Pictured here when it resided across the street, facing east – hitching post, large door shutters (laying in front of the windows as there were probably no locks on the door) and no upstairs residence as evidenced by the lack of a door on the left side of the building. The stairs stretched the length of the porch. The area above the store was likely used for storage.
Round Hill Road was an integral part of an extensive transportation system that connected back country farmers with coastal ports, in this case the scheduled packet boat from Mianus that began as early as 1692 to New York City. Packet service describes regularly scheduled conveyance service (originally by ship) carrying passengers or freight requiring urgent delivery. By 1802 stagecoaches ran from the Borough of Horseneck (the old part of town on the coast) through Stanwich most probably passed along Round Hill Road on their way to upstate New York. Potatoes were the first major crop for farmers of North Greenwich, followed by apples after the Civil War. Cattle were raised for meat as well as for their leather sold to shoemakers.
We do know that the store was a post office from July 28, 1830 to February 9, 1901. Below is a letter cleared through the Round Hill Post Office on January 7th, 1858. It cost 3 cents to send a letter in 1858. The first Post Master was Nathanial Knapp from 1830 to 1836. At the time this letter was sent, Odel C. Knapp (pictured left,) Nathanial’s son was serving as Post Master and proprietor.
If it were possible to read the street signs in front of the store, it might provide clues to the historic relevance of this area. One sign clearly states Stanwich and points east down what is now Old Mill Road. There is an apartment above the store as the front door is visible. The store has been moved across the street and faces west. Electricity is installed. The shutters are on the large doors indicating the store is closed, could it be Sunday? Check out the 1920s Ford(?) pick- up truck in the back under the lean-to. The car fascination has begun and residents are now looking for automobile service. The Strains started fixing cars in the back and put up the lean-to as the first service station.
This 1934 Dodge Brothers Humpback Panel Delivery Truck was used to deliver goods to customers in Round Hill. Young Billy Strain is sitting on the running board. Also shown is the original telephone number 75 still owned by the business today 869-0075 (used as a fax)
Of course with the automobile, came the need for gas, and a pump was installed sometime in the 1920s. Here is Granny (Connie Strain) pumping gas (in slacks – quite a flapper) for one of the regulars.
The post card at right shows the Black Smith Shop still standing (privately owned but beautifully renovated) across the street and begs the question, was this a stagecoach stop in the early 1800s?
Just down the street the historic Old Mill for which Old Mill Road is named still stands today and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (90001109). The Sylvanus Selleck Gristmill, also known as the Edwin Knapp Gristmill, was built in 1796 and purchased from Selleck by Knapp around 1860. Erected on Converse Pond Brook its significance is due to the distinctive characteristics of a rural CT gristmill in addition to its age. The braced-frame construction retains elements of the waterpower system and operating equipment typical of gristmills built in the late 18th to mid 19th centuries. Historically significant as it served the Round Hill agricultural community by processing staple grains for local farmers. Edwin Knapp used the mill to provide feed for livestock as the need for producing staple grains declined. The Selleck Gristmill is one of two known surviving 18th-century gristmills making its value incalculable in terms of scarcity.
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