By Michael P. Walsh
Special to the Voice
Mayor Nancy R. Rossi is commissioning a special committee to create, organize and oversee events for West Haven’s 100th anniversary next year.
The West Haven Centennial Committee will celebrate the 1921 birth of Connecticut’s youngest town with a series of commemorative events 100 years in the making.
The centennial will include a kickoff ceremony and other events that observe West Haven’s rich and diverse heritage, Rossi said.
In addition to Rossi, the committee members are city Human Resources Commissioner Beth A. Sabo, mayoral aide Ruth G. Torres, Public Works Commissioner Tom J. McCarthy, city Treasurer Michael P. Last, Charter Revision Commissioner Rohan Smith and West Haven Historical Society President Jon E. Purmont.
The honorary members are state Sens. Gary Winfield (D-10), and James Maroney (D-14); state Reps. Charles J. Ferraro (R-117), Michael A. DiMassa (D-116), and Dorinda Borer (D-115); City Council Chairman Ronald M. Quagliani (D-at-large); and council members Bridgette J. Hoskie (D-1), William X. Conlon (D-2), Elizabeth K. Johnston (D-3), Mitchell L. Gallignano (D-4), Robbin Watt Hamilton (D-5), Peter V. Massaro (D-6), Treneé McGee (D-7), Chrystal Fanelli (D-8), Robert Bruneau (D-9), Barry Lee Cohen (R-10), Gary T. Donovan (D-at-large), and Colleen O’Connor (R-at-large).
Rossi said the committee will meet in the coming months to plan various centennial events for 2021. The committee will announce the events once they are finalized, she said.
West Haven, now a city, incorporated as Connecticut’s youngest in 1961, is also one of the state’s oldest communities.
In 1648, West Haven, then known as West Farms, was settled by farmers from the New Haven Colony. West Farms became the separate parish of West Haven in 1719 through a petition granted by the General Assembly. In 1822, the parish united with North Milford to form the town of Orange before separating from Orange in 1921 to become the town of West Haven.
According to the Historical Society, West Haven was founded by several New Haven Colony leaders who recognized the value of the extended shoreline, unadulterated forests and potential farmland. The historic crossing into West Farms was by horse-bridge over the West River near New Haven Harbor. The West River Crossing is an event that is commemorated to this day both in ceremony and in a master mural in the post office on Campbell Avenue.
Soon after, according to information on the society’s website, guilds built six large post-medieval houses within a short distance of the community’s central Green, a common grazing and meeting site. The earliest settlers shared the lands with three major Native American tribes that historically summered in West Farms, using the resources of forests, three tributaries and a shoreline abundant with both freshwater and saltwater life.