North Granby Series
One of the two longtime Godard family homesteads was this 14-room house located at the end of Godard Rd. Owned by Oren Godard (in late 1800's), passed on to his son Beach, it was eventually sold outside the family in the early 1960's. It had no central plumbing or heating up until the 1930's.
Oren Godard's house, as seen from about Granville Rd. Today, the house is still in use, but fully grown trees obscure its visibility. Ashes of Minerva and her first husband William Hart Sr. are buried beneath the tree seen in the front yard.
Across from the main house, was a barn used for tobacco stripping barn (where leaves were stripped from their stalks after tobacco leaves had cured) and as a chicken coop (barn #3 on map). Open-field tobacco (vs shade grown) was one of a few crops produced on the Godard farm. To the left is a garage.
Looking southwest, from the southwest end of Godard Rd. sits the main barn of the Oren Godard property. It was primarily a cow barn with 24 milking stanchions, but later, also housed a team of two horses, and hay in the loft. Behind is a milkhouse (barn # 2 on map). Godard road used to go further in the distance, up the hill, connecting up to Mountain Rd.
Looking toward Granville Rd. from near the tobacco stripping barn, was a frog pond that provided an endless chorus of "ribbits" at night. Also in view, beyond the pond, was a horse barn (barn # 4).
Here is a fuller view of the horse barn (# 4). A blacksmith shop (shed #1 on map), hidden from view, stood behind this barn.
Looking down from Oren Godard’s house, across the front yard & pastures, Granville Rd. was visible. To the right a concrete bridge spans Belden brook which crosses under Granville Rd. joining the east branch of Salmon Brook and a mill pond. In 2016, the former pasture area is now wooded and the road is no longer visible from the house. Almost 1/4 from the left edge, along the road, two white circles can be seen - former millstones of the grist mill located just off the right edge of the picture.
Panning left from the prior photo sat a house, occupied by Oren's father, Harvy Godard (1823-1896). Upon Harvy's death, the house passed on to his son, Oliver (“Ollie”). Note the extensive barn complex behind the house. Behind these barns sat a saw mill.
Another barn on the Harvy / Ollie Godard property (seen behind the grindstone on the right) was used as a distillery. Three generations of Godards, starting with Harvy Godard in the middle 1800’s made cider brandy, cherry brandy, and metheglin (flavored mead), even during the prohibition years.
During a fall season, the distillery, Barn #5 on the Harvy / Ollie property, and Granville Rd. in distance between them, provided a great backdrop for Mr. Hart's handsome 1950 Ford with its customized grille.
This picture, taken just after Ollie Godard’s death in 1953, shows the house prior to subsequent, and sometimes sad, evolutionary phases of the house and property.
For instance, following Ollie’s death, an accidental fire occurred destroying much of the barn complex behind the house.
... and under new ownership also changed color and generally the property, sans barns, became a less than appealing sight.
East bank of the east branch of Salmon Brook, located on Silver St. stood the Crags Grist Mill. Believed to have been constructed as early as 1757, this mill and associated storage barn (left), operated regularly until Harvy Godard's death in 1896. One of the oldest pictures of the mill most likely taken near the end of the day because the water levels of the pond are down reflecting usage during the day. Operations would cease until the east branch of Salmon Brook replenished the pond.
In another early picture, taken from downstream, the dam that created a mill pond to help power the mill, was constructed of heavy logs with a wood planking on the other side to help hold the water back. The bridge above the dam collapsed in 1915 when a heavy load of apples was carted across it. This was the first of a few bridge changes over the next 100 years.
With the need for a stronger bridge, and that the mill was little used, a concrete dam replaced the log one for better support for the bridge. The portion supporting the right end of the bridge, blocked the intake from the pond to the mill, rendering the mill inoperable from that point forward.
The concrete wall, part of the concrete replacement dam, can be seen from the upstream side of the mill, from across a near-full millpond.
Water levels in the mill pond could be adjusted via a sluice (an adjustable water gate) in the dam. Here a block and tackle device is hooked up to open up the sluice.
