Gatehouse Doors at the Saville Dam

Last year I learned about the Saville Dam in a Thursday Doors post by Dan Antion in his blog, No Facilities. Despite many visits to the Barkhamsted Reservoir during my youth, I could not for the life of me remember ever seeing the upper gatehouse for the dam. When I headed back to Connecticut last week to visit my family, the Saville Dam was on the top of my list of places to see.

Lake McDonough View 2

So, one cloudy day, off I went with my parents in search of the dam. Storm clouds were coming, and we were trying to beat them. When we came upon the round, stone gatehouse, I understood why I had never seen the dam. We had always approached the reservoir from a direction that did not pass over the dam.

Upper Gatehouse overlooking reservoir
View to the upper gatehouse and Barkhamsted Reservoir.

The Barkhamsted Reservoir flooded many buildings and farms of Barkhamsted to become the primary water source for Hartford, Connecticut. Beneath the reservoir rests the town of Hartland Hallow where some 25 farms and private homes once existed.

Saville Upper Dam Gatehouse
The grand entrance to the upper gatehouse.

Some believe the design of the upper gatehouse of the dam was influenced by the round-shaped medieval Maplestead Church in Essex, England.

Saville Dam Upper Gatehouse Door
A closer look.
Saville Dam Upper Gatehouse Door Hardware
An even closer look.

The Saville Dam is an earthen embankment dam with masonry work on the eastern branch of the Farmington River.

Saville Dam Lower Gatehouse
A grand door of the same design graces the entrance to the lower gatehouse.

Below the dam lies Lake McDonough, a pristine recreation area that offers swimming, fishing, hiking, and boating to the public. I spent many summers swimming here when I was growing up in the Hartford area. It was a treat to swim in a lake without speed boats whizzing past us. We were also happy to escape the murky lake bottoms and murky waters of some of the smaller lakes near our home.

With the impending storm clouds, the gate attendants waived the admission fee to Lake McDonough, allowing us to take a quick tour of the lower gatehouse and swimming areas. Driving along the winding road to the swimming area brought back many happy memories of swimming for me and fishing for my father. We left the area just in time to miss the thundering downpour.

Inspiration:  Thursday Doors.

17 thoughts on “Gatehouse Doors at the Saville Dam

    1. Yes indeed it is. I wish we had more time for relaxation on our short visit to the reservoir, but, none-the-less, we were delighted to spend the little time we had there.

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