Colonists settled in what is now known as Brookfield in 1710, led by John Muirwood and other colonial founders including Hawley, Peck and Merwin. They bartered for the land from the Wyantenuck and the Potatuck Nations who were ruled under the Sachems Waramaug and Pocono. Sachem Pocono's village was in an enormous palisade along the Still River. Colonists first established the area as the Parish of Newbury, incorporating parts of neighboring Newtown and Danbury. The parish later was renamed and incorporated as the town of Brookfield in 1788, named for Rev. Thomas Brooks, the first minister of the parish's Congregational church.
Early people who lived in Brookfield were subsistence farmers, gatherers, and hunters. The main food sources were corn, beans, squash and wild foods found in the rocky, heavily forested foothills of the Berkshire Mountains of Brookfield and New Milford. Such wild foods that were harvested were white oak acorns, American chestnuts, shag bark hickory nuts, may apples, beach nuts and Solomon's seal. The hunted animals that were taken from the forest and rivers were deer, passenger pigeon, turkey, bass, trout, crawfish, squirrel, rabbit and others. In the 18th century the community was called "Newbury", a name that came from the three towns from which its land was taken—New Milford, Newtown, and Danbury.
As traveling to surrounding churches was difficult in winter, in 1752 the General Assembly granted the community the right to worship in area homes from September through March. In 1754, the General Assembly granted permission for the Parish of Newbury to build its own meeting house and recruit its own minister. On September 28, 1757, the first Congregational Church building was dedicated. The Reverend Thomas Brooks was ordained as the first settled minister. When incorporated in 1778, the town's name was changed to Brookfield in honor of Brooks, who was still the minister.
Along the Still River, mills were in operation as early as 1732 in an area that became known as the Iron Works District. Brookfield was a thriving town with iron furnaces, grist mills, sawmills, comb shops, carding and cotton mills, a paper mill, a knife factory, hat factories, stage-coach shops, lime kilns, harness shops and other plants in operation. The grist mill still stands, as the Brookfield Craft Center. The Iron Works Aqueduct Company, formed in 1837 to supply water from mountain springs to the Iron Works District, still supplies water as the Brookfield Water Company.
Before 1912, the town had two train stations: one in the Iron Works District near the present Brookfield Market and a second, Junction Station, near the corner of Junction Road and Stony Hill Road.
In the early 1970s, the town was home to the headquarters of Lego USA.
Throughout the 1970s and late 20th century, Brookfield saw a massive influx in its population. This is attributed to New Yorkers who began relocating from the city to the suburbs. This created rapid real estate development in Brookfield, and turned Brookfield into a popular commuter town for those who work in and around New York City. The top professions of residents today are in the fields of professional, scientific, and technical services, health care, and finance and insurance. As of 2022, 88.3% of residents in the workforce hold white-collar jobs, and about 10% work remotely full-time.
Brookfield is located between the two largest lakes in Connecticut. Candlewood Lake (the largest) spans the west side of the town, while Lake Lillinonah spans the entire east side. The Still River also runs directly through the town, flowing directionally from south to north.
Brookfield Town Center (known to locals as "Four Corners") is the downtown shopping district of Brookfield. The area is experiencing heavy growth and revitalization in recent years with new apartment and shopping buildings, bringing over 150 new apartments and dozens of new stores. It is also a potential site for a future railway station.
Brookfield Center is the original town center and a historic district, added NRHP, September 15, 1991). The original town hall, original general store, historic society, several churches, and an elementary school are located here.
Other named minor neighborhoods and geographic locations in the town are:
Brookfield has a humid continental climate, similar to that of New York City, with mild to warm humid summers and cold to very cold winters. The highest recorded temperature was 103 °F (39 °C) in July 1966, while the lowest recorded temperature was −15 °F (−26 °C) in 1968.Snowfall is generally frequent in winter while average precipitation is most common in September.
The 2020 US Census counted a total population of 17,528. The total number of households in Brookfield was recorded at 6,209 with an average of 2.73 persons per household. The population density was recorded at 861.9 persons per square mile (332.8/km2).
