Keeler Notes: In our wheelhouse

Across three centuries, wheels have propelled KTHC’s narrative.

In 1772, Timothy Keeler saw an opportunity in the stagecoaches that arrived in Ridgefield after a 14-hour trip from Manhattan; he and wife Esther opened their family home as an inn to accommodate weary travelers.  

Decades later, landlord Abijah Resseguie kept his day job as principal in the nearby “Big Shop” carriage factory, whose handsome models transported — among others — wealthy Southern planters; the inventive Resseguie was honored with a sulky bearing his name.  

When the screech of steel wheels announced the railroad’s 1870 arrival in Ridgefield, it sounded a knell for Resseguie’s Hotel. Wealthy (and cosmopolitan) New York “summer people” were not impressed with the establishment’s 100-year-old rustic charm.

In the 1880s, wheels (of a sort) took the form of rollers underneath the Big Shop, as it was moved north to its present position in the Main Street commercial center, making way for the Congregational Church that now stands on its former location.

Cass Gilbert’s chauffeured Pierce-Arrow was hard to miss, whether it was ferrying him to the golf course or carrying delighted grandchildren, even as the renowned architect objected to plans to pave Main Street.

Nowadays, school buses bring hundreds of students to their KTHC classroom each semester.  It’s when they disembark that wheels — theirs, and ours — really begin to turn.