A Brief History of The Village of East Fairfield
and The Meeting House on the Green
East Fairfield - or Puddledock, as it was affectionately called due to the hub-deep mud in the street every spring - was once a very bustling little town. A stroll along Main Street across from the green in the early 1900s would have taken a visitor past the pool hall, a barbershop, a grocery store, the granary, the drug store, and the milliner shop which shared a roof with the post office and a dance hall. Next came the famous Isham House, built in 1870 and run as a hotel until it burned in 1923. When the train came through it stopped at a platform in the back of the hotel, giving passengers the choice of either eating dinner and continuing on their way, or staying overnight for a little dancing on the wonderful spring dance floor next door. Silent movies were also shown in this hall with Zoa Mitchell on the piano.
Main Street, East Fairfield, heading west
In the easternly part of the village was the train station, a general store, two creameries, a livery stable, a boarding house, a cooper shop, Achambault's blacksmith shop, a restaurant, and a rest home where women went to have their babies and spend a couple weeks recuperating. A visitor might have been lucky enough to catch Dr. Patton out on his front porch performing a tooth extraction or a tonsillectomy. There was an ice house, a butter works, and Will Soule's store, later Lyn's Market.
Will Soule's store, circa 1900
At the other end of the village, where Black Creek tumbled over the falls, was a sawmill with tramways and great piles of lumber that was still in existence as late as the 1950s. There was another blacksmith shop, a tannery, a gristmill, a brickyard, and the Ritchie Hotel. And in the middle of it all, set back on the southern edge of the village green, where anyone could let their horses graze while they went about their business in town, was the East Fairfield Union Meeting House, built on land donated by N.W. Isham, and erected at a cost of $2100. The first meeting of the Congregational Society was held in September of 1885. The Reverend O. G. Baker from Jamaica, VT was the first minister.
George Webster's Mill, East Fairfield
For many years, the church was tied in with the Bakersfield Congregational Church, sharing ministers and alternating services between churches. For nearly 125 years, the church has been a hub of the community, and when the United Church of Bakersfield and East Fairfield offered the building to The Fairfield Community Center, we couldn't - in good conscience - turn it down. We feel we've been given a rare opportunity: to preserve this old building and to find a way to utilize the facility in the spirit in which it was built - as a community gathering place, a center of cultural activities and ideas, and as an anchor to keep our community vibrant, enlightened and happy.
To that end, we will take our jobs as stewards of this old church seriously.