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.
The house at 583 South Britain Road in Southbury was built c. 1810-1825 by Samuel Smith, a merchant. It is known as the C.B Smith House (in the NRHP nomination form for the South Britain Historic District) and the Smith-Pierce House (in a brochure for the South Britain Historic District).
At 545-547 South Britain Road in Southbury is a double house, unusual for a rural location, built in 1752. It has (probably later) Federal-style elements, including the entryway. The house was built by Zephania Clark and was home to M. M. Canfield and C. Muirhill. A later owner, Deacon Mitchell, left the house to his two sons. There was once a grist mill on the property, built c. 1796.
The brick Greek Revival house at 24 Hawkins Road in South Britain was built in 1835 for Judson Manville, a hat manufacturer. As mentioned in South Britain, Sketches and Records (1898), by W. C. Sharpe, in a section headed “The Hat Business,”
This was at one time quite a flourishing business here. One of the early shop owners was Judson Manville, whose shop was west of the church, on the east bank of the Pomperaug River, where a portion of the shop is yet standing. He employed about a dozen men, among whom was Thomas Solley, who afterwards had a hat shop at Kettletown, which was then a thriving community, most of the men being hatters by trade.
In the nomination for the South Britain Historic District, the house is listed as the Mrs. B. Chatfield House, built in 1850. The house’s wraparound porch is an early twentieth-century addition. The house was used for many years as the office for the nearby Hawkins Company factory.
Bradley, Hoyt & Co. constructed a textile mill in South Britain, on the east bank of the Pomperaug River (modern address: 24 Hawkins Road) in 1866. Two-story additions were later made to the original four-story mill. In 1901 the building was taken over by the Hawkins Manufacturing Company, makers of animal traps and other metal products. In 1895, the Hawkins Company, makers of tacks and buttons, had merged with the Blake and Lamb Company, animal trap manufacturers. The factory was powered by a nearby dam, part of which was knocked down in the Flood of 1955. The factory operated into the 1960s.
Having made the trek to the Congregational church in Southbury each Sunday for three decades, residents of the South Britain section of town petitioned the General Assembly to have four months of winter preaching near their own homes. The South Britain Ecclesiastical Society was formed in 1766 and built a meeting house on the Green in 1770. The current South Britain Congregational Church, located at 693 South Britain Road north of the first building, was built in 1825. The interior was renovated in 1869, when the pediments over the three front doors were also changed from semi-circular fanlights to one curvilinear and two triangular pediments (more in keeping with the Greek Revival style).
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.