Hamden Memorabilia Donated to the History Room Archives
We want to extend our sincere thanks to Hollie Schrader, who recently donated this terrific group of Hamden memorabilia to the Hamden Historical Society archives.
Two Hamden High classes chose interesting ways to commemorate their reunions. The committee planning the 45th reunion of the Class of 1954 had their own playing cards printed.
For something completely different, check out the letter opener that was among the gifts to attendees at the 50th reunion of Hamden High School's Class of 1939. Most of those graduates would have celebrated their centennial birthdays in 2021.
An advertisement for Centerville Dry Goods at 2387 Whitney Avenue featured a little girl in a bubble bath with her puppy. Nailing the date of the ad was easy. Twelve small pages may be pulled down from the back of the photo, revealing a 1950 calendar.
CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO ENLARGE THE IMAGE (Kathy Lindbeck photo)
Berman's - 1983
Centerville Dry Goods was located in the small brick building across from the Centerville fire station that would later become Berman's Cleaners. The building was razed years ago.
Located near the New Haven city line, the Center Liquor Store at 863 Dixwell Avenue offered customers a thermometer attached to a Frances Tiption Hunter illustration of a little boy, report card in hand, with his dog along side to offer a measure of consolation. Hunter, born in 1896, was a noted artist and illustrator. Her series of "Sandy in Trouble" water colors, of which this is one example, began in 1946 and lasted until her death in 1957.
The five-digit telephone number on their advertisement, 6-5624, is pre-1950, when those now largely forgotten alpha-numeric telephone exchange names were introduced to the New Haven area by SNET, making Center Liquor's new number MAin 4-5624. The "MAin" exchange name, along with CHestnut, ATwater, LOcust and all the rest, was discontinued by SNET in late 1962. The Center Package Store, as it was known later, was still operating in 1984 but was gone by 1999. Oh, yes, and the thermometer still works perfectly.
The trail map of the Sleeping Giant, dated 8/79, is a real treasure for our archives. If you click on the picture the map can be easily read.
CLICK ON THE MAP TO ENLARGE IT
Thank you, Hollie. These donations are a wonderful addition to our archives.
From The Connecticut Circle, Nov. 1946 (Courtesy of Tony Griego)
Remember this place?
Older Hamdenites will remember the Pepsi-Cola bottling plant on the east side Whitney Avenue, just north of School Street. It was torn down about fifty years ago before construction began on Whitney Towers at the corner of Whitney and School.
This small blurb from the November 1946 edition of The Connecticut Circle magazine suggests that the plant only recently had begun to occupy Hamden's 19th century "historical Cummings Tavern," previously known as the Centerville Inn.
After Pepsi-Cola CEO Alfred N. Steele died suddenly in 1959, his wife, the legendary Hollywood actress Joan Crawford, was appointed to serve on Pepsi's board of directors. In that capacity, Ms. Crawford visited Hamden on a few occasions to check up on local operations.
Nice pre-Tornado View of the Dickerman House (2013)
Kathleen Saunders, a member of Friends of Brooksvale, provided this beautiful view of the 1792 Jonathan Dickerman House, taken in 2013, five years before an EF1 tornado nearly destroyed it along with the Talmadge Cider Mill Barn a few feet away.
CLICK on the image to enlarge. (Photo by Kathleen Saunders)
The tree on the left blew down and struck the roof right above the front door, causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage to the structure. Master carpenter Bob Zoni, who has been conducting a meticulous restoration of the house, is nearly finished installing the new roof. He expects that the house and the cider mill barn restorations may be ready for a grand re-opening sometime in the late spring or early summer. We will keep everyone posted.
The Hamden Historical Society is grateful for Ms. Saunder's photos. CLICK HERE to view some additional views taken by Kathleen during her 2013 visit to the site.
The Hamden Historical Society along with the West Rock Ridge Advisory Council are going to make it much easier for hikers to get here, which was an overnight sanctuary for a regular visitor who died over 130 years ago. You probably know the answer.
CLICK HERE to read all about the new proposed trail and to view some new photos.
As we near the third anniversary of the tornado that badly damaged the c.1792 Jonathan Dickerman House, and nearly destroyed the c.1800 Talmadge Cider Mill, our own Bob Zoni is re-shingling the J.D. House with the same kind of wood shingles that he used when shingling the roof the last time in 2006. Were it not for the tornado the 2006 roof should have lasted at least 30 years. Click here for more photos.