According to the 2020 Census, the population of Brookfield was 86.4% White, 4.2% Asian, 3.1% Black or African American, and 0.2% Pacific Islander. Individuals from two or more races made up 4.5%. In addition, Latinos of any race made up 6.5% of Brookfield's population. About 28.5% of Brookfield residents were younger than age 18 as of 2020; higher than the U.S. average of 24%. 12.9% of Brookfield residents were born outside of the United States.
As of the census of 2000, there were 15,664 people, 5,572 households, and 4,368 families residing in the town. The population density was 791.1 inhabitants per square mile (305.4/km2). There were 5,781 housing units at an average density of 292.0 per square mile (112.7/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 95.29% White, 0.76% Black or African American, 0.07% Native American, 2.48% Asian, 0.61% from other races, and 0.79% from two or more races. 2.37% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 5,573 households, out of which 39.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 68.1% were married couples living together, 7.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.6% were non-families. 17.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 6.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.80 and the average family size was 3.18.
In the town, the population was spread out, with 27.4% under the age of 18, 4.9% from 18 to 24, 29.2% from 25 to 44, 27.8% from 45 to 64, and 10.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.7 males, slightly under the US average. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.0 males.
In 2020, the median income for a household in the town was $128,606, and the median income for a family was $161,428. The per capita income for the town was $58,992. About 1.2% of families and 2.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.4% of those under age 18 and 2.3% of those age 65 or over.
The Board of Finance approves financial measures, including the town budget; the Board of Education controls the town's public schools; the Representative Town Meeting is the main legislative body of the town. The three selectmen are elected on a town-wide basis, although each person can only vote for two members. This assures that there will almost always be one Democrat and two Republicans or two Democrats and one Republican. Many of the town committees have equal representation between Democrats and Republicans, regardless of the vote breakdown, since each individual can only vote for half as many seats as are available.
In 2021, construction began on the new Candlewood Lake Elementary School. The $78.1 million school will be located on the grounds of the existing Huckleberry Hill School, and relace both Huckleberry and Center School (Pre-K–5). The school is scheduled to open in Fall 2023, in time for the 2023–24 school year.
Curtis School for Boys (All-boys boarding school open from 1883 to 1943. Starting in the 1920s, girls were allowed to enroll as day-students. The school has since become the Brookfield Theatre for the Arts.)
The Brookfield Craft Center is a specialized, non-degree school which teaches the skills of craftsmanship and offers courses and workshops to the general public. It is largely housed in an old historic mill house, on the Still River.
Downtown redevelopment project
The newly completed streetscape of Brookfield's Town Center District, also known as Four Corners, which includes sidewalks, parallel parking and new storefronts.
For years, despite being a major economic center for retail in Fairfield County, Brookfield had lacked a walkable downtown area. Most of the large economic activity was centered on the southern portion of Federal Road near Danbury. In 2016, construction began on a project known as "Brookfield Village", which will create a downtown district consisting of sidewalks, a pocket park, street lamps, and parallel parking. Dozens of retail storefronts and residential apartment buildings (more than 150 units) are also being developed in this area, which has gained attention from retailers and will promote further development in the area. In conjunction with other retail developments on Federal Road and with the completion of Phase I of the newly revitalized district, many new restaurants, stores and boutiques have recently opened in the Town Center District.
Sculptures depicting a family of horses; (left to right) mare, foal and stallion. Located at the entrance to the Brookfield Municipal Center and Town Park
The Brookfield Library, as seen from the entrance to Williams Park
Brookfield Arts Commission – A commission established in 1990 by the town consisting of 15 board members; the commission was created to engage in activities which are intended to promote understanding and appreciation of the arts to residents of the Town of Brookfield, encourage community participation in arts activities, coordinate information concerning artists and the arts within town, act as a liaison between artists, schools and the community, engage in activities designed to encourage local artists in demonstrating their talents, and promote activities that both entertain and enlighten. Each year, the commission awards university scholarships to town residents who are aspiring artists, or plan to pursue a career in the arts after high school.
Brookfield Museum and Historical Society – founded in 1968, a museum and archive pertaining to the history of Brookfield and the New York and New England Region as a whole.
