Since 1929, the Portuguese Holy Ghost Society and Club of Stonington has used the house at 26 Main Street as its club building. Every year, the club celebrates the Azorean Holy Ghost Festival, a traditional feast that goes back to Queen Isabel of Portugal (1271-1336), also known as Elizabeth, who devoted herself to helping the poor and feeding the famine-stricken Portuguese people. She was canonized by Pope Urban VIII in 1625. The house was built in 1836 by Courtlandt Palmer (1800-1874), first president of the Stonington & Providence Railroad, and it remained in his family until 1913.
The house at 170 Water Street, on the west side of Wadawanuck Square in Stonington, was built in 1833 for Sarah Potter Denison Palmer (1785-1862), a decade after the death of her husband, Luke Palmer (1775-1822). Known as the Widow Luke Palmer House, it was described as follows in Grace Denison Wheeler’s The Homes of Our Ancestors in Stonington, Conn. (1903):
The Widow Luke Palmer’s house is one of the old landmarks although none of the older residents seem to know when this house was built; still it is known that Mr. Palmer married Sally P. Denison in 1804, and they lived there. She used to board the men connected with building the Stonington Railroad, Mr. Almy, Mr. Matthews and others, about 1835. The house has been so added to and improved that but little of the original can now be seen. It was owned by Mrs. William L. Palmer, and her heirs sold it to Mr. Henry Davis, whose heirs sold it to Miss Emma A. Smith, and in 1901, the Roman Catholic Society purchased it of her. At various times three clergymen have lived here: Rev. M. Willey, first Pastor of Calvary Church; Rev. R. S. Wilson, Pastor of the Baptist Church, and Rev. A. G. Palmer, who was so long the good minister of the Baptist Church.
Charles Phelps Williams (1804-1879) was a wealthy shipowner and businessman in Stonington. A ship master by 1825, he was soon involved in seal fishery and, when the sealing industry declined, he turned to whaling. According to Hurd’s History of New London County (1882), Charles P. Williams
was one of the largest individual ship-owners engaged in that important pursuit. With its decadence he withdrew from active commercial life, and was one of the first corporators under the State laws of the Ocean Bank of Stonington, of which he was elected president, and whose immediate and continued prosperity was largely due to his admirable management. In 1856 he went to Europe with his family, and resigned the presidency, but on his return he was elected first director, a position which he retained in the reorganization of the bank as the First National.
Mr. Williams took an active part in the building of the Providence and Stonington Railroad, and was for many years president of that corporation.
His keen business foresight had at an early period in the development of the West convinced him of its importance and future greatness, and he became largely interested there. The management of his accumulating property occupied the later years of his life, and he withdrew entirely from active business. I In 1878 the severe strain of a life of intense mental activity culminated in failing health, and on Oct. 28, 1879, he died of a rupture of a blood-vessel in the brain. [...]
One of the most marked features of his personal character was the thorough simplicity of his life. He never sought office of any kind. A man of distinguished and commanding presence, of most courteous and polished manners, he was averse to all ostentation and avoided public life. His integrity was spotless, and in the management of all the vast interests which he controlled, with the innumerable attendant possibilities of error, his reputation stood always above reproach. A man of generous impulse, his charities were as unostentatious as his life, and in his death the poor lost a true and a liberal friend, and the State an upright and valued citizen.
The United Church of Stonington was formed in 1950 as a union of the Second Congregational Church and First Baptist Church. The church building on Main Street in Stonington Borough was built in 1834 as the Second Congregational Church of Stonington. Richard Anson Wheeler, in his History of Stonington (1900), describes the formation of the church:
The First Congregational Society of Stonington, after several unsuccessful attempts to divide itself into two societies by metes and bounds, called a meeting to assemble on the 28th day of September, 1833, and after mature deliberation took a new departure and adopted a plan for organizing a new church and society in Stonington, viz.: “That whenever forty members of the First Society should withdraw and organize a new Congregational Society at the Borough and elect society officers, and shall give notice to the old society of their doings within thirty days from the day of the meeting, the new society shall then be regarded as organized and receive $1,825 of the old society’s fund.” The conditions were immediately complied with at the meeting. Forty-five members of the society withdrew, formed a new society, and took their money and invested it in a new meeting-house. As soon as the new society was formed, ninety-three members of the First Church seceded and organized the Second Church in connection with said society Nov. 11th, 1833.
The church’s clock, in a recently restored steeple, is owned and regulated by the Borough government.
Built around 1790, the Thomas Howe House, at the corner of Main and Church Streets in Stonington, remained in the Howe family until 1957. In 1887, when it was known as the “Aunt Mary Howe House,” it was rented for $100 a year by the Stonington Free Library Association. The house served as Stonington’s first library until 1899, when construction began on the current library building, located in in Wadawanuck Park.
The Arcade building, at 61-65 Water Street in Stonington, is a nineteenth-century Greek Revival commercial building, constructed in the wake of the fire of April 1837, which destroyed the commercial center of Stonington Borough. The building has contained numerous retail establishments over the years. In 1952, the building was given as a gift by Colonel Frederick Horner to the Stonington Historical Society. The Arcade was then converted into an office and apartments. A number of Stonington locations were used in the movie Mystic Pizza (1988), including the arcade, which was temporarily repainted from white to a buff color for the filming.
At 87 Main Street in Stonington Borough is an 1851 house built for Judge Benjamin Pomeroy. The house was constructed using granite left over from the construction of two local landmarks: the stone John F. Trumbull factory and the Stonington Breakwater. The house may have been a stop on the Underground Railroad.