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The Secrets of Northriam Hill


At first glance this mansion on the highest point in Madison, Connecticut looks kind of spooky, reminiscent to me of a kind of “Dark Shadows” place called Collinwood where vampires in the 1960’s soap opera lived. You remember Barnabus Collins don’t you?

The place isn’t scary at all, but it does have a past. Currently  this Norman-style manor is a club house at a condo complex called Legend Hill, but back in the 1920’s this place was extremely wooded and private. It was called Northriam Hill, and the home was built by the chairman of the board of a major distillery.

As legend has it, this site played a major role in bootlegging activities off the Madison and Clinton shorelines during Prohibition. Ships from as far away as Scotland, would come near the shore in Long Island Sound and wait for lights in the attic windows at the manor signifying the coast was clear. The ships were carrying liquor which would end up at the mansion.

When cleared, the ships would proceed into the dark shallow waters either off Madison’s shoreline or Clinton’s Duck Island. The ships usually carried twenty nets, each containing twenty cases. Those on board would then drop the “cargo” at a designated spot. Rum runners would then go out in their specially equipped boats remove the “goods” from the water and take it to waiting cars. The drivers would then transport the liquor to the place thought to be the mansion on the hill in North Madison.

It has also been written that in the garage of the home, there was a trap door that opened to a tunnel which, in turn, led to an enormous vault in the basement. Can you just imagine this operation happening over and over again in the dark of night?

While you’re trying to imagine that, also know during World War II this manor was an air spotting station.

Following its war time duty, it became home to several prominent families, the last of which was the late Peter C. Hodgson who invented Silly Putty.

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