Colchester is a town in New London County, Connecticut, United States. The population was 16,068 at the 2010 census. In 2010 Colchester became the first town in Connecticut, and the 36th in the country, to be certified with the National Wildlife Federation as a Community Wildlife Habitat.
Colchester is one of the fastest growing towns in Connecticut. The villages of Westchester and North Westchester are located within Colchester. The town center village, which was previously incorporated as a borough, is a census-designated place, with a population of 4,781 at the 2010 census.
The Colchester Historical Society operates a local history museum in town.
In 1692, the town of Colchester was confirmed unto Danial Mason, son of Major John Mason.
On October 13, 1698, Michael Taintor, Samuel Northam and Nathaniel Foote III applied to go forth and settle the Town. Jerimiah's Farm was selected as the main point of reference for the town, with its north boundary as the Twenty Mile River. The southern side is bordered by Lyme. The west boundary meets the east bounds of Middletown and Haddam. The east and northeast boundary run to the bounds of Lebanon and Norwich. During the initial settlement, the area was also referred to as the Plantation of the Twenty-mile River.
On May 11, 1699, the town's principal founders, Nathaniel Foote, Samuel Northam and Michael Taintor asked the general court of Hartford for assistance with persons hindering the advancement of the settlement, to be transferred under the jurisdiction of the New London colony, and for the Town to be recognized as Colchester. On May 11, 1699 the town name was so named and incorporated into the colony of New London. The town is said to be named after Colchester, a borough and port in Essex, England, where many colonists had emigrated from, most notably, where Nathaniel's grandfather Nathaniel Foote was born.
Colchester's early history, like that of many towns in New England, centered on the church parish. In 1703, the General Court of the Colony of Connecticut ruled that the settlement could organize a church body here known as Colchester. Within a few years, several grist mills and saw mills were built to provide grain and lumber for the settlement. In 1706, the first street was laid and called Town Street. Nearly 200 feet wide, it is now the southern end of Old Hebron Road. By 1714, there were nearly 50 English colonial families in town.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 49.8 square miles (129 km2), of which 49.1 square miles (127 km2) is land and 0.7 square miles (1.8 km2), or 1.49%, is water. Among the many waterways are the Salmon River, Jeremy River, and Dickinson Creek, which is spanned by the Lyman Viaduct.
Fishing, hiking, and hunting at the Salmon River State Forest.
Formerly an incorporated borough, the town center of Colchester is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district, known as the Colchester Village Historic District. The walkable center includes a town green with a veterans' memorial. Retail stores and restaurants are located here.
Colchester has four schools: Colchester Elementary School (Pre K-2), Jack Jackter Intermediate School (Grades 3-5), William J. Johnston Middle School (Grades 6-8), and Bacon Academy (Grades 9-12).
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2000, there were 14,551 people, 5,225 households, and 3,997 families residing in the town. The population density was 296.6 people per square mile (114.5/km²). There were 5,407 housing units at an average density of 110.2 per square mile (42.6/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 94.53% White, 2.37% African American, 0.42% Native American, 0.60% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.75% from other races, and 1.32% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.92% of the population.
There were 5,225 households out of which 43.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 63.9% were married couples living together, 9.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.5% were non-families. 18.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.75 and the average family size was 3.14.
In the town, the population was spread out with 29.8% under the age of 18, 4.8% from 18 to 24, 36.5% from 25 to 44, 19.7% from 45 to 64, and 9.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 94.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.3 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $64,807, and the median income for a family was $62,346. Males had a median income of $47,123 versus $29,250 for females. The per capita income for the town was $24,038. About 6.1% of families and 2.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.6% of those under age 18 and 4.5% of those age 65 or over.
|Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of October 25, 2005|
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Colchester is the model for the fictional town of Chelmsford, Connecticut, in DP Mellon's 1978 novel Acid Acres
This climatic region is typified by large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot (and often humid) summers and cold (sometimes severely cold) winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Colchester has a humid continental climate, abbreviated "Dfb" on climate maps.