Today is the Ninth Anniversary of Historic Buildings of Connecticut! It’s been one post a day for nine years!
Frederick Belden (1818-1893) was a wealthy Norwalk merchant. C. 1850 he built the Italianate house at 75 East Avenue across from Norwalk Green. Frederick Belden married twice, first to Catherine E Gruman Belden (1822-1864) and then to Sarah E Hill Belden (1840-1911), the oldest daughter of Ebenezer Hill, a banker and founder of the Norwalk Lock Company and the Norwalk Iron Works. The Belden house is mentioned in Norwalk (1896), by Charles M. Selleck:
The Frederick Belden residence “on the green” supplanted the more ancient Grumman home, and was presided over by those to whom refinement and good breeding seemed a second nature. Mrs. Belden was gracefully dignified and of pleasing presence. Her good mother, Mrs. Gruman, who was for many years her daughter’s care, was, like her near neighbor, Mrs. Senator Thaddeus Betts, a feeling friend. Those of Miss Susan Betts’ school children who yet remain may recall how that good instructress was wont, during the noon recess on the green, to receive warm, appetizing viands, as a mid-day luncheon. She was unforgotten in the school’s generous vicinity. As the Belden children approached maturity the bright home invited the young. The second Mrs. Belden has preserved its reputation.
Most recently used as a funeral parlor, last summer the house sold for $250,000.
Some would date the house at 22 Main Street in Farmington to c. 1855 based on stylistic considerations (it combines Greek Revival and Italianate characteristics). The house, however, does not appear on an 1869 map of Farmington, so it has also been dated to c. 1870. It was built by William Gay, who operated a store in Farmington. In 1875 William Gay sold the property to his son Richard H. Gay. According to American Biography: A New Cyclopedia, Volume 12 (1922):
Richard Holmes Gay, the oldest son of William Gay, was born April 7, 1832, and died March 30, 1903. He married, September 25, 1856, Gertrude Rivington Palmer, who was born in Whitehall, New York, September 25, 1835, daughter of Hunloke and Mary (Rivington) Palmer. Their children were: Mary Rivington, Margaret Palmer, Anna Rivington, and Gertrude Holmes.
On the west bank of the Saugatuck River in Westport, at 2 Post Road West, is the National Hall Building. It was built in 1873 to house the First National Bank of Westport, two stores and a meeting hall called National Hall. The building was constructed at a time when the west bank of the river was Westport’s commercial and social hub and it represents the town’s growing prosperity after the Civil War. Horace Staples, a prominent Westport businessman and president of the bank was the driving force behind its construction. Various businesses have used the building over the years, including the Fairfield Furniture store and a luxury hotel, the recently closed Inn at National Hall, where President Bill Clinton once stayed. Today it is home to Vespa Italian Restaurant.
The house at 101 East Main Street in Branford was built c. 1865. By 1868 it was owned by Jonathan Collins, who is listed in 1868 the Beers, Ellis & Soule map of Branford as a shoe manufacturer. In 1872 the house was sold to William Regan, who worked at the Branford Lock Works. In 1877 Regan filed a patent for an improvement in attaching knobs to spindles.
The brick house at 458 Palisado Avenue in Windsor was built c. 1845 by Isaac Sweetland, a farmer. He lived there with Sophia Sweetland, for whom the house is named in the Windsor Historic Resources Inventory.
The complex of buildings along the Farmington River at 37 Mill Street in Unionville were once the factory of the Upson Nut Company. The company, which produced nuts and bolts, was founded by Andrew S. Upson (1835-1911), as described in his obituary in The Iron Trade Review, Vol. XLVIII, No. 14 (April 6, 1911):
After receiving his early education in public and private schools, he entered business on his own account. He bought a stock of nuts and bolts made by his brother-in-law, Dwight Langdon, in his shops at Farmington, and with horse and wagon sold his goods throughout New England. Finally he was engaged as regular salesman by Langdon. Upon the death of Langdon, in 1860, Mr. Upson and George Dunham bought the works, adding improved machinery. In 1863 a company formed including Messrs. Upson and Dunham, Samuel Frisbie, Dr. William H. Sage and Gilbert J. Hines, to purchase a patented hot forged nut machine, and in 1864 they organized the Union Nut Co. to manufacture hot forged nuts. In 1865, Mr. Upson purchased Mr. Dunham’s interests and in 1866 he sold out to the Union Nut Co., of Unionville, Conn.
In 1872 the Union company established a western branch in Cleveland, in partnership with the Aetna Nut Co., of Southington, Conn., and the Lamson & Sessions Co., of Cleveland, the organization being known as the Cleveland Nut Co., and erecting a large factory there. By 1877 the interests of the other partners had been purchased by the Union Nut Co., and in 1883, by act of the Connecticut legislature, the name was changed to the Upson Nut Co., the capital being increased finally to $300,000. In 1890 the Upson company absorbed the bolt works of Hotchkiss & Upson, Cleveland, and of Welch & Lea, of Philadelphia. Mr. Upson was elected president and treasurer of the company Sept. 3, 1864, and held the former office until his death. In 1866 he resigned the treasurership and was succeeded by Samuel Frisbie, who held this office and that of secretary until his death in 1897. In 1889, Mr. Upson removed his residence to Cleveland and from that time forward the Cleveland end of the company became the more important, although the works at Unionville have been maintained.
A gable-roofed brick building (c. 1860) is the oldest on the site, while another long flat-roofed building [pictured above] (29 Mill Street, c. 1870) has a facade enhanced by a stepped parapet. The buildings were later owned by the Pioneer Steel Ball Company (established in 1946), but they had been vacant for twenty years when restoration work began in 2013 to develop them for commercial and residential use.
The large Italianate house with a cupola at 17-19 Wall Street in Madison was built in 1854. It was the home of Alva Orrin Wilcox (1799-1887). His entry in the 1893 book The Descendants of William Wilcoxson, Vincent Meigs, and Richard Webb, complied by Reynold Webb Wilcox, reads as follows:
Alva Orrin Wilcox, of Madison, Ct, son of Return of Madison, Ct., kept a hotel and ran a stage line from New Haven to New London, carrying the mail for thirty years, m. Sept. 27, 1826, Rachel, dau. of Billy Dowd, d. Aug. 21, 1889.