Coventry Roots: Coventry Centre
The fifth village in our series about the villages of Coventry is the village of Coventry Centre.
The village of Coventry Centre was originally called Shoethread when it was founded in 1809 but was eventually changed because it is the geographic center of the town of Coventry.
In 1741 the area was known for the bog iron that was found in a place called Maroon Swamp, now known as Stump Pond. The name Maroon Swamp was derived from the color of the water which was a result of the iron deposits.
The bog iron that was found here was shipped to an iron forge in Quidnick (another village we will discuss later) that was owned by the Greene Family and operated by Nathanael Greene, Jr, one of Coventry’s Revolutionary War heroes. The ore that was dug out of the bog was smelted down and then forged into anchors. These anchors were used on American ships during the American Revolution.
Besides providing the raw material to forge anchors for ships, this area also had a quarry where granite was harvested for foundations, building blocks and fence posts used in many local construction projects. A few of the buildings that are constructed of or have foundations made of the granite quarried here are: The Artic Mill Store, The Cranston Print Works, The Howard Complex in Cranston, and the houses for the workers located near the quarry where they worked. One could wonder if the granite used in the local monument businesses was harvested from this quarry.
The quarry was an active site since before the revolution but in the mid 19th century a man named Horace Foster helped develop it into a thriving business by utilizing the Hartford Fishkill Railroad to ship stone from this site to its destinations by rail car. Foster opened the quarry in 1854 and the area around it became known as Foster Ledge. He operated it until his death in 1880, then passed into the hands of two of his sons.
The Foster Ledge Quarry eventually employed so many men that Horace Foster had to build two stone tenement houses for them to live in. In the late 1970s the stone tenement houses still stood as a memorial to the men who worked there.
The area known as Foster Ledge was located at the end of Hill Farm Road. As you walk along the Trestle Trail today you can still see the remains of the quarry. There are visible reminders of the quarrying process where stones were split and piled and marks were made in the stones by tools of the quarry workers.