The Wickham Memorial Library, at 656 Burnside Avenue in East Hartford, was built in 1939-1940. It was the gift of Clarence H. Wickham (1860-1945), a wealthy industrialist, in honor of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Horace J. Wickham. An innovator in the envelope industry, Wickham also left his estate in Manchester, “The Pines,” to become what is now Wickham Park. As noted in The Hartford Courant (“New Library Starts Soon In Burnside,” June 23, 1939), Wickham sought to perform the dual service of leaving a suitable memorial to his parents and contribute to the happiness and welfare of the Wickhams’ neighbors in the Burnside section of East Hartford. The Colonial Revival library, designed by Smith & Bassette of Hartford, had its dedication ceremony on February 9, 1940.
One of Connecticut’s oldest surviving houses is the Meigs-Bishop House, at 45 Wall Street in Madison. It is Madison’s second oldest house after the 1685 Deacon John Grave House. The Meigs-Bishop House was built in 1690 by Janna Meigs on land he had received from his father, Deacon John Meigs. As related in the Record of the Descendants of Vincent Meigs: Who Came from Dorsetchire, England, to America about 1635 (1901), by Henry B. Meigs:
Capt. Janna was evidently a man of education, as the importance of the many offices he filled would indicate; was deacon in the church; represented his district in the legislature of the Colony of Connecticut in 1716-’17-’18 and 1726; and was Justice of the Peace for New Haven Colony, annually from 1722 to 1733 inclusive, a position of greater importance then than now. In military life he was Captain of a Company in the Queen Ann wars.
He left the house to his son, Lt. Janna Meigs, who deeded it to his first cousin, Capt. Phineas Meigs. After serving in the Revolutionary War from 1777 to 1780, Capt. Meigs retired from the army and was named captain of the Guilford militia. On May 19, 1782, three British frigates tried to capture an American schooner that had run aground on a sand bar. Capt. Meigs set out from his Wall street home leading his men to battle British soldiers who had landed on shore. In the ensuing fight, Capt. Meigs was shot through the head. He is believed to be the last New Englander to be killed in an action against the British in the Revolutionary War. The green wool round hat he was wearing that night survives and is in the collection of the Connecticut Historical Society. It bears the entry and exit holes of the musket ball that killed Capt. Meigs.
Later owned by the Bishop family, the house has most recently been used for a succession of businesses.
The house at 591 Main Street in Cromwell was built on the site of an earlier house, purchased by Amos and William Savage from the estate of Joseph Ranney in 1756. Samuel Spencer (1744-1818) purchased half of the house and land in 1771 and the other half six years later. He may have incorporated the earlier residence into the new house he built c. 1777. After Spencer‘s death, the house passed to his daughter, who was married to Dr. Titus Morgan. Another daughter, Sarah “Sally” Spencer, married Joseph Morgan, Dr. Morgan‘s cousin, who was the grandfather of J. Pierpont Morgan. In 1873, the house became the first Cromwell residence of Russell Frisbie, who later bought the house on Main Street that is now home to the Cromwell Historical Society. It was probably Frisbie who added the Italianate decorative elents to the facade of the Spencer House, which originally had a gambrel roof.
On a corner of the Green in Branford is the old Academy building, constructed in 1820. This school was established by Rev. Timothy Phelps Gillett, who was pastor of Branford’s Congregational Church from 1808 to 1860. As related in Vol. II of the History of New Haven County (1892), edited by J.L. Rockey:
At Branford village a select school was taught by Reverend Timothy P. Gillett, some time after the war of 1812, which there, also, awakened a desire for schools of a higher grade, and which led to the establishment of an academy, in 1820. Benjamin R. Fowler, Calvin Frisbie, Philemon Tyler, John Beach and others, aided by Mr. Gillett, were active in this movement, and secured the town’s consent to erect the buildings on the south side of the green. A two-story frame house, with a belfry, was put up, which is still standing in that locality. For a number of years Branford Academy had a good reputation, and the stockholders were rewarded by having a school in their midst, which well served its purpose. The academy was continued with varying success until 1866, Miss Jane Hoadley being the last teacher. Others who are remembered as having taught there were: Reverend Gillett, Deacon Samuel Frisbie and Lynde Harrison. The latter was instrumental in securing a school library of several hundred volumes. The upper story of the academy building has long been used as a Masonic hall.
The usefulness of the academy was at an end after the consolidation of the public schools of the town.
The Academy building, which originally stood on the site of the present Town Hall, was moved to the rear of the Congregational Church in 1860. It was sold to the Masons in 1871, but was sometimes rented by the town for overflow school space thereafter. In 1971 the Academy was deeded to the town and in 1974 it was moved to its current site on the Branford Green, at the north-west corner of South Main Street.
Located at 146 Hartford Road in Manchester is a former office building of the Cheney Brothers silk mills. The office was built in 1910, replacing an earlier office. After the Cheney Brothers mills closed, the building was owned at different times by the electric company and Manchester Community College. Currently it serves as the offices of Fuss & O’Neill, an engineering firm.
The Martha J. Newell House is located at 89 High Street in Bristol. Built around 1870, it is an Italianate house that was once the residence of Martha Judd Brewster Newell (d. 1905). Mrs. Newell was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Women’s Board of Missions. She was the wife of Samuel Pomeroy Newell (1823-1888). According to The Brewster Genealogy, Vol. II (1908), compiled and edited by Emma C. Brewster Jones:
Samuel P. Newell was graduated from Yale Law School in 1848, and was a lawyer of extensive practice at Bristol. He served as U.S. internal revenue collector and was judge of Probate Court for the District of Bristol. His son-in-law, John J. Jennings, was his law partner.
Methodism first came to Norwalk in the 1780s. The first Methodist church building in town was constructed in South Norwalk in 1816. A new church was built in 1843 and enlarged thirteen years later. Two years later, the congregation divided with the formation of a new Methodist Church in Central Norwalk. In 1898 the congregation of Norwalk’s First United Methodist Church moved into another new church at 39 West Avenue. The cornerstone of the yellow brick and white marble building, designed by architect M. H. Hubbard of Utica, New York, was laid 11 June 1897. It was completed the following year. The church was deconsecrated on Sunday, May 25, 2008 due to declining attendance and for a time the building was on and off the commercial real estate market. Macedonia Church recently purchased the building. Read the rest of this entry »