Donovan’s Saloon (1889)

August 20th, 2014 Posted in Commercial Buildings, Italianate, Norwalk | No Comments »

Donovan's

A landmark of South Norwalk is the Donovan Building at 138 Washington Street, corner of Water Street. Built in 1889, it was the home of Jeremiah Donovan‘s Saloon. A civic leader and politician, Jeremiah Donovan served in the state house from 1903 to 1904 and the state senate from 1905 to 1909, and again from 1911 to 1913. He then served a term in the U.S. Congress from 1913 to 1915, and as mayor of Norwalk from 1917 to 1921. The building has since housed a bar/restaurant under various owners, except for the period of prohibition when it was an A. & P. Today the restaurant has a collection of vintage prizefighter pictures that belonged to “Battling Bat Kunz”, a regional champ who owned the restaurant for several decades. The current owner, Richie Ball restored the restaurant and bar in 1979 to its original Victorian style and renamed it after its original founder, Jeremiah Donovan. On the east side of the building is a mural depicting one of the last working schooners on Long Island Sound, the Alice S. Wentworth. It was painted in 1978 by Brechin Morgan, a local artist. After a billboard company painted over it in 1983, Morgan repainted the mural with some friends. It was touched up in 2007. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bradley-Wheeler House (1795)

August 19th, 2014 Posted in Houses, Italianate, Westport | No Comments »

Wheeler House

The headquarters of the Westport Historical Society is the Bradley-Wheeler House, located at 25 Avery Place. The house was built by Ebenezer Coley, a merchant, for his son Michael Coley. Financial troubles forced Michael Coley to deed the house back to his father three years later. Ebenezer Coley then sold it in 1799. Ann Hazzard Avery Ripley (1764-1830) occupied the house, where she also had a millinary shop, in the early nineteenth century. From 1846 to 1857 the house was owned by Farmin Patchin, who had financial problems and deed the property to the Saugatuck Bank. The house is named for two of its later nineteenth-century owners: Morris Bradley and Charles B. Wheeler, both local businessmen. It is likely that Morris Bradley was the owner who dramatically altered the style of the house to its current Italianate appearance. Bradley acquired the house in 1865 and it was occupied by him until his death in 1886 and then by his widow until it passed to his daughter, Julia A. Bradley Wheeler. She was married to Charles Beach Wheeler, who ran a store with his brother-in-law Abraham Bradley (died 1886). The house was later home to Charles and Julia’s son, Lewis Wheeler, a doctor who died in 1958. Wheeler’s estate left the property to Charlotte P. Darby. After her death in 1979, the house was left to Christ and Holy Trinity Church, which sold it to the Historical Society in 1981.

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Dr. Solomon E. Swift House (1840)

August 18th, 2014 Posted in Colchester, Greek Revival, Houses | No Comments »

Dr. Solomon E. Swift House

At 156 South Main Street in Colchester is a Greek Revival house with Colonial Revival additions that include an elliptical attic light, long gabled wing on the right side and a one-story veranda. The house was built circa 1840 to 1850, being purchased in the latter year from David Carroll by Dr. Solomon Everest Swift (1819-1895), a dentist who practiced homeopathic medicine. After Dr. Swift‘s death, his widow Almira Lathrop Swift (1822-1904) (who had attended Bacon Academy) lived in the house until her own death. Their daughter, Caroline Swift Willard (1863-1950), probably made the Colonial Revival alterations/additions between 1896 and 1919, the year she eventually sold the house, having moved to Redlands, California. From the late 1990s until 2006, the house was used as a gift shop and is now lawyers’ offices.

