The town of Coventry was once home to a number of water-powered mills. One in South Coventry, known as the Kenyon Mill, was built next to a mill pond in 1863, replacing an earlier mill (built in 1836) that had suffered a major fire. The mill was acquired by C. H. Kenyon from S. R. Moredock, manufacturer of satinet, in 1864. Kenyon had begun making woolen pants (Kentucky jeans) in Coventry in the 1840s and by 1870 his mill had developed into a major enterprise with over seventy employees. He later made ladies dress flannels. After Kenyon, a series of textile manufacturers occupied the mill, ending with National Silk, manufacturers of Tioga yarn, which occupied the building from 1934 until 1972. In more recent years the town was seeking proposals for the adaptive reuse of the mill. In 2007 it was acquired by the Corporation for Independent Living, which has converted it into condominium units known as Kenyon Falls.
The house at 1079 Main Street in Coventry is an example of a late eighteenth-century (certainly built by 1800) central-chimney residence that was later expanded and used as mill housing. In the late 1850s it was owned by the N. Kingsbury Company, manufacturers of satinet and by the late 1860s it was owned by the Mill Brook Woolen Company.
The house at 54 High Street in Coventry was built in 1775 by Dr. Samuel Rose (1748-1780). An army surgeon in the Revolutionary War, Dr. Rose married Nathan Hale‘s sister Elizabeth in 1773. In the the nineteenth century the house was used as a tavern. It remained in the Rose family until the death of Royal Rose at age 95 in 1951.
Built in 1772, the house at 113 Lake Street in Coventry, across from the entrance to the Nathan Hale Cemetery, is known as the Noah Parker House. In the early nineteenth century, the house served as an inn operated by Martin Lyman (1782-1859), who was also postmaster in 1822. Lyman purchased the house from Jeremiah Fitch in 1819 and he sold it to John Boynton in 1825. By the late 1850s, the house was owned by Ralph Crittenden and William Tibbals, makers of percussion caps and metallic cartridges. During the Civil War they were the leading manufacturers of cartridges in the United States. The house was also the post office for South Coventry in the 1920s.
At 77 Ripley Hill Road on Coventry is a house that was once home to Captain Jeremiah Ripley, who ran a store and was Connecticut’s Assistant Commissary during the Revolutionary War. The earliest part of the house was built 1762 by Nathaniel Rust Jr., and Capt. Ripley stored gunpowder in the cellar in 1777. As related in the 1912 Historic Sketch of Coventry, complied by Ruth Amelia Higgins:
The assistant commissary for the State was Jeremiah Ripley, who lived on Ripley Hill in Coventry. In May, 1777, Capt. Huntington, of Norwich, was ordered to deliver 100 barrels of Continental powder to Cap. J. Ripley, of Coventry, to be carefully kept until further orders. February 26, 1778, the same Jeremiah Ripley was directed by the General Assembly to send under a guard so soon as might be, two tons of fine powder in his hands to Ezekiel Chevers, commissary of artillery at Springfield.
Across Ripley Hill Road from the house is where 116 men of the Coventry militia assembled to march to Massachusetts in response to the Lexington Alarm of 1775. Ripley later constructed what is now the main block of the house, completed in 1792. In the early twentieth century, the house was owned by George Dudley Seymour, who restored the Nathan Hale Homestead. Seymour remodeled the interior of the Ripley House, repaneling one of the rooms with boards from one of the Nathan Hale schoolhouses.
The oldest sections of the house at 1365 Main Street in Coventry date to 1750, but the Federal-style main section, which includes a rooftop monitor, was built c. 1800. Now used as offices and remodeled for that purpose, the house is named for a prominent early-nineteenth-century resident. In 1815, John Boynton (1783-1863) started a mill that manufactured wool carding machines of his own patent. Boynton was also a deacon of the Congregational Church.
A section of the former W. L. Wellwood General Store at 1140 Main Street in Coventry dates to 1787, making it one of the oldest general store buildings in the nation. In 1820, the large Greek Revival portion was added to the original store and living quarters, which also attach to a later Italianate residence to the northeast. Another addition, containing the west wing grain room and butcher shop, was added in 1883. The Loomis family owned the store from about 1810 until 1881. After 1905 it was owned and operated by the Wellwood family. In 1974 the building went from housing a general store to becoming an antiques shop. It has more recently been the “Coventry Country Store” (as in the image above) and is currently “Coventry Arts & Antiques.”