Mansfield is a town in Tolland County, Connecticut, United States. The population was 20,720 at the 2000 census..
Mansfield was incorporated in October 1702 from the Town of Windham, in Hartford County. When Windham County was formed on 12 May 1726, Mansfield then became part of that county. A century later, at a town meeting on 3 April 1826, selectmen voted to ask the General Assembly to annex Mansfield to Tolland County. That occurred the following year.
The town of Mansfield contains the community of Storrs, which is home to the main campus of the University of Connecticut.
Sites of interest
The first silk mill in the United States was constructed in Mansfield and financed by pilgrim descendent, William Fisk. The town, along with neighboring Willimantic, played an important role in the manufacture of thread and other textiles. Though nothing remains of the mill (now on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit, Michigan), Mansfield has held onto several other historic landmarks. A fully intact gristmill, dating to 1835, the Gurleyville Gristmill is the only one of its kind in Connecticut. Built on the Fenton River, this stone grist mill remains intact with the original equipment. There are tours available May through October. The adjacent miller’s house is the birthplace of former CT governor Wilbur L. Cross. More recent yet rare nonetheless, the Mansfield Drive-in, a drive-in movie theater, and Lucky Strike Lanes, a duckpin bowling alley, are among the last of their breed in the nation.
The Mansfield Training School and Hospital, situated on more than 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) and encompassing 85 buildings, was operated by the Connecticut Department of Mental Retardation until its closure, after legal challenges, in 1993. Four years later, the former director and a once staunch advocate of the school declared, “The Mansfield Training School is closed: the swamp has finally been drained.” Since then, the site has been allowed to deteriorate, though the University of Connecticut has been slowly finding uses for and fixing up many of the buildings. The school, with its eerie overturned wheelchairs and neo-classical hospital, remains a magnet for adventurous locals, the police, and amateur photographers. Located directly across U.S, Route 44 from the Mansfield Training School is the Donald T, Bergin Correctional Institution. The Level 2 facility houses approximately 1,000 inmates. It serves as a pre-release center for inmates who are approaching the end of their sentence or a period of supervised community placement.
Development has increased in recent years, leading to the imposition of a temporary moratorium on new subdivisions, as well as additional land acquisition. Mansfield enjoys a moderate amount of protected open space, notably Mansfield Hollow State Park, eight town parks and preserves, and numerous Joshua’s Trust properties, in addition to university holdings. Three large farms operate within Mansfield, including Mountain Dairy, which has been producing and processing milk under the stewardship of one family since 1871. In contrast to many municipalities, Mansfield is actively pursuing a program of smart growth through the construction of a livable downtown.
On the Northeastern edge of town (Mount Hope Village), the playwright, actor and producer Willard Mack owned a large estate (originally built by William Fisk) Mack permitted his other various friends and associates to board and breed their thoroughbreds on his property. One of these, boxing legend Jack Dempsey, made continual use of these facilities until Mack’s death in the mid-1930s. During Mack’s stewardship of this property, the famous Arabian Stallion “Broomstick”, sire of numerous Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown winning thoroughbreds, was also a temporary resident. The property has since been purchased and maintained by private owners.
On the National Register of Historic Places
- Farwell Barn, Horsebarn Hill Rd.
- Mansfield Center Cemetery, jct. of Storrs and Cemetery Rds.
- Mansfield Center Historic District, Storrs Rd.
- Mansfield Hollow Historic District, 86-127 Mansfield Hollow Rd.
- Mansfield Training School and Hospital, jct. of Route 32 & U.S. Route 44
- University of Connecticut Historic District—Connecticut Agricultural School, roughly Route 195/Storrs Rd. at North Eagleville Rd.
Notable people, past and present
- Elijah Porter Barrows (January 5, 1807–1888) was an American clergyman and writer.
- Wilbur Lucius Cross (1862–1948) was a well-known literary critic and the Democratic Governor of Connecticut from 1931 to 1939, was born in town. Part of Route 15 is now named the Wilbur Cross Parkway. The name of UConn’s main administration building, the former Wilbur Cross Library, also bears his name.
- Rivers Cuomo (b. 1970), lead singer/guitarist of the alternative rock band Weezer, grew up in Storrs and attended the local secondary school, E.O. Smith High School.
- Wally Lamb, author of ‘She’s Come Undone’ and ‘I Know This Much is True,’ teaches at the University of Connecticut and lives in Mansfield.
- Dave Lindorff is an award-winning veteran investigative reporter, columnist for CounterPunch, and contributor to Businessweek, The Nation, Extra! and Salon.com magazine. He is a 2004 winner of a Project Censored award. Lindorff grew up in Mansfield.
- Charles Emory Smith, postmaster general in the cabinet of Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt (1898–1902), ambassador to Russia and newspaper editor, was born in town.
- Peter Tork (Peter Halsten Thorkelson, b. 1942) of The Monkees attended E.O.Smith; he was class of ’59 and made the class of 2005 Commencement speech. Tork still resides in Mansfield.
- Abigail Williams one of the young girls who accused residents of Salem, Massachusetts of being witches, leading to the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, died in Mansfield, year unknown.
- Wendy O. Williams (1949–1998), lead singer for the 1970s and 80s punk rock band the Plasmatics lived in Storrs from 1991 until her death in 1998 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound
The Mansfield Hollow Dam, constructed in 1952, impounds the waters of the Natchaug, Fenton and Mt. Hope Rivers.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 45.5 square miles (117.8 km²), of which, 44.5 square miles (115.2 km²) of it is land and 1.0 square miles (2.7 km²) of it (2.26%) is water. Mansfield Hollow Lake rests on the border between Mansfield and Willimantic.
As of the census of 2000, there were 20,720 people, 5,291 households, and 3,121 families residing in the town. The population density was 466.0 people per square mile (179.9/km²). There were 5,481 housing units at an average density of 123.3 per square mile (47.6/km²). The ethnic makeup of the town was 83.91% white, 4.87% African American, 0.20% Native American, 7.15% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 1.88% from other races, and 1.94% from two or more races, Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 4.31% of the population.
There were 5,291 households out of which 28.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.4% were married couples living together, 7.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.0% were non-families. 27.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 2.92.
The age distribution, heavily influenced by UConn, is 13.3% under 18, 44.8% from 18 to 24, 18.9% from 25 to 44, 14.1% from 45 to 64, and 8.9% who were 65 years or older. The median age was 22 years. For every 100 females there were 98.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.4 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $48,888, and the median income for a family was $69,661. Males had a median income of $42,154 versus $32,292 for females. The per capita income for the town was $18,094. About 4.7% of families and 14.2% of the population were below the povery line, including 6.7% of those under age 18 and 5.5% of those age 65 or over.
- Town of Mansfield Official Web Site
- Town of Mansfield Official GIS Maps and Property Information
- Mansfield Historical Society
- Mansfield Public Library
- Dorothy C. Goodwin Elementary School
- Southeast Elementary School
- Annie E. Vinton Elementary School
- Mansfield Middle School
- Edwin O. Smith High School
- Mystic Country: The Eastern Regional Tourism District
- Joshua’s Trust Gurleyville Gristmill