The following brief history of Candlewood Knolls was written by Jim Ogden for the 75th Anniversary Party held on July 31st, 2004. Information was gathered from public records in the New Fairfield Town Hall, Jack Murphy's History of Candlewood Knolls and a paper written by Yale student, Jo-Ann Ford in 1976 about Candlewood Lake.
The history of Candlewood Knolls is tied intrinsically with that of Candlewood Lake. If there was no lake there would be no Knolls.
In the early part of the 20th century, the Connecticut Light & Power company had begun building power plants on the Housatonic River and it’s tributaries including the Bull’s Bridge and the Stevenson Dam. In 1925 an agent of CL&P, Charles L. Campbell began buying up large tracts of land in the Rocky River basin. Those tracts were later deeded to CL&P. Because CL&P had been given the authority to flood the land by the state, many people were forced to sell and move. Some people refused to sell and some property inundated by the lake is still privately owned.
Candlewood Lake was created to serve as a storage facility for a power plant to be created on the Rocky River in New Milford. The power plant was to be a “pumped storage generating station”. What this meant was that when the flow of the Rocky River was strong, water was pumped into a reservoir. When the flow of the river lessened the stored water could be released to flow downhill to the generating station.
In the summer of 1926, over 100 buildings were demolished or moved, graves from two cemeteries were moved, the land was cleared of trees, the main dam in New Milford and 4 smaller dikes were constructed. The entire village of Jerusalem would disappear under the lake. This was accomplished in 17 months, by over 1000 men without the use of power tools at a cost of $5,000,000, which would be about $50,000,000 today.
On February 25, 1928 water began being pumped into the Rocky River basin. By the end of December 1928 the water had reached the 429 foot elevation level and the Rocky River power plant went into operation.
The lake had been created but a big question was what to call it? Early on it was often referred to as Lake Danbury. However, the name Candlewood Lake after Candlewood Mountain in New Milford caught on and it stuck. Thank god, or we might be Danbury Knolls?
Prior to the creation of the lake, there was a summer camp called Camp Arden, located on Bears Pond. Prior to that it was a farm. Bears Pond was located in the area of the current clubhouse. The camp buildings and farm buildings provided excellent community centers and are preserved in the main body of the Clubhouse and the Apartments (the “Farm House”).
In 1928, Albert Jenks, Clarence Martens and Edwards Goos purchased several plots of land including the former Camp Arden. Jenks was from New Fairfield and a WWI veteran. Clarence Martens was from Mount Vernon. Edward Goos was a WWI veteran, as well, and a businessman from Danbury in the lumber business. On May 29th, 1929 Jenks, Martens and Goos formed the Candlewood Knolls Corporation to develop the property.
With tongue in cheek, and perhaps an eye to posterity, the developers included their names in the streets Al Mar Go and Clar Ed Al.
On July 7, 1929 the first plot of land was sold to Frances K. Marlatt for $750. That was for waterfront. There were several interesting covenants in the deed:
- will not permit “any building except a detached one-family dwelling house, which shall cost not less than fifteen hundred dollars.”
- Shall not have what is commonly known as a flat roof.
- No privy, or outhouse or water closet shall be erected or maintained upon any part of the said plot but that all sewage shall be disposed of by a septic tank.
- Will not sell or suffer or allow to be sold on the premises hereby conveyed any strong or spirituous liquors, or ale, beer or wine, intoxicating liquors of any kind.
Marlatt built her house for $2500. This property was later sold to Hartlieb, then Kelly and is now owned by Frank Ross.
Even though the Great Depression was on, sales of plots in the Knolls were strong throughout the 1930’s.
In 1948 Candlewood Knolls Community, Incorporated was created. Prior to this there was a Candlewood Knolls Club. There were 126 original stockholders including names from the past and present: Annunziata, Caterson, Cooley, Davis, Ferguson, Heuer, Jenks, Liebler, Lippi, Luberger, Minervini, Mullaly, Ross and Swartz.
The first president of CKC, Inc. was James Dailey.
Some of the purposes of the newly formed Corporation included:
- To unite the residents of Candlewood Knolls for the purpose of promoting the general welfare of the community.
- To conduct social and recreational activities for the members
- To erect, equip, and maintain social club houses, boat houses, tennis courts, bowling alleys, athletic fields, any and all appropriate buildings or grounds for the use and enjoyment of the members.
- To maintain a water plant and furnish water to the residents and/or members.
- The middle part of the 20th century saw a robust social life at the Knolls.
As early as 1932 social events were held in the Knolls. In the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s the dinner dances that took place included such events as:
- Operation Swing and Sway
- Wagon Wheels
- Coronation Ball
- A Night in Havana
- Pent House Party
- Stardust Ball
- Balloon Dance
- Dinner and Theatre Party
Other events included Clambakes, Pig Roast, Fourth of July celebrations, softball games: north vs South and against the Isle, pony rides on the ball field.
In the 1983 community members decided to make Candlewood Knolls a Tax District within the Town of New Fairfield. The creation of the Tax District allowed the collection of taxes from all community property owners. Candlewood Knolls Community, Inc. would own the property except the road.
In 1984 the new water system was put in place.
1989 the children’s playground was built near the mailboxes.
Starting in the 1980’s and gaining momentum in the 1990’s was the phenomenon of second generation Knolls residents returning and purchasing homes of their own. Properties had always been passed from one generation to the next but now children were not just inheriting houses from there parents but where purchasing additional homes. Today there are many families who have more than one house and it just shows that the Knolls was not just a good place to grow up way back when but is a great place to bring up children today.
Some of the families with more than one house include Desantis, Minervini, Ostuni, Luberger, Hyland, O’Callaghan, Ross, Lumelleau, Hayden, Gerosa, Keenan, Lynch and probably others I missed. The rumor that one day every house will be owned by a Lynch is probably not true.
The 21st century has seen a resurgence in community life.
The Knolls celebrated the year 2000 with a Millennium Party, the first winter dinner dance in Knolls history.
Starting in 2002, the clubhouse underwent a $280,000 renovation that has created this beautiful clubhouse we are enjoying right now. New safer windows, stronger internal beams and supports, new wiring, new bathrooms, safety doors, the front lawn was terraced, picnic tables were added. In addition, an anonymous donor paid for the acoustical tiles that allow us to hear one another. A pool table was also donated.
A bocce court was built. Bocce nights during the summer have turned into great social events with a little bocce thrown in. Lights were recently added.
Donations paid for new basketball backboards.
A new children’s playground is nearing fruition.
The family picnic was expanded to an entire day of events. By far, our most popular event, it drew over 700 people.
A golf tournament was started and in this it’s 4th year we had 55 golfers and 12 hours of rain.
These are just some of the things that going on now in the Knolls.
In the past 75 years there have been a lot of changes at the Knolls some good, some perhaps not-so-good. The one constant throughout the years has been the sense of community. This is a place that is very, very hard to explain to someone who has never been here and experienced what goes on. People cannot comprehend that in this day and age that there is a place like this.
It’s part Mayberry, part Cheers and yes, part Peyton Place. It is the Knolls.