The building at 305 Main Street, at the corner of Peck Street, in Kensington, Berlin is currently home to the Berlin Historical Society. It was built in 1901-1902 as the permanent home of the Kensington Library Society. Founded in 1829, the Library Society had stored its books at various places around town before the building was constructed: first at the Kensington Congregational Church; from 1874 to 1877 at Hart’s Hall; next in a room in the Berlin Savings Bank; and in 1890 back at the church. In 1900, Susan A. Peck was a leader among those seeking to build a permanent home for the library. She convinced her cousin, Henry Hart Peck, to donate the funds for a new building, which was built on land donated by Miss Harriet Hotchkiss and Mrs. Fannie Hotchkiss Jones. The Library Society was incorporated in 1901 in order to receive the donation. The Peck Memorial Library building was dedicated on November 5, 1902. A modern addition to the library was built in 1963. In 1986 the Town of Berlin took over the library, thus making it a public institution. In 1989, the Berlin-Peck Memorial Library moved into a new building at 234 Kensington Road. The former building on Main Street then became the home of the Berlin Historical Society. The building was renamed the King-Peck Memorial in 1994 to honor Ron King, who was active in various civic groups in Berlin.
The New Hope Missionary Baptist Church at 1100 Park Avenue in Bridgeport was built in 1911 as B’nai Israel Synagogue. First organized in 1855 and incorporated in 1859 as an Orthodox synagogue by Jews from Germany, B’nai Israel is oldest Jewish congregation in Bridgeport and the third oldest in Connecticut. By the time the Park Avenue Temple was built in 1911, the congregation had moved from Orthodox to Reform Judaism. The building was designed by Leonard Asheim with a Craftsman-style interior featuring natural wood finishes. In 1958, the congregation moved to a new building, at 2710 Park Avenue.
The house at 500 South Brooksvale Road in Cheshire combines elements of the Colonial Revival and Craftsman styles. Known as Brookside, it was built in 1898 as a summer cottage for Peter Palmer of Brooklyn.
The house at 1015 Worthington Ridge in Berlin was built circa 1895. It was the home of Leland Gwatkin, whose father Walter Gwatkin resided in the house at 1006/1008 Worthington Ridge. Leland W Gwatkin (1882-1949) was secretary and manager of the White Adding Machine Company of New Haven.
Isidore Wise (1865-1956) was a leading merchant in Hartford and a prominent civic leader. The son of Leopold and Rosalie Wise, he was born in Hartford in 1865. At the age of eleven, he took his first job as a cash boy for $2.00 a week at Stern and Mandelbaum, a local dry goods store. At the age of twenty-one, with two partners, he opened a own store at the corner of Main and Kinsley Streets in Hartford, later buying out the Clark Company, located in the Cheney Building. Having run I. Wise & Company for several years, in 1897 he joined with Robert Smith and other partners to form Wise, Smith & Company, which opened on the opposite side of Main Street (You can read more about the growth of Wise, Smith in my book Vanished Downtown Hartford). Isidore Wise ran the store until 1948, resuming control in 1954, a month before it finally closed. Wise was a civic leader in Hartford, serving as a city councilman, alderman and police commissioner. He was also president of Congregation Beth Israel and the United Jewish Charities. In 1907, Isidore Wise and his first wife, Selma Stern Wise (1870-1931), moved into a Swiss Chalet/Craftsman-style residence at 810 Prospect Avenue in Hartford. Designed by Isaac A. Allen, Jr., the house has stylistic similarities to the nearby Charles E. Shepard House (1900), at 695 Prospect Avenue.
At 330 Main Street in the village of Hanover in the town of Sprague is a Craftsman-style American Foursquare house. It was constructed in 1913 by builder Peck McWilliams. The house was a wedding gift for William Park (1889-1971) from his father, mill-owner Angus Park, at the time of William’s marriage to Ruth Standish. The William Park House has stuccoed walls with Tudor-style decorative half-timbering and a porte-cochere on the north side.
Born in Galashiels, Scotland, Angus Park (1859-1929) emigrated with his family to Canada, where over twenty years he grew successful in the wool textile industry. As related in Men of Mark in Connecticut, Vol. V (1910):
He was employed there until 1894, when he came to East Lyme, Connecticut, and became secretary of the Niantic Manufacturing Company, being associated with an uncle, D. E. Campbell, and with a brother, William Park. He remained there until August, 1899, when he severed his connection with that concern and purchased the Allen Mill and properties at Hanover, Connecticut, which property is now known as the Airlie Mills. This mill had been closed for some time, and consequently was in poor condition. Mr. Park remodeled the mill and installed new and modern machinery at a great outlay of money. The mill is now one of the best in this region, and the product is a high grade of woolen and flannel suiting. In March, 1903, when the Assawauga Company, of Dayville, Connecticut, was organized Mr. Park became its manager, and one of its largest stockholders. In 1907, Mr. Park purchased the properties of the Crosby Manufacturing Company, at East Glastonbury, Connecticut, and organized the Angus Park Manufacturing Company, of which he is the treasurer and general manager.
In 1870, Father Patrick Duggett bought an old building (a former clock shop) on Farmington Avenue to serve Farmington Catholics. In 1885 Farmington became a mission of Plainville’s Catholic church and in 1918 St. Patrick’s Parish was established. A basement church on Main Street was dedicated on November 27, 1919. The completed fieldstone church was dedicated on June 11, 1922. The donated fieldstone came from stone walls on local farms. Located at 110 Main Street, the Church of Saint Patrick has a pew with a brass plaque reading “Misses Bouvier” – it was donated by the future Mrs. John F. Kennedy and her sister in the 1940s when they attended Miss Porter’s School.