Bethel is a town in Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States. Its population was 18,584 at the 2010 census. The town center is defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as a census-designated place (CDP). The core area of the town center has also been designated as a historic district.
The town is near Interstate 84 and has a train station on the Danbury Branch of Metro-North’s New Haven Line.
Bethel was first settled around 1700. The first houses built in Bethel were in the 1730s or 1740s; they are located at 27 Grassy Plain Street and 63 Grassy Plain Street. 1759 – church members such as Ebenezer Hickok, Lemuel Beebe, Isaac Hoyt, Thomas Starr, and Phineas Judd found it both difficult to travel to church in Danbury and when there, to get a seat. They petitioned the General Assembly to form two distinct ecclesiastical societies, the First and Second Congregational Societies, creating a new second parish in the eastern portion of Danbury. The new area was called Bethel (which means house of God). 1760 – 71 people were members of the church. Bethel ran most of its affairs through the church.(Bethel’s first Congregational minister was Noah Wetmore) 1760 – Captain Benjamin Hickock built the house at 245 Greenwood Avenue and used it as a tavern. 1777 (April) – the city’s records were burned by the British in the British raid on Danbury. Late 1700s – P. T. Barnum’s grandfather built one of the town’s earliest hotels, the Barnum Tavern.
On the National Register of Historic Places
- Greenwood Avenue Historic District — Roughly along Greenwood Ave., P.T. Barnum Sq., Depot Pl., and South St. (added 1999)
- Rev. John Ely House — 54 Milwaukee Ave. (added May 25, 2001)
- Seth Seelye House — 189 Greenwood Ave. (added September 29, 1977)
- Captain Benjamin Hickock house — 13 Blackman Ave.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 16.9 square miles (44 km2), of which 16.8 square miles (44 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2), or 0.53%, is water. The CDP corresponding to the town center has a total area of 4.1 square miles (11 km2), all land. Bethel borders Redding to the south, Danbury to the west, Brookfield to the north, and Newtown to the east.
- Marian Anderson (1897-1993), singer, was married to Orpheus Fisher in Bethel in July 1943 by Rev. Jack Grenfell, pastor of the Bethel United Methodist Church.
- Matt Barnes (born 1990) pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, grew up in Bethel.
- P. T. Barnum (1810–1891) was born in Bethel at 55 Greenwood Avenue. He expanded the home during his youth after a fire destroyed the front of the building.
- Barbara Britton (1919-1980), stage, film and television actress. Lived in town with husband and children.
- Jan Miner (1917–2004), actress who played Madge, the wisecracking manicurist in the long-running Palmolive dishwashing detergent television commercials, died in town.
- Thurston Moore (born 1958), singer and guitarist for Sonic Youth, was raised in town.
- Noël Regney, composer of the song “Do You Hear What I Hear”, lived in Bethel from 1984-1998.
- Meg Ryan, actress, was raised in Bethel.
- Julius Hawley Seelye (1824–1895), missionary, author, U.S. Representative, and former president of Amherst College, who is said to have created the system of Latin honors in use at many universities worldwide, was born in town.
- Henry Arthur “Art” Young (1866–1943), “Dean of American Cartoonists” lived in Bethel from 1904–1942 and had an art gallery from 1928–1942.
Movies filmed in Bethel
The following films were at least partially shot in Bethel.
- Rachel, Rachel (1968)
- The Case of the Cosmic Comic (1976)
- Other People’s Money (1991)
- Rise of the Dead (2007)
- The Entrepreneurs (2008)
- Revolutionary Road (2008)
As of the 2010 census Bethel had a population of 18,584. The racial and ethnic composition of the population was 88.8% white, 1.8% black or African American, 0.1% Native American, 4.5% Asian, 2.8% from some other race and 1.9% from two or more races. 7.6% of the population was Hispanic or Latino from any race.
As of the census of 2000, there were 18,067 people, 6,505 households, and 4,846 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,075.7 people per square mile (415.5/km²). There were 6,653 housing units at an average density of 396.1 per square mile (153.0/km²). The racial makeup of the town in 2005 was 85.86% White, 1.91% African American, 0.26% Native American, 4.58% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 3.20% from other races or of multiple races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.33% of the population. 20.2% were of Italian, 17.5% Irish, 9.1% German, 7.0% English, 6.7% American and 6.0% Polish ancestry according to Census 2000. 88.7% spoke English, 4.4% Spanish, 3.3% Portuguese, 1.5% German and 1.0% French as their first language.
There were 6,505 households out of which 38.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.4% were married couples living together, 9.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.5% were non-families. 20.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.76 and the average family size was 3.23.
In the town, the population was spread out with 27.3% under the age of 18, 6.0% from 18 to 24, 31.9% from 25 to 44, 24.6% from 45 to 64, and 10.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 95.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.1 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $68,891, and the median income for a family was $78,358. Males had a median income of $51,816 versus $36,544 for females. The per capita income for the town was $28,927. About 1.2% of families and 2.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.3% of those under age 18 and 5.5% of those age 65 or over
As of the census of 2000, there are 9,137 people, 3,639 households, and 2,358 families residing in the CDP. The population density is 2,237.8 inhabitants per square mile (864.7/km²). There are 3,744 housing units at an average density of 354.3 persons/km² (916.9 persons/mi²). The racial makeup of the CDP is 89.96% White, 1.61% African American, 0.13% Native American, 4.40% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.67% from other races, and 2.20% from two or more races. 4.63% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 3,639 households out of which 33.7% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.7% are married couples living together, 11.5% have a woman whose husband does not live with her, and 35.2% are non-families. 28.9% of all households are made up of individuals and 10.6% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.51 and the average family size is 3.14.
In the CDP the population is spread out with 25.9% under the age of 18, 6.5% from 18 to 24, 35.1% from 25 to 44, 21.7% from 45 to 64, and 10.8% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 36 years. For every 100 females there are 91.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 88.3 males.
The median income for a household in the CDP is $57,276, and the median income for a family is $66,672. Males have a median income of $45,815 versus $35,989 for females. The per capita income for the CDP is $25,888. 3.0% of the population and 1.1% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 0.7% are under the age of 18 and 6.6% are 65 or older.