According to a guide to the South Britain Historic District, produced by the Town of Southbury, the house at 32 East Flat Hill Road, called the Downs House, was acquired as a residence by the minister of the South Britain Congregational Church in 1791. Does this relate it to the Moses Downs House at 639 South Britain Road? Further, the guide indicates that it was used in the 1870s for a school for girls and the lower level was once a tavern. The National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination for the South Britain Historic District dates the house to 1750 (based on assessor’s records) and indicates it was once a toll house.
Southbury‘s first Town Hall was built in 1873 in the South Britain section of town. In the preceding years South Britain had developed as an industrial center and come to rival Southbury’s town center in importance. Annual town meetings had alternated between the two until South Britain used its influence to have the Town Hall erected at 624 South Britain Road, just before a period of industrial decline set in. The building continued to serve as the center of town government until 1964. It is now operated as a museum by the Southbury Historical Society.
The old South Britain Library, 576 South Britain Road, was the first library building erected in the Town of Southbury. It was built in 1904 by Axel Wilson for $746 on land donated by the Mitchell family. The library was operated by the private, non-profit South Britain Library Association. In 1969 a new town library building was erected on on Main Street, taking over from the old South Britain Library. The current Southbury Public Library is located at 100 Poverty Road in a building completed in 2006. Since 1983 the Southbury Historic Building Commission has maintained the old South Britain Library building. It now houses Southbury’s Library of Local History and Genealogy, managed by the Southbury Historical Society.
Located at 1531 Southford Road in the village of Southford in Southbury, the Hurd-Osborn-Oatman House was built in 1806 by George Thompson as a hotel. As explained by John L. Rockey in the second volume of his History of New Haven County, Connecticut (1892):
In the period of time when the turnpike was the great thoroughfare between New Haven and Litchfield, Southford being 20 miles from the former place and 25 miles from the latter, hotels were here kept and were well patronized. [. . . ] The hotel known as the Oatman House for 35 years, was built by George Thompson in 1806, and first kept by him and then by his brother-in-law, Benjamin S. Hurd, followed by John Peck. Enos Foot was the landlord in 1845.
George Thompson and Benjamin Smith Hurd married two sisters, Clarissa and Esther, daughters of Adin Wheeler, who helped to fund construction of the hotel. The hotel had many owners over the years. Benjamin Blagg Osborn, son of merchant and Revolutionary War patriot Shadrach Osborn, was tavern-keeper in the 1820s. Charles R. Oatman (1827-1904), under whose name the hotel was long known, acquired the property in 1870. Oatman married Orinda T. Hurd, daughter of Benjamin R. Hurd, in 1850. The Oatman family owned the hotel until 1899 and even under later owners it was still known for many years as the C. R. Oatman Hotel. It later became the Fennbrock Dairy.
The house at 584-586 South Britain Road in Southbury, called the H. Curtis House, is thought to be the oldest house in the South Britain Historic District. Possibly built as early as 1740, the house retains a gambrel roof, although much else has been changed over the years.
The house at 67 Mansion House Road in Southbury was built c. 1820 for Jonathan Stiles by his parents, Abel and Lucinda Stiles. They also built a house (1101 Main Street) for their other son Rufus. Jonathan left his house to his son Ransom, who left it to his daughter Anna and son Walter in 1912. Their sister, Bertha Stiles, married Charles W. Burpee (1859-1945), a newspaper editor and author who also served in the Connecticut National Guard. The Burpees resided at 19 Forest Street in Hartford, but in 1916 they acquired the Southbury house for use as a summer residence. Burpee was managing editor of the Hartford Courant from 1900 to 1904 and then head of the educational and editorial departments of the Phoenix Mutual Life Insurance Company of Hartford from 1904 to 1935, serving the last five of those years as editor of the Hartford Times. He was the author of several books, including The Military History of Waterbury (1891); the History of Hartford County (1928); A Century in Hartford, Being the History of the Hartford County Mutual Fire Insurance Company (1931); and The Story of Connecticut (1939). The house passed to Bertha and Charles‘s son Stiles Burpee.
Built around 1835, the Greek Revival house at 756 South Britain Road in South Britain, Southbury was the home of George Canfield (died 1870). The house was built on the site of Aaron Downs’ house. Canfield married Cornelia H. Beecher (1800-1876) in 1824. Canfield was a harness-maker and his harness and saddling shop was located south of his house.