Built c. 1800, the house at 2 North Street, corner of Main Street, in Plymouth Center is thought to have once been the Red Tavern, an inn on the Hartford Turnpike. In the mid-nineteenth century it was the home of George Pierpont and later became the rectory of the neighboring Episcopal Church, which is now the Baptist Church. Owned by the Baptist Church, the building is now called Gaines House.
In the center of Eastford is a Greek Revival building called the Ivy Glenn Memorial. It was built as a Methodist Church in 1847, the same year Eastford separated from Ashford to become a new town. In 1916, Eastford Methodists joined with Congregationalists to form a Federated Church and the former Methodist Church was sold to the town for $200. The building’s basement was repaired to serve as a place for town meetings. Restoration work was completed in 1934 with funds from the Civil Works Administration. The upstairs hall was now used for town meetings and the library and town offices were located in the basement. A new Town Hall was erected in 1969 and after town offices moved to the new building, the library was able to expand in the basement of the former church. This required a new renovation which was funded by a bequest in honor of Ivy Glenn made by her husband, Wilmer Glenn, a New York stockbroker who spent summers in the Phoenixville section of Eastford. The enlarged library opened in 1972. Another renovation was made after a fire in May 1979 damaged the front of the building.
Eastford is one of those towns in the state where the center of population nearly coincides with the geographical center of the township. Miss Ellen Larned, in her valuable History of Windham County, tells us that “the first inhabitant was John Perry from Marlborough, Mass.; who bought 350 acres of land on both sides of Still River and settled upon it near the site of the present Eastford Village.” The grave of this rude forefather of the hamlet may be seen, if I am not mistaken, in the old grave-yard back of the Congregational Church. From the beginning the chief settlement has gathered around this original spot. The village is favorably located, with a healthful environment, a fine outlook, and excellent water power. There are six roads which unite at the village green in front of the Methodist Church; and now that the state road is constructed the facilities for travel are all that can be desired. A fresh hope for the place can be confidently indulged in. The old-time saying of one of its people is fast coming more true than ever before: “Eastford is the biggest place of its size on earth.”
The Captain William Clark House at 45 Old Boston Post Road in Old Saybrook is thought to have been built c. 1780/1790, with later alterations made in the Greek Revival style in the 1850s when it was acquired by Thomas C. Acton. The house would become known as Acton Place. T. C. Acton (1823-1898) was a politician and reformer in New York City and was the first person to be appointed president of the city’s Board of Police Commissioners. During the early stages of the New York City Draft Riots in 1863, after police superintendent John A. Kennedy had been incapacitated due to a beating by the angry mob, Acton took active charge of police forces in Manhattan. This tense experience placed a strain on his health and after the Riots Acton took a five year leave of absence from the NYPD. He later served as Assistant U. S. Treasurer, a position he eventually left to establish the Bank of New Amsterdam. In 1896 Acton moved to his summer home in Old Saybrook where he died on May 1, 1898. The house remained in the Acton family well into the twentieth century.
Oliver Filley, Jr. was a farmer and tinsmith who served as a militia captain during the War of 1812, although his Connecticut militia unit did not see any combat. Capt. Filley built the house at 130 Mountain Avenue in Bloomfield for his son Jay in 1834. The floorplan of the house consists of two intersecting wings, with the living quarters primarily in the west wing. The house, which has walls constructed of rubblestone and multi-colored traprock, was the third stone house to be built in Bloomfield, following a house built two years earlier by David Grant and the Francis Gillette House. The Filley House and farm were sold out of the family in 1849 and five years later was acquired by Samuel Bushnell Pinney. In 1913 the farm was acquired by the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette, a Catholic order which had a seminary in Hartford. They owned the property until 1987. It was acquired by the Town of Bloomfield in 1992. The Wintonbury Historical Society soon leased the house and began planning for its restoration. It will become a museum, cultural center, research library, and office for the Society.
The farmhouse at 215 Nod Road in Avon was built c. 1850 by Chester Randolph Woodford (1814-1921), a dairy and tobacco farmer who lived to the age of 107. As a young man he was a clock salesman who once employed the services of a future president, as described in his obituary in The Jewelers’ Circular (Vol. LXXXIII, No. 20, December 14, 1921):
For several years Mr. Woodford traveled through New York, New Jersey and Maryland as collector and salesman for a clock manufacturing company and became thoroughly experienced in this line. In 1838 he went to Illinois, where he became associated with his uncle, Joseph Bishop, in the clock business. While successfully engaged at this work, Mr. Woodford was accused in selling clocks in the State of Illinois without a license. The matter was brought to court and Mr. Woodford engaged Abraham Lincoln to defend him. It was maintained at the trial that the clocks were manufactured in the State and it was therefore unnecessary to secure a license, and on this defense the case was won by Woodford and his counsel. It was while traveling in this State that Mr. Woodford stopped at a tavern where several men were discussing a name for a new county. Mr. Woodford told them that they had better name it after him and they did. In 1841, he returned to his native town.
He was a member of the East Avon Congregational church, president of the Avon Creamery, and a member of the General Assembly from Avon in 1858, having been the oldest living former member. When Mr. Woodford was 105 years of age a loving cup was presented to him by the members of the General Assembly in behalf of the State. Mr. Woodford was a republican in politics and he cast his first vote for president for Martin Van Buren. He had served in his home town as selectman, tax collector, assessor and justice of the peace.
Woodford was the first farmer in Avon to grow tobacco. He started with broadleaf for cigar wrappers and, with his son Prescott, began to grow shade tobacco in 1905. Tobacco was grown by the family into the 1980s. The farm, now called the Pickin’ Patch, then switched to growing vegetables and berries, but the property still has a number of historic tobacco sheds.
The Greek Revival house at 83 Old Boston Post Road in Old Saybrook was built in 1847 by Rufus C. Shepard, a deacon of the Congregational Church who served as County Commissioner and Representative in the state legislature.
William Howe Thompson (1813-1901) acquired his father’s farm in the village of Melrose in East Windsor after his marriage to Huldah Chapin (1818-1897) in 1836. There he erected a Greek Revival farmhouse in 1850 (219 Melrose Road). Thompson had an office in the wing of his home from which he managed his various farms. He was also a civic leader, serving as selectman and tax assessor in East Windsor and as a representative in the state legislature in 1861-1862. Deacon Thompson was also one of the founders of the Broad Brook Congregational Church. Shortly before his death Thompson sold the farm to his neighbor, John Pease. In 1957 the farm passed from the Pease to the Smigiel family, which grew tobacco. Today the property survives as a particularly well-preserved example of a Connecticut River Valley farmstead, with associated nineteenth-century barn, tobacco shed and pumphouse.