Bean Hill is a neighborhood in Norwich that was a local commercial and manufacturing center in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The area was home to the ancestors of several nineteenth-century US presidents: Millard Fillmore, Rutherford B. Hayes and Grover Cleveland. The home of President Cleveland’s grandfather, William Cleveland, a silversmith and deacon of the Congregational Church, does not survive, but there is a Fillmore family house at 8 Huntington Avenue, across from the Bean Hill Green. The house was built around 1743 (the date is inscribed on the house’s central chimney). Millard Fillmore‘s great-grandfather, Capt. John Fillmore, Jr. (1701-1777), lived in Norwich and later settled in Norwich West Farms (now Franklin). Millard Fillmore‘s grandfather, Nathaniel Fillmore, Sr. (1738-1814), and grandmother, Hepzibah Wood (1747-1783), were both born in Franklin and lived in Norwich. Another relative of the President, also a great-grandson of John Fillmore, Jr., was Rev. Jehiel Fillmore (1797-1862), who was born in Franklin and lived at Bean Hill.
I would like to know more about the house at 11 Dudley Street in Norwich. The plaque on the house gives it a date of 1729 and calls it “Woodside.” The style of the house was obviously much altered in the nineteenth century, as it now has features, such as the front portico, the brackets and the curved windows in the gable end, that are typical of the Italianate style. The property also has a large barn, which is listed on Historic Barns of Connecticut (with an address of 8 Dudley Street), but without much information about the structure. Perhaps it dates to the time the house was altered in the Italianate style, as the barn has an Italianate cupola.
In 1819, on Washington Green, a meeting house was constructed on the site where the Judea Parish House stands today. The building had a large upstairs space for town and church meetings and the walls were lined with shelves that held the town’s first library. The first floor had several rooms. These were used for a time by the Judea Female Seminary, run by Mary Brinsmade, sister-in-law of Frederick W. Gunn, founder of the Gunnery School. In the 1870s, Gunn moved the building to its current location (16 Kirby Road), attaching a former one-room district school house to the rear. After Gunn‘s death in 1881, the house was the residence of his widow, Abigail Irene Brinsmade Gunn, familiarly known to Gunnery students as Aunt Abbey. For several years the house was a dormitory for the Gunnery School known as The Abbey. In 1912 it again became a private residence. It was remodeled by its new owners, who added a north wing around 1919-1925.
Various construction dates can be found for the house at 19 Long Hill Road in Middle Haddam (in the Town of East Hampton). In the National Register of Historic Places nomination for the Middle Haddam Historic District, it is listed as the Benjamin Clark House, built in 1827. Clark sold the property a few years later. Steamboat captain Heman H. Crosby lived in the house in the second half of the nineteenth century. In the twentieth century it became the home of Raymond Peck, an engineer at Pratt & Whitney, and his wife, Helen Bates Peck. After her husband’s death in 1969, Helen Peck (1909-2008) continued to reside in Middle Haddam. According to her obituary in the Hartford Courant she was an active volunteer and a historic resource who was instrumental in Middle Haddam being listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In her later years, Peck was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. A 2003 article in the Hartford Courant (“Neighbors Stir Up A Probate Debate,” by Gregory Seay, May 17, 2003) describes issues that some neighbors had with renovations made to the property (called Mulberry Farm) by Peck’s court-appointed conservator. The article describes the house as being 155 years old (giving it a date of 1848). The sign in front of the house reads: “Mulberry Farm Circa 1841 Helen B. Peck.”
The house at 18 Totoket Road in Branford was built c. 1860-1875 for Charles Pomeroy Ives (1847-1933). An 1872 graduate of Yale Law School, Ives was a lawyer and farmer (also described as a “farmer-philosopher”) who was the first in Connecticut to market milk bottles. He had a 200-acre dairy farm in Branford called Fellsmere Farm. In 1933, at the age of 87, Ives went missing from his farm. His body was found three days later a mile-and-a-half from his home. He had died from exhaustion and exposure. Starting in 1983 the house was substantially altered: the windows, siding and other exterior features were replaced and the interior was gutted.
Known as “The Ledges,” the Colonial Revival house at 845 Worthington Ridge in Berlin was built circa 1930 for George E. Prentice. An immigrant from England, Prentice trained in the New Britain hardware industry. In 1912 he founded the Prentice Manufacturing Company, which produced metal fasteners.