Brookfield Public Library – located within the Brookfield Center Historic District. It is part of Bibliomation, a state-wide library consortium utilizing Evergreen in Connecticut which allows all involved libraries to share their resources, vastly increasing their collection sizes. The library was established in 1951 as the Joyce Memorial Library in the old Town Hall building on Whisconier Road using a $7,000 bequest left by Brookfield resident Daniel Clarke Joyce in 1929 to establish a library in Brookfield. The current library was constructed in 1975, and is 9,600 square feet. At this time, the former "Joyce Memorial Library" was renamed "The Brookfield Library". Several proposals have been made to construct a new library in Brookfield, due to the significant increase in population since 1975 when the current facility was constructed. In 2002, the Library Board of Trustees began the planning stage for a new library, and in 2009, a one million dollar state grant was awarded for the construction of a new library. A referendum was held in February 2018 over whether or not to begin construction on a 36,000 square foot library at a cost of 14.7 million dollars, although the motion did not pass. The Library Committee is now revising the plan, with hopes to bring a revised plan to referendum.
Concerts in the Park – free, public outdoor concerts at the Brookfield Bandstand (located at the town park on Pocono Rd.) are held every Friday between the months of June and August. The concerts consist of a variety of local and regional artists and music groups.
Cotton Candy Fabrics – a fabric school with classes taught by experienced fashion designers, located at 450 Federal Rd.
Friends of The Arts of Brookfield – a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established to enhance participation in the arts throughout the community. The organization also sponsors various art exhibitions, cinematic, and theatrical productions throughout Fairfield County.
JLG Autocrib – located at 1 Sunset Hill Rd., housing a private collection of over 30 rare and vintage Porsche cars and memorabilia.
The Pottery Factory – located at 265 Federal Rd., classes and workshops are offered for pottery, glass fusing, candle making and soap making.
Candlewood Lake – the largest lake in Connecticut, Candlewood spans five towns and forms the western border of Brookfield.
Birch Rocks Trails Preserve – located at 40A Obtuse Rd. N, the park consists of 2.5 miles of hiking trails through 175 protected acres of wooded land.
Brookfield Municipal Center – located on Pocono Rd., location of local government offices such as the Town Hall and Police Headquarters. Also home to the Brookfield Town Park, which is Brookfield's flagship park consisting of a large playground, baseball diamond and soccer fields. Also the location of the Brookfield Bandstand, an outdoor music pavilion where concerts and shows are held in the summer.
Brookfield Nature Center – consists of 16 acres owned by the Town of Brookfield and is managed by the Brookfield Conservation Commission. The land has a striking mix of old fields, upland woods with strands of Spruce mixed with large specimen trees of Tulip and White Oak. Merwin Brook cuts across the northwest corner of the property. The brook flows through a wooded wetland with White Ash, Elm, and Red Maple trees around it. The grassland fields are a nesting site of Bobolinks and other ground nesting birds. A careful mowing schedule is used to protect the eggs and chicks.
Brookfield Town Beach – located on 460 Candlewood Lake Road, the facilities include swimming, basketball, sand volleyball courts, restrooms, changing facilities, BBQ grills and picnic tables. The beach also features a Lakeside Community Room which is available for reservations to host events up to 50 people. The beach is only open to residents of the Town of Brookfield and their guests for daily admission, although residents of the Town of Bethel are eligible to purchase season passes.
Burr Farm Protected Open Space – a town-owned parcel of protected open space located at 23 Dingle Brook Road, comprising 116 acres divided into East and West parcels, along the now unused eastern end of Lake George Road.
Cadigan Park – a park located on Candlewood Lake Rd., containing turf football and lacrosse fields, lighted basketball and tennis courts, as well as walking/biking trails. Directly across the street from the Brookfield Town Beach.
Eriksen Farm Open Space – a town-owned parcel of protected open space located at 8 Nabby Road, comprising 20 acres of protected open fields for walking and biking.
Gurski Farm Protected Open Space – a town-owned parcel of protected open space that connects into Williams Park via trail.
Happy Landings Protected Open Space – a town-owned parcel of 55 protected acres of open fields and approximately 19 acres of woodland open space located along Whisconier Road (Route 25), consists of containing historic barns, wells and windmills.
Lillinonah Woods – located at 54 Obutse Rocks Rd., the park is situated on 68 acres of land and connects to Lake Lillinonah. This park offers fishing (by permit), hiking trails, picnic tables and parking. A small beach is also located on-site.
