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Showing pride in their historic home . . . in Wilton

The Damato family, Jonathan, Jessica, Ryland, Emeline plus beloved Lab, Molson, moved into their new home at 96 Old Mill Road in January, 2020. It was not long before they decided to get a historic house marker from the Wilton Historical Society to display their affection for the c. 1750 John Belden Mill House. “We felt that our home, steeped in history, deserved to have one” says proud owner Jonathan Damato. The family loves old/historic homes, and learned about the historic marker program as they were looking for a property.

The history of the house and the area is fascinating. Around 1747 John Belden II (1700-1780) inherited land in Wilton parish’s “Long Hollow” from his step-father John Copp, and built a Cape-style house c. 1750. With the power of the Norwalk River, the area was an ideal location for mills; the first reference to his saw mill dates to 1766, and eventually a grist mill and ironworks were built near the small house. Isaac Rumsey of Redding bought the house for $22 in 1802, and sold it for $60 in 1812. He made many Federal-style improvements, including the “eyebrow” windows, detailed cornice construction and broad board fascia, which are all elegant refinements. The site still features a granite retaining wall, likely dating to a c. 1795 realignment of the road, embedded with an ornate iron hitching hoop likely made by the nearby iron works.

Historic markers, seen around town on more than 70 buildings are a way to promote historic preservation, as they draw attention to places and events that the community might not know about otherwise. The Wilton Historical Society offers the distinctive markers to identify the town’s important historic structures. Candidates for a marker are generally listed on the historic house surveys which can be found on the website and the marker may be ordered online as well.

Wilton Historical Society, 224 Danbury Road, Wilton CT 06897 203-762-7257