Centuries-old surprise found in Kent home

The interior of the centuries-old home in South Kent.

Kathryn Boughton

Centuries-old surprise found in Kent home

KENT — Douglas and Chris Branson, owners of an old house located on the southeast corner of Camp Flats and South Kent Road, have uncovered a fascinating reminder of the building’s former life while making repairs to the mid-18th century building.

The house, originally constructed circa 1740 by John Hopson was doubled in size around 1780 when an addition was constructed. The earliest portion of the house, remarkably unchanged by nearly 300 years of occupation, remains intact, but the later addition suffered a significant blow in December 2023 when a winter gale sent a massive tree toppling onto it. “The whole house shook,” Douglas Branson said last week.

One front corner of the building was crushed under the tree and now, 17 months later, restoration work has begun. As workers cleared away the damaged portion of the house, removal of a ceiling suddenly revealed an old sign painted on what was once exterior clapboards.

The sign announced that it was the CW Page Store, which sold “Groceries, Good Things to Eat.”

The Bransons already knew some of the history of the property. They knew it had been a 140-acre farm where cattle and pigs were raised—indeed, the section of town where it lies is known as Pigtail Corners. They believed that a portion of it was once used as a post office. They knew that it had been a home to artists: Hugh Tyler who lived there in the mid-1900s and later Ms. Branson’s father, Larry Coultrip.

They inherited the property from Coultrip upon his death in 1998 and honored his desire that the building be preserved in as original a condition as possible. But they never suspected its mercantile background.

So, who was C.W. Page? It is probable that the merchant was Clark Page, both a son and a father to men named Walter Page. Page, variously described in census records as a blacksmith and farmer, was born in 1826 and died in 1897. The inventory of his estate reports the monetary value of “old store merchandise” and the sale of a store building for $850. His land was divided up among his heirs with his wife, Hellen, receiving much real estate.

Was the house on the corner where he had his store? It cannot be said with certainty. In 1897, six years after Clark Page’s death, Francis Atwater wrote in the History of Kent, Connecticut that one Fred Chase had become a wealthy businessman after buying “the small and ancient grocery store of this place,” a building that had passed through the hands of William Geer, Edward Dakins and a man named Segar. “It was an old stand, but it remained for Chase to make it a noteworthy establishment,” Atwater wrote.

Chase quickly built on his success, moving his store close to the railroad station and building a new dwelling house. Atwater writes, “South [of Chase’s property] is a feed store, it being the remodeled building formerly occupied by the small grocery.”

“The four houses in the immediate vicinity of the station are those of Walter Page [Clark Page’s son], VanNess Case, Miss Emiline Fanton and John Burkhardt. All are farmers and Mr. Page runs a distillery and cider mill,” Atwater concludes.

Did the Page family go back into the retail business and start their grocery store once more? We don’t know. What is clear is that a photo of the house taken in 1903, before a porch was added to the front, does not show the sign painted on the front. Walter Page became South Kent postmaster in 1915 and during his tenancy Larry Coultrip removed what he believed to be post office boxes from the porch addition.

The Bransons are interested in preserving the sign, but the work would not be covered by insurance. They have been exploring various funding options, including the Historic Homes Rehabilitation Tax Credit. Unfortunately, the property does not have either state or national register designation.

“Our goal is to preserve it,” said Douglas Branson. “We are hoping to share this amazing discovery as it is part of the history of the area and to see if there is any interest in a private party or historic entity helping preserve the store sign. We feel it would be a shame to cover it back up.”

Latest News

All kinds of minds at Autism Nature Trail

Natalia Zukerman playing for a group of school children at the Autism Nature Trail.

Loren Penmann

At Letchworth State Park in Castile, N.Y. the trees have a secret: they whisper to those who listen closely, especially to those who might hear the world differently. This is where you can find the Autism Nature Trail, or ANT, the first of its kind in this country, perhaps in the world. Designed for visitors on the autism spectrum, the ANT is a one-mile looped trail with eight stations at various intervals, little moments strung together, allowing visitors to experience everything from stillness to wild adventure.

The idea for the ANT was born from a conversation in 2014 between Loren Penman, a retired teacher and administrator, and her neighbor. The two women were discussing the new nature center at the park and Penman’s neighbor said that her grandson, who loved the park, probably wouldn’t be able to enjoy a nature center. He had autism and at age seven was still without language and in a state of almost constant agitation. Her neighbor went on to say, however, that she had observed her grandson finding great calm at Letchworth, a state of being he couldn’t achieve almost anywhere else. Speaking to another friend with an autistic grandchild, Penman heard the same sentiment about Letchworth; it completely calmed her grandchild. What was it about this special place that soothed the spirit?

Keep ReadingShow less
Snakes in the Catskills: A primer

The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in collaboration with the Catskill Science Collaborative, presented “Snakes in the Catskills: A Primer,” the latest in its lecture series, on June 5. Presenter John Vanek, is a zoologist at the New York Natural Heritage Program in Syracuse, NY. The snake above is a harmless Northern Brown Snake. They are known as a “gardener’s friend” because they eat snails, slugs, and worms.

John Vanek

The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in collaboration with the Catskill Science Collaborative, presented “Snakes in the Catskills: A Primer,” the latest in its lecture series, on June 5. Presenter John Vanek, is a zoologist at the New York Natural Heritage Program in Syracuse.

There are thirteen kinds of snakes in the Catskills. Only two are venomous. Vanek defined the Catskills area as including the counties of Greene, Delaware, Ulster, Sullivan, and Dutchess.

Keep ReadingShow less
Brunch at Troutbeck: Black Emmer Pancakes

Black Emmer Pancakes by Chef Vincent Gilberti at Troutbeck.

Jim Henkens

At Troutbeck, every meal is an experience, but Sundays have taken on a special charm with the highly anticipated return of brunch. Impeccably sourced, plentiful, elegant yet approachable, and immensely satisfying, the brunch menu reflects the essence of Troutbeck’s culinary philosophy. Available every Sunday, brunch complements the existing offerings of three meals a day, seven days a week, all open to the public.

The culinary program at Troutbeck is led by Executive Chef Vincent Gilberti, who honors the natural landscape through thoughtful and seasonal cuisine. “We launched brunch in February,” said Chef Vinny, as he’s affectionately known. “It’s been a goal of mine to add brunch since returning to Troutbeck as executive chef last year. Before my time here and before the pandemic, we had a bustling and fun brunch program, and while we’ve all returned to ‘normalcy,’ brunch was something we wanted to get back in the mix.” Chef Vinny hails from the Hudson Valley and brings with him a wealth of experience from some of New York City’s most celebrated restaurants, including Pulino’s, Battersby, and Dover. After a stint in San Francisco’s SPQR, where he honed his pasta-making skills, Chef Vinny has returned to Troutbeck with a renewed passion for the farm-to-table philosophy.

Keep ReadingShow less
Nature-inspired exhibit opens in Sharon

"Pearl" from the "Elements" series.


The Sharon Town Hall is currently displaying an art exhibit by Pamela Peeters entitled “No Fear of Flying” until September 3, 2024. The exhibit opened on June 3 to celebrate World Environment Day.

The show displays work by Peeters, Allan Blagden, Zelena Blagden and Jean Saliter. Pamela Peeters has had a decades-long career as an environmental economist, sustainability strategist and ECO consultant, appearing on television and radio, sponsoring and leading environmental education programs globally and is recognized for her various artistic endeavors.

Keep ReadingShow less