Jonathan Dickerman House, March 11, 2021 - CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
Did you know that a 40-house development was built on Mix Avenue in 1946? Have you ever been on Hobson Avenue at Marietta Street? Where might you find Whitney Lane? And what if someone told you that they had been to the corner of Circular Avenue and Mix Avenue? You might think they were either hallucinating or nipping into the muscatel. Ah, but not so.
CLICK HERE to read Paul Saubestre's informative, indeed fascinating article on how the Wilbur Cross Parkway disrupted some of Hamden's streets when it ripped through our town right after World War II.
Tony Griego is a Hamden Historical Society volunteer researcher whose interests encompass many subjects He is especially interested in those architectural treasures that today are just memories to those who actually remember them. An ongoing project of Tony's has been the history of the David Atwater house, Hamden's first rsidence. Dating from the mid-1600s, the house stood on State Street near Armstrong Street until it burned down in April 1905.
A retired New Haven Police Department sergeant, Tony grew up in the State Street area, where he still resides. He recently submitted the article below to the Quad-Town Advisor. How many Hamden folks know about the lost Quinnipiac railroad station once located on Street Street? Check it out.
The Quad-Town Advisor - Jan. 26, 2021
In its original State Street location
Today located in Chester at the northern end of the Valley RR tourist line.
This is how the site of the Quinnipiac railroad station looks today at 2785 State Street, on the east side opposite Daniel Road. The train just happened to be passing when the shutter snapped. Researcher Paul Saubestre noted with interest that it featured "an Amtrak engine attached to CTrail cars. There are both Amtrak and CTrail trains on the line, but I think usually the engine and cars match."
Paul also noted that today the old Quinnipiac station is located in Chester, at the northern end of the Valley RR tourist line. "I hope Hamden again gets a station on that line someday, more likely off Welton St.," wrote Paul, noting, "Hamden is the largest municipality in the state without rail or bus rapid transit (CTfastrak) service."
The two pictures of the Quinnipiac station shown above are from the Tyler City Station website.
Hamden Historical Society researcher Paul Saubestre is delighted by a recent discovery. One of Hamden's twelve mile markers, Milestone No. 4 on Hartford Turnpike, was thought to have been lost. After Paul made a Facebook posting of his 2019 article on the mile markers last summer, a reader replied that Hartford Turnpike Milestone No. 4 is still around. In fact, it was on her property. Check out this revision to Paul's original 2019 article.
Now, if we could only locate Hamden Milestone No. 6, we would have all twelve.
70 Years Ago!
Hurricane - Sunday, November 26, 1950
This storm actually did more damage in Hamden than the Great New England Hurricane of 1938
On Sunday, November 26, 1950, a hurricane with winds of 70 m.p.h. hit southern Connecticut. In an article published on the front page of the November 30th edition of The Hamden Chronicle, Fire Marshal Albert Purce opined that this hurricane "was far more destructive than the fabled 1938 hurricane." Indeed, for Hamden it was. The majority of damage to Hamden in 1938 was in the form of about 400 fallen trees. The 1950 hurricane damage was far more severe. The photographs published in that edition of the Chronicle convey the magnitude of destruction that affected some Hamden areas.
The practice of naming hurricanes began in 1954, the year Hurricane Carol hit southern Connectricut. The last significant hurricane to hit Hamden was Hurricane Gloria in 1985, although the town has been hit by three tornadoes since 1989, when an F4 twister devastated much of Highwood and Newhallville.
For the whole story and lots of photos - CLICK HERE
(This link will open a separate window, at the website of the Hamden Fire Retirees Assn.)
Miss Alice Peck
A Halloween Tale
In 1969, the three firefighters assigned to the new West Woods
fire station worked by themselves -but they weren't alone.
At around 4 p.m. on Thursday, August 27th, an EF1 tornado ripped through northern and central Hamden on its way from Bethany to North Haven, where it achieved its greatest strength before fizzling out at the Long Island Sound coastline.
With estimated wind speeds exceeding 100 mph, and traveling about 60 mph, the tornado was on the ground for a total of only ten minutes from when it formed in Bethany until it broke up in North Haven.