Old Bridge Sanctuary – located at 57 Old Bridge Rd., a park situated on 25 acres that offers hiking trails and parking.
Still River Greenway – a paved trail through the woods used for walking and biking that connects the Brookfield Municipal Center to Brookfield Town Center.
Whalen Pond – located on 3 Broadview Road, a pond that is accessible for ice skating during the wintertime.
Williams Park – a trail for walking and biking through the woods, also containing public clay tennis courts. Entrance is across the street from the Brookfield Library.
Brookfield Bay Marina – marina and yacht club located on Candlewood Lake Road, north of the Candlewood Shores neighborhood.
Candlewood East Marina – marina and yacht club with a member clubhouse located on Candlewood Lake Road, south of the Candlewood Shores neighborhood. The property across the street from the docks formerly belonged to the Brookfield Tennis Club, an indoor, members-only tennis and athletic center.
Candlewood Lake Club – a private community on Candlewood Lake that encompasses land and properties in both Brookfield and adjoining New Milford. It includes a country club with an 9-hole golf course, tennis courts, swimming pools and a clubhouse. Real estate ownership within the community requires residents to pay membership fees to the club and homeowner association.
Candlewood Shores Clubhouse – a facility open to members of the Candlewood Shores Homeowner's Association, which includes private beaches and recreation centers.
Echo Bay Marina – a private marina located north of the Candlewood Shores neighborhood, adjacent to the Brookfield Town Beach.
Knollcrest Marina – a private community and marina located near the northern end of Candlewood Lake.
Aquatic Club of Brookfield – located at 94 Old State Road, the Aquatic Club has an indoor pool and recreation center offering swimming lessons and aquatic activities for all ages.
Brookfield Parks & Recreation – the Brookfield Parks & Recreation Department organizes various summer camps and popular cultural/recreational activities for town residents.
Brookfield Senior Center – a community center for Brookfield area residents over 60, located at 100 Pocono Road. The Senior Center offers social, educational, physical, creative and intergenerational programs, with the goal of promoting successful aging.
Brookfield Virtual Golf – indoor PGA golf simulators serving food and alcoholic beverages for guests, located at 195 Federal Road.
The Dive Shop Aquatic Center – an aquatic center with an indoor Olympic-size swimming pool and whirlpool, located at 439 Federal Road. The facility also has a café and fitness center for members, and offers swimming lessons and PADI-certified scuba instructions.
The Garden Club of Brookfield – founded in 1962 and organized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the Garden Club of Brookfield consists of members who maintain Brookfield's many community-owned gardens. The Garden Club is part of the Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut.
Greenknoll YMCA – located at 2 Huckleberry Hill Road, the Greenknoll Branch Regional YMCA of Western CT offers a wide variety of programs for all age groups. The facility has an indoor Olympic-size swimming pool, an indoor therapeutic pool, a seasonally-enclosed outdoor Olympic-size pool, indoor racquetball courts, indoor/outdoor basketball courts, an indoor track, playground, and a wellness center. The wellness center includes a sauna, indoor whirlpool, cardiovascular room, functional fitness room, and a multi-purpose gymnasium for activities such as yoga and taekwondo. The Y also offers multiple youth and teen summer camps, which include Camp Greenknoll, Race for Chase, and Summer Club at Grassy Plain, as well as a nursery school.
Lakeside Watersports – boat and jet ski lessons and rentals on Candlewood Lake, located at 227 Candlewood Lake Road.
Brookfield has many active scout units, including two Boy Scout troops, a Boy Scout Ship on Candlewood Lake, as well as two Cub Scout packs. These are as follows:
Troop 5 – responsible for organizing many local events, including a popular Christmas tree fundraiser and pickup.
Troop 135 – the town's original Boy Scout troop; open to boys ages 11–18.
Easter Egg Hunt – the Parks and Recreation Department holds an Egg Hunt every year in the Municipal Center on the Sunday that Easter falls on.
Farmers Market – held on Fridays from 3PM to 6PM at the Brookfield Municipal Center throughout the Summer months. Vendors include farmers offering organic non-GMO fruits and vegetables, and local artisans from the tri-state area and New England.
Halloween Run – held every year the weekend before Halloween; begins at the Municipal Center.
