Harwinton derives its name from the fact that it was settled in 1726 by emigrants from Hartford and Windsor, and it was originally called “Hartford and Windsdor’s Town..” Those settlers from Hartford were given land rights in the eastern part of town, while those from Windsor were given the west side of town. A post was put on the dividing line, and that post evolved into the Harwinton’s well-known Sign Box.
The sign box was designed by Lewis Smith, who served as the town’s probate judge from 1844 to 1860. In addition to providing directions and distances to nearby towns, the sign box also provided residents a means of posting notices to their fellow townspeople in the days before other forms of communication.
In 2006 a wayward motorist destroyed the sign box, which was soon replaced. In May 2013, Larry Connors, a woodworker in town, constructed a more permanent structure and Amanda Surveski, a student at Lewis S. Mills High School, painted the letters, distances and directions.
While thousands of drivers pass it every day without noticing it, the Harwinton sign box is one of those landmarks that give our New England towns their character.