Damage was not as extensive as the tornadoes that hit Hamden 1989 and 2018, but significant structural damage occurred in several areas.
Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Gary Merwede had been coordinating and preparing Hamden’s ongoing response, in conjunction with Mayor Leng, since before the storm arrived earlier Thursday afternoon and now throughout the recovery.
Mayor Leng stated, "Our Town was hit very hard today, and there was a lot of damage, but I'm very thankful that we do not believe there were any major injuries. Our residents can count on the fact that our Public Safety and first responder crews will be all-hands-on-deck and working through the night, and then as long as it takes to make our streets safe."
Chief Merwede provided the website with the following official report on the tornado from the National Weather Service:
PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW YORK NY 1046 PM EDT FRI AUG 28 2020
EF1 Tornado Confirmed from Bethany to North Haven, Connecticut
START LOCATION: Bethany in New Haven County END LOCATION: North Haven in New Haven County DATE: 08/27/2020 ESTIMATED TIME: 3:53 p.m. to 4:03 p.m. MAXIMUM EF-SCALE RATING: EF1 ESTIMATED MAX. WIND SPEED: 110 mph MAXIMUM PATH WIDTH: 500 yards PATH LENGTH: 11.1 miles BEGINNING LAT/LON: 41.448, -72.992 ENDING LAT/LON: 41.349, -72.828 FATALITIES: None INJURIES: None
Based on a National Weather Service damage survey done in conjunction with the Connecticut Division of Emergency Management, Homeland Security, and local Connecticut town emergency managements, it has been determined that a strong EF1 tornado, with a maximum wind speed of 110 mph tracked southeast from Bethany to North Haven.
The tornado first touched down in a forested area to the southeast of Judd Hill Road in Bethany. The tornado tracked southeast over primarily forested areas from Amity Road, to Munson Road towards Litchfield Turnpike, creating a path of damage about 75 yards wide, with hardwood tree damage consistent with wind speeds of 80 to 90 mph.
The path of the storm widened to around 300 yards as the tornado tracked southeast towards Lake Bethany. Structural damage, including significant roof damage to several homes, and snapped hardwood trees, indicated wind speeds of around 100 mph in this area.
The tornado path continued southeast for another four miles to near the town center of Hamden, Connecticut, with tree and structural damage indicative of wind speeds of 70 to 80 mph. The intensity picked up significantly as the tornado approached the center of Hamden, as evidence by extensive damage to numerous buildings, including the flat roof of a two-story building at 1 Evergreen Avenue, across from the Hamden Government Center, being torn apart.
Wind speeds are estimated to be around 100 mph based on the damage to these buildings, bent metal fencing around the Government Center, and uprooted and snapped trees.
The tornado reached maximum strength and width from this point on as it continued southeast across the Wilbur Cross Parkway (Rt. 15), Interstate 91, and down to the intersection of Arrowdale and Thompson Street in North Haven.
Tremendous hardwood tree damage and structural damage was indicative of wind speeds of 110 mph and an expanded width of 500 yards. It is at this point that the tornado appears to have dissipated with its destructive straight-line winds fanning out to the coast.
S Q U I S H ! ! !
A tree demolished this Ford Taurus wagon parked in a Bear Path Road driveway, just missing the home of longtime Hamden Historical Society member and history room researcher Gil Spencer and hs wife Helen, who now will be looking for another car. Fortunately, there were no injuries on Bear Path Road or, according to the NWS summary, nowhere else along the tornado's route.
We are saddened to report the recent passing of Burton Talmadge Sr., 91, lifelong Hamden reisdent and longtime member of the Hamden Historical Society.
From The New Haven Register: Burton A. Talmadge, 91, husband of the late Margaret Ann Chamberlain Talmadge passed away August 21, 2020 after a brief illness.
Burt was born in New Haven on February 8, 1929, a son of the late Arthur L. and Helen Riley Talmadge, and was a lifelong Hamden resident. He proudly served in the US Army from 1951-1952 and was the President of A.L. Talmadge, Inc. for 60 years. He also was a member of the Hamden B.P.O.E. Elks Lodge #2224.
