According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 32.1 square miles (83 km2), of which 31.5 square miles (82 km2) is land and 0.6 square miles (1.6 km2), or 1.75%, is water. Redding is rural compared to the towns along Connecticut's Gold Coast. Although Redding boasts the wealth that is identified with Fairfield County, it is a more secluded option for home ownership. As such, real estate prices have remained at a premium for the last couple years. It borders the towns of Bethel, Danbury, Easton, Newtown, Ridgefield, Wilton and Weston.
Sections of Redding
According to Fairfield County and state records from the time Redding was formed, the original name of the town was Reading, after the town in Berkshire, England. Probably more accurately, however, town history attributes the name to John Read, an early major landholder who was a prominent lawyer in Boston as well as a former Congregationalist preacher who converted to Anglicanism. John Read helped in demarcating the boundaries of the town and in getting it recognized as a parish in 1729. In 1767, soon after incorporation, the name was changed to its current spelling of Redding to better reflect its pronunciation. The resulting confusion lasted into the mid-1880s, when the U.S. Post Office formalized the name. The first land grant was given to Cyprian Nichols in 1687, and two more followed soon after the start of the 18th century.
On the National Register of Historic Places
- Aaron Barlow House — Umpawaug Road at Station Road (added May 29, 1982)
- Daniel and Esther Bartlett House — 43 Lonetown Road (added May 15, 1993)
- Georgetown Historic District — Roughly bounded by U.S. Route 7, Portland Avenue, state Route 107, and the Norwalk River (added April 9, 1987)
- Putnam Memorial State Park — at the junction of state Routes 58 (Black Rock Turnpike) and 107 (Park Road) (added 1970)
- Redding Center Historic District — Roughly, 4-25B Cross Highway, including Read Cemetery, 61–100 Hill Road, 0–15 Lonetown Road and 118 Sanfordtown Road (added November 1, 1992)
- Umpawaug District School — Umpawaug Road (added 1988)
The town center contains the town hall, Congregational church, and several historic homes, as well as former agricultural outbuildings. The town center was designated the Redding Center Historic District in 1992 and is noted for buildings designed in the Colonial Revival, Greek Revival, and Italianate architectural styles.
The two secondary schools are Joel Barlow High School and John Read Middle School.
Mark Twain Library
Mark Twain, a resident of the town in his old age, contributed the first books for a public library which was eventually named after him.
Redding is governed by an open town meeting form of government. Day-to-day administration of the town is performed by a board of selectmen composed of three elected persons. Executive authority is vested in the first selectman, held by Natalie Ketcham as of 2009. Legislative authority is vested in the Town Meeting. All town residents aged 18 and over who own property worth at least $1,000 can participate in the Town Meeting, which is held on an as needed basis.
Municipal elections are held every odd-numbered year. In addition to the board of selectmen, other elected town positions are the Town Clerk, Treasurer, Tax Collector, Constables, and members of various Boards.
- Highstead Arboretum, which may be visited by appointment
- The Mark Twain Library, endowed by Redding's most famous resident of 1908–1909
- Redding Road House, restaurant and bar with live music
- Devil's Den Preserve, which features hiking and scenic views of the Saugatuck Reservoir from the "Great Ledge"
- Putnam Memorial State Park, of historical interest for the American Revolutionary War, and for its unique geology and caves
- Collis P. Huntington State Park for hiking, horse-back riding and biking
- New Pond Farm, a working farm founded by Carmen Matthews. It offers camps during the summer for locals, in addition to a camp for inner city kids.
As of the census of 2000 , there were 8,270 people, 2,918 households, and 2,377 families residing in the town. The population density was 262.5 people per square mile (101.4/km²). There were 3,086 housing units at an average density of 98.0 per square mile (37.8/km²). The racial makeup of the town as of 2000 was 96.20% White, 0.70% African American, 0.10% Native American, 1.80% Asian, 0.80% from other races or from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.50% of the population.
There were 2,918 households out of which 42.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 75.7% were married couples living together, 5.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 17.3% were non-families. 13.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.83 and the average family size was 3.13.
In the town the population was spread out with 29.1% under the age of 18, 3.1% from 18 to 24, 26.8% from 25 to 44, 30.9% from 45 to 64, and 10.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 98.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.0 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $104,137, and the median income for a family was $109,250. In 2009, the median family income rose to $141,609. Males had a median income of $77,882 versus $52,250 for females. The per capita income for the town was $50,687. About 1.2% of families and 1.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.1% of those under age 18 and 3.5% of those age 65 or over.
