the year. We have many great restaurants, shops, art galleries, recreational areas and sports programs.
The Washington Art Association is currently celebrating 60 years of talent, classes, well known artists and teachers, exhibits and lectures.
The Gunn Memorial Library, having gone through a major expansion and remodel 10 years ago, is a destination for many.
Washington is home to a regional public school system and also 4 private schools, grades K-12.
The town of Washington is governed by a Board of Selectmen, the Board of Finance and the Planning and Zoning Commission. Members of all commissions are elected, appointed by the Selectmen and are all volunteers. This is the strong part of a fabric that pulls the town together, enriching residents with a great sense of community.