On a corner of the Green in Branford is the old Academy building, constructed in 1820. This school was established by Rev. Timothy Phelps Gillett, who was pastor of Branford’s Congregational Church from 1808 to 1860. As related in Vol. II of the History of New Haven County (1892), edited by J.L. Rockey:
At Branford village a select school was taught by Reverend Timothy P. Gillett, some time after the war of 1812, which there, also, awakened a desire for schools of a higher grade, and which led to the establishment of an academy, in 1820. Benjamin R. Fowler, Calvin Frisbie, Philemon Tyler, John Beach and others, aided by Mr. Gillett, were active in this movement, and secured the town’s consent to erect the buildings on the south side of the green. A two-story frame house, with a belfry, was put up, which is still standing in that locality. For a number of years Branford Academy had a good reputation, and the stockholders were rewarded by having a school in their midst, which well served its purpose. The academy was continued with varying success until 1866, Miss Jane Hoadley being the last teacher. Others who are remembered as having taught there were: Reverend Gillett, Deacon Samuel Frisbie and Lynde Harrison. The latter was instrumental in securing a school library of several hundred volumes. The upper story of the academy building has long been used as a Masonic hall.
The usefulness of the academy was at an end after the consolidation of the public schools of the town.
The Academy building, which originally stood on the site of the present Town Hall, was moved to the rear of the Congregational Church in 1860. It was sold to the Masons in 1871, but was sometimes rented by the town for overflow school space thereafter. In 1971 the Academy was deeded to the town and in 1974 it was moved to its current site on the Branford Green, at the north-west corner of South Main Street.
According to the National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination for the South Britain Historic District, the house at 712 South Britain Road in South Britain in Southbury was built c. 1795 and was the home of Dr. Baldwin, South Britain’s first physician. A more recent brochure for the South Britain Historic District, however, lists the Wheeler House at 715 South Britain Road as the home of South Britain’s first physician, Dr. Wheeler. The NRHP Inventory Nomination’s description of No. 715 lists it as the S. Johnson & Miss N. Mitchell House and does not mention Dr. Wheeler. The Nomination further relates that, early in the nineteenth century, No. 712 served as “Miss Pierce’s Academy for Fashionable Young Ladies,” which later moved to Litchfield, although other sources state Sarah Pierce‘s Academy was founded in her Litchfield home in 1792.
The building at 42 Main Street in North Stonington was built just before 1809 by Daniel Packer and Jedidiah Randall. It served as a store and for a time as a jail. It was moved from another spot on the same lot in the late nineteenth century. The building was the T.S. & H.D. Wheeler Store (a general store) before it was converted into North Stonington‘s Town Hall in 1904. A neighboring garage was converted into a new Town Hall in 1978. Today the old Town Hall is used for the offices of the selectmen, resident state trooper, and other town officials.
The Cornell Doud, Jr. House, at 20 West Street in Cromwell, was built circa 1807 on the site of a 1692 house that had long been home to the Ranney family. Comfort Ranney sold the old homestead to Doud, who replaced it with a center-chimney Federal-style house. In 1815 Doud, in partnership with Eben Wilcox, erected at distillery on the property. The house passed from the Doud family in 1883 and was later owned by Edmund Butterworth and then by his son Burton Butterworth.
The house at 780 Harbor Road in the Southport section of Fairfield was built circa 1830 by Walter Perry (1770-1837) for his son Gurdon Perry (1807-1869). The Perry family were ship owners and merchants and Walter Perry owned Southport’s waterfront district. While typical of the large homes of wealthy merchants of the time, the house was built when Southport was just about to experience two decades of phenomenal growth as a shipping port. Merchants in Southport would soon be constructing even grander residences with greater architectural ambitions.
Located at 1 Dyer Cemetery Road, just off Route 44 in Canton, is the former Dyer’s Inn and Tavern, which was featured in a recent article in the Hartford Courant (“Cars, Cash And Prohibition: The Legends Of Dyer’s Inn And Tavern,” by Dan Haar, July 27, 2014). The main house was built in 1789 by Isaac Wilcox, who moved to Pompey, New York, in 1801. In 1810 Daniel Dyer purchased the house and gave it, the following year, to his son, Zenas Dyer (1788-1856), as a wedding present. Zenas Dyer, a farmer, married Sarah “Sally” Chedsey. He opened the house as a tavern in 1821 and it soon became a favorite of travelers on the old Albany Turnpike. A tavern sign, made for the inn by by William Rice in 1823, is now in the collection of the Connecticut Historical Society. Each year, the tavern alternated the hosting of the Canton Agricultural Fair with Abraham Hosford’s Inn. Zenas, who also had a cider mill where he distilled cider brandy, operated the tavern until 1851 and the property then remained in his family for many years. In the twentieth century, Zenas’s great-granddaughter, Margaret, had a business selling fudge and salted nuts. As related in Reminiscences By Sylvester Barbour, a Native of Canton, Conn. Fifty Years a Lawyer (1908):
Mr. Zenas Dyer, grandfather of Daniel T. Dyer, was another man who took part in Canton’s setting-off proceedings. In 1812 he built the house in which the grandson lives, situated on the north side of the old Albany turnpike, near Farmington river, on an elevation commanding a fine view of varying scenery. Mr. Dyer used the house for a time as a tavern, sharing with nearby Hosford’s tavern the entertainment of the extensive traveling public. I well remember him and his son Daniel, who many years owned and occupied that house; both highly respected men. Daniel T., the only child of Daniel, succeeded to the ownership of that house, and resides there. He is the owner of some 500 acres of land, and is an honored member of the democratic party, to which party, if I mistake not, Zenas and Daniel belonged. The present Mr. Dyer and his estimable wife, to whom I have already referred, are royal entertainers. Numerically, and in winsome manners,’their children would delight the heart of President Roosevelt, and they help to make up a very happy family. Mr. Dyer’s exhibition at the centennial of his grandfather’s old tin lantern, which was a guide to travelers seeking a good inn to tarry at, attracted much attention.
The house was added to in stages over the years and the property had many outbuildings, some of which still survive today. Now the property is divided into six apartments.
Daniel Eels (1757-1851), a cooper, built a house on Main Street in Cromwell around 1782. He moved to Whitestown, New York in 1795 and sold the property, which then had a number of owners until 1802, when it was purchased by William Smith, who then sold it to his brother Capt. John Smith. The house (373 Main Street) may actually have been built at that time, instead of the earlier date of 1782. In the late nineteenth century, this Colonial/Federal house was altered in the Queen Anne style.