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.
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.
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.
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.
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 »
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.
West Haven’s Union School is a former school building at 174 Center Street. Built in 1889 to 1890, when West Haven was part of the town of Orange, it served as a grammar school and for thirty-five years as a high school. It replaced a series of earlier wooden school buildings. Union School is a brick structure with terra cotta and East Haven red-sandstone trim. It was designed by Leoni W. Robinson, a leading architect in New Haven. An addition to the building, identical in plan and detail, was built to the rear in 1914. The former school is now used for senior housing.
Walter C. Clark, who became president of the Aetna Fire Insurance Company in 1892, built a summer cottage in Fenwick in 1884 on a lot he purchased from Francis Goodwin, who was on his board of directors. After Clark’s death in 1919, the cottage was acquired by Houghton Bulkeley (1896-1966), son of governor Morgan G. Bulkeley. Houghton Bulkeley, who named the cottage Seagrove, was an authority on Connecticut Antiques. After his death, the cottage was owned by the McDowell family. You can read more about the cottage in Marion Hepburn Grant’s The Fenwick Story (Connecticut Historical Society, 1974), pages 150-153.