He is survived by his sons, Burton (Chip) Talmadge, Jr. and his wife Kimberley of Hamden, Thomas A.Talmadge and his wife Chaoum of Hamden, and Richard S. Talmadge and his wife Sharon of Bronxville, NY; and his grandchildren, Brandon, Mason, Kaden, Nathaniel, Kathryn, and Elizabeth Talmadge. He is also survived by a brother, George H. Talmadge of Hamden. He was predeceased by a brother, Arthur R. Talmadge, and a sister, Barbara J. Talmadge.
New Haven Journal-Courier, Wednesday, August 15, 1945 - CLICK TO ENLARGE
New Haven Evening Register, Wednesday, August 15, 1945 - CLICK TO ENLARGE
Hamden's Military Honor Roll
July 1943 - CLICK TO ENLARGE
(Above) - Hamden's Military Honor Roll as was in July 1943
(Below) - Hamden's Military Honor Roll as was in July 1945.
Note how much larger it became in those two years.
The Honor Roll was situated on Dixwell Avenue, just south of the Town Hall, where Miller Library would be built in 1951 and where the Town Hall parking garage is today. It was dismantled around 1951 and the individual panels were stored in a public works garage on Norwood Avenue, just in from Whitney Avenue. No one today seems to know whatever happened to the panels.
July 1943 - CLICK TO ENLARGE
Hamden's 72 Fallen in the Second World War
These names of Hamden's sons lost in World War II are carved on the granite walls of Hamden's Memorial Town Hall.
During the current COVID-19 emergency, we are offering the link below to the Hamden Fire Retirees' website, which is maintaining links to current updates on the COVID virus coming from official government sources.
The History Room houses over 100 distinct document collections, cataloged and preserved, to meet the research needs and interests of the community. The Library has many texts on state, regional and local history, volumes of agency and government publications, directories of services, and several historical society publications. Regional and town maps from 1854, grave-site directories, family and personal narratives, Bibles, diaries and ledgers from the early families in Hamden complement the document collections and shed additional light on the history of Hamden.
Among the collections:
The Mount Carmel Ecclesiastical Society
The Whitneyville Congregational Church
The Sleeping Giant Park Association Archives
The Hamden Chamber of Commerce
The Webb Family Papers
The Rachel Hartley Files
The Thornton Wilder Papers
The Leather Man Collection
The Rectory School Records
Golden Bells Archives
The Farmington Canal Records
Hamden: Our Architectural Heritage
The Hamden Historical Society Archives
Hamden Historic Districts Collection
Hamden Schools and Board of Education Records
Mount Carmel Free Public Library and Hamden Public Library Archives
Hamden Historical Society Archivist Kathy Lindbeck reports receiving a donation of files (1940s - 1970s) from the League of Women Voters - Hamden/ North Haven Chapter. She writes, "Can’t wait to take a closer look . . . "
The files fill a banker’s box. Size wise it’s a little over a cubic foot of material, containing meeting minutes, flyers, newsletters, membership lists, annual reports, and project specific files. This is a particularly appropriate donation given the current political season.
Among the great treasures of the New Haven Museum collection are the works of New Haven artist George Henry Durrie (1820-1863). As a young man, Durrie studied with Nathaniel Jocelyn and supported himself painting portraits. An advertisement in the 1843 New Haven City Directory touted Durrie as an artist who “… would be pleased to wait upon those who may be desirous of obtaining faithful and correct likenesses.”
Durrie later became known as a landscape painter. He created numerous views of local landmarks and idyllic rural scenes often set in autumn or winter. The New York firm Currier & Ives, which produced lithographic prints of these paintings in the late nineteenth century, further popularized Durrie's work.
In 1841, George Henry Durrie married Sarah Perkins. The couple settled in New Haven and raised three children, George, Benjamin and Mary. Sadly, Durrie died in 1863 at only 43 years old. His art and personal papers, however, live on in the New Haven Museum collection.
We regret to report the passing on July 4th of Betty Ann (Affleck) Osgood, 83, of Hamden. She was the beloved wife of the late John Pallas Osgood. Born in Flushing, NY on June 21, 1937, Betty was the daughter of the late Richard and Dorothy (Bowne) Affleck. She graduated from Hamden High School and worked in customer service for AAA for more than 20 years.
Betty was a very active member of Mt. Carmel Congregational Church as well as a volunteer at the Jonathan Dickerman House in Hamden.
