Nathaniel Harrison II (1692-1760) built the house at 124 Main Street in Branford in 1724. The house was once thought to have been built around 1680, at which point the land was owned by Daniel Swain, so it is listed as the Swain-Harrison House in the National Register of Historic Places. The house passed to Nathaniel Harrison III and then to his daughter Martha, who married Nicodemus Baldwin. Martha sold the house to Joseph and Lorany (Bradley) Linsley in 1800, so it is also known as the Harrison-Linsley House. The Linsleys’ daughter, Lorany Linsley Smith, lived in the house until her death in 1915 at the age of 100. The Smith family owned it until 1938, when it was acquired by the architectural historian and preservationist J. Frederick Kelly, who restored the house. Upon his death in 1947 Kelly bequeathed the house to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, now Historic New England. Under a long-term lease, the house is maintained by the Branford Historical Society as its museum and headquarters.
Local tradition holds that the house at 119 Deerfield Road in Windsor was built in 1670 and associates it with Thomas Allyn (1635-1696), which would make it a very early example indeed of a brick house. The house has wood framing which is tied into the brick walls with iron tie-plates. These plates once featured the date of the house, but only the “1” and the “0” survive, although it is agreed that the missing numerals were “6” and “7.” While this could have been 1670, it is more likely, based on architectural evidence and Henry R. Stiles’ History of Ancient Windsor, that house was built in 1760, probably by Captain Benjamin Allyn II, a descendent of Thomas Allyn. Thomas Eggleston is said to have provided the bricks for the house.
Jesse Lee, the minister who established Methodism in New England, preached his first sermon in New England in June of 1789 in the center of Norwalk. The town’s first Methodist church was built in South Norwalk in 1816. By 1858, the congregation had grown so large that it divided. Planning for a new church, which is now called the Norwalk United Methodist Church, began at a meeting on April 25, 1858 at “Phoenix Hall,” which was then located at the Norwalk River Bridge on Wall Street. Work on the church edifice at 724 West Avenue started in 1859 and the building was dedicated on December 6, 1860. An Italianate structure, it was designed by architect Tappan Reeve of Brooklyn, New York. Ornamentation, removed from the church’s towers in the wake of storm damage in the 1920s, has more recently been replicated and the church repainted in its original colors.
The house at 16-18 Spring Street in Bristol was built in 1883 (or perhaps as early as 1870?). It was designed by the Bristol architect Joel T. Case. It later became the home of Edward Dutton Rockwell (1855-1925), who came to Bristol in 1888 with his brother Albert F. Rockwell. Their New Departure Bell Company grew into one of the largest bell factories in America and the largest producer of ball bearings in the world. E.D. Rockwell later left New Departure to become manager of the Liberty Bell Company. The house has lost its original Italianate tower and second-floor porch.
Yesterday I featured the Gurdon Perry House, located at 780 Harbor Road in Southport in Fairfield. Nearby at 712 Harbor Road is the home of Austin Perry, brother of Gurdon. Both men were members of a family of wealthy ship owners and merchants. Both houses were built around the same time, circa 1830, but the Austin Perry House had a Corinthian portico added in the 1840s. It is considered to be one of the finest porticos of its type on a house in the United States.
The house at 780 Harbor Road in the Southport section of Fairfield was built circa 1830 by Walter Perry (1770-1837) for his son Gurdon Perry (1807-1869). The Perry family were ship owners and merchants and Walter Perry owned Southport’s waterfront district. While typical of the large homes of wealthy merchants of the time, the house was built when Southport was just about to experience two decades of phenomenal growth as a shipping port. Merchants in Southport would soon be constructing even grander residences with greater architectural ambitions.