In 1852 four Sisters of Mercy came to Hartford and opened a school in the basement of St. Patrick’s Church in Hartford. The Sisters of Mercy is a religious order founded in Ireland in 1831 by Catherine McAuley to teach and care for the sick and needy. In 1880, the Sisters purchased the Toohey Farm, formerly the Terry Farm, located between Steele Road, Albany Avenue and Asylum Avenue in West Hartford. The old farmhouse became a home for aged people and the produce of he farm supported the home and the nearby Mount Saint Joseph Convent. The house had earlier been the home of Rose Terry Cooke, a writer and poet known for her humorous fiction dealing primarily with New England village life. Additional facilities were built on the farm over the years, which would develop into the Mercy Community, which is devoted to the health and comfort of its members, focusing especially on the elderly poor. The Community offers adult day care, long-term care, rehab and assisted living.
The Mercy Community campus is dominated by a large building with two towers. Work on this four-story brick structure with brownstone trim, designed by John J. Dwyer in 1893, was begun in 1894-1895 (it opened in 1896). At that time, the central administration building was completed, as well as the chapel and the northern of two planned dormitory wings. A decade later (in 1905), the increasing demand for rooms in the facility prompted the construction of the south wing, which more than doubled the number of residents the Home could accommodate. Additional modern wings have been added to the structure over the years.
The Case Block, at 22-28 Spring Street in Bristol, was built as row house block of four apartments by the builder/architect Joel Case. It was constructed a year after Case’s Castle Largo, located on nearby Center Street, which is also built of brick. Case had laid out Spring Street and, after the Case Block, proceeded to build the other houses on the street. After many years of having its original Italianate style obscured by the loss of its exterior decorative elements (including its front entry porches) and many layers of paint, the Case Block was later restored to its original distinctive appearance.
Edinburgh Crescent, at 431-449 Washington Avenue in Bridgeport, is a row house block built in 1889. The Richardsonian Romanesque building was constructed by developers Edwin G. Sanford and Mrs. Lucien W. Shephers and was designed by architects Longstaff & Hurd, who also designed the building which is now the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport. In the 1990s, the dilapidated Edinburgh Crescent was converted to serve as low income housing.
Across from Old North Cemetery, on Main Street (formerly Windsor Avenue) in Hartford, are a pair of three-story brick buildings constructed in 1864-1865. Known as the Widows’ Homes, they were built for charitable purposes (housing Civil War widows) through a bequest by Lawson Ives, a manufacturer and member of the Pearl Street Congregational Church (since demolished). Plaques on the exterior of each of the two buildings memorialize Ives’ gift. According to the Annual Reports of the Board of Charities to the Governor for the Years Ending September 30, 1905 and 1906 (1907):
The Widows’ Homes at Nos. 210 and 216 Windsor avenue were established in 1867 by the will of Mr. Lawson C. Ives, an honored citizen of Hartford. The two Homes are under the management, respectively, of the pastors and prudential committees of the Farmington Avenue Congregational Church and of the Park Congregational Church, who were incorporated for that purpose by the General Assembly of 1867. Each Home contains twelve apartments of three rooms each, and all occupants who are able to do so, pay a monthly rental of $2 for front and $1.50 for back rooms. The inmates do their own work and enjoy a degree of homelike privacy not found in a large institution.
The Belden is a Colonial Revival/Neoclassical Revival apartment building at 1545-1555 Main Street in Hartford’s Clay/Arsenal neighborhood. designed by the firm of Bayley & Goodrich and built in 1898, it occupies a prominent position at the corner of Main and Belden Streets. A fire destroyed part of the north section of the building, but it was restored and partially rebuilt in 1983.
With a commanding location overlooking Washington Square at the intersection of Church, Main, Water and Washington Streets in Norwich is the Beriah S. Rathbun House and Apartments. It was built about 1869 at 6-8 Church Street by Beriah S. Rathbun, a carpenter who lived in the building and took in boarders. He came to Norwich in 1840 and built a house in the winter of 1841-1842 which he sold in 1868 when he constructed his house/apartment building. In Norwich he was one of thirty-seven people who organized the Central Baptist Church, constructing the stairs of the original church building..
Rathbun (see pdf) married Martha D. Coburn, his second of three wives, in 1846. She was a soprano in the choir of the Central Baptist Church. One Sunday in 1849, Ithamar Conkey, organist and choir master at the church, became very irritated that Mrs. Ratbun was the only member of his choir to show up for the morning service. After playing the prelude, he closed his organ and went home in disgust. Later he felt remorse for having walked out. Reflecting on one of the hymns to have been sung that morning to John Bowring’s text, “In the Cross of Christ I Glory,” Conkey decided to write a new tune for the text and named it Rathbun, in honor of the faithful soprano (see pdf).
To the left of the Rathbun Building is a house built around 1737 by Captain Joseph Kelley, one of Norwich‘s earliest shipmasters.