Along the Stepney Heritage Trail
A Lesson in History
The catalyst for the growth of this area was the arrival of the Housatonic Railroad in 1840. Offering faster, more efficient, cheaper transportation than a turnpike, it spurred the development of industries that included milling and the manufacturing of carriages and shirts and the growth of stores. The Stepney Depot became the key terminal for the delivery of raw materials and labor to the region. Tourists and visitors from Bridgeport and New York City soon were stepping off the train in Stepney to enjoy the clean air and countryside.
The changing names of Stepney
The area of Monroe covered by the Stepney Heritage Trail has experienced its own succession of sometimes confusing name changes. For some unknown reason, in the late 1800s Birdsey’s Plain came to be known also as Upper Stepney. Stepney was renamed Lower Stepney to distinguish itself. The name Birdsey’s Plain eventually faded from use. Today the community defined by the intersection of Routes 25 and 59, Hattertown Road, and the green, originally known as Birdsey’s Plain and later Upper Stepney, is simply called Stepney. The name Lower Stepney for the southern “nerve center” has fallen out of use. Thus Stepney today embraces both population centers.
June 5, 2003, the Connecticut State Historical Commission unanimously approved the April 30, 2003 State Historic District report of the Upper Stepney/Birdsey’s Plain Historic District study committee, placing the Upper Stepney/Birdsey’s Plain area on the state register of historic places. This area is currently being considered by the Monroe Town Council to be designated as the second Historic District in the town of Monroe.
The Stepney Depot located on Maple Drive serves as the apex of the second “nerve center” called Lower Stepney. Citizens residing in this area requested that the Monroe Town Council appoint a Stepney Historic District study committee, and they did appoint such a committee.