In general, this area yielded many bucolic photographic opportunities. Rising up 200 feet behind the mill is Crag Mountain. From the top, and looking southwest, a colorful and majestic view could be enjoyed. The roof of the horse barn (# 4) on the Oren Godard property can be seen near the interior corner of the lower-left third of the image.
During winter months, with less leaves, a clearer view of both Godard houses was possible from the top of Crag Mountain. This shot was taken in the 1960's as the former Oliver Godard house is seen in the lower third of the picture, painted brown. The area between the two houses, roughly in the middle of the picture, was filling in with trees (partly due to a stalled effort to harvest Christmas trees). And by this time the barns on Godard Rd., across from the former Oren Godard house, are gone.
Back around the mill, downstream from the dam, and in stark contrast to the smooth millpond area, a much rockier journey lay ahead for the east branch of the Salmon Brook. In the upper-right third of the picture, remnants of a foundation of another saw mill that once graced the gorge can be seen. Just beyond the water in the foreground lay a deep, 'saw mill hole' whose depth made for refreshing swimming opportunities during hot summer months.
Two hurricanes converged in CT dumping an unmanageable amount of water on the state. As evidenced by the debris caught on the roadside fence, the east branch of Salmon Brook rose above Silver St., and in the process lifted the grist mill off its foundation and sent it downstream, leaving the 1915 bridge as a hearty survivor. A "burrstone" from the mill can be partially seen at bottom middle edge of this photo. Two such stones were used in the mill. One is now at Salmon Brook Historical Society.
From across the bridge, just off Silver St., only a small portion of the grist mill foundation remained. This portion was the intake area for the mill.
Looking from near where mill stood, Silver Street was initially not passable until debris was cleared and sand was brought in as a temporary fix.
Looking to the right (north) of the Silver St. bridge, across the millpond toward Granville Rd., uprooted trees and telephone poles were further testament to the floodwaters' power. Belden Brook, normally joined the millpond and the east branch of Salmon Brook, by passing under the Granville Road via the concrete overpass to the right. But during the high point of the flood, the brook clearly went over the road too.
From the other side of the millpond, viewed from north of the Silver St. bridge, an empty, and now permanent void exists where the approximately 200-year old grist mill stood only days before.
Panning right from the prior image, again looking south down Granville Rd., is where Belden Brook crossed under Granville Rd. prior to the intersection with Godard Rd. The two roads were submerged at the flood's worst point, dramatically changing the face of what was a small state park seen ...
Just up the road from the washed out state park area, was a pile of debris that was likely cleared off Granville Rd. to make it passable again. The debris that collected on Granville Rd. likely helped save Oliver Godard's house by diverting most of the onrushing floodwaters to the west, into the Belden Brook bed (even though that brook was overflowing too). Waters were strong enough to move the rocks seen to the right, and in the next picture.
Panning right even further, the rock debris field from Belden Brook continued upstream. Fortunately, the horse barn (barn # 4) and the blacksmith shop (just left of telephone pole; shed 1 on map) were high enough to avoid destruction. This view is from the driveway of Oliver Godard's house.
Pre-flood, the same view presented a more serene, and obviously unblemished, country setting of Oren's Horse barn. In this more pristine time, the knoll to the right of the barn was a favorite spot to set up a portable saw mill as timber was harvested from surrounding land.
From the horse barn, the view back at the Harvy / Oliver Godard house. While the debris on Granville Rd. did divert some water, Ollie's house still sat in 3 feet of water during the flood. Given the strength of the water rushing down Granville Rd., Ollie's house might've been washed away had not debris on Granville Rd. helped divert water toward Belden Brook (and away from the house) seen in the foreground.
Indeed, these power pulleys, used to transmit power from the hydro impellers to the grindstones in the mill, were too heavy to float with the mill's wood frame and sank quickly to the stream bottom, just south of the dam.
Additionally, the flood probably led to other conditions that required attention. Here, from just south of the dam, runoff from Granville Rd. into the gorge created ongoing erosion issues.
