BE CAREFUL WALKING ON THE NARROW STREETS OF SILVERMINE,
THEY CAN BE UNEXPECTEDLY BUSY.
ALWAYS WALK ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE STREET
FACING THE ONCOMING TRAFFIC.
out the front door of the Tavern to Perry Ave. and turn
right. At the
stop sign turn right on to River Road.
Head down past the parking lot.
out to dining-room entrance (opposite the parking lot) and
turn right on River Road.
is a community with a unique and interesting heritage.
It has been settled since colonial times and has
evolved through many phases to what you see today.
Water powered mills, agriculture, artist colony,
and suburban living are all part of the Silvermine story.
Silvermine is not a town, but part of three towns,
Norwalk, New Canaan, and Wilton.
you go down River Road, you will be walking parallel to
the Silvermine River.
In the eighteenth century when water power drove
the engines of industry, this river had a good fall and
terrain for building dams to power mills.
There were 12 or 13 mills covering several miles
along the river in Silvermine.
Silvermine mills included a leather tanning works,
sawmill, and a spool works. The Tavern pond is created by a dam you will see at the end
of the walk.
River and area are called Silvermine or Silver Mines on
very old maps of the area, but to our knowledge, there was
never any silver found.
There are several sites that
purport to be the silver mine, but none are
River Road, the first house on the left, on what was a
strawberry farm, is about 125 years old.
Before Silvermine was a suburban residential area,
it was typical family farmland, not covered with trees as
it is now.
third driveway on the left is the Gates Moore lighting
famous colonial reproductions are sent all over the
country to enhance authentic restorations.
Gates began by creating the chandeliers and wall
sconces for his uncle, John Kenneth Byard, who owned the
light brown house, very close to the road, is a converted
town line between Norwalk and New Canaan passes through
the living room. As
you stand with the house to your back and look across the
river you are looking into Wilton at the point where the
boundaries of the three towns come together.
Norwalk once included what is now Wilton and most
of New Canaan. Originally
church parishes, those towns were formed in the early
1800s by the Connecticut General Assembly.
At that time, they each wanted some of the
industrial land along the river.
you cross into New Canaan, River Road becomes Mill Road.
Along Mill Road, which was a winding lane for horse
and wagon that served the mills, are many homes
representing colonial, Greek revival, modern and eclectic
styles. Numerous artists, architects, and writers live along here and
enjoy the natural beauty of the Silvermine valley.
the summer you will see beautiful gardens and landscaping
all along the walk. In
winter, after the leaves fall, you get a clearer view of
the river and the water falls that still remain.
the rise and down the hill, there are two barn red
buildings on the right.
These are the remnants of the Buttery Sawmill,
built in 1672. Operated
by Fred Buttery until the flood of October 1955, it was
the last water powered sawmill in the area.
Long after steam and electricity had made water
power obsolete, Buttery continued to operate the mill.
Henry Ford offered to buy the mill and set it up at
his Greenfield Village Museum, but Buttery wanted to keep
it going in Silvermine.
The original heavy wood guard rails on the Merritt
Parkway were cut here at the Buttery mill.
In the flood, the dam was wiped out and the mill
damaged beyond repair.
the next hill on the right is a glass A frame house which
is the top level of a multi story house. Although
only the entrance is visible from the road, the living
area goes down the river bank, offering unparalleled views
both up and down the river.
past the A frame is the waterfall most easily seen from
the road and visible year round.
the stop sign take a brief detour to the right onto the
Borglum Road bridge.
Beyond the steep hill straight ahead is the studio
of Solon Borglum. Borglum
was an internationally known sculptor most famous for his
portrayals of the American West.
Studies in the American West and Paris led to a
very successful career in New York.
He began spending time away from New York and moved
to Silvermine in 1906. From his Silvermine studio, known as Rocky Ranch, he created
works now in museums and private collections around the
presence drew other artists to the area. They eventually
founded the Silvermine Guild of Artists from an informal
group that met in his studio to discuss each other's work.
The comments were honest and not always kind so the
group became known as the Knockers' Club.
Solon was visited in Silvermine by his brother
Gutson, also a sculptor, who went on to carve the
presidents on Mount Rushmore.
The studio is NOT open to the public.
back across the bridge where you came from, and go back to
the intersection. Go
straight to continue on Mill Road.
Across the pond there is a large white house where
Johnny Gruelle, another Silvermine artist and creator of
Raggedy Ann lived for a time.
Murals painted by Gruelle's younger brother Justin
are in the collection of WPA art at the Norwalk City Hall
and Norwalk Library.
Gruelle is best known for creating the Raggedy Ann
characters and stories for his daughter Marcella.
She died at age 13, but the Raggedy Ann stories
continued and are still popular today.
At the corner of the property is a large rock
extending in to the river known as Raggedy Ann's Rock, a
site that is portrayed in several of the original stories.
Gruelle, his wife, and Marcella are buried in the
Silvermine Cemetery which you will see later in the walk.
same house was later occupied by Marion Telva Jones, a
singer at the Metropolitan Opera.
past the Gruelle / Jones house the river takes a turn to
the north and leaves the road.
the stop sign go left on to Silvermine Road continuing
around the block Traffic
here can be busy, so please be careful.
on the left, is the Old Silvermine Community Cemetery.
Here you can see many of the old Silvermine names
including Hyatt, Louden, Buttery, and Guthrie (original
owners of the Tavern and mill property).
In the back right corner of the cemetery is the
grave of Solon Borglum.
Closer to the street on the same side is the grave
of Cliff Meek, who was known for his wrought iron
creations made at the Silvermine Forge.
The unmarked graves of the Gruelle family are also
Silvermine Road are many beautifully kept antique homes as
well as newer ones.
you head down hill, the Silvermine Guild of Artists is on
the right. The
guild was founded in 1922 by Solon Borglum and his fellow
"Knockers", known then as the Silvermine Group
of Artists. The
Guild and the artists who founded it drew more artists to
Silvermine and created a substantial art center.
Today the Guild has an active artist membership, is
a busy school, and holds exhibits of members work and an
annual juried show in the Spring.
The galleries are open daily from 12:00 to 5:00.
Please feel free to drop in.
the street is the Silvermine Market, originally operated
by the Guthrie family. Behind it was the community ice
left at the stop sign heading down the hill and back into
of the old homes on the left side were the businesses of
colonial Silvermine including the post office and
Silvermine Tavern Country Store was originally the general
store for this area.
It has unusually high ceilings for a building of
its' age. Above
the store, where the guest rooms are now, was the local
temperance meeting hall.
The store used to sit closer to Silvermine Ave. but
was moved back and added to in the 1930s.
the Tavern corner, go straight across and past the Tavern.
At the bottom of the hill, stop on the bridge and
look north to the water fall and mill. This is the best waterfall view of the walk.
The mill was operated by the Guthrie family and
made wooden knobs for furniture and dowels for post and
beam construction. In
the 1930s it was operated as a waffle shop. Spencer Tracey
holds the record for eating the most waffles at one
a look down the river to the south toward the top of the
next dam. The dark building beyond it to the left was also
your trip in the Tavern office or Country Store where a
map of Silvermine drawn in 1945 by John Vassos (a well
known industrial designer, patron of the Guild, and
Silvermine resident) shows the homes and studios of the
Silvermine Artists at the time.
This was the peak of the artistic community in