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Unitarian Universalist Church of Norwich (1910)

August 17th, 2014 Posted in Churches, Gothic, Norwich, Romanesque Revival | No Comments »

Unitarian Universalist Church of Norwich

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Norwich began in 1820 as the “Society of United Christian Friends in the Towns of Norwich, Preston and Groton.” The Society erected a church in 1821, but did not have a settled pastor, the pulpit being occupied by temporary ministers. A church was finally organized in 1836, when the “First Universalist Society in Norwich” was established. A new brick church replaced the old one in 1841 on the same site on Main Street, facing Franklin Square. It was enlarged and rededicated in 1848. The church was demolished for the construction of the Chelsea Savings Bank. A new church, later called the Unitarian Universalist Church of Norwich, was erected in 1910 at 148 Broadway. Constructed of random granite ashlar, the church is also known as the Church of the Good Shepherd for the subject of its large stained glass window. The church’s bell, earlier located in the congregation’s Franklin Square church, was one of several bells salvaged from sacked churches after an uprising in Spain in 1833 that were shipped to New York for sale. With a dwindling congregation, the Unitarian-Universalists sold the church in 2009. It then became the Fount of Salvation Missionary Church.

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Dudley Stewart House (1860)

August 16th, 2014 Posted in Houses, Italianate, North Stonington | No Comments »

Dudley Stewart House

In 1860 Dudley Stweart (1820-1886) built the Italianate house at 32 Main Street in North Stonington on the site of the former Stephen Avery house, which had been destroyed by fire. Dudley Wheeler Stewart ran the local general store. He married Eliza Fish Denison in 1856. On August 30, 1906, a celebration was held on the lawn of the house for the arrival of the first trolley car. Read the rest of this entry »

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Aaron Bronson House (1785)

August 15th, 2014 Posted in Colonial, Houses, Southbury | No Comments »

Aaron Bronson House

The house at 846 Southford Road in Southbury was built circa 1785. The house may have been inherited by Aaron Bronson from his father, Noah Bronson. A cordwainer (shoemaker) and button maker, Aaron Bronson (1768-1834) left the house to his son, Augustus, who sold it in 1847. With the exception of a later Greek Revival doorway, the house’s exterior is typical of a late eighteenth-century Cape. The interior is notable for its early Federal-style features. The house has a later kitchen ell, attached at the left rear around 1820. A modern wing was added to the rear of the ell in 1987.

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Bill Library, Ledyard (1893)

August 14th, 2014 Posted in Ledyard, Libraries, Queen Anne | No Comments »

Bill Library

In 1818, the North Groton Union Library was established in the area that would later become the town of Ledyard. One of the original subscribers who helped found the library was Gurdon Bill, whose son Henry Bill (1824-1891) later became a wealthy publisher in Norwich. In 1867 Henry Bill approached town leaders on the subject of donating a new library. The new Bill library collection and the earlier library collection were housed at the Congregational Church. The number of books rapidly grew rapidly through donations made by both Henry Bill and his brothers, who had also become successful. Among the Bill brothers were Gurdon Bill, who became a publisher in Springfield, Massachusetts; Charles Bill, who became a traveler; Frederic Bill, who donated the Bill Memorial Library in Groton; and Ledyard Bill, the first child born in Ledyard after it became a town, who settled in Paxton, Massachusetts and wrote the History of the Bill Family (1867).

As related in the History of the Town of Ledyard, 1650-1900, by John Avery:

When the library was first created, book-cases were made and placed in the gallery of the Congregational Church. Here the books were kept for nearly twenty-six years, but in later years, the Bill brothers, seeing the necessity of a separate and permanent home for the growing library, secured a location on the “Common” near the church at the centre, and contributed the sum of three thousand dollars for the construction of a suitable edifice, and under the supervision of Mr. Frederic Bill, there was erected, for library purposes, an appropriate building, that will remain a monument to the generosity of the family for many years to come. This building was suitably dedicated on the day of our annual meeting in 1893. It contains a hall, room for the meeting of the trustees, and a spacious apartment where the library is located. The walls are adorned with pictures of the trustees, many of the citizens of the town, also many natives of the town of Ledyard, who have gone out from among these rocks and hills and become eminent in other states.

The Bill Library (current address: 718 Colonel Ledyard Highway) building was expanded in 1971 and 1982. Read the rest of this entry »

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