Hidden by just a few trees off Lover's Lane is a remnant of a plan to supply the borough of Torrington's water needs. The land under question was once owned by Elijah Cowles (pronounced Coals.) The Cowles family was quite prominent in the area that was once known as Poverty Hollow, then Cotton Hollow and finally West Torrington. The family homestead was located a little east of the corner of Goshen Road and Lover's Lane, and is still standing today.
Elijah, according to Samuel Orcutt (author of History of Torrington), came to town about 1800 and established himself as a hatter. While he made hats his wife Chloe made bonnets, the latter being made of rye straw. She made good money- for a leghorn style bonnet she received $15, worth over $200 in today's currency.
Elijah died in 1855 at 78 years, Chloe passed in 1859 at age 82. They had a son, Albro, born in 1799. He and wife Eliza (Talmadge) were involved with Erastus Hodges' wood clock manufactury, agreeing to "figure, ornament and finish complete 1,000 clock faces." Albro performed woodworking while Eliza painted the clock faces, each with a unique scene. (from Erastus Hodges 1781-1847 by Theodore B. Hodges.)
By 1900 the property had been handed down to Willard Albro Cowles and his cousin Angeline Abbott. Meanwhile, the Torrington Water Company was looking for ways to augment its' nearby Crystal Lake Reservoir. Their plan was to divert Lover's Lane Brook into the reservoir. The problem was, Cowles was still using water from the brook for his farm. So the Company agreed to establish a dam on the brook and to hand dig a pipe of "not less than 2" in diameter" the several hundred feet to Cowles' house. There the water was to be used for "domestic purposes, including water closets or baths, and at the barns, outhouses, stables or in the fields....for the use of their stock, also for the washing of their own carriages and wagons and wherever needed in butchering their own stock on their farm, and for use in case of fire....with the understanding and on condition that it should not be left, after proper use, running to waste."
Interestingly, Cowles was also allowed to water his lawn, provided there were no watering bans in place in the borough. Somewhat surprisingly, people were already watering their lawns at the turn of the last century.
Some sundry facts: Lover's Lane was once called the Dugway or Dugout Road; there is a nice picture of cows pasturing off Lover's Lane in the Torrington Historical Society. Lover's Lane Brook previously was known as the "Mill Brook", and before that was called "Lyman Brook". The property was donated in 1977 by the heirs of Samuel Stevens.