The house at 38 Prospect Place in Bristol was erected around 1890 for Carlyle Barnes, son of Bristol industrialist Wallace Barnes. In 1857 Wallace Barnes started a company that manufactured springs and hoops for skirts. After his father’s death in 1893, Carlyle Fuller Barnes (1852-1926) and his four brothers saved the company during rough financial times by switching to the manufacture of wheels and other parts for bicycles. The company would eventually develop into the Barnes Group, a leading industrial and aerospace manufacturer. In 1942 the house was converted to become Grace Baptist Church. After the church moved into a new building in 1957, the house again became a private residence.
The old South Britain Library, 576 South Britain Road, was the first library building erected in the Town of Southbury. It was built in 1904 by Axel Wilson for $746 on land donated by the Mitchell family. The library was operated by the private, non-profit South Britain Library Association. In 1969 a new town library building was erected on on Main Street, taking over from the old South Britain Library. The current Southbury Public Library is located at 100 Poverty Road in a building completed in 2006. Since 1983 the Southbury Historic Building Commission has maintained the old South Britain Library building. It now houses Southbury’s Library of Local History and Genealogy, managed by the Southbury Historical Society.
The Queen Anne/Shingle style house at 220 Summer Street in Bristol was built in 1890 (as displayed on the side chimney). It was the home of Epaphroditus Peck (1860-1938), a lawyer who served as an associate Judge of the Court of Common Pleas for Hartford County, 1897-1912, an instructor at Yale Law School, 1903-1913, and a Representative in the state legislature, 1925-1935. He was a founder of the Bristol Public Library in 1891 and wrote A History of Bristol, published in 1932.
Yesterday’s building was Renbrook, the home of Pratt & Whitney Aircraft co-founder Frederick Rentschler. Another of the company’s founders was George Jackson Mead (1891-1949), who designed the Wasp aircraft engine. In 1929 George J. Mead built a mansion in the foothills of Talcott Mountain in Bloomfield named Balbrae, Scottish for “house on a hill.” Aviation pioneers Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindbergh and Igor Sikorsky were frequent guests at Balbrae. In the early 1980s the 100-acre former estate was transformed into a 154-unit condominium community by architect William Mead, George J. Mead’s son. The main house, called The Mansion, is now divided into four units.
Rev. Francis Goodwin (1839-1923) was one Hartford’s wealthiest and most important citizens. As Commissioner of Parks in the city he played the leading role in expanding Hartford’s Park system. For his father, James J. Goodwin, he designed c. 1893 a mansion on Woodland Street in Hartford. Familiarly known as the “Goodwin Castle,” the house was later torn down. Rev. Goodwin also designed c. 1880 a summer cottage for his family in the Borough of Fenwick in Old Saybrook. Rev. Goodwin led Sunday services in Fenwick in his own home until he designed and built a chapel on his property in 1883 that would be moved and enlarged in 1886 to become St. Mary’s-by-the-Sea. In 1910, Francis’ son Charles A. Bulkeley lost a bid for the governorship of Connecticut. The Goodwin family blamed the defeat on their Fenwick neighbor Morgan G. Bulkeley, who had used his influence against Goodwin. Because Bulkeley was a founder and leader of the Fenwick community, for the next thirty-five years the Goodwins rented out their cottage and vacationed elsewhere. Only after World War II did Charles Goodwin return to Fenwick. Located at 15 Pettipaug Avenue the Goodwin Cottage remained in the family until 1955, when it was purchased by Dr. Theodore Van Itallie and his wife Barbara Cox Van Itallie, who died at her Fenwick home in 2011 at the age of 91. You can read more about the cottage in Marion Hepburn Grant’s The Fenwick Story (Connecticut Historical Society, 1974), pages 115-120.
Now home to Teamsters Local #191, the house at 1139 Fairfield Avenue in Bridgeport was built in 1892 for Thomas Cooke Wordin. The house, originally known as “The Pines,” was designed by the Bridgeport-based architect Joseph W. Northrop, who also designed such buildings as the Taylor Memorial Library in Milford (1895) and the Colin M. Ingersoll House in New Haven (1896). The Wordin House was illustrated in The American Architect and Building News, Vol. XLI, no. 921 (August 19, 1893)
Mark Twain had a complex and ultimately troubled relationship with Isabel Lyon (1863-1958), who served as his secretary in his later years. It eventually resulted in her dismissal in April 1909 and Twain’s writing of the infamous Ashcroft-Lyon Manuscript, a 429-page diatribe that attacked Lyon and her husband, Ralph Ashcroft, who with Lyon had for a time controlled all of the author’s business matters. Many years before Lyon would live near Mark Twain in Redding, Connecticut, she had resided with her mother, Georgiana Van Kleek Lyon (1838-1926), in Farmington. In the early 1890s, the widowed Georgiana lived with her children, Isabel, Louise and Charles, at Oldagate, an historic house at 148 Main Street in Farmington. Louise married Jesse Moore, a bond salesman with Richter & Co. in Hartford, who joined the Lyon household. The family engaged Henry H. Mason to build two houses across the street from Oldgate, which they moved into in 1893. The Moores and their new baby occupied 141 Main Street. Isabel built a house for herself and her mother, Georgiana, next door at 143 Main Street. Charles H. Lyon, Jr., Isabel’s brother, died in 1893, probably a suicide.