I must admit, I had never heard of geocaching before Kristine Oulman of the Easton Public Library and my colleague Elizabeth Boyce suggested that the Historical Society of Easton partner with the library to create a treasure hunt of sorts of various Easton historical landmarks whereby the players find the locations by using the GPS on their phones and then read the history behind each building. Scanning the QR code found on the placard at each location proves the player was there and when all the QR codes have been scanned, that player’s name is entered into a raffle for a prize – in this case, a framed reproduction of Beers’ 1867 map of Easton donated by the historical society. The detailed map includes the businesses of day as well as the owner of each and every house on the map.

We settled on eight locations containing historical buildings. The historical society created the text and provided the vintage photographs on each placard, while the library set up the contest rules and agreed to host the webpage. A great way to teach the kids about local history outside of the classroom.

While we aren’t going to tell you where every building is located or what the history behind each one is, we will give you a leg up on those who don’t read the Courier by telling you about one of them: Easton’s Town Hall.


Today, the Easton Town Hall at the corner of Center and Morehouse Road is a bustling center of activity during the day, while serving as the home of the Easton Police Department 24/7. On several nights each week, various town committees hold meetings in the building. The structure has been expanded and reconfigured several times since its original construction in 1937, yet there are times when the building still seems too small to accommodate so many of the town agencies as it does. Overflow parking is available at the library across the street and that’s where you’ll find most of Easton’s police vehicles when they aren’t being driven on patrol or being used for traffic duty or in an investigation.

Similar view today as the one shown below from around 1950.

Go back in time about 90 years and you’ll find that Easton didn’t even have a town hall. Both the town clerk and the tax collector worked out of their homes or businesses, both being compensated by a percentage of the fees and taxes they collected.  Arthur Wheeler, the town treasurer, had an annual salary of only $300 and also worked out of his home. No town administrative position required a forty-hour work week. The first selectman and the chief of police also worked from home. The superintendent of schools was employed by the state and oversaw several rural school districts; his office was in Bridgeport. Besides Ed Knight, who was the chief of police and Easton’s one and only full-time officer, the only other full-time salaried positions in Easton were held by the principal William James of the Samuel Staples Elementary School and the half dozen or so teachers under him along with the school nurse who monitored the health and general well-being of the students.

The main impetus behind building a town hall was likely the fear of fire. A few years before voters finally approved the construction of the building, a fire had come close to consuming all the land transfer records that were stored at the home of the then town clerk and treasurer, Charles Silliman. Mister Silliman succumbed to a heart attack while fighting that fire, but the town records were somehow saved.

Getting the townspeople to approve the building of the town hall was most certainly spurred by the generosity of two of the community’s wealthiest residents. Gus Pfeiffer and Judge John MacLane donated $15,000 and $17,500 respectively towards the construction of the new facility. That left only about $7,500 of the total construction costs for the taxpayers to absorb. No doubt another attractive incentive for the taxpayers was the fact that the town already owned the land as part of the school property.

Side view from Morehouse Road. The library entrance is on the lower level.

Architect Frederick Dixon of Bridgeport was hired to design the new building. He was tasked with making it harmonize with the recently completed Samuel Staples School that sat on Morehouse Road to the rear. Except for the roof supports, the entire building was constructed of concrete, stone, and brick; the idea was to make it as fire resistant as possible.

The main building measured 48 feet in width and 37 feet in depth with a 10-foot-wide wing on either side. Two stories in height, the upper floor consisted of separate offices for the town clerk and the town doctor and nurse, and a combined office for the selectman, assessor, finance board, and treasurer. There was also an all-important fireproof vault for the storage of town records. The rear half of that floor consisted of a single large courtroom that could eventually be divided into future offices. On the lower level were two holding cells for prisoners. There were no provisions for a dedicated space for the police chief, but the town now had a place to accommodate two prisoners; a seemingly odd requirement when the county jail was less than ten miles away on North Street in Bridgeport.

Also, on the lower level of the new building was something completely new to the town of Easton, a library! That library was perhaps the single biggest benefit the townspeople received when the new town hall was finished. It was trimmed in chestnut with asphalt tiled floors. Books to stock its shelves were acquired mostly through donations but by the middle of 1938, the new library had a collection of 1850 volumes that were loaned out a total of 6,021 times during the first year of operation. The town’s appropriation of funds dedicated to running the operation was a paltry $150 for the entire year.

c.1939. The original Town Hall.


So, if you are ready to play, simply go the webpage created and hosted by the Easton Public Library:  https://www.eastonlibrary.org/easton-geocaching

The winner will be notified late in the summer, but doesn’t everybody walk away a winner when they learn a little more about where they live? Good Luck and enjoy the journey.

You can learn more about the Historical Society of Easton and what we do and how you can support us with your tax deductible contribution by visiting us at: Historical Society of Easton Connecticut – Archive Preservation and Research Center (historicalsocietyofeastonct.org)

Kristine Oulman of the Easton Public Library and Bruce Nelson of the Historical Society of Easton.

1867 Beers’ maps of Easton are also available for purchase at Greiser’s Coffee and Market. Historical Society of Easton Books & Map | Greiser’s Coffee & Market (greisers.com)

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By Bruce Nelson

Director of Research for the Historical Society of Easton Town Co-Historian for the Town of Redding, Connecticut Author/Publisher at Sport Hill Books