At 156 South Main Street in Colchester is a Greek Revival house with Colonial Revival additions that include an elliptical attic light, long gabled wing on the right side and a one-story veranda. The house was built circa 1840 to 1850, being purchased in the latter year from David Carroll by Dr. Solomon Everest Swift (1819-1895), a dentist who practiced homeopathic medicine. After Dr. Swift‘s death, his widow Almira Lathrop Swift (1822-1904) (who had attended Bacon Academy) lived in the house until her own death. Their daughter, Caroline Swift Willard (1863-1950), probably made the Colonial Revival alterations/additions between 1896 and 1919, the year she eventually sold the house, having moved to Redlands, California. From the late 1990s until 2006, the house was used as a gift shop and is now lawyers’ offices.
The section of South Glastonbury just north of the Portland town line is a district called Taylortown because of the many members of the Taylor family who lived there. The 1869 atlas of Hartford County lists the house at 194 Main Street in Taylortown (built c. 1840) as the residence of O. Taylor. This was most likely Oswin Taylor (1809-1898), who once owned the Consolidated Feldspar Quarry on the west side of Main Street.
A mill was first constructed at the site of the future Hockanum Mill on the Hockanum River in Rockville in Vernon in 1814 by Bingham & Nash. The mill produced satinet, a finely woven fabric that resembles satin but is made from wool. New owners acquired the mill in 1821 and soon expanded it by constructing a mirror image of the earlier building. These became known as the Twin Mills. The Hockanum Company was formed in 1836. They built new and larger mill was built on the site in 1849. After it burned down in 1854, it was rebuilt the following year to the same design. A wood-frame Greek Revival structure on a brick basement, it is the only wood-framed mill building surviving in Rockville. In 1881, the Hockanum Company built a three and a half story brick Romanesque Revival building, adjacent to the original wooden structure.
After George Maxwell became president of the company in 1869, he converted the mill’s production over to a higer-quality worsted cloth for menswear. By the turn-of-the-century the company was booming under the presidency of George Sykes. It produced the cloth for the inaugural suit worn by President William H. McKinley in 1897. The Hockanum Mill consolidated with three other Rockville mills in 1906 forming the Hockanum Mills Company, which was sold to M.T. Stevens in 1934. The Rockville mills were shut down in 1951. The Hockanum Mill recently received funds from the state to assist in the cleanup and reuse of the building for commercial and light industrial purposes. The site is also planned to be the home of the proposed New England Motorcycle Museum.
Built around 1810, the house at 736 Main Street (at Cedar Street) in Branford was dated in a W.P.A. survey to c. 1834, perhaps because it has a later Greek Revival doorway. The house was likely constructed by Linus Robinson who soon sold it to John Hobart and Edmund Palmer. The house remained in the Palmer family through the nineteenth century and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as the Isaac Palmer House.
The Woodbridge Tavern, where George Washington was entertained on November 9, 1789, once stood at the west end of the triangular green located at the intersections of East Center Street, Middle Turnpike East, and Woodbridge Street in Manchester. At the time, this was the village of Manchester Green. The Tavern was owned by Deodat Woodbridge (1757-1836), who owned many acres of land in Manchester Green. By his will of 1820 he divided his property among his sons with the youngest, Deodatus Woodbridge (1800-1857), inheriting his father’s residence and 130 acres to the north, across the street from the tavern. The Woodbridge Farmstead then passed through generations of Deodatus’ direct descendants. Around 1830 to 1835, Deodatus built the surviving family house, which has an address of 495 Middle Turnpike East. For almost two centuries, the Woodbridge Farmstead was part of the Meadow Brook dairy farm, run by the Woodbridge family. Most of the farm acreage was sold off in 1951 for residential development, but the house and remaining property were left to the Manchester Historical Society by Thelma Carr Woodbridge (1911-2009), wife of Raymond Brewster Woodbridge (1912-1997), subject to her lifetime use. Two historic barns also survive on the property.
Wyllys Russell (1791-1877) and his wife Laura Baldwin Russell (married 1811) built the house at 162 West Main Street in the Canoe Brook section of Branford in 1820. A late example of a center-chimney house, the width of its overhang indicates that the original roof was later replaced. The house was erected on land that the couple had received from Laura Russell’s mother, Martha Harrison Baldwin, in 1816. Wyllys Russell had a fishing business at the nearby harbor. Jay Edward Russell, Wyllys’ nephew, later owned the Russell House. He had a coal and lumber business and served as town clerk (1861-1866) and Judge of Probate (1862-1869) in Branford. In the 1870s, he departed for California, where he died in 1909. According to the Obituary Record of Graduates of Yale University (1910):
In 1883 he patented the Hydraulic Giant, and since January 1, 1900, had been engaged at East Auburn, Cal., upon the project of providing from the American River a supply of mountain water and electricity for the cities of San Francisco, Berkeley, and Alameda. He was sole owner of the plant and machinery, with a thousand acres of land.
Frederick S. Jordon bought the Russell House in 1875, and his daughter, Caroline, occupied it until her death in 1989 at the age of 102. In 2003, the house was endangered by a plan to build condominium units on the site, but after a hearing before the Connecticut Historic Preservation Council in Hartford, the developer agreed to modify his plans to keep the Russell House standing in its original location. The house has since been renovated for office use. The property also has a historic barn, built around 1870. Read the rest of this entry »
The house at 1212 Saybrook Road in Haddam was built around 1840 by John Shailer (1791-1887) on land he had inherited from his father, Lt. Thomas Shailer (1742-1813). A deacon in the Baptist Church, John Shailer was a farmer and school teacher. In 1856 Shailer and his wife Elizabeth Ventres Shailer, with their married daughter Amelia and her husband John Clark, moved to Somonauk, Illinois. The house was sold to Ezekiel Shailer (1810-1867), a tobacco farmer who was also a merchant in New York City. After his death the house was next home to Sorilla, widow of Bazaleel Shailer, until 1903.