Originally part of Stamford, this area became Middlesex Parish in 1737. It was incorporated as the Town of Darien in 1820. Settlement had begun about 1700 when the first roads were cut "in the woods." In 1703 a school district was set up in Noroton. Five years later Scofield's Mill (afterward called Gorham's Mill) was built on Good Wife's River. By 1744 a meetinghouse was completed and the Reverend Moses Mather became first minister. During the American Revolution, Middlesex Parish was frequently raided by local Tories who had fled to Lloyd's neck on Long Island. They disrupted services at the meetinghouse on July 22, 1781, captured Dr. Mather and forty-seven other men, and transported them across the Sound. Dr. Mather with twenty-six of his parishioners suffered five months in foul British prisons in New York City before those who survived their confinement were exchanged and returned to their homes.
Until the advent of the railroad in 1848, Darien remained a small rural community of about one thousand farmers, shoemakers, fishermen, and merchants engaged in coastal trading. A gradual increase in population then occurred with the arrival of emigrants who came from Ireland and later from Italy. In 1864 during the Civil War, the first home in the United States for disabled veterans and for soldiers' orphans was built at Noroton Heights. It was named in recognition of its founder Benjamin Fitch of Darien. Following the war, Darien became a popular resort for prosperous New Yorkers who built summer homes in Tokeneke, Long Neck Point, and Noroton. A few daily commuters to New York City then were forerunners of the many who have settled here and changed Darien into a residential suburb of metropolitan New York.
Erected by the Town of Darien
The Darien Historical Society, Inc.
and the Connecticut Historical Commission