Simsbury (population 23,835) is situated 12 miles northwest of the state capital of Hartford in the verdant Farmington River valley. The first European settlers were drawn to the valley’s virgin pine forest, which could be harvested for use in the shipbuilding industry. The Town of Simsbury was incorporated in 1670.
The community’s first industry was copper mining, but the mine was abandoned by 1773. Its tunnels were then used as a prison during the Revolutionary War and through the 1820s, and Old New-Gate Prison is now open as a tourist attraction. The bulk of the town’s economy was based on agriculture through World War II, but Simsbury has also been known for products ranging from Nottingham lace to munitions to innovative insurance products.
Simsbury has four historic districts and a number of individual properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The town is a Certified Local Government and has an active Main Street program. Guidelines for community design issued in 2001 have won several awards in landscape architecture and planning.
Each summer, the Talcott Mountain Music Festival brings the Hartford Symphony Orchestra to Simsbury Meadows, adjacent to the historic downtown. The Simsbury Main Street Partnership manages all vending for the festival, helping to bring visitors and business to downtown restaurants. Another important annual event is the Simsbury Muster, a living-history celebration the recreates and interprets the mustering of the town’s militia in 1775 following the Battle of Lexington.
Designated a Preserve America Community in July 2006.