The Rural New Yorker
In 1899 T.S. Gold, the elder, issued a descriptive catalogue of farms for sale in Connecticut, wherein he pointed out that there were no abandoned farms in the state, but that agriculture had declined because of the removal of small manufacturing industries.
Even before the founding of the Yelping Hill Association, as seasonal guests increased through the turn of the 20th century, Cornwall adapted to the changing demands. As the farms disappeared electricians, plumbers, painters, mechanics, carpenters, and many other craftsmen emerged in Cornwall. This facilitated the arrival of part time residents, who also could afford to purchase the rising number of farms that were no longer in use.
In 1915 Carl and Irita Van Doren were looking for a place in the country. A family member arranged for them to board with the Rogers family in Cornwall and T.S. Gold, the younger, took them around Cornwall to look at properties for sale. The Van Dorens purchased a home on Town Street that same year.
After Carl and Irita Van Doren purchased their home in Cornwall they started inviting friends to come for the weekend. A few years later Mark and Dorothy (Carl’s brother and sister-in-law), purchased a home in Cornwall and also began inviting friends to come for the weekend. Eventually, this led to the influx of part time residents that Cornwall experienced during the first half of the 20th century.
The artists and authors who established themselves as part time residents in Cornwall did not start out with a romantic notion of country life or a desire to escape the city. The accounts that remain specifically state that both locations were loved, accepted, and understood for exactly what they were, and their challenges embraced. This did not, however, prevent the rise of two distinct groups of residents, full timers and weekenders. War rationing and gardening did a great deal to break down the perceived barriers between the groups and began the process of part time residents becoming part of the community.
“Gardening is a kind of disease. It infects you, you cannot escape it. When you go visiting, your eyes rove about the garden; you interrupt the serious cocktail drinking because of an irresistible impulse to get up and pull a week.” Lewis Gannett