The town was first settled by a group from Plainfield, Connecticut and was one of the towns incorporated by colonial governor Benning Wentworth in 1761, at the beginning of the reign of King George III. Plainfield lies on the northern edge of the enclave known as the Cornish Art Colony, which existed between 1885 and 1930 that included artists such as Maxfield Parrish and Augustus Saint Gaudens, architects like Charles Platt and writers like Florence Scovel Shinn. Maxfield Parrish lived in Plainfield for 67 years and painted the stage backdrop in the Plainfield Town Hall that still hangs to this day. Plainfield also includes the village of Meriden, home to Kimball Union Academy, a private preparatory school. In 1910, Ernest Harold Baynes founded the Meriden Bird Club, the first institution of its type in the nation. The town is home to the Helen Woodruff Smith Bird Sanctuary and Annie Duncan State Forest.
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