Betty is survived by her children Elizabeth Osgood of Hamden and Tim Osgood and his wife Karen Lupi of Hamden; granddaughter Amanda Osgood; brother Richard Affleck and his wife Aldona of Annandale, VA; and sister-in-law Martha (Osgood) Bryan of Ketchikan, AK. She is also survived by her nephew Richard Affleck; niece Lisa Phillips; and several cousins.
Please keep Betty's family in your thoughts and prayers.
On the Fourth of July 1950, a freak lightning strike killed three and injured several others outside the 65 West Shepard Avenue home of Mr. and Mrs. Leonard A. Dorman, where the organizational meeting of the Mix District Volunteer Fire Co. No. 7 had taken place in November 1924.
The occasion was a gathering of family members and friends to celebrate the birthday of the Dormans' son, Leonard E. Dorman, 20, who was among the injured. The younger Dorman had been a member of Mix District Volunteer Fire Co 7 on Shepard Avenue since 1945. Also among the injured was the late Frank Warner, then 26, also a member of Co. 7. He reported that there was no indication of storm activity in the area. The lightning strike was totally unexpected.
The Hamden Fire Department responded under the command of Capt. Everett Doherty. According to details provided in the Hamden Chronicle article below, a chain hanging from a nearby tree conducted the fatal electrical charge.
This was one of Hamden's earliest mass casualty incidents on record. Police, fire and ambulance personnel worked valiantly to render assistance to the survivors. Rev. Joseph Peters of the Mt. Carmel Congregational Church also responded to render spiritual support to the surviving family members. Three months later, Rev. Peters and Fr. Bernard Miller, assistant pastor at St. Rita's Church, would be appointed the first two chaplains of the Hamden Fire Department.
In the years that followed, this tragic incident was often cited in local warnings for people to avoid standing beneath trees during electrical storms.
The Hamden Chronicle, July 6, 1950 (Courtesy of the Hamden Historical Society)
Capt. Everett Doherty started his career on the Hamden Fire Department in late 1927. He retired in 1966 at the rank of deputy chief. Lt. Paul Leddy was appointed in November 1941. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1949, captain in 1951 and named battalion chief in 1954. In November 1960, B/C Leddy was appointed Chief of the Department, a position in which he served until his 1984 retirement.
Lt. James Strain was appointed in 1942, became a lieutenant in 1949, captain in 1954 and deputy chief in 1961. He retired in 1973. Firefighter Francis "Chalkie" Leddy was appointed in 1946, was promoted to lieutenant in 1956, captain in 1964 and deputy chief in 1970. He retired in 1986.
Firefighter Fred Fletcher was appointed in 1946 and retired in 1980. Firefighter Dan O'Connell joined the department in 1948 and was promoted to lieutenant in 1963. He retired in 1986. Co. 5 volunteer firefighter Joe Rahl joined the department as a career member in 1956. Joe served 33 more years before his retirement in late 1989. Joe, who turned 95 last year just before he passed away, was the last surviving member of the crew mentioned in the 1950 article. He was a member of the Hamden Fire Retirees Association.
Society Honors 3 on 1st Anniversary of Door-Tree Felling
Tuesday, June 30 - Three people who provided crucial assistance to the Society following the destruction of the Door-Tree last summer were each presented with a Door-Tree commnemorative pen meticulously crafted from the wood of the tree. Pictures and story.
One of five commemorative pens crafted by Dave Landino from the wood of the Door-Tree
Door-Tree pens are no longer available through the Hamden Historical Society.
For further information on how to obtain one of these pens, please contact D.L. Heritage in Clinton - email@example.com
In April 1638, David Atwater Sr. was one of the original settlers in New Haven and was given a house lot there. But in 1646 he chose to build two miles as the crow flies, into the wilderness of what is now Hamden. Hamden Historical Society Researcher Anthony Griego has been researching the origins of this brick Dutch gambrel roof style house, gone since 1905, in the area later called East Farms/Cedar Hill.
Progress being made on Talmadge Cider Mill Barn rebuild.
May 20th: Framework going up
June 3rd: Rafters in place
June 12th: Roof decking
June 16th: Siding going up!
June 24th: Siding is up
CLICK on the image to see the progress of rebuilding the Cider Mill
Bob Zoni and his crew have been busy rebuilding the Talmadge Cider Mill Barn that was nearly destroyed by the 2018 tornado. Following this past winter, and a wet and chilly spring, Bob & Co. started assembling the framework of the barn on May 20th. Check out the progress by clicking here.
