A German immigrant who arrived in the United States in 1874, Bernard C. Apel established a furniture and undertaking business at Depot Square in North Manchester. In 1888 he erected the large brick commercial building that stands at the corner of Apel Place and Oakland Street (35 Oakland Street). The basement contained the undertaking establishment and above it was his mercantile showroom, which he had expanded to include a wide variety of products, from carpets, wall paper and curtains, to crockery, lamps, clocks, stoves and pianos. The upper floors of the building housed a large community hall/theater called Apel’s Opera House. A fire gutted the opera house in 1899. Apel rebuilt, but did not reconstruct the original audience gallery. Serving as a warehouse and salesroom in later years, the building was acquired by the Central Connecticut Cooperative Farmers Association in 1977. The Co-op, which had been located on Apel Place since 1942, was a major supplier of livestock feed to farmers and had a retail store and farm stand in the former Opera House. The Co-op closed in the summer of 2016 due to current economic conditions and the decline in the number of farms.
The earliest residents of the hip-roofed brick Federal-style house at 2 Washington Avenue – 1 St. John Street in North Haven are not known. Much altered over the years, the house was built c. 1825 on the site where the c. 1680 homestead of Nathaniel Thorpe once stood. In the later nineteenth century the house was the residence of Rev. William T. Reynolds, who was pastor of the North Haven Congregational Church from 1863 to 1893. The house is now an office property.
The religious sentiment of Willimantic is now represented by six churches, viz., Congregational, Methodist, Baptist, Roman Catholic, Protestant Episcopal and Spiritualist. These have all been built up here since the year 1827. Up to the close of that year there was no church nearer than Windham Centre, nor any stated meetings except such as were held in a school house or in private houses. In the year mentioned a few persons here applied to the directors of the Connecticut Domestic Missionary Society for a minister. [. . .]
January 22d, 1828, an ecclesiastical council was called, of which Doctor Samuel Nott, of Franklin, was chosen moderator, and this council organized the First Congregational church of Willimantic. [. . .]
A church edifice was immediately erected, and was dedicated October 17th, 1828, Doctor Joel Hawes preaching the sermon. This was the first house of worship in the place. The expense of building it was a burden from which those who undertook it delivered themselves only after a determined struggle. The present society was formed soon after the church was built. [. . .] In 1843 the house of worship was considerably enlarged. [. . .]
On the acceptance of the call of Reverend Horace Winslow, the question of a new house of worship was earnestly advocated, and on February 24th, 1869, the society resolved to proceed to the work, and accordingly appointed a building committee composed of John Tracy, Allen Lincoln, William C. Jillson and the pastor elect. In July of that year the corner stone was laid, and in one year from that time the main edifice was dedicated to the worship of God. The expenses of this enterprise were provided for in various ways. To begin with, the society had from subscriptions and the sale of the old house $19,578. This fund was steadily increased by special efforts, so that when the main portion of the building was completed the debt was only a little over $9,000. In May, 1871, the chapel was completed and dedicated to the service of God. In about a year from that time it was proposed to pay off the whole debt of the society, which amounted then to $12,600. This amount was raised by the 1st of October, 1872. The whole cost of church, grounds, chapel, furniture, organ and all, amounted to $46,700, and it had all been paid, so that the society was free from debt. A service of praise and gratulation was held in view of the auspicious financial condition. Since then money has been raised and the chapel and adjoining rooms have been painted, carpeted and seated. The size of the main edifice on the ground is one hundred by sixty-three feet, and the chapel addition and adjoining room is ninety by thirty-six feet.
At the corner of Main and Prospect Streets in Bristol is a four-story Romanesque Revival red brick commercial building called the Linstead Block (238 Main Street). It was built by William Linstead, an English immigrant who, according to Men of Progress: Biographical Sketches and Portraits of Leaders in Business and Professional Life in and of the State of Connecticut (1898), “erected many of the large buildings in Bristol all of which compare favorably with the best work of their kind, and are a credit to the town and their builder.” Two storefronts on the Main Street side of the building have been altered, but those on the corner and on the Prospect Street side retain their original cast-iron columns. Trinity Episcopal Church was moved from Main Street around the corner to High Street to make way for the construction of the Linstead Block. The church burned down in 1945 and a new one was erected on Summer Street.
Attached to the Linstead Block and continuing along Prospect Street is the Funck Block (13 Prospect Street), also constructed in 1889. It was built for C. Funck & Son, a furniture company that also made coffins. The undertaking business was located further down Main Street until an addition made to the Funck Block allowed it to join the furniture store in 1930. While the earlier section of the building has cast-iron columns like the Linstead Block, the addition at the end has a Tudor Revival storefront. Ten years later the undertaking business (now Funk Funeral Home) moved to the George W. Mitchell House on Bellevue Avenue. The furniture part of the business was absorbed into the Bristol Furniture Store, which continued for some years on Prospect Street.
The connected commercial structures at 73 Main Street in East Hampton, known as the Buckland Block, were begun in the 1870s and added to over the years. Leonard Willey, a local merchant, constructed the south store section in 1871 and mortgaged it to finance construction of the north section: a hall erected in 1876. The building was soon acquired by George Buckland and housed Buckland and Barton’s dry goods store, with the south building being used as a post office. Attached at the rear of the post office is an elevator tower, which gave easy access to the P.O. for D. A. Williams, whose patent medicine business was located in the rear annex. The hall was used for town meetings and once was the site of a murder trial. So many spectators attended that the floor began to give way and the trial had to be relocated.
According to a guide to the South Britain Historic District, produced by the Town of Southbury, the house at 32 East Flat Hill Road, called the Downs House, was acquired as a residence by the minister of the South Britain Congregational Church in 1791. Does this relate it to the Moses Downs House at 639 South Britain Road? Further, the guide indicates that it was used in the 1870s for a school for girls and the lower level was once a tavern. The National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination for the South Britain Historic District dates the house to 1750 (based on assessor’s records) and indicates it was once a toll house.