Eli Phelps was a prosperous tobacco farmer in Windsor. Around 1860 he built the impressive Italianate house that stands at 18 Marshall Phelps Road in Poquonock. As related in the Commemorative Biographical Record of Hartford County (1901):
Hon. Eli Phelps was born at Poquonock, Sept, 1, 1807, and had only such educational advantages as the local schools of that day provided. He was but a young man when his father died, and as the only son the care of the estate fell to him before he had a chance to acquire business experience, yet he managed affairs with conspicuous ability and became one of the most successful farmers of the town, obtaining good results under all circumstances. For some years after his marriage he resided at his father’s old home, later locating at the farm now occupied by our subject. While he left a handsome estate to his children, he was never grasping or unduly economical, and many worthy enterprises were helped forward by his liberality. He was a man of fine physique, six feet tall, weighing 200 pounds, and his mental ability was above the average, his reading and observation enabling him to gain a wide range of practical knowledge. He took an active interest in religious work, serving as treasurer of the Ecclesiastical Society of his town for a long time, and politically he was prominent as a member of the local Democratic organization. At various times he held offices in his town, and for several years he was a member of the General Assembly. He died Sept. 1, 1879, and his remains now rest in the cemetery at Poquonock.
Nathaniel B. Wheeler, partner in Wheeler & Wilson, manufacturers of sewing machines, acquired land near the Green in Watertown (now 14 Woodbury Road) from Alanson Warren, Sr., on which he built an Italianate house in 1852. Later owners of the house, Harry H. and Charlotte Heminway, hired Waterbury architect Wilfred Griggs to remodel the house. In 1914 it was altered to the Colonial Revival style with the addition of front and rear two-level porches, French doors on the east side and a fanlight over the main entrance.
The church was organized October 20th, 1827. At first the school houses were used for meetings, but a spirit of opposition arose and they were debarred this privilege. With aid from abroad they succeeded in building a meeting house on the site at present occupied. The site was purchased of Alfred Howes, and Messrs. Reed, Hardin and Fenton, of Mansfield, were contracted with to erect the church. The building, being completed, was dedicated May 27th, 1829. A Sabbath school was immediately organized. [. . .] The church is a neat and commodious building, which, with the lot it stands upon, is valued at twenty-five thousand dollars. Connected with the church is a vigorous Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor and a large and flourishing Sunday school.
In 1968, the First Baptist Church of Willimantic had an opportunity to sell its building after the Valentine’s Day Fire destroyed the 1865 Union Block. The declining church voted not to sell and to remain a downtown church, which is where it still stands. In 2002, First Baptist voted not to close its doors and instead chose to celebrate its 175th anniversary.
The older rear section of the house at 539 Litchfield Turnpike, intersection with Carrington Road, in Bethany was built by James Seymour Tuttle, a blacksmith and axe-maker. Tuttle’s grandson, Samuel Gilbert Davidson, hired joiner Thomas H. Brooks to built the front section, erected in 1882-1883. There are also historic barns attached to the rear of the house and a carriage barn across the road. The farm run by Davidson, also called Minnow Brook Farm, is described by an admirer in Bethany and its Hills (1905):
And now, concluded Mr. Sperry, we come to a model farm, one of the model farms of Connecticut, that of our friend S. G. Davidson, who is one of Bethany’s most honored and esteemed men. It is indeed a model of what thrift, good taste, enterprise, foresight and sagacity well employed can accomplish. With Mr. Davidson in charge, even a wilderness could be made to blossom like the rose.
There Davidson’s son, Tyler D. Davidson (d. 1952), a farmer like his father and a teacher, also served as First Selectman, Justice of the Peace and was a member of the Connecticut state House of Representatives. In the 1930s the house became the “Old Elm Tea Room,” named for a large Elm in front of the house planted by S. G. Davidson. An upstairs room was also used for singing classes held by some of the women of the family.
Tyler Davidson’s daughters sold the house out of the family in 1957.
The Italianate house at 4 Main Street (pdf) in South Windham was built in 1871-1872 by Elisha H. Holmes (1799-1886) for his son, Elisha H. Holmes, Jr. (1844-1915), known as “Harlow.” He is described in Vol. I of the Commemorative Biographical Record of Tolland and Windham Counties (1903):
Elisha Harlow Holmes, secretary and treasurer of the Willimantic Machine Company, and a member of the firm known as the Radial Thread Buff Company, is one of the active business men of Willimantic. Windham county.
Elisha H. Holmes, his father, came to Windham in 1818, and followed his trade of cabinetmaker, also engaging in farming. Later he had a grist and plaster mill at South Windham. [. . .] His wife, Lydia, was a daughter of Amos Dennison Allen, a cabinet—maker of Windham, with whom Mr. Holmes learned his trade.
Elisha Harlow Holmes was born in South Windham, Conn., July 13, 1844. [. . .] In 1889 was formed the Willimantic Machine Company, of which he is secretary and treasurer and a member of the board of directors, and to this business he devotes the greater part of his time. The business is one of the very successful institutions of the “Thread Company,” being so great as to necessitate the employment of a number of skilled workmen, about fifty people in all, in the production of silk and thread machinery.
Mr. Holmes is also a member of the Radial Thread Buff Company, of South Windham. The buildings occupied are nearly all of brick, and are located adjacent to the tracks of the New London Northern railroad at South Windham. They are lighted by gas made on the premises, and the works are operated by a twenty-horse-power engine. The products are old-style and patent buffs for polishing silver, bronze and all metals requiring high polish, and the machinery used in their production is of original design. adapted especially for the work. This machinery is unique in its construction, and embodies ideas on which Mr. Binns was granted patents in 1884. The patent buff wheel, while superior to the old style and unlike any other, is made with less labor, at less expense, and its manner of construction is such that almost no waste of material results. The wheels made by this concern are now used by platers, cutlers and manufacturers generally on fine work, throughout the United States and Canada; each year shows an increase in the demand for them, and from a dozen to fifteen people are employed in their manufacture.
On May 7, 1866, Mr. Holmes was married, by Rev. Clayton Eddy, of St. Paul’s Church, Windham, to Miss Sarah Wheeler Johnson, a native of Windham, who was born May 24, 1844, [. . .] In 1871 Mr. Holmes erected a handsome home on Main street, in South Windham, where he has since resided. The beautiful trees on that street were set out by Mr. Holmes’ father.
Southbury‘s first Town Hall was built in 1873 in the South Britain section of town. In the preceding years South Britain had developed as an industrial center and come to rival Southbury’s town center in importance. Annual town meetings had alternated between the two until South Britain used its influence to have the Town Hall erected at 624 South Britain Road, just before a period of industrial decline set in. The building continued to serve as the center of town government until 1964. It is now operated as a museum by the Southbury Historical Society.
At 1248 Poquonock Avenue in Windsor is an impressive Italianate villa-style home erected c. 1860. It was built for Eliphalet Ladd, a merchant who owned a store in Poquonock Center. Eliphalet Ladd (1822-1885) was the father of Christine Ladd-Franklin (1847-1930), a noted scientist who made contributions in the fields of mathematics and psychology. Born in Windsor, she spent her first six years in New York before the family returned to Windsor in 1853. Following her mother’s death in 1860, her father remarried in 1862 and Christine was sent to live with her grandmother in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She later attended Vassar and Johns Hopkins.
In 1960, the Eliphalet Ladd House was one of a number of locations in Windsor and East Windsor used in the Hollywood film Parrish (1961), which is set on a Connecticut tobacco farm.