Planning is underway for a walking trail that will bring East Shore’s history alive.
Members of the East Shore Community Management Team have decided to create the trail — a series of informational markers erected at six to 12 historic points — with the annual grant money they get from government’s Livable City Initaitive (LCI). The team will use $10,000 from this year’s allotment and $8,000 left over from last year to create the trail, according to Chair Lisa Milone.
“It’s use it or lose it,” she said of the leftover money.
Creating the trail won’t involve building walkways or paths, Milone said. Rather, the idea is to put historic plaques at points that evoke the neighborhood’s history: From The Pardee Morris House to Fort Hale Park to St. Bernadette’s Church, for instance, where the Fred Parris and the Five Satins originally recorded “In The Still of the Night” in the basement.
Then, Milone said, the hope is to feature the trail at annual East Shore Day events that would also include events in the parks. She said she hopes the city might be able to lend a trolley-style bus to ferry visitors from all over town to all the historic spots.
The management team discussed plans for the trail at its monthly meeting this past Tuesday night at the Morris Cove firehouse.
Some members of the community at the meeting proposed asking local donors and business to sponsor some of the historical markers, the way businesses sponsor displays at the Fantasy of Lights.
Milone estimated that the trail will be ready in the late spring of 2019, as the management team still needs to solidify a design and raise the funds for the project.
Ned Taylor, a lifelong East Shore resident and the president of the Fort Hale Restoration Corps, said the trail will help people learn about their neighborhood’s history. Taylor said that history includes forgotten baseball fields and hotels and battles at the height of the American Revolution. Fort Hale, which Taylor helps preserve, defended New Haven from British invasion in July 1779. The fort was partially destroyed following a day-long battle that left 42 people dead and the British in control of New Haven.
On July 5, 1779, the British invaders, on their way to the New Haven Green, burned the first house they encountered, which has come to be known as the Pardee-Morris House.
Taylor highlighted other historical features of the neighborhood, including a number of old houses, a hotel that burned down, the old Marlin estate, which was also consumed by fire, and the legacy of indigenous people who lived here before European colonization.
East Shore also played host to traditions that seem surprising today.
“On Tuesdays, every Tuesday,” Taylor said, “there was nude bathing in Morris Cove.”