The Long Journey of Sengbe Pieh/Joseph Cinque
July 19, 2017
Connecticut’s Year with the NFL
August 8, 2017

My Town: North Haven  


Where is North Haven?

North Haven is in the southern part of Connecticut. Its neighbor is New Haven. Early in its history it was part of New Haven. The land was shaped by glaciers. Peter’s Rock is the highest point in town. It is 373 feet above sea level. It was formed when lava cooled.

The Quinnipiac River flows through North Haven into Long Island Sound. It is named for the Quinnipiac people who lived in the area. In the summer the Quinnipiac lived along Long Island Sound. In the winter they used the river to travel inland. They drank the river water and used it to take care of their plants. They caught fish to eat. Arrowheads, spear points, and clam and oyster shells have been found along the river in North Haven.

The Quinnipiac River State Park is in North Haven. Walking paths are kept clear by volunteers. Many different birds and mammals can be seen from the trails.

How was North Haven founded?

The Quinnipiac people lived here first. Then the English came. The Quinnipiac helped the settlers learn about their new home. New Haven settlers got the land from the Quinnipiac leader, Montowese, in 1638. In return, he got cloth, a coat, and some spoons and bowls. The English promised to help protect the Quinnipiac from their enemies.

The English settlers were farmers. They grew and made almost everything they needed. Sometimes they traded for things they couldn’t make. They built mills on the rivers. The mills used the power of moving water to grind grain and saw wood. The soil along the river was clay. In the winter farmers made bricks from the clay. They wove cloth and made shoes.

The area that was originally New Haven split into many towns, including North Haven.

The area that became North Haven was called Northeast Village. The first church, called a meetinghouse, was built on the green in 1772 . North Haven became a town in 1786.

How did North Haven grow?

Stiles Brickyard workers. North Haven Historical Society

After 1800 North Haven became known for brick making. The town was nicknamed “Bricktown.” At one time, Stiles Brickyards was the largest brick-making business.

In 1831, David Clinton built a factory. He invented tools to make farming easier. His factory was called the Clintonville Agricultural Works.

Map showing the borders and the path through town of the Quinnipiac River and the railroad. Look at a modern-day map to see where I-91 and the Wilbur Cross Parkway run through town. Beers Atlas of New Haven County, 1868. North Haven Historical Society

The railroad came through North Haven in 1838. New people came in the early 1900s. People from Italy came to work in the brickyards. They came from a part of Italy that had the same kind of clay.

In the 20th century two highways were built through North Haven: I-91 and the Wilbur Cross Parkway. These major roadways made it easy to live in North Haven and drive to work in other towns.

After World War II, the population grew fast. The town had to build a new police station, firehouse, library, and five schools. In the 1950s Pratt and Whitney built a large factory in North Haven. Pratt and Whitney made parts for jet engines from 1952 to 2001. The factory will soon be an Amazon distribution center. Medtronic’s North Haven factory makes medical tools and supplies. Today North Haven has many small businesses and some small factories.

Who are its notable people?

Sheldon B. Thorpe. North Haven Historical Society

Sheldon Thorpe (1838 – 1924) has a street in town named after him. He recorded much of North Haven’s history. He kept a diary and wrote two books about North Haven. He was a soldier in the Civil War. He made sure that soldiers who fought were not forgotten. He was involved in many clubs and organizations that worked to improve North Haven.

Eva Louise Bradley (1877 – 1956) was a music teacher and songwriter. She was friends with many famous musicians. She started two clubs in North Haven to study and play music. Ione Lucas was one of her pupils. She was deaf but dreamed of playing the piano. Bradley

Eva Louise Bradley. North Haven Historical Society

helped her learned to play the piano. Lucas was successful.

Ezra Stiles (1727 – 1795) was born in North Haven. He was a minister. He was the seventh president of Yale College (now Yale University) and a founder of Brown University in Rhode Island.


Visit the North Haven Historical Society to learn more about North Haven.

Many thanks to Julie Hulten, archivist of the North Haven Historical Society, and the North Haven Historical Society for assistance with this essay.