In a way, the history of Orange Hills started in 1872. In that year the Lewis Bradley farm and homestead (present day residence of Mr. & Mrs. William Knight on Racebrook Road) was sold to Philander Ferry and Samuel Halliwell, two New Haven businessmen. These gentlemen planned to develop the property into a rural metropolis called “Tyler City”. With two thousand homes, town hall, general store and railroad station for newly opened New Haven and Derby railroad line.
Fortunately, this dream city did not materialize as planned. After a few years of promotion, interest in it waned and much of it diverted to the developers, primarily to Mr. Halliwell. Following his death in the 1890’s, his widow carried on the management of the estate and continued to live in the elaborate Victorian mansion until her death some 25 years later.
In 1924, her estate was acquired by a group of New Haven residents who had in mind of another use for a portion of it — a golf course. They formed the Rolling Ridge Country Club which was incorporated and certified by the state on August 15, 1925. A nine hole course was laid out and opening day for play was Memorial Day, 1927.
The Rolling Ridge Club was sold in June of 1930 and it’s name changed to the Orange Hills Country Club. Articles of Incorporation are dated July 3, 1930. Records show Walter H. Smith, Louis Galby and George Woodward as having financial interests in the ownership then. In ensuing years, the clubhouse was improved and grass replaced the sand greens.
The Depression years of the 1930’s and the War years of the 1940’s brought problems, but the Club survived. In 1955 Walter H. Smith became sole owner. In 1949, his son, Walter E. Smith filled that role, and continues to the present. “Bud”, as he is generally known, had been associated with the Club most of his life. In 1949, he began handling practically all of the managerial affairs. He commenced construction in 1956 and completed expansion of the course to eighteen holes in 1961. In 1966 he built a most attractive new modern clubhouse atop one of the hills which provided a splendid view of the surrounding towns and Long Island Sound. It continues to be a privately owned, very popular public golf course.