William Avery House (1792)

July 30th, 2014 Posted in Federal Style, Houses, North Stonington | No Comments »

35 Main St., North Stonington

This house at 35 Main Street in North Stonington was built by William Avery (1765-1798) around 1792. In partnership with Nathan Pendleton, Avery opened a tavern in the house. He also built a store, later called Browning & Clark, on the same lot. This building later became the tailor shop of Cornelius Cornell. The house and store were acquired by Stanton Hewitt (d. 1847), who had married William Avery’s daughter, Mary. Hewitt owned a grist mill and shingle mill in North Stonington. In the 1860s, the store was moved to become what is now a wing of the nearby Noah Grant, Jr. House. Stanton Hewitt’s son, Charles Edwin Hewitt, inherited the house and he returned to North Stonington to live there around 1900. He died in 1910 and his daughter, Edna Hewitt Tryon, inherited the house. She left it to her nephew, Fernando Waterman Bentley (d. 1981) in 1946.

Share Button

Raymond-Bradford Homestead (1710)

July 29th, 2014 Posted in Colonial, Houses, Montville | No Comments »

Raymond-Bradford Homestead

The Raymond-Bradford Homestead is located on Raymond Hill Road in Montville. As it exists today, the house contains a mixture of eighteenth and nineteenth-century elements. The original part of the building was completed around 1710. The original gable roof was replaced by a hipped roof in about 1820. The original center chimney was replaced by two small brick ones circa 1870. The front door was also altered at that time to accommodate an enlarged hallway. The house was built by Mercy Sands Raymond, one of the noteworthy women of colonial Connecticut and Rhode Island. According to the History of New London County (1882), by Duane Hamilton Hurd:

Joshua Raymond, born Sept. 18, 1660, son of Joshua Raymond, married, April 29, 1683, Mercy Sands, daughter of James Sands, of Block Island. They resided at Block Island. Mr. Raymond having his business in New London, was absent from his family much of the time. The care and management of the home affairs devolved upon his wife, who was a woman of great energy and executive ability. He died at his residence on Block Island in 1704. Soon after his death she removed with her six children to the North Parish of New London, now Montville, where she with Maj. John Merritt purchased a tract of land containing about fifteen hundred acres. She built a house on a commanding site, on what has since been called “Raymond Hill.” Here with her son Joshua she lived until her death. In his will he gave to his son Joshua “the homestead at Block Island, one hundred sheep, twenty cattle, a team and cart,” also “his father’s homestead farm in the Mohegan fields.” She died at Lyme, while on a visit to her friends, May 3, 1741, aged seventy-eight years, and was buried near the stone church in that town.

Mercy Sands Raymond‘s name is also connected to that of Captain Kidd, as related by Frances Manwaring Caulkins in her History of New London:

It is this Mercy Raymond, whose name has been connected, by a mixture of truth and fable, with the story of the noted pirate, Captain Kidd. Mr. Raymond died in 1704, “at the home-seat of the Sands family,” which he had bought of his brother-in-law, Niles, on Block Island. It was a lonely and exposed situation, by the sea-shore, with a landing-place near, where strange sea-craft, as well as neighboring coasters, often touched. Here the family dwelt, and Mr. Raymond being much of the time absent in New London, the care and management of the homestead devolved upon his wife, who is represented as a woman of great thrift and energy.

The legendary tale is, that Capt. Kidd made her little harbor his anchorage-ground, alternately with Gardiner’s Bay; that she feasted him, supplied him with provisions, and boarded a strange lady, whom he called his wife, a considerable time; and that when he was ready to depart, he bade her hold out her apron, which she did, and he threw in handfuls of gold, jewels and other precious commodities, until it was full, as the wages of her hospitality.

This fanciful story was doubtless the development of a simple fact, that Kidd landed upon her farm, and she being solitary and unprotected, took the part of prudence, supplied him freely with what he would otherwise have taken by force, and received his money in payment for her accommodations. The Kidd story, however, became a source of pleasantry and gossip among the acquaintances of the family, and they were popularly said to have been enriched by the apron.

The house descended in the same family for generations.

Share Button

Dr. Wheeler Homestead (1735)

July 28th, 2014 Posted in Colonial, Houses, Southbury | No Comments »


Also known as the “Cassidy Saltbox” (it was once owned by John H. Cassidy), the house at 715 South Britain Road in the South Britain section of Southbury is an excellent example of an integral saltbox house. Probably built before 1735, it was the home, around 1750, of a Dr. Wheeler, South Britain‘s first physician. The house was owned by Rev. Bennett Tyler from 1807 to 1822. During that time, Rev. Tyler was pastor at the South Britain Congregational Church. He then became president of Dartmouth College.

