A Brief History of Harbor View
Written by Tom Norrie, August, 1996
Let me tell you several things that happened in the past that had a great effect on Harbor View, and will for years to come.
The first thing is the “Ancient Highway”. Maybe some have heard it mentioned but never knew what it was. This was nothing more than a cart path made by a horse and wagon. The path started at the old fish house on Minister’s Point, went along the shore through Harbor View past where the Town Beach is, and up Waterside Lane and into Town. The old fish house was s small building in which a fisherman kept the tools of his trade. He would load whatever he caught each day into his wagon and take it to town and the so called “Ancient Highway” was the shortest route.
Because this so-called road existed over the years, Marge Scully, when elected First Selectman, made the remark that she would never relinquish the title to the road. Town Officials searched over all the old records at the Town Hall but no deed was ever found nor was one ever recorded. There was evidence of this old road and for years there were no signs to mark where it was. These signs disappeared about 30-35 years ago.
The next thing that had a great effect on Harbor View was the breakwaters out in front of Beach Park, Clinton Beach and Westbrook. These breakwaters were put in place by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1918. These were placed there to protect the beaches and homes along the shore. This never happened as Clinton Beach lost all of its 100 foot natural beach in about 40 years. Before 1918, the Clinton Channel was about 100-150 feet from Harbor View’s shore. This was more or less a straight line from the end of Minister’s Point to the Northeast end of Cedar Island.
When the breakwater was put in place, it immediately had a dam–like effect. This cut down greatly the available water supply needed to fill up to the high water mark in a 6 hour period. That meant that a lot of water would have to travel faster through the available openings to do this. Because this water and the water coming in from the outside of the breakwater would be moving a lot faster now, a new channel was formed where it is now. The best way to show how it works is to hold a garden hose and turn on the water as fast as you can. The water coming out will travel in a straight line for a short distance until friction from the air slows the water down causing it to widen and curve to the ground. This is the same principle.
This could be considered a good thing for Harbor View as the water near our beach would be deeper and the current a whole lot stronger and faster, making it harder for children to swim if the breakwaters had never been put where they are now.
The Clinton Land Company was formed in 1927 when what is now known as “Harbor View” was purchased from a farmer. It consisted of all property between Beach Park Road and the waters of Clinton Harbor. Also from the marsh on the North side to the marsh on the South side. It was divided into streets and building lots. Each lot was 25’ wide and 2 lots were needed to build on. There were 3 partners in this Clinton Land Company endeavor. One of the partners was Reverend Mathison, from a local church, who put up $10,000 to have water mains installed. He was to be reimbursed when the company had enough money, but the other 2 partners ran off with all the money. This meant that Reverend Mathison had no working capital, so he declared bankruptcy. The Clinton National Bank held title to this property and after W.W. II a bank examiner told them that they should get rid of the property. So it was decided to put it up for auction. The bank had at this time sold a few lots on Uncas Road on the higher ground on the right hand side. This was called “Redfield’s” after Sturgis Redfield who was head of the bank. At this time, only Uncas Road was paved. It was a W.P.A. project during the depression.
So the bank put Harbor View up for auction. Leo Bugg was the winning bidder and he started selling lots right away. He sold a lot of property on the installment plan. There were 244 pieces of property. Not all of these lots were buildable, but adjoining property owners bought these odd shaped pieces so they had more land. There are today 183 homes in Harbor View. The one major change that Leo made was West Road was only 15' wide and the Right of Way was 40’ wide. So he reversed these making West Road 40’ wide and the Right of Way 15’ wide, the reason being that there would be less congestion on West Road.
There were 2 Associations started in Harbor View after W.W. II, but there wasn’t enough interest and both failed. On August 29, 1951, we were granted our Charter by the Secretary of State. The driving force behind this was Roy Powers and Howard Lyman, along with charter members Albion Lambson, Bob Mathison, Herman Morra and Del Rau. Roy Powers was the first President, Howard Lyman the 2nd President. When I joined in 1956, the dues were $3.00 a year and we had 30 members. It was pretty rough going in those days!