Notable residents, past and present
Many well-known people have lived in town, including numerous actors, musicians and other entertainers. Among them are Leonard Bernstein (in the 1950s), Comedian Michael Ian Black, Daryl Hall (of Hall & Oates), Jascha Heifetz (in the 1940s), Charles Ives, Hope Lange, film director Barry Levinson, rock singer Meat Loaf (Marvin Lee Aday who was Joel Barlow High School softball coach while his daughters attended the school during the 1990s), actress Jessica Tandy and her husband Hume Cronyn (in the 1940s and 1950s) Christopher Walken and Mary Travers, of Peter, Paul and Mary.
The photographer Edward Steichen purchased a farm that he called Umpawaug in 1928. Steichen lived there until his death in 1973. After his death, Steichen's farm was made into a park, known as Topstone Park. Topstone Park is open seasonally to this day.
Authors and writers who have lived in Redding include Mark Twain, who lived on present-day Mark Twain Lane and owned property in town until his death in 1910; Joel Barlow, a poet and diplomat, born in town; Howard Fast (in the 1980s); Flannery O'Connor (who wrote her novel Wise Blood while a boarder at the home of fellow writer Robert Fitzgerald and family on Seventy Acre Road from 1949 to 1951). Dan Beard, an illustrator and one of the founders of the Boy Scouts of America, lived on Great Pasture. Dick Morris, political consultant and author, is a current town resident. Charlie Morton, a pitcher in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, grew up in Redding and attended Joel Barlow High School. Joan Walsh Anglund, born January 3, 1926, author and illustrator of children's books, moved to Redding in 1976. She lived with her husband on the corner of Blackrock Turnpike and Church Hill Road. Ruth Stout (1884–1980), writer about organic gardening and author of "How to Have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back", lived on Poverty Hollow.
Lawrence Kudlow, host of Kudlow and Company television program, is a current resident. John Byrum, film director and screenwriter, is a longtime resident. Orville Schell, civil Liberties lawyer, has lived in town. Alfred Winslow Jones, called "the father of the hedge fund industry," lived on Poverty Hollow Road. Major General Samuel Holden Parsons, commander in the Continental Army under Gen. Israel Putnam, later chief judge of the Northwest Territory, lived on Black Rock Turnpike.
Movies filmed at least in part in Redding
(in reverse chronological order)
- A Georgetown Story (2005–2008)-- Documentary about Georgetown, part of Redding.
- Old Dogs (2007/ 2008)-- Filmed in Redding Community Center, Putnam Park
- Reckless (1995) – filmed in Georgetown
- Other People's Money (1991) – filmed in Georgetown
- The Stepford Wives (1975)
- The Last House on the Left (1972)
- Rachel, Rachel (1968) – filmed in Georgetown
- Valley of the Dolls (1967) – filmed in Redding Center
- "Race, Hispanic or Latino, Age, and Housing Occupancy: 2010 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File (QT-PL), Redding town, Connecticut". U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder 2. Retrieved August 11, 2011.
- "6-Figure Towns". CNN. July 21, 2009.
- "History of Redding.com" web site, Web page titled "Famous People of Redding Connecticut" accessed September 10, 2006
- Niven, Penelope (1997). Steichen: A Biography. New York: Clarkson Potter. ISBN 0-517-59373-4 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK], p. 530
- Niven (1997), p. 698
- Prevost, Lisa, the New York Times, "An Upscale Town With Upcountry Style," 3 January 1999
- William Edgar Grumman, The Revolutionary Soldiers of Redding, Connecticut, and the Record of their Services: With Mention of Others Who Rendered Service or Suffered Loss at the Hands of the Enemy During the Struggle for Independence, 1775-1783: Together with Some Account of the Loyalists of the Town and Vicinity, Their Organization, Their Efforts, and Sacrifices in Behalf of the Cause of Their King, and their Ultimate Fate. Hartford, CT: Case, Lockwood, and Brainard Co., 1904.
- Charles Burr Todd, The History of Redding, Connecticut: From its First Settlement to the Present Time: With Notes on the Adams, Banks, Barlow, Bartlett, Bartram, Bates, Beach, Benedict, Batts, Burr, Burritt, Burton, Chatfield, Couch, Darling, Fairchild, Foster, Gold, Gorham, Gray, Griffin, Hall, Hawley, Heron, Hill, Hull, Jackson, Lee, Lyon, Lord, Mallory, Meade, Meeker, Merchant, Morehouse, Perry, Platt, Read, Rogers, Rumsey, Sanford, Smith, Stow, and Strong Families. New York: Grafton Press, 1906.