Share Button

Trinity Episcopal Church, Branford (1852)

July 27th, 2014 Posted in Branford, Churches, Gothic | No Comments »

Trinity Episcopal Church

An Episcopal Society comprising Branford, Guilford and New Haven was established in 1748, but it was not until 1784 that Episcopalians in Branford legally organized Trinity Parish and erected a church, completed in 1786. This original church, a wooden structure without a steeple, was used until a new church was constructed just southeast of the old one. The cornerstone was laid in April 1851 and the church was consecrated by Bishop Brownell on January 27, 1852. Trinity Episcopal Church was designed in the English Gothic style by Sidney Mason Stone of New Haven. Some of the church‘s original exterior decorative elements were removed over the years. In 1920, the outside walls were covered with white stucco as a protection. The stucco was replaced with long leafed southern pine in 1944. A parish hall was added next to the church in 1916. It served as an infirmary during the great influenza epidemic of 1918.

Share Button

Frank E. Smith House (1876)

July 26th, 2014 Posted in Branford, Houses, Stick Style | No Comments »

3-7 Flying Point Road, Stony Creek

At 3-7 Flying Point Road in Stony Creek in Branford is a Victorian-era house built for Frank E. Smith in 1874. Frank E. Smith was a member of the state legislature and his brief biography in Taylor’s Connecticut Legislative History and Souvenir (Vol. V, 1905-1906) is as follows:

Frank E. Smith, of Branford, is the son of Giles Griswold and Emily (Potter) Smith, and was born in New Haven, July 31, 1854. At the early age of sixteen, he became associated with the Stony Creek Oyster Company and for many years has been the largest owner in the company. On November 11, 1876, he married Helen E. Bishop. Two children have blessed the union: Gertrude A., and Maude H. E. Mr. Smith is a member of the Congregational Church, I.O.O.F., A.O.U.W., and N.E.O.P. He is an enthusiastic Republican and has been a valuable member of the School Board. He was a popular member of the Committee on Fisheries and Game.

Stony Creek was famous for its oysters, as described in A Modern History of New Haven and Eastern New Haven County, Vol. 1 (1918), by Everett Gleason Hill:

Long ago the oyster industry ceased to be a simple matter of raking up oysters from the sea bed, culling them and placing them on the market. But that Stony Creek has kept up with the times and the science of growing oysters the reputation of the bivalves bearing the name of the village proves. They go all over the country, and command the high prices of the product that has fame. The largest grower and dealer is the Stony Creek Oyster Company, with a capital of $42,000, of which Henry I. Lewis is president, Maud H. Smith secretary and Frank E. Smith treasurer. Charles E. Smith, of Flying Point, is another large grower and dealer.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share Button

Wyllys Russell House (1820)

July 25th, 2014 Posted in Branford, Greek Revival, Houses | No Comments »

Wyllys Russell House

Wyllys Russell (1791-1877) and his wife Laura Baldwin Russell (married 1811) built the house at 162 West Main Street in the Canoe Brook section of Branford in 1820. A late example of a center-chimney house, the width of its overhang indicates that the original roof was later replaced. The house was erected on land that the couple had received from Laura Russell’s mother, Martha Harrison Baldwin, in 1816. Wyllys Russell had a fishing business at the nearby harbor. Jay Edward Russell, Wyllys’ nephew, later owned the Russell House. He had a coal and lumber business and served as town clerk (1861-1866) and Judge of Probate (1862-1869) in Branford. In the 1870s, he departed for California, where he died in 1909. According to the Obituary Record of Graduates of Yale University (1910):

In 1883 he patented the Hydraulic Giant, and since January 1, 1900, had been engaged at East Auburn, Cal., upon the project of providing from the American River a supply of mountain water and electricity for the cities of San Francisco, Berkeley, and Alameda. He was sole owner of the plant and machinery, with a thousand acres of land.

Frederick S. Jordon bought the Russell House in 1875, and his daughter, Caroline, occupied it until her death in 1989 at the age of 102. In 2003, the house was endangered by a plan to build condominium units on the site, but after a hearing before the Connecticut Historic Preservation Council in Hartford, the developer agreed to modify his plans to keep the Russell House standing in its original location. The house has since been renovated for office use. The property also has a historic barn, built around 1870. Read the rest of this entry »

Share Button

Solomon Tyler House (1771)

July 24th, 2014 Posted in Branford, Colonial, Houses | No Comments »

Solomon Tyler House

The house at 260-268 East Main Street in Branford was built circa 1771 by Solomon Tyler. This may be the Solomon Tyler of Branford who was born in 1745 and died in 1819. He married Dorcas Fiske of Haddam in 1772.

Share Button