Holiday Tree Lighting – held the first weekend of December, 5:00pm to 7:30pm. The town lights its Holiday Tree in the Brookfield Municipal Center this time every year. Kids can also sit on Santa's lap, and free hot chocolate and cookies are provided in the Town Hall.
Indie Film Festival – every year in March, the Brookfield Arts Commission holds a festival lasting three days, consisting of short and foreign films.
Fire Dept. Kid's Day – held the first weekend of June, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The fire company offers fire prevention and safety for the whole community. The membership provides demonstrations and practice for getting out alive through the use of a fire safety trailer, stop, drop and roll, and dialing 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency. They also team with outside agencies including the Brookfield Police Department to speak with residents about car seat safety and the importance of seat belts as well as the local Rotary Club to photograph children for the Amber Alert program. Kids and adults get to "dress up" in firefighter's gear–feeling the actual weight that firefighter's must carry. This also includes rides on two restored 1930's fire trucks owned by the department.
Memorial Day Parade – takes place on Memorial Day Weekend, running through the Brookfield Center Historic District. The parade consists of vintage and modern emergency vehicles, classic cars and supercars, and floats from various local and regional organizations.
Mother's Day 5k – The Parks & Rec Department holds an annual 5K on Mother's Day starting at Brookfield High School. Hundreds of runners and walkers from the region attend.
Known as an affluent Fairfield County suburb, Brookfield has regularly placed high in various rankings. Brookfield was selected as the best small town in Connecticut by Money magazine in 2013. It was selected as the 26th best town to live in nationwide by Money.com in 2013. In 2017, MarketWatch ranked the Greater Danbury area as the 10th most expensive place to raise a family in the United States.Brookfield Public Schools are frequently ranked as one of the best school districts in Connecticut. Brookfield is also frequently ranked as one of the safest towns in Connecticut, due to its extremely low crime rates. In 2015, Connecticut Magazine rated Brookfield as one of the best among towns in Connecticut with median home values over $325,000. The rating considers education, crime, economy, community engagement, and culture/leisure.
Partially due to Brookfield's close proximity to New York City, Brookfield has seen many notable residents ranging from famous golfer Gene Sarazen to Connecticut's 87th governor Jodi Rell. Many finance and business executives also reside in Brookfield, due to the centralization of investment firms and hedge funds in Fairfield County, as well as many Fortune 500 companies.
In the 1941 film The Lady Eve, starring Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwick, Fonda's character hosts lavish parties in a fictional town called Bridgefield, Connecticut, right outside of New York. This fictional town is based on either the town of Brookfield, Ridgefield or Bridgewater, as they have similar sounding names and fit this demographic at the time.
Arcadia Publishing created an Images of America book detailing the History of Brookfield, composed by Marilyn S. Whittlesey.
Annals of Brookfield, Fairfield County, Connecticut was written by Emily C. Hawley, and published in 1929.
The town is part of the "4 Route", "7 Route" and "New Milford Loop", which are operated by HARTransit. A park and ride is located at 67 White Turkey Road Ext., and offers connections to nearby bus and train stations as well as nearby airports.
The town of Brookfield has two volunteer fire companies in town staffing three stations, with the headquarters for the Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company being at 92 Pocono Rd, the Center Company at 6 Obtuse Hill Rd and the Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department Candlewood Company at 18 Bayview Dr. The department was founded in 1934, and is composed entirely of volunteers.
The Brookfield Police Department Headquarters is located at 63 Silvermine Rd, adjacent to the Brookfield Municipal Center. The department was established on July 1, 1977, and as of 2017, consists of 34 full-time officers, 6 special officers and 12 full and part-time civilian personnel. The Department Command Staff consists of the chief of police, a major and a captain. There is a Patrol Division, a Detective Division, including a youth officer and two school resource officers, and part-time SCUBA Team, Accident Investigation Team, tactical response technicians with the Danbury Police Department, and part-time evidence technicians. Brookfield has plans to expand the current police headquarters, citing a growth in the population served, as well as the size of the police force.
News 12 Connecticut is the local cable news station serving Fairfield County, and covers local news in Brookfield. The town is part of the New York City media market for news and entertainment, and most networks for the Hartford-New Haven market are provided alongside New York TV stations.