About Sprague, Connecticut
During the summer of 2011, residents of the Town of Sprague held their 150th Anniversary celebration. They smiled fondly on the past and look forward with anticipation to a future full of bright prospects.
Sprague consists of three villages, Baltic, Hanover, and Versailles, and still maintains much of the turn-of-the century mill town flavor for which it is noted. While horses continue to graze in open fields, children play baseball at Babe Blanchette Field, and several businesses buzz, one can almost hear the clack of the looms from the departed textile mills. Although the past is ever present, implementation of an expanded infrastructure and economic development projects are underway and the dream of establishing a business park in the Town's industrial area is becoming more of a reality. The Town is committed to quality of life for residents, responsible growth, and maintaining the delicate balance between economic development and preservation of rural and agricultural assets ever mindful of the three small villages of long ago.
The three villages of Sprague share a rich history. In 1760 the residents of Hanover, the oldest settlement in Sprague, petitioned the General Assembly for permission to establish a local government known as an ecclesiastical society. This request was the result of problems encountered while traveling via horse and buggy to parishes located in Newent, Canterbury, and Scotland. These weekly trips could take several hours during winter months. Rain soaked spring roads deep with mud were dangerous. Sometimes roads were impassable. The request was granted, a new meeting house was built in the center of Hanover, and Yale graduate Andrew Lee was installed as the first pastor.
Located on the southern side of Sprague is the village of Versailles. Prior to 1800 Versailles was known as Lovett's Bridge after the Lovett family who operated an inn and grist mill close to the bridge. Around 1834 the village name of Lovett's Bridge was replaced with Eagleville. Former long-time Sprague Historian, Dennis Delany tells the story of how this came about.
"It so happened that on the tower of the factory was a weather vane, a gilded life size eagle of perfect poise, and half spread wings. One day a real eagle flying high chanced to spy the gilded eagle weather vane on the mill. With wings half spread he turned in the wind. The eagle swooped down from his high plane and lit on the tower beside the gilded eagle. There he sat; perhaps thinking he had found his mate."
The village name of Eagleville remained until S. L. Sayles bought the mill in 1871 and named it the Vers-Sayles Woolen Mill. It is likely Vers-Sayles evolved into Versailles.
Baltic, located in the northwest corner of the town, is the largest of the three villages. The Town Hall and government administration resides at its center. According to the Sprague Historical Society, "On January 14, 1718, the Second Ecclesiastical Society, also known as the West Farms Society, was established in what would later become the village of Baltic and the Town of Franklin." Baltic was then known as Lord's Bridge after the Lord family. In 1867 the post office officially changed the name to Baltic; however, the village may have been using the name Baltic as early as 1861.
On May 29, 1861, the three villages became incorporated as the Town of Sprague in honor of former Governor and US Senator from Rhode Island, William Sprague. Sprague was responsible not only for building the nation's largest textile mill, but the company houses, company store and club house essentially transforming the entire village of Baltic from a sleepy community to a bustling manufacturing enterprise. The Shetucket River, which meanders through the center of town, was the primary power source.
Several generations of residents have grown up along the banks of the Shetucket. We have fished for salmon, enjoyed floating in a rubber tube, swimming in the cool water, and navigating her currents in our boats and canoes. Each Sprague resident is proud of all their Town encompasses such as the beauty of its natural resources and the rich history of the migrant families who worked in the mills for which the town is known. These families left their imprint on the architecture of the buildings and on the generations of children who have grown up in the sight of the granite walls of Baltic Mills. Today, the entire village is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but Sprague isn't all about history...
Within a community of 13.8 square miles and 1,111 households, Sprague is a modern day fusion of history, business, education, and recreation. Residents and tourist alike enjoy the amenities offered at the wildlife preserve, the public library, the baseball fields, three schools, skate park, recreational parks, the Community Center, and the pond for ice skating. Conveniently located between northeastern and southeastern Connecticut, and just a short distance away from Rt. 395, Sprague, with its small town charm, is the perfect place to build a home, raise a family, or start a business.
We welcome you to take a drive to Sprague and pay us a visit. Talk with the people, have lunch beside the Shetucket River, or walk our nature preserve. Plan your trip by reviewing our website. You will find the experience well worth your time and you'll return...