Hello Bethel: Daniel Hickok House

Bethel’s second-oldest structure is slated for demolition within the next 30 days. Known as the Daniel Hickok house, the structure at 13 Blackman Avenue has been uninhabited and in disrepair since back-to-back fires gutted the structure in December 2014.
While no records exist that indicate the exact date of construction, the house is estimated to have been built around 1769, when Hickok married his wife, Lucy Starr. It is a saltbox style, characterized by a two-story front with a sloping rear roof that creates a single story in the back of the house. The term “saltbox” comes from the literal boxes that were used to hold salt in colonial times. These boxes were typically made of oak and were designed to be hung near a fire or stove. Salt, which easily absorbs moisture, would remain dry from the nearby heat source.

The Hickok house is believed to have played a minor role in the Revolutionary War. On April 25, 1777, British forces landed at Compo Beach (today’s Westport) and began marching toward Danbury, designated by George Washington as a supply depot for the Continental Army. Early the next day, Generals Benedict Arnold, Gold Selleck Silliman, and David Wooster gathered their forces and pursued the British invaders.as far as Bethel, where they spent the night. By that time Hickok had risen to the rank of Army captain, so historians have hypothesized that the three generals met in Hickok’s home to strategize their plan of attack on the British.

According to Beth Cavagna, Town Planner and  head of Bethel’s Land Use Department, the current owners of the Hickok House plan to build a replica of the original structure. It will be a long-anticipated improvement for our downtown district and an important reminder of Bethel’s place in colonial history.

If the Hickok House is Bethel’s second oldest structure, are you curious to know what the oldest building is? Believe it or not, it’s the current location of Gentle Dental on Grassy Plain Road.