After several years of complaints and followup to the state by the owner of the gorge land (William Hart), a state agency, reinforced the embankment from Granville Rd. with these rocks, carefully placing them one-by-one.
At some point later on, the surviving bridge was deemed not strong enough for expected school bus traffic, and so was dismantled ...
... to make way for a sturdier version. This is the third bridge seen in this series. Time moves on and this bridge would later be replaced by another bridge in 2014. Oliver Godard's former house is seen in the background.
Let's take a closer look at managing the millpond level. As mentioned, a heavy day of milling grains would lower the pond level, requiring suspension of operations until the east branch of Salmon Brook replenished the pond. With the new bridge and concrete dam, the mill was inoperable, so other controls were used to lower the pond level for periodic overgrowth clearing.
(Left to right) Ralph Wentworth, Bud Godard, and Bud's father Ensworth, discussing their plans to drain the millpond. Notice the chain just to the right of Ensworth.
Porter Godard, Ensworth's brother in the red jacket, waits for Buddy to set the block and tackle to hoist the sluice (a vertical water gate). Note a second bridge in background, upstream.
Seen at a more inviting time of the year, this fellow is eyeing the situation before (or maybe after) enjoying a refreshing dip. Taken before the flood.
This quiet scene makes it hard to believe that raging waters, that submerged at least half the bridge, came through here just a few days before this photo was taken. Again, note the debris on the fence on Silver St. (to the right of the bridge).
Downstream a little, another shot of the enbankment that leads from Granville Rd. (Rt. 189) down to the gorge, and how it had difficulty holding its soil in heavy rains.
Here is how the new, 'school bus capable' bridge looked after completion. This upstream view also captures the Harvy / Ollie Godard house in the background.
The dam and the crags downstream provided pleasing photographic opportunities across the seasons. Here is a view on what looks to be a crisp autumn day.
Another wintry view from downstream, looking back at the now, and forever, empty mill spot near the end of the bridge.
Second Half of the North Granby Series Story:
Further downstream, and at a different level in the gorge, the stream fed a pool of water. The dam and bridge can still be seen in the distance.
Now... turning around from the previous image, a "gorge-ous" winter scene, looking further 'down-gorge'.
During early fall, when there is a lot less water flow, the trees and their turning leaves vie for visual attention.
In this case, still waters run deep as this view looks downstream from about where a sawmill once stood (on the other side of the gorge from, and just southeast of the grist mill.)
The gorge takes on a different persona when not sheathed in snow or ice. Now, standing on the north side of the east branch of the Salmon Brook (all the prior ones were taken from the west bank), the first main pool, seen earlier, and at a higher level would be to the right, out of the picture.
Now, about 200 feet above from where the gorge pictures were taken, distant views can be experienced from the top of Crag Mountain. This view is looking west toward East Hartland.
Now let's travel back up to the Oren Godard house that sits at the end of the eponymously named Godard road.
This photo was taken after the farm ceased operating and the house had been sold out of the Godard family. The new owners (the Mensh family) attempted to grow and harvest Christmas trees (see trees in middle right of photo). The effort either stalled or was abandoned such that a default re-forestation set in instead.
Up past the end of Godard road, past the main barn, sits the Cossitt cemetery. It is been speculated that members of the Cossitt family lived in the Oren Godard house (before Oren).
Coming back down from the Cossitt cemetery, the milk house and the cow barn of the Oren Godard house are encountered. Cow barns could be identified by the presence of an air vent at the top for air circulation for the cows that were housed below.
And just down from the main barn, Buddy Godard found Godard road the perfect place to pose in front of Bill Hart 1951 ford. In the distance can be seen the barns (which later burned) belonging to the Harvy / Ollie Godard house on Granville road.
Just down from where Buddy Godard was captured on film (on Godard Rd.), the old horse barn (# 4 on map) is seen on what looks like a sultry summer day. The apple trees to the right, obscure the blacksmith shop.
One more view from on Godard Rd., in front of the tobacco stripping shed, looking at the top of Crag Mountain.
This provides a good view of most of the barn structures that once backed up to the Harvy / Ollie Godard house.
