A new history of Tolland by resident Marshall A. Atwater has been published by the Tolland Historical Society as the town prepares to celebrate its 300th Anniversary in 2015.
The book, “The Tolland Transformation: 1940-2014,” picks up where previous histories of the town left off. Atwater traces the societal and technological changes of the past 75 years that increased the town’s population past 15,000 while Tolland retained its rural characteristics.
The town was chartered in 1715. After becoming the county seat in 1785, Tolland saw its early population peak in the 1830s. As the railroads bypassed the town and water power was inferior to that in surrounding towns, Tolland’s farms became barely self-sustaining. By 1900, the population had been reduced by more than half.
Atwater writes that an influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe purchased many of the farms in town and stabilized its population during the early 20th century. The availability of land led to the building of new, inexpensive homes in the 1940s and 1950s. The building of Route 15/I-84 led to increased traffic to and from Hartford and new construction of more expensive homes.
New schools and churches were built, and light industry provided some jobs. The book details the events that influenced Tolland’s progression to becoming one of the best small towns in America.
Atwater is a member of the Historical Society and a volunteer on the Tolland 300th Anniversary Committee. Raised in Southington, he graduated from Pennsylvania State University and earned a master’s degree and doctorate in meteorology from New York University.
Atwater has worked in energy-related industries in Central Connecticut and performed meteorological research and modeling on man’s impact on the weather.
A member of the Tolland Housing Authority, Atwater also recently wrote a history of the United Congregational Church of Tolland.
“The Tolland Transformation,” which sells for $20, will be on sale at the 300th Anniversary Committee booth at the Tolland Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to noon on the Tolland Green in October and November.
It will also be sold at the Tolland Public Library, the historical society’s annual antiques show on Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015 at Tolland Middle School and through the Historical Society. For more information, call the historical society at 860-870-9599 or email it at firstname.lastname@example.org.