Tunxis Hill and its locale near the Rooster River may have been so named because it lies along the "bow" near the turning of the river. Tunxis Hill is the bow, and the Rooster River, which half encircles the area, is the thread.
Fairfield, which had remained largely unpopulated since colonial times, experienced a spurt of growth as Hungarian immigrants from Bridgeport spilled into the area. The Hungarians had lived and worked in Bridgeport. Later, they bought plots in the Tunxis Hill area so they could go to the country on weekends. They worked the soil for their own enjoyment because they were used to having vegetable gardens and fruit trees.
As the years went by, foundations were constructed on the plots formerly used for small plantings. Then houses were constructed on the foundations. Eventually, the Tunxis Hill area developed into clusters of small neighborhoods: Lenox Park, Villa Park, Soundview, and Oakwood. Tunxis Hill even has a castle on Soundview Avenue. Its tower is said to be at the highest point in the area overlooking Long Island Sound.
Yet, the focal point of this area had been Kuhn's Corner, property first purchased by the Kuhn family in the early 1900s which, until the late 1980s, housed a restaurant and hot dog stand. The hot dog stand was well-known for its chili dogs and french fries, while the restaurant featured hot roast beef sandwiches and an adjoining bar. Today, the property has been developed into the Tunxis Hill Shopping Center.
A sense of community is fostered in the area through the Tunxis Hill Improvement Association, as well as the activities of the many churches in the area. Community activities, especially for senior citizens, are centered around the churches, including Calvin United Church of Christ and St. Emery's. Ethnic traditions live on to strengthen the brotherhood among the neighbors.
At the base of Tunxis Hill, shopping centers continue to thrive. Where Kohl's and Super Stop and Shop now stand, Arlan's, Caldor, Bradlees, and Topps were once the retail kings. Villa Avenue Car Wash has been around for as long as I can remember, and a host of smaller shops and eateries are flourishing in this part of town.
The Fairfield National Little League boasts one of the finest baseball fields around following the construction of Tunxis Hill Park. The little league complex features all the amenities a 12-year-old would want, such as an electronic scoreboard, dugouts, a refreshment stand, and batting cages. Dante Gallucci (AWHS Class of 1976) continues to serve as president, and the league is thriving under his leadership.
A rebuilt McKinley School is the centerpiece of the neighborhood, and it is arguably Fairfield's educational showpiece. The original school was destroyed following a mold outbreak which forced the students to attend classes at other public elementary schools throughout town in the early part of this decade.
What do I most remember about Tunxis Hill? I distinctly remember shopping with my Mother at Topps on a sunny November afternoon in 1963 and watching my Mom break down and cry after hearing the news about President Kennedy's assassination. I also recall spending many Sunday afternoons as a young child enjoying hot roast beef sandwiches with my family at Kuhn's restaurant, or stopping by the hot dog stand with my Dad after watching basketball games at Fairfield or Sacred Heart universities.
What are your memories of Tunxis Hill? Do you miss Kuhn's Corner? Do you remember Topps? I'd like to know.
Historical information courtesy of "Remembering Fairfield: Famous People and Historic Places." Next week we'll take a look at the Holland Hill neighborhood in part IV of our series. Please share your thoughts in the "comments" link below.