The summer “cottage” at 28 Fenwick Avenue in the Borough of Fenwick in Old Saybrook was built in 1887 for Mary Brace Collins, who lived at a now demolished house at 1010 Asylum Avenue in Hartford. Her father was Thomas K. Brace, first president of the Aetna Fire Insurance Company, and her husband was Atwood Collins, who became president of the Security Trust Company in 1896. The company later merged with the the Hartford-Aetna National Bank in 1927 to form the Hartford National Bank and Trust Company. You can read more about the cottage in Marion Hepburn Grant’s The Fenwick Story (Connecticut Historical Society, 1974), pages 84-87.
The Borough of Fenwick (pdf) in Old Saybrook has long had its own nondenominational house of worship, St. Mary’s-by-the-Sea. Religious services for the Fenwick summer community were initially led by Rev. Francis Goodwin in his own home. A leader of both Hartford and Fenwick society and an amateur architect, Rev. Francis Goodwin (1839-1923) championed the development of more parks in Hartford as the city’s first commissioner of parks. In 1883, Rev. Goodwin designed and built a small chapel on his property for Sunday worship. By 1886, the chapel was too small to accommodate the number of worshipers, so it was moved to its current location (30 Agawam Avenue) and enlarged with additional pews and a bell tower. St. Mary’s-by-the-Sea is a Shingle style structure, as are so many of the Fenwick summer cottages. You can read more about St. Mary’s-by-the-Sea in Marion Hepburn Grant’s The Fenwick Story (Connecticut Historical Society, 1974), pages 37-49.
Continuing our look at the cottages of the Borough of Fenwick in Old Saybrook, we come to a house that has been much expanded over time. Leverett Brainard (1828-1902) purchased one of the original Fenwick lots in 1871, but he and his wife, Mary Jerusha Bulkeley (sister of Morgan G. Bulkeley) did not immediately undertake the building of a summer cottage. In 1877, Brainard acquired a Fenwick cottage that had been built circa 1871 by J.A. Eldridge of Springfield and had it moved to his own lot and remodeled to suit his needs. Over the years, as the family expanded, they added new rooms to the cottage, which came to bear little resemblance to its original appearance. Leverett Brainard, who lived on Washington Street in Hartford, was born in Colchester and attended Bacon Academy. He moved to Hartford in 1853 to work for the City Fire Insurance Company. He eventually became the president of The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, which was one of the largest publishing companies in New England. As his obituary in the New England Stationer and Printer (Vol. XVI. No. 5, August 1902) stated, Brainard was “one of Hartford’s most prominent citizens, and closely identified with the commercial progress of Hartford, Conn., for nearly half a century.” The house passed to the Brainard’s son, Newton C. Brainard, who left it to his nephew, his sister Edith’s son, Frank Kelso Davis. You can read more about the cottage in Marion Hepburn Grant’s The Fenwick Story (Connecticut Historical Society, 1974), pages 91-99. Read the rest of this entry »
Edith Brainard Davis spent 95 summers in the Borough of Fenwick (pdf) in Old Saybrook. She was the daughter of Leverett Brainard, president of the Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company of Hartford, and Mary Bulkeley Brainard, who was the sister of Morgan G. Bulkeley. In 1907, Edith Hollister Brainard married John Henry Kelso Davis, who worked at Case, Lockwood & Brainard. The couple continued to summer at the Leverett Brainard Cottage in Fenwick until they hired the builder George Sheffield of Old Saybrook to erect their own cottage at 6 Pettipaug Avenue in 1913. Two picture windows on the ground floor facing Long Island Sound were added to the Davis Cottage in 1930 by her sons as a gift to Mrs. Davis. The cottage is now owned by E. C. Gengras, Jr. of the Gengras Auto Group. You can read more about the cottage in Marion Hepburn Grant’s The Fenwick Story (Connecticut Historical Society, 1974), pages 159-162.
Perhaps the most impressive of the Shingle-style summer houses in the Borough of Fenwick (pdf) in Old Saybrook is the one built in 1900 for Morgan Gardner Bulkeley. A legendary politician, Morgan G. Bulkeley was a four-term mayor of Hartford, 54th Governor of Connecticut (1889-1893), U.S. Senator, first president of Baseball’s National League and the third president of the Aetna Life Insurance Company for 43 years. Bulkeley lived on Washington Street in Hartford and was one of the leaders of the summer community of Fenwick, In 1899 he commissioned the Hartford architect, W.E. Becker to design his summer cottage at 5 Pettipaug Avenue in Fenwick. You can read more about the cottage in Marion Hepburn Grant’s The Fenwick Story (Connecticut Historical Society, 1974), pages 99-108. Read the rest of this entry »
We continue our look at the Borough of Fenwick (pdf) by considering one of its many Shingle-style summer “cottages.” The cottage at 8 Agawam Avenue was constructed in 1890 by local builder George Sheffield for James B. Moore. Like his father, George W. Moore, James B. Moore acquired his wealth by brokering mortgages in the southern and western states after the Civil War. For the past five years, he and his family had spent their summers staying at Fenwick Hall, but in 1890 he was furious to find the hotel fully booked for the entire summer. He proceed to build his own Fenwick cottage in just six weeks. Designing it himself without an architect, he had no halls built on the second floor and hardly any closets in the entire house! The cottage was finally sold out of the family by James Moore, Jr. in 1946. You can read more about the cottage in Marion Hepburn Grant’s The Fenwick Story (Connecticut Historical Society, 1974), pages 166-169.
The first Methodist sermon in Watertown was preached in 1794 and the town’s first Methodist Class was formed in 1800. As described in the History of Ancient Westbury and Present Watertown from its Settlement to 1907 (1907):
On February 21, 1853, a meeting was held in the office of Dr. Catlin to discuss the feasibility of establishing Methodist worship at Watertown Centre, and it was voted desirable to have preaching here the following conference year. Much difficulty was experienced in securing a suitable place for these meetings, and the committee accepted the invitation of General Merritt Heminway to use the ball-room in his hotel during the summer. Rev. Larmon Abbot preached the first sermon here May 29, 1853. There being no facilities for heating the ball-room, during the winter the Congregational chapel was rented for the use of the Society. In October, 1854, the basement of the new Church was ready for use, and the edifice was dedicated December 13, 1854.
. . . In 1897, the membership of the Church having greatly increased, it became necessary to build a larger edifice. $9,500 was subscribed, largely through the influence and generosity of Augustus N. Woolson. He also purchased the old Church for $1,000 and removed it. A call for more money for carpets, organ, etc., was met by the same generous giver. And not only in his Church was Mr. Woolson’s influence felt. He represented the town in Legislature, and was sent by the unanimous vote of his townsmen as delegate to the Constitutional Convention. Many homes in the town were made happier by his benevolence. It has been said that for a quarter of a century before his death there was no movement looking toward the improvement of Watertown in which he had not a prominent, if not a leading part. He was an honest and successful business man, a model citizen, a philanthropist and a sincere Christian.
Completed in 1898, the church (305 Main Street) was designed by George W. Kramer, whose book The What, How and Why of Church Building was published in 1897. Kramer also designed the Methodist Church in Derby, the Asbury United Methodist Church in Bristol (1900) and St. Paul’s Methodist Church in Hartford (1900).