The house at 22 Hurlbutt Road in Gales Ferry was built by Orlando Bolles (1807-1895), a whaling captain. He had purchased the land on which the house stands in 1844, before setting out on a two-year journey on the whaling schooner Exile. After his return he built the house in 1847, but sold it just three years later to William Fitch of Montville, a relative of his wife, Ellen Fitch. In 1856, the house was acquired by Bolles’ daughter, Harriet, and her husband, Charles L. Crandall. After her husband’s death in 1875, Harriet and her sister, Annie Bolles Pierce, spent their summers at the house in Gales Ferry and their winters in New York. After Harriet’s death in 1926 the house passed to her sister, who died in 1941. She willed the house to the New England Southern Conference of the Methodist Church, which then sold it to Courtland Colver, Sunday School Superintendent.
The summer cottage at 21 Pettipaug Avenue in the Borough of Fenwick in Old Saybrook was built c. 1880 for Dr. Joseph Wright Alsop III (1838-1891). The Alsops were a prominent family in Middletown: His grandfather, Captain Joseph Wright Alsop I (1772-1844), and his father, Joseph Wright Alsop II (1804-1878), were wealthy merchants; his son, Joseph Wright Alsop IV (1876-1953), married a niece of Theodore Roosevelt and was a politician and farmer in Avon; and his grandson, Joseph Wright Alsop V (1910-1989), was a journalist and top insider in Washington, DC politics. In later life Dr. Joseph W. Alsop III, a democrat, served in the state Senate and was involved in the political deadlock over the gubernatorial election of 1891. After giving an impassioned speech he collapsed at the rostrum and died of a heart attack. The cottage passed from the Alsop estate in 1903 and was acquired by Morgan B. Brainard of Hartford, whose former Fenwick cottage had been destroyed in the Hurricane of 1938. It was acquired in 1959 by his niece, Lucy Brainard Smith. You can read more about the cottage in Marion Hepburn Grant’s The Fenwick Story (Connecticut Historical Society, 1974), pages 122-128. Read the rest of this entry »
Located at 17 Bozrah Street, across from Fitchville Pond, is the Bozrah Congregational Church, built in 1843. The congregation, originally the New Concord Ecclesiastical Society, was formed in 1737 within the town of Norwich. Bozrah became a separate town in 1786. The congregation had had two previous meetinghouses: the first meeting house was located on the east side of Bozrah Street, south of the present building; the second was built around 1770, on the west side of Bozrah Street, opposite the original building. The current church was built after two years of controversy over whether to repair the old meetinghouse or build a new one. The land for the building was donated by Asa Fitch. The church’s stonework was done by Nathaniel Rudd, a local mason, using granite provided by Elijah Abel from a quarry on Bashon Hill Road, and the building was constructed by Willimantic contractor Lloyd E. Baldwin.
The house at 60 Main Street South in Woodbury was built in 1829 for Dr. Frederick B. Woodward. The house’s front porch is a later addition. In 1842 it was purchased by Alexander Gordon, Sr. (1814-1893) who owned a tannery across the street. His son, Alexander Gordon, Jr. (1847-1914) befriended the famous wanderer called the Old Leatherman. Gordon provided scraps of leather to replace worn parts of the Leatherman‘s patchwork suit. In 1915 the house was purchased by George H. Benham as a Christmas present for his wife Antoinette Judson Benham.
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.