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Preston, Connecticut
Preston City Congregational Church
Preston City Congregational Church
Official seal of Preston, Connecticut
Location in New London County, Connecticut
Country United States
State Connecticut
County New London
Metropolitan area New London
Incorporated 1687
 • Type Selectman-town meeting
 • Total 31.8 sq mi (82.4 km2)
 • Land 30.9 sq mi (80.0 km2)
 • Water 0.9 sq mi (2.2 km2)
177 ft (54 m)
 • Total 4,788
 • Density 150.57/sq mi (58.11/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 860
FIPS code 09-62150
GNIS feature ID 0213492

Preston is a town in New London County, Connecticut, United States. The population was 4,788 at the 2020 census. The town includes the villages of Long Society, Preston City, and Poquetanuck.


In 1686, Thomas Parke, Thomas Tracy, and several others petitioned for and were granted by the Connecticut General Court authority to establish a plantation seven miles square to the east of Norwich and north of New London and Stonington. Owaneco, son of the Mohegan sachem Uncas, gave a confirmatory deed for the land in 1687. In October of that same year, the town was formally incorporated as Preston, named for the English city of Preston, Lancashire.

The Ecclesiastical Society of Preston was first organized in 1698, with the first meetinghouse located in present-day Preston City. At the request of residents in the northern part of Preston (now the town of Griswold), the North Society was established in 1716. A splinter group, the Separate Church of Preston, was established in 1747 and continued until 1817. The Preston City Baptist Church (now the Preston City Bible Church) was established in 1812.

On August 4, 1954, an Air France Lockheed L-1049C Super Constellation flying from Orly Airport to Idlewild Airport crashed near Preston.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 31.8 square miles (82 km2), of which 30.9 square miles (80 km2) is land and 0.9 square miles (2.3 km2), or 2.71%, is water.

Principal communities

There were three distinct settlements in the town when it was first established:

Other minor communities and geographic locations in the town are Hallville, Happyland, and Preston Plains.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1820 1,899
1850 1,842
1860 2,092 13.6%
1870 2,161 3.3%
1880 2,523 16.8%
1890 2,555 1.3%
1900 2,807 9.9%
1910 1,917 −31.7%
1920 2,743 43.1%
1930 3,928 43.2%
1940 4,206 7.1%
1950 1,775 −57.8%
1960 4,992 181.2%
1970 3,593 −28.0%
1980 4,644 29.3%
1990 5,006 7.8%
2000 4,688 −6.4%
2010 4,726 0.8%
2020 4,788 1.3%
U.S. Decennial Census
See also: List of Connecticut locations by per capita income

As of the census of 2000, there were 4,688 people, 1,837 households, and 1,359 families residing in the town. The population density was 151.7 people per square mile (58.6/km2). There were 1,901 housing units at an average density of 61.5 per square mile (23.8/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 95.63% White, 0.75% African American, 0.83% Native American, 1.15% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.51% from other races, and 1.11% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.39% of the population.

There were 1,837 households, out of which 30.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.9% were married couples living together, 7.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.0% were non-families. 21.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.55 and the average family size was 4.95.

In the town, the population was spread out, with 22.4% under the age of 18, 5.9% from 18 to 24, 29.4% from 25 to 44, 28.3% from 45 to 64, and 14.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females, there were 100.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.1 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $54,942, and the median income for a family was $62,554. Males had a median income of $44,053 versus $28,226 for females. The per capita income for the town was $24,752. About 1.6% of families and 3.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.5% of those under age 18 and 5.5% of those age 65 or over.

Notable people

  • Nathan Belcher (1813–1891), lawyer, Connecticut state senator, and US congressman, born in Preston
  • Jonathan Brewster (1593–1659), buried in Preston
  • Isaac E. Crary (1804–1854), the first elected congressman from the state of Michigan, born in Preston
  • William Howard Doane (1831–1915), industrialist and composer
  • Beriah Green (1795–1874), abolitionist and author born in Preston
  • Clarence Ellis Harbison (1885–1960), animal psychologist who lived his later life and died in Preston
  • John Haskell Hewitt (1835–1920), classical scholar and professor born in Preston
  • George D. Prentice (1802–1870), controversial newspaper editor born in town
  • Henry Brewster Stanton (1805–1887), abolitionist, social reformer and husband of Elizabeth Cady Stanton; born in town
  • George A. Starkweather (1794–1879), congressman for New York, born in Preston
  • Henry H. Starkweather (1826–1876), postmaster and congressman born in Preston
  • Joseph Steward (1753–1822), artist who studied and lived in Preston


According to the Preston Historical Society, "Schools were built in 'districts' to serve the local children, until two central schools, one on Poquetanuck and one in Preston City were built between 1938 and 1940." Currently, public education in Preston is administered by Preston Public Schools, which operates the Preston Veterans' Memorial School (Pre-K to Grade 5) and the Preston Plains Middle School (Grades 6-8). For high school, students go to multiple school districts of surrounding towns, including the Norwich Free Academy, Ledyard High School, Grasso Tech, Norwich Tech, Saint Bernard High School, Marine Science Magnet High School, and Science and Tech Magnet High School in New London, CT.

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