The traditional date for the house at 886 Main Street North in Southbury is 1715, although it was more likely to have been built around 1780. The earliest owners are not known, but it passed through several families in the nineteenth through early twentieth century. In 1938 it was bought by Daniel and Marguerite Croucher. By then the house’s condition had deteriorated. The Crouchers rehabilitated the house in the Colonial Revival style, removing Victorian-era additions, which included a front porch. Daniel Croucher was a New York City antiques dealer. He acquired the neighboring White Oak School House in 1940. From 1954 to 1964 the house was owned by Helena Penrose, another New York antiques dealer. Howard and Priscilla Richmond, also antiques dealers, acquired the house from Penrose’s estate in 1965. They used the former school house as their antiques shop. Before retiring to Southbury in 1957, where he started a second career in the antiques business, Howard K. Richmond had been a graphic designer and art director in New York. He created the original layout and logo for Life magazine in 1936. He also did advertising and publicity work for Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdale’s, Elizabeth Arden and Saks Fifth Avenue.
The house at 127 Mansion House Road in Southbury may have been built around 1790 by Simeon Mitchell (d. 1826), whose son would build the nearby Mitchell Mansion House in 1829. Simeon’s daughter Anna sold the house in 1837 and it was then owned by the Curtiss and Monson families. In the 1880s the house was owned by William C. Beecher, who altered it by removing its original central-chimney and replacing it with the present two chimneys. He also added the bay window on the south side. William C. Beecher is described in the History of New Haven County, Vol. II (1892), edited by J. L. Rockey:
William C. Beecher, born in Southbury May 28th, 1828, is a son of Nathaniel and Hannah (Peck) Beecher, and grandson of Nathaniel. [. . .] William C. married Mary E. Strong, of Woodbury, April 4th, 1855. They have six children [. . .] Mr. Beecher enlisted in 1862, in Company B, 13th Connecticut Regiment, as second lieutenant, helping to recruit this company, he being the only commissioned officer from Southbury. He served under General Butler, participating in the taking of New Orleans, and afterward under General Banks. He was discharged on account of ill health February 5th, 1863, and returned to Southbury. After regaining his health, he was engaged in superintending railroad construction, his first work being on the Hartford, Providence & Fishkill road. Twelve years later he assisted in the completion of the same line under the name of the New York & New England railroad. He also assisted in building the Connecticut Valley, Providence & Springfield and the D. L. & W. railroads.
Alfred and Mary Platt owned the house from 1900 to 1935. Alfred Platt was Woodbury’s first rural delivery mail carrier.
Although surrounded by modern development, the old farmhouse at 750 Main Street South in Southbury has survived and is now home to the Carpino Funeral Home. The house was built in 1799 by Amos Johnson (1753-1824), but the kitchen ell on the south side is likely several decades older. Amos Johnson was a soldier in the Revolutionary War and later a town selectman.
Local tradition holds that the house at 657 South Britain Road in Southbury was built c. 1770, but it is more likely that it was built c. 1835 by Benjamin P. Downs on the site of his family’s old homestead. In 1854 he sold the house to Sally Curtiss, widow of George Curtiss, so it is also known as Mrs. S. Curtiss House. It was extensively restored by Henry Bassett, who acquired the house in 1946.
The former Methodist Episcopal Church in South Britain, Southbury, has long been vacant and is in a dilapidated condition. Located at 698 South Britain Road, the simplicity of its design contrasts with the more elaborate Congregational Church directly across the street. The early history of the church is described in the History of Ancient Woodbury, Vol. I (1854) by William Cothren:
The first society of the Methodist Episcopal church, in the present town of Southbury, was organized at the south part of the town, on “George’s Hill,” about the year 1803, and consisted of about six members. They met at that time in a building formerly occupied as a school-house. But, in a few years, it was greatly enlarged, remodeled, and made more convenient and ample in its accommodations.
The society continued to increase in numbers until the church was filled to its utmost capacity. It soon became quite too small to accommodate the worshiping congregation.
In the year 1832, the society erected and dedicated a larger and more convenient house in South Britain. There they worshiped until the year 1851, when the edifice was enlarged and made a neat and elegant house of worship. The society now (1853) numbers about sixty-five communicants, and the church is well filled with a devout worshiping congregation.
The house at 974 Southford Road in Southbury was probably built around 1830-1840, but it was adapted to its current Greek Revival form by owner Harvey Bronson. The original front facade was on the south side, but Bronson made the street-facing gable end the new Greek Revival facade, c.1850. A number of Bronsons lived in the vicinity, as described in the History of New Haven County, Vol. II (1892), edited by J. L. Rockey:
Samuel Bronson, who married Elizabeth Tanner in 1735, was the father of the Bronsons of this locality, one of whom, Harvey, had a rope walk. Noah Bronson was a cooper and also a rope maker. His son, Aaron, was a cordwainer and button maker. His son, Harvey, manufactured clock cord extensively for the clock makers of Bristol and Waterbury, and was the last Bronson thus here engaged. Abel W. Bronson, the second son of Aaron, became a well known blacksmith and gimlet maker. A grandson of Aaron, C. W. Bradley, became a well known railroad man in New York.
At 662 South Britain Road in the village of South Britain in Southbury is a house built c. 1755-1760 by Moses Downs. Also known as the Perry House, it originally had a saltbox form, but was later enlarged to two full stories. It also has a Greek Revival doorway from the 1850s. A carriage house and a shed on the property are thought to date to c. 1780. When South Britain established its own Congregational church society, separate from Southbury, its first meeting was held at the Downs House on June 5, 1766. As related in South Britain Sketches and Records (1898) by W. C. Sharpe:
It was voted that the Society hire preaching for two months and meet at the dwelling house of Moses Downs for public worship. On the 15th of September it was voted to build a meeting house[.]
The house later became the Methodist parsonage. As related by Sharpe in the same book,
The following is from an old letter (not dated) from Titus Pierce, the venerable town clerk and local historian, to Henry M. Canfield, Esq.:
“Religious meetings were held at first in the chamber of what is now the Methodist parsonage. The chamber was undivided and loose boards were laid for a garret floor on which corn was laid. Here I will relate an anecdote as I heard it from my father. An aged negro by the name of Jethro was famous for opening his mouth to an enormous extent when singing. While touching on his highest strains an unruly boy in the garret had shelled a handful of corn which he threw directly into Jethro’s mouth, which caused great consternation in coughing, gagging, &c.
Deacon Eben Downs removed first from West Haven to Southbury, then to South Britain. He bought most of the land in the central part and built his house a little west of the widow George Curtiss’ dwelling house, which was pulled down a few years ago. His oldest son, Moses, built the house now occupied as the Methodist parsonage, also the old red house which stood opposite Downs’ store, and late in life he built the house now occupied as the Congregational parsonage, where he died.