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13. Fairfield’s Historic Green

Go under the overpass, passing Exit 21 and continue straight on Mill Plain Rd., at the junction of Mill Plain Rd. (Fairfield Arts District) and Rte. 1, take a left on Rte. 1. Along this section of road you will see many shops and restaurants.

To reach the historic heart of Fairfield, take a right on Beach St. The permanent settlement of Fairfield began in 1639 when Roger Ludlow laid out four "squares" of land divided by five roadways in order to define the center of the new settlement that remains today as the Historic Town Green with town government buildings, churches, and the surrounding neighborhood. The town hall was rebuilt in 1794 after it was burned down by the British in 1779 and is the core of what you see today. The imposing brownstone Congregational Church is the 6th on the site and St Paul's was erected in 1854. There are four houses on Beach St. that survived the burning of Fairfield.

On July 7, 1779, the people of Fairfield awoke to a warning from the fort at Black Rock that the British had been spotted off the coast. The British invasion came in late afternoon as the troops disembarked and marched to what is now Beach Road in the center of town. As they came within the range of cannons at Black Rock Fort, Isaac Jarvis, the fort's commander, ordered his men to fire on the troops. Local militia near the town center opened fire with muskets. Undaunted by the attack, General Tryon and his troops set up headquarters in a home on Beach Road while the men of Fairfield made a fortification at Round Hill and destroyed a strategic bridge crossing. General Tryon's plan to attack Black Rock Fort was foiled with the destruction of the bridge at Ash Creek. In retaliation the General began burning homes one by one. As the British withdrew, a rear guard of German mercenaries set fire to all the buildings, including the churches and ministers' homes, which Tryon had given protection. It was years before Fairfield recovered from this destruction.