The first Baptist church in Connecticut was established in Groton in 1705. Families west of the Thames River, who did not want to have to travel across the river every Sunday, established their own Baptist church, only the second in Connecticut, in 1710 in what would later be the Town of Waterford. Meeting in private homes and, for a time, sharing a meeting house with the Waterford Seventh Day Baptists, they eventually built a church on Mullen Hill Road around 1796. It was here that the first meeting of the Town of Waterford was held in 1801. The town continued to meet at the church for a century until a town hall was built. The current Greek Revival meeting house of the First Baptist Church of Waterford was constructed in 1848 at 105 Rope Ferry Road. Construction of the church stimulated the development of its immediate vicinity as a residential community, an area known as Jordan Village.
The carpet industry in Enfield was started in the late 1820s by Orrin Thompson, for whom Thompsonville (pdf) is named. His company eventually became the Hartford Carpet Company, which merged with the Bigelow Carpet Company of Clinton, Massachusetts to form the Bigelow-Hartford Carpet Company in 1914. At 12 Pleasant Street in Thompsonville is the former Carpet Company Superintendent’s House, a Greek Revival structure built around 1840-1850.
At 48 North Street in Watertown is a Greek Revival house built by Eli Curtiss (1804-1878) in 1837. Next to the house is a carriage house, built at the same time. Curtiss was a manufacturer of Panama hats. As related in Vol. III of the History of Waterbury and the Naugatuck Valley, Connecticut (1918):
Colonel Eli Curtiss spent the greater part of his life in Watertown, where he first took up his abode in 1820. He was born in the town of Huntington, Connecticut, June 16, 1804, and his mother was Elizabeth Wooster, a descendant of Ephraim Wooster, a brother of General David Wooster. In his native town Eli Curtiss spent the period of his boyhood and early youth, removing to Watertown in 1820. when a lad of sixteen years. Here he found employment in the store of Benjamin de Forest, with whom he remained as a clerk until 1826, when he purchased the interest of his employer and continued the business on his own account until 1850. He built up a business of quite extensive proportions and employed several clerks. He was engaged in the manufacture of what was called the plant hat. He procured the material for the hat, cut it into strips and braided it for headgear, employing in this work women from Bethlehem, Morris, Woodbury, Middlebury, Plymouth and surrounding towns. They profited much by such employment, receiving their pay in goods from Mr. Curtiss’ store. In this way he became the most extensive and successful merchant in all that section, people coming from as far as Waterbury to trade with him. In 1850 Colonel Curtiss entered the New York store of the Scovill Manufacturing Company, where he spent eighteen years. He then returned to Watertown in 1868 and retired from active business, spending his remaining days in the enjoyment of well earned rest from further business cares.
While no longer active in trade connections’. Colonel Curtiss was a prominent figure in public affairs of the community. He served as postmaster of Watertown for several years and was a member of the state legislature in 1861. In 1877 he was chosen to represent his district in the state senate and both in the house and in the senate he carefully considered the questions which came up for settlement and gave earnest support to those which he believed of vital moment and consequence to the commonwealth. He was also a fellow of Yale College and assisted in electing Professor Porter as head of the institution. Colonel Curtiss had an interesting military experience. He was a member of the state militia and served as colonel of the Twelfth Connecticut Regiment, thus having thorough training in military procedure of that period. His entire life was actuated by high ideals and his course was ever in harmony with his professions as a member of the Congregational church of Watertown, of which he was a faithful member and liberal supporter. He contributed to many other worthy causes and took a deep interest in all those activities which have to do with the common good. He was a man of enterprise, of progressive ideas, of marked business ability and of sterling personal worth, devoted to his family, to his home city and to his country.
After his 1832 marriage to Alma Southmayd DeForest (1813-1861), who was from a wealthy Watertown family, Curtiss moved to a new house at 90 DeForest Street, built circa 1840. After the death of his first wife, he married Mary Frances Davis of Boston in 1868.
Henry B. Norton was one of the most prominent businessmen in Norwich in the nineteenth century. Born in Branford, he arrived in Norwich as a penniless young man in 1824, eventually forming a merchant partnership with Joseph Backus in 1827. Norton rose to leadership of the Norton Brothers Grocery store, the Norwich Bleaching, Dyeing and Printing Company, the Norwich & New York Transportation Company (he owned shares in steam ships) and the Attawaugan Mill, which manufactured cotton cloth. He was also a founding trustee of the Norwich Free Academy and the Norwich Y.M.C.A. His Greek Revival house, at 188 Washington Street, was built in 1840. After his death his death in 1891, his two unmarried daughters continued to live in the house into the twentieth century. In recent years, the house has been restored.
At 22 Lyme Street in Old Lyme is a former church building that is now a private home, with the old choir loft converted into children’s bedrooms and a half bathroom where the confessional had once stood. The church was built in 1843 for Old Lyme’s Baptist community, which had previously gathered intermittently at various locations, often private homes. The Baptist Society disbanded in 1923 due to declining membership. Episcopalians purchased the building three years later. In 1934, the church was leased by the Roman Catholic Diocese, which dedicated it as Christ the King Church in 1937. The Parish now has a new church building, completed in 2005, at 1 McCurdy Road in Old Lyme.
The building at 42 Bank Street in New London was built in 1833 in the hope that it might be used as a federal customs house. In the end the building, which resembles a Federal and Greek Revival-style row house, became home to the Whaling Bank. The bank, the third oldest in New London, was founded in 1833 by a group of whaling merchants that included Joseph Lawrence. It became the National Whaling Bank in 1864 and remained in existence until 1943.