The West Street School is a one-room schoolhouse at 1432 West Street in Southington. It was erected about 1760 and was in continuous operation, serving the northwest quarter of town, until 1946. It has been little changed over the years, retaining its eighteenth-century exterior features and a nineteenth-century interior, which includes a pot-bellied wood stove. The site also has the school’s associated outbuildings: a woodshed and a privy. In 1933, the West Street School Alumni Association was formed. In 1947, a year after the school closed permanently, this group, by then called the West Street School and Community Association, obtained a 99-year lease on the building from the town. The West Street School is currently maintained by the Southington Historical Society. The school originally sat closer to the roadbed, but West Street was widened and lowered in front of the school in 1977, so that the building is now at least twelve feet above the road.
Rev. John Wightman (1723-1781) was an itinerant Baptist minister, originally from Groton, who settled in Southington around 1770. According to Heman R. Timlow in Ecclesiastical and Other Sketches of Southington, Conn. (1875):
When Mr. Wightman came to Southington, Mr. Merriman [Southington’s first resident Baptist pastor] was already nearly eighty years of age, and to this veteran Christian the presence of such a sympathizing friend and ally must have teen the occasion of great joy. It is my own impression, but I cannot support it by documentary evidence, that Mr. Wightman had occasionally supplied preaching for the Baptist families in the vicinity of Bristol and Red Stone Hill, perhaps a few weeks at a time. When he came to settle permanently, he removed to the neighborhood of Mr. Merriman on what is now the west mountain road. His house was just north of the junction of the road leading from Wolf Hill.
A uniform tradition is that he was in poor health and could endure but little exposure. But the families of his charge were few in number, and there was but little pastoral work to do. During the last year or two of his life he was confined almost wholly to his house. He died of consumption, April 4, 1781. Before his death he had succeeded in having a burying ground laid out, not far from his house, on the Wolf Hill road, and he was the first to be placed therein. The inscription upon his tombstone is as follows:
“Here lies the remains of the Rev. John Wightman, who departed this life April ye 4th A.D. 1781, in the 55th year of his age.
The servant of the lord most high
Sent with the gospel from the Sky
In dreary shades of lonesome night
To spread the grace of heavenly light.”
All the information that 1 can get concerning Mr. Wightman represents him as a devout Christian man, and of amiable traits of character. Like all his family in the eastern part of the state he was on excellent terms with the “standing order.” There is no evidence of any jar between him and Mr. Chapman who was pastor and ex-pastor of the Congregational church, while he was here. And the families of Congregationalists and Baptists were on the best of terms. There is no evidence of the least alienation until after 1780. Backus says “Mr. Wightman was a shining example of uniform piety and benevolence, until death put an end to his useful life which he ended in the most joyful manner at Farmington” (Southington.)
Rev. Wightman’s house, at 1024 Mount Vernon Road in Southington, was built around 1770 (the date he purchased the land). Since the house has Federal-style features outside but not inside, it is possible the exterior details were added later.
Robert Sloper of Branford moved his family to a farm in Southington in 1730. His son, Ambrose Sloper (1734-1822), who lived to the age of 89, built a house there in 1760. Having outlived his son, also named Ambrose, who died in 1810, Sloper left the farm to his grandson, David Root Sloper (1801-1887), who was a farmer and cement manufacturer. In 1831 he married Cornelia Bristol, who died in 1837 at the age of 24. His second wife was Eliza Augusta Woodruff. The farm was next operated by David R. Sloper’s daughter, Cornelia Sloper Neal (1851-1948), and her husband Lloyd Neal (1852-1878), and after Mr. Neal’s early death by William Orr (1858-1906), who was married to Cornelia’s sister Julia (1855-1922). After 1905, members of the Pocock family used the farm, which was willed by Cornelia Sloper Neal to the Southington-Cheshire Community YMCA in 1949. The farm has since developed into the YMCA Camp Sloper Outdoor Center (1000 East Street in Southington).
YMCA sources state that the Sloper house was built by Ambrose Sloper in 1760. Heman R. Timlow states, in his Ecclesiastical and Other Sketches of Southington, Conn. (1875), that David R. Sloper “owns and occupies the old homestead of his father and grandfather, on East street. Several years since he built himself a new house, which occupies the same location as the old one.” The house’s Greek Revival style also indicates a later date of construction.
Built around 1787, the house at 1166 Andrews Street in Southington was originally the home of Roswell Moore II (1761-1847). Known as Squire Moore, he married Lovina Phillips (1769-1843) in 1787 and they had twelve children. Roswell Moore, Esq. was a manufacturer of water-cement for more than 30 years, and of linseed oil and was also a large landowner. He served as Justice of the Peace and was a member of the state legislature for fourteen years. An interesting item appears in Resolves and Private Laws of the State of Connecticut from the Year 1789 to the Year 1836, Vol. III (1836). It reads:
RESOLVE ANNEXING ROSWELL MOORE AND HIS FARM TO THE TOWN OF SOUTHINGTON PASSED, MAY 1797.
Upon the petition of Roswell Moore, shewing that the dividing line between the towns of Southington and Berlin passes through his house and farm.
Resolved by this Assembly, That the said farm described in said petition as lying in the town of Berlin, be, and the same is hereby annexed to the town of Southington,” and that the petitioner be considered hereafter an inhabitant of said town of Southington, and as such entitled to all the privileges of an inhabitant thereof and liable to pay taxes therein.
After Rosewell Moore’s death, his son, Eli Moore (1801-1870), a farmer and cement manufacturer, lived in the house. Eli Moore was also a captain in the Southington Light Infantry Company. An article by Eli Moore, entitled “The Black Birch vs. the Tulip Tree,” appeared in The Horticulturalist, and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste, Vol. III, in 1853. The house was later sold to Dwight Smith (1847-1926).
The house at 537 Shuttle Meadow Road in Southington is believed to have been built by Ichabod Bradley in 1813. Ichabod Bradley (1764-1832) was a successful farmer in the northeastern corner of Southington. He came to Southington with his father in 1779 and married Abigail, daughter of Roswell Moore, in 1788. He was the father of Amon Bradley, an industrialist who became one of Southington‘s most prominent citizens.
The house at 137-139 Woodruff Street in Southington was built c. 1790 (it was once thought to have been built in 1735). It was the home of Jotham Woodruff (1771-1859) and his son Lewis (born 1803). Jotham Woodruff married Esther Lewis in 1793. The house has a later Greek Revival doorway and gable ends.
The house at 1010 Shuttle Meadow Road in Southington was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989. Since the original owners are unknown, it is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as “House at 1010 Shuttle Meadow Road.” The house has windows closely flanking the front door. If these were put in when the house was first constructed in 1772, then they are an unusual feature for the time.