Since the end of World War I, many Hamden streets have been named to honor those Hamden servicemen who have died while serving during wars and other armed conflicts.
In conjunction with Memorial Day Weekend 2020, and continuing his website series on the origins of Hamden street names, Hamden Historical Society Researcher Paul Saubestre is focusing on those Hamden servicemen for whom streets were named in the Sebec Street neighborhood in eastern Hamden.
CLICK HERE for Paul's military profiles on each of these Hamden men from the information available. As with all of Hamden's other fallen servicemen, we hope their sacrifices will always be remembered.
Former Mayor Carusone earlier this year
In his 84 years, former Hamden Mayor John Carusone has cultivated friendships with many of his fellow Hamdenites, not only in the political arena, where he maintained warm relationships with members in both political parties, but also [if you'll pardon] the sports arena as well, which is one of Carusone's greatest passions.
Last month with Memorial Day 2020 approaching, former Hamden Mayor John Carusone wrote to Municipal Historian Dave Johnson and reflected on several of his friends and acquaintances who died in military service during three different wars.
In "Remembering Hamden's Fallen," Johnson presents Carusone's recollections of these fellow Hamdenites, with photos and facts about these brave souls who gave their last full measure of devotion to their country - our country.
Carusone's vivid memories of young Private Edward Duel are perhaps the most poignant. Like so many of the others, this was a young man with a very promising future, who answered his country's call and lost his life only days after his 20th birthday. CLICK HERE!
Check out Paul Saubestre's article about the original and current St. Rita's and St. Stephen's Roman Catholic Churches. The parishes have recently merged, with St. Stephen's Church soon to be put on the market.
Before he and his wife relocated to their new home near Buffalo NY, Mr. Leonard Corwin, formerly of Patterson Road, recently presented the Hamden Historical Society with three pieces of antique furniture from the Corwin family.
Hamden Historical Society Researcher Paul Saubestre is researching the origins of Hamden's street names. In conjunction with the recent Presidents Day holiday, Paul investigated the origins of those streets with the same names as former U.S. presidents.
Hamden Historian David Johnson chonicles the story of the senseless 2019 destruction of Hamden's "Door-Tree," the ensuing world-wide news coverage, and how the vandal was caught. Links to related articles included.
Julie Hulten, a Wallingford school system retiree, has been one of our history room volunteer researchers for several years. For a post-graduate course, Julie recently completed a thoroughly researched outline of Hamden history that encapsulates nearly three-hundred years of Hamden history highlights. Enjoy this great read!
Paul Saubestre's research provides insights into the origins and the present locations of the surviving highway Milestones. All but one of Hamden's milestones have survived along Whitney Avenue - same for Hartford Turnpike.
In a book borrowed from a friend years ago, local historian and Hamden Historical Society researcher Anthony Griego first learned of four skeletons disinterred from what had been the cemetery at the former St. John's Roman Catholic Church, adjacent to what is now Yale-New Haven Hospital. Reporter Liz Teitz interviewed Tony for a September 9, 2019 article in The New Haven Register, which sheds some light on the mystery surrounding those four skeletons - one of them resulting from a judicial hanging.
A couple of Hamden churches, a firehouse, the floor above a hardware store, and even the building that housed Hamden's first telephone exchange, are among the former locations of Hamden's earliest public libraries. Check out Dave Johnson's tour of Hamden's libraries from the turn of the last century to the present.
The late Henry and Lyndell Betzner lived on Maher Avenue. Mrs. Betzner was an avid tag sale attendee. When the Betzner's daughters held their own tag sale years later, some of Mrs. Betzner's Whitneyville memorabilia was included. A couple of the items were purchased by Stan Troski, which he generously donated to the HHS last year. Check it out.
In April 2019, Quinnipiac University junior Shayla Colon and fellow student Joe Torgerson visited the Al Gorman History Room at Miller Library to conduct research for Ms. Colon's project, "Revisiting Hamden." From vintage photos and interviews with longtime Hamdenites, Ms. Colon has painted a portrait of a town that has evolved from the tiny agrarian community of colonial times to a vibrant municipality of more than 60,000 individuals, perhaps on the verge of "cityhood."