A closer view of the barn structure, as Sally Hart (Bill's wife) on the left, and Marguerite White West, a family relative from Brooklyn NY, consider items from Ollie Godard's estate sale at around 1953.
Still on the Harvy / Ollie Godard property, a barn, referred to then as the 'new building', housed a distillery that made cider brandy, cherry brandy, metheglin (flavored mead).
Such products, made throughout the prohibition era, were sold and transported in bottles like these (aka demi-johns), in a specially designed, cushioning box seen here. William Hart Sr. instructed his son William Hart not to mention at school what these bottles were used for, and what they did in the 'new building'. Of course this was during the prohibition era.
... and were just upstream from the millpond and bridge, which can be seen just to the left of the distillery building.
From within the distillery, through a window, a view of the millpond and bridge, but after the flood of 1955.
Turning north from the 'new building', but still on the Harvy / Ollie Godard property was an old 'up and down' saw mill. Water from the east branch of the Salmon Brook powered the mill and was one of the several operations of Harvy Godard. Wooded land was purchased to feed the mill. The area south of Donahue road, was one such property, referred to as the Westwoods by the Godards (now the Paul Godard Preserve). An up and down blade from the mill and a working model resides at SBHS.
From about where the saw mill was, one could cross the east branch of the Salmon Brook, just north of the millpond. An apple orchard could be found on the other side of the bridge.
This bridge, not a proper, public road here, started out spanning Belden Brook, as part of Granville road, near the intersection with Godard road. In 1935 this bridge was unanchored, lifted in whole and relocated to this spot (replacing an older, wooden bridge). A concrete bridge replaced this metal bridge on Granville road, and is still in place today (2016).
By going across the bridge just shown, and following the stream to the millpond, the distillery (right) and the wagon shed (#4) can be seen from across the millpond, braving the winter cold and snow.
Back on Granville road, a view of the the northwest corner of Harvy / Ollie Godard house (that was seen in the main photo section). This was at a time long after Ollie's death when the house was unoccupied.
Speaking of Granville road (Rt 189), this is how it looked a few days after the 1955 flood roared through. This is looking north. The Harvy / Ollie house would be on the right, out of this picture.
Panning left from the previous picture, looking straight across Granville road to the area that was fields and Belden brook, at the horse barn.
Turning further left from the prior photo, looking south to the corner with Godard road, a more cleaned up area of the road is seen. Belden brook passed under the concrete bridge seen on the left, center, emptying into the millpond for the grist mill.
Looking across Granville road, from Godard road, toward Silver street, debris can still be seen clogged up on the guard rails of Granville road. Also seen is a 1947 Cadillac that first belonged to RC Knox family and was later bought as a trade-in by Bill Hart when he was working as a car salesman.
From the corner of Silver street, was a view of what used to be a field bisected by a quiet Belden Brook. As flood waters came down Granville road from the right, debris in the street helped divert much of the water into this field area, overwhelming the brook, leaving the sand and silt mess seen here.
This was the view from the Oren Godard house of the front field and Belden Brook after the floodwaters receded.
Debris built up in the road just in front of the Harvy / Ollie Godard house, helping divert much water to the left, into Belden Brook and the nearby field (seen in the prior picture to the left). As Belden Brook normally fed into the millpond, crossing under Granville Road, its overwhelming volume of water flowed over road, dropping a lot of silt and sand into the millpond and its surrounding area.
On Mountain Rd, 100 yards up from its intersection with Granville Rd (Rt 189), sits the Allenhurst barn. The former home of Sabra Beach Godard, no longer standing, would have been just off the right of the picture. Now another home stands in its place.
General store and North Granby Post Office run by Sam Goldschmidt in the 1930's, on Granville road, just south of the Cossitt library.
Mr. Hart's pictures capture well one corner of North Granby that was emblematic of a time in the broader Granby. He also captured another part of Granby that is almost timeless -- the iconic Granby Oak. It is thought to be one of the oldest trees in New England. As it is one of his favorite shots, and is so identified with Granby, it is included here to end on.