H.D. Smith & Company, manufacturer of drop forged tools in Southington, began in the 1850′s as a supplier to New Haven area carriage makers. Originally based in Meriden, H.D. Smith soon constructed a factory on West Street in the Southington village of Plantsville. It was one of several factories there that were powered by the Eight Mile River. The company was famous for its “Perfect Handle” tools. Production later shifted to bicycle parts and then to tool kits for automobiles. The original wooden factory buildings were destroyed by fire in 1910 and replaced in 1911 with a new structure of steel and brick, designed by Charles H. Palmer of Meriden. Adjacent to the factory, at 24 West Street, is the company’s former office building, constructed in 1882.
In the nineteenth century, Edward (or Edwin) Parker was a machinist who lived in the house at 716 Main Street in Plymouth. The house is a late vernacular version of the Italianate, built in 1870 and retaining some decorative features of that architectural style. Behind the house is a carriage house/barn with a small cupola.
The Steele House at 63 Tolland Green in Tolland dates back to around 1800, although there is evidence it may have started as a late eighteenth-century saltbox. The house was once owned by Benjamin Ashley and later by Lucius Fuller. Several residents served as cashier at the Tolland Bank. The house was enlarged in the mid-nineteenth century and the original central chimney was eventually removed. The Steele House was the last of a series of inns and hotels that had served visitors on Tolland’s village Green. Run by John H. and Alice Webster Steele, it began taking guests in 1914. The Steeles operated the guest house until 1942 and owned it until 1958. Susan and Steve Beeching bought the property in 1985, renovated it and opened it in 1987 as the Tolland Inn, a bed and breakfast.
Built circa 1882 (or 1876?) and designed by Henry Austin & Son, the house at 612 Chapel Street in New Haven was the residence of Herrick Frost. As described in Volume 2 of A Modern History of New Haven and Eastern New Haven County (1918), Herrick Payne Frost
in 1856 made his home in New Haven, where after several experiments in various enterprises, in 1858 he formed a partnership with Julius Tyler, Jr., establishing the wholesale grocery house of Tyler & Frost, on State street. This business Mr. Frost prosecuted with great energy and varied success for nearly twenty years, the partnership being dissolved in 1876, at about the time the telephone was just coming into public notice.
Inspired by Alexander Graham Bell’s demonstration of his new invention–the telephone–at Skiff’s Opera House in New Haven on April 27, 1877, Civil War veteran and telegraph man George W. Coy created an experimental switchboard. He won a Bell telephone franchise for New Haven and Middlesex counties and received financial backing from Herrick Frost and Walter Lewis, superintendent of the New Haven Clock Company. Establishing the District Telephone Company of New Haven, the partners opened the world’s first telephone exchange in January 1878 with 21 subscribers.
Again according to A Modern History of New Haven and Eastern New Haven County:
The new enterprise attracted general attention, and in less than three months after its inauguration it had one hundred and fifty subscribers, and within a year over four hundred. Mr. Frost and his partner were thus instrumental in giving to New Haven the credit of leading the world in this important line. By 1880 capital had become interested in the further development of the system, and the New Haven Telephone Company was merged into the Connecticut Telephone Company, with the late Marshall Jewell, of Hartford, as president, and Hon. Charles L. Mitchell and Morris F. Tyler as directors. This company in 1884 underwent another change, becoming the Southern New England Telephone Company, with a capital of one and a half million dollars. Through the foresight, energy and ability of Mr. Frost, to whom was committed the general management of this great and growing corporation, the lines of the company were carried into nearly every town, hamlet and school district, within the territory in which they operated, and until a very few years ago there was no district in the world with so many telephones in use, in proportion to its population, as Connecticut.
The 1825 house of Bethel Tuttle, at 10 Academy Street in New Haven, was later expanded around 1860 into an Italianate-style house by William H. Sears, who worked at E. Arnold & Co. According to the History of the City of New Haven to the Present Time (1887):
The firm of E. Arnold & Co., 236 to 240 State street, dealers in stoves, furnaces, ranges, and galvanized cornices, was formed in 1846, and has been located on the same street ever since. They are also engaged in tin-roofing, plumbing, and gas-fitting. The individual members of the firm are E. and George J. Arnold.
Built circa 1860, the house at 51 Prospect Street in New Britain is notable for its stucco exterior. It was originally the home of George Swain, who ran a saloon on Main Street. The house was later home to Henry W. Felt and William F. Felt of Felt & Norton, dealers in dry goods and sewing machines. In the 1890s, it was the home and studio of Henry C. Foss, a music teacher.
The Florence Mill stands on the site of an earlier mill at 121 West Main Street in Vernon’s industrial village of Rockville. The original mill was built in 1831 by Colonel Francis McLean, in partnership with Alonzo Bailey. Framing from the old Vernon meeting house was used in its construction. Called the Frank Mill, it produced cassimere (cashmere). It was replaced by a new mill building in 1847, but this burned down in 1853 and the company collapsed. Nathaniel O. Kellogg purchased the factory’s remains and started a new company. He built the Florence Mill in 1864, Rockville‘s first example of slow-burn construction: brick masonry exterior walls with wood timber frames. The mill closed in 1869 and continued as a woolen mill under other owners until White, Corbin & Company converted it for the manufacture of envelopes in 1881. In that year, it was described as the largest brick building in Rockville. The company later consolidated with others to form the U.S. Envelope Company in 1898. The factory closed in the 1970s and was converted to become senior housing.