The building at 357 Main Street South in Woodbury was built sometime in the nineteenth century. Now home to a dental office, it was once the grocery and dry goods store of George N. Proctor, who primarily sold his wares door-to-door. In March 1909, Proctor’s wife disappeared after withdrawing from the bank nearly $1,000 bequeathed to her by a relative. A few hours before her disappearance another resident of town had also vanished: Rev. Charles W. Dane, pastor of the Woodbury Methodist Church. Rev. Dane and Mrs. Proctor’s names had been linked for several months and it was thought they had run off together. Just a week before, Dane’s wife had sued for a divorce, alleging intolerable cruelty. She believed he had been deliberately mistreating her to drive her away so that he could divorce her on the ground of desertion. Mrs. Proctor had arranged to meet the minister in New Britain, but he failed to appear and she went on to New York City alone. Mr. Proctor, who believed the minister had hypnotized his wife to lure her away, soon located her in the city Fifteen years before Proctor had also lost his first wife, who ran off with a clerk from his store.
In 1797 the Town of Willington granted permission for Gen./Dr. Miner Grant to build a store to the southeast of the town green. It was built as a one-and-a-half story cape with its gable end facing the street. The store was in operation until the period of the Civil War. It was then converted into a residence and significantly altered. The original store entrance was located in the center of the gable end, where there is now a chimney. By 1801, Dr. Miner Grant’s son, Miner Grant, Jr., was working as a store clerk for Dr. Samuel Willard of Stafford. An accidental explosion on December 23, 1801 led to a fire that destroyed the store. Willard and Grant escaped, but another clerk, Augustus Miller, was killed. The store was rebuilt the following year and the business was acquired by Miner Grant, Sr., who was setting his son up in business. In 1806, Miner Grant, Jr. took over the Stafford store, which was moved to Old Sturbridge Village in 1938. His father’s earlier store, now a house, remains in its original location at 242 Tolland Turnpike in Willington.
The Norwich State Hospital, located in Norwich and Preston, was an extensive facility for the mentally ill and those found guilty of crimes by insanity. It opened in 1904 in a single building, but in the following eight years 13 new structures were added. The Hospital had over 3,000 patients by 1955 and was a huge complex of over twenty buildings linked by underground tunnels. In later years deinstitutionalization led to a large decrease in the patient population and the Hospital closed in 1996. It then became an infamous abandoned site, said to be haunted. The complex was frequently visited by urban explorers. Syfy Channel’s Ghost Hunters visted the site in 2010, but since then the majority of the buildings have been demolished in preparation for future redevelopment. Once at the center of the Hospital, the Administration Building, built in 1908, now stands alone, weatherized to prevent further decay and awaiting future development.
The Greek Revival house at the corner of East Main Street and Mill Plain Road in Branford (current address 270 E Main St; an earlier address was 254 E Main St.) was built by Timothy Palmer (1810-1885) c. 1838, just after his 1837 marriage to Louisa M. Beach. The house remained in the family into the early twentieth century. It is now used as offices.
Next to the North Congregational Church in Woodbury is the church parsonage. It was built circa 1828-1829 as a residence by Leman Sherman, who died in 1831. It passed through other owners until 1871, when it became the parsonage and has been a home to the ministers of North Church ever since. The parsonage, which was in danger of collapsing, was extensively restored and the interior modernized in 2012-2013.
Early Catholics in Woodbury were few in number and were subject to various ecclesiastical jurisdictions in the nineteenth century. While under the jurisdiction of Watertown, the cornerstone of a mission church was blessed on June 30, 1903, and the dedication was held on September 4, 1904. St. Teresa of Avila Church in Woodbury and St. John of the Cross Church in Middlebury were established together as a parish on March 1, 1916. The parochial seat was moved to Middlebury in 1922, but in 1955 St. Tereasa of Avila became an independent parish.