William H. Taft Mansion (1870)

April 23rd, 2014 Posted in Houses, New Haven, Second Empire | No Comments »

Taft Mansion

The Mansard-roofed house at 111 Whitney Avenue in New Haven (pdf) was built in 1870. It is known as the William H. Taft Mansion because the former President (1909-1913) (soon to be Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court) owned the house around the time of the First World War, although he never actually lived in it. He sold the house in 1921. Extensively remodeled in 2008, the house was recently used as the offices of Research Edge, an independent research firm, which later became Hedgeye Risk Management. More recently, the house has become home to the William F. Buckley Jr. Program, a Yale conservative group founded in 2010.

Share Button

David Hale House (1795)

April 22nd, 2014 Posted in Colonial, Houses, Lisbon | No Comments »

David Hale House

Reverend David Hale of Coventry was the younger brother of Nathan Hale. He served as pastor of the Newent Congregational Church in Lisbon from 1790 to 1803. In 1795 he built a house in Lisbon (4 Newent Road) that continued to be used as the church parsonage until the late 1960s when it became a private residence. It is now home to an antiques shop known as The Skeleton Key at the Hale House.

As described in the History of New London County, Connecticut, with Biographical Sketches of its Pioneers and Prominent Men (1882), compiled by D. Hamilton Hurd:

In June, 1790, Mr. David Hale, of Coventry, was ordained. He was a brother of the accomplished and chivalrous Capt. Nathan Hale, who was executed as a spy on Long Island by order of Sir William Howe. Mr. Hale was a man of very gentle and winning manners, of exalted piety, and a fine scholar. He carried his idea of disinterested benevolence to such an extent that, if acted upon, it would overturn all social institutions. He thought it to be a man’s duty to love his neighbor, not only as himself, with the same kind of love, but also to the same degree, so that he should not prefer, even in thought, that a contingent calamity, such as the burning of a house or the loss of a child, should fall on his neighbor rather than on himself. Mr. Hale supplied the deficiencies of his salary by keeping a boarding-school. As an instructor he was popular; his house was filled with pupils from all parts of the county, but ill health and a constitutional depression of spirits obliged him to resign this employment, and eventually his pastoral office. His mind and nerves were of that delicate and sensitive temperament which cannot long endure the rude shock of earthly scenes. He was dismissed in April, 1803, returned to Coventry, and there died in 1822.

Share Button

Abiel Canfield House (1784)

April 21st, 2014 Posted in Houses, Seymour, Vernacular | No Comments »

Canfield House, Seymour

Abiel Canfield (1753-1812) served in the Revolutionary War. He married Mary Barlow of Statford in (1754-1840) in 1779. In the back yard of his 1784 house at 83 West Street in Seymour, Canfield had a shop where he manufactured brass and pewter buttons, buckles, and sleigh bells.

Share Button

St. James Episcopal Church, New London (1850)

April 20th, 2014 Posted in Churches, Gothic, New London | No Comments »

St James Church

Happy Easter! St. James’ parish in New London began with a small group of Episcopalians in 1725. Their first church was a wooden building on New London’s Parade, opened in 1732. It was destroyed by fire when New London was burned in 1781 during the Battle of Groton Heights. Samuel Seabury (1729–1796), consecrated in 1784 as the first bishop of the American Episcopal Church, served as rector of St. James from 1785 until his death in 1796. He is now buried in the current (third) St. James Church. The second church was consecrated in 1787, but by the mid-nineteenth century a larger building was needed. By that time the parish had grown significantly and included some of New London’s wealthiest and most influential families. The third St. James Church, located at the corner of Huntington and Federal Streets, was built in 1847-1850. It was designed by the famous architect Richard Upjohn, construction starting just a year after he completed Trinity Church in Manhattan. Starting in 1910, St. James’s original stained glass windows were replaced by six new memorial stained glass windows designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Share Button

Mary Brace Collins Cottage (1887)

April 19th, 2014 Posted in Houses, Old Saybrook, Queen Anne, Shingle Style | No Comments »

28 Fenwick Ave

The summer “cottage” at 28 Fenwick Avenue in the Borough of Fenwick in Old Saybrook was built in 1887 for Mary Brace Collins, who lived at a now demolished house at 1010 Asylum Avenue in Hartford. Her father was Thomas K. Brace, first president of the Aetna Fire Insurance Company, and her husband was Atwood Collins, who became president of the Security Trust Company in 1896. The company later merged with the the Hartford-Aetna National Bank in 1927 to form the Hartford National Bank and Trust Company. You can read more about the cottage in Marion Hepburn Grant’s The Fenwick Story (Connecticut Historical Society, 1974), pages 84-87.

Share Button

Kent Memorial Library (1972)

April 18th, 2014 Posted in Libraries, Modern, Suffield | No Comments »

Kent Memorial Library

A subscription library was started at a store in West Suffield in 1812. The Town of Suffield’s first free public library was established in 1894. Sidney Albert Kent, a Chicago businessman who was originally from Suffield and who had attended the Connecticut Literary Institute (Suffield Academy) donated $35,000 in 1897 to build a library as a memorial to his parents, Albert and Lucinda Kent. The building opened in 1899, but by the 1960s had become far too small for the expanding library’s needs. The old library was sold to Suffield Academy to raise funds for a new Kent Memorial Library, which opened in 1972. Considered to be a landmark of modernism, the new library building was designed by Warren Platner, an architect and interior designer known for his Modernist furniture of the 1960s. The library was in danger of being torn down in 2008, but residents voted in a referendum against demolishing the building and replacing it with a newer and bigger one (see pdf file: “Modernism at Risk.”). Construction will begin this summer on a handicapped-accessible addition to the existing library.

Share Button

Theodore Hale House (1745)

April 17th, 2014 Posted in Colonial, Glastonbury, Houses | No Comments »

1715 Main Street, Glastonbury

In 1759 Jonathan Hale, Jr. (1696-1772) of Glastonbury deeded one half of a brick house to his son, Theodore Hale (1735-1807), who acquired the other half in 1762. Built around 1745, the gambrel-roofed Hale House (1715 Main Street in Glastonbury) remained in the Hale family until 1810. It was owned for a time by Rev. Prince Hawes, pastor of the First Church of Christ. William H. Turner (1788-1872) bought the house in 1828 and it remained in his family until 1912. Turner, who served in the War of 1812, owned a coasting vessel, which operated from the Connecticut river to various Atlantic ports. He was also involved in shipbuilding and politics, serving in the state legislature and as town selectman.

Share Button