In 1953, Chauncey Clement, who owned a 50x100 foot lot next to the Uncas Road beach, offered this lot to the Association for $1,700.00. Members canvassed Harbor View asking for pledges of whatever one could give or afford. Enough money was raised and the property was recorded on July 17, 1953. These pledges where anywhere from $5 to a couple of hundred dollars and the record was kept of who and how much they gave, and the pledges were paid off several years later. The Hammock Beach and the Right of Way deed was recorded on August 13, 1970. Another deed for Uncas Road Beach and the waterfront property was dated July 7, 1967 and wasn’t recorded until August 8, 1980. The reason for the late recording was when I was given this deed, the “Ancient Highway” was still being talked about, and if this was put through it would have had a serious effect. When Leo Bugg took over Harbor View, nothing was said about the “Ancient Highway”. The Town searched their records high and low, and couldn’t come up with a deed for this property. SO they had no proof of ownership. The “Ancient Highway” going through Harbor View started at the North end and cut across the back yards of the waterfront properties and gradually moving closer to the water as it progressed along and eventually was out in front of the waterfront lots on the South end. If this could have been proven, then the Town could have made trouble for those property owners. Sometime in the 1970’s, the Town wanted a favor from Leo Bugg. In exchange for that favor, the Town relinquished its ownership of the “Ancient Highway” once and for all!
Sometime during the 1960’s or early 1970’s, the problem of Kelsey Road came up. This was the only road still owned by the Association. The town had taken over the upkeep on all our other roads. Kelsey Road was only 35’ wide and the State wouldn’t give any funds for a road less than 40’ wide. This was the only road that wasn’t paved. Year round residents were having trouble getting oil deliveries and had trouble getting in and out of Kelsey Road. They all chipped in to pay for the lights on the road and helped to fill in the holes with stones. All residents of Kelsey Road were asked to give up 3’ of their property to meet the minimum width requirement. One property owner refused to give it up. Finally we got the Town to agree that if we upgraded the road to the Town’s specifications and paved it, the Town would accept Kelsey Road at its present width, as a Town road. Kelsey Road would then be classified as an improved, non conforming road. It cost the Association $5,000 to bring Kelsey Road up to specification.
The reason the road to Uncas Road Beach was paved is because it was a recreation area at one time. There was a basketball hoop mounted on a pole and the youngsters used to shoot baskets. When they started to go there very early in the morning (5-6 a.m.) and very late at night (11p.m. – 1 a.m.) and woke up the neighborhood, it became a nuisance and had to be removed.
In 1957, a Junior Association was formed by the Children of Association members. They elected their own officers. Dues were 10 cents a week and when they had enough money, they would by snacks and hold a dance in someone’s back yard, etc. They organized baseball teams and played sand bar baseball. Everyone enjoyed this!
One summer we had movies on the beach on Saturday nights. We borrowed a projector and a screen but it was so windy we were afraid of damaging borrowed equipment which at that time we couldn’t afford to replace.
During the earlier 1980’s, our Association, along with Clinton Beach Association and others, formed what was called Clinton Council of Associations. In time, this idea went as far as Rhode Island and Greenwich, CT, to fight the idea that you couldn’t rebuild if your house burned or was destroyed by a storm. This was finally defeated in Hartford and it never became law.
All lots in Harbor View have beach rights. John Kidney, who was Leo Bugg’s lawyer for years, told me he always made sure that it was put in all the deeds that he wrote up. (He wrote about 75% of all Harbor View deeds.) This statement got lost on some deed when owners sold their property and the lawyers didn’t realize how important this statement was and it was not included on the deed. If you trace back to the original deed, you would find the Beach Rights statement on it.
So all in all, the Association has endured and has been an asset to Harbor View. A lot of nice people have worked hard at one time or another, to make it the success that it has been. That is why it has endured 41 years and is still going strong. It protects our rights and guarantees a private beach!