Oliver Filley, Jr. was a farmer and tinsmith who served as a militia captain during the War of 1812, although his Connecticut militia unit did not see any combat. Capt. Filley built the house at 130 Mountain Avenue in Bloomfield for his son Jay in 1834. The floorplan of the house consists of two intersecting wings, with the living quarters primarily in the west wing. The house, which has walls constructed of rubblestone and multi-colored traprock, was the third stone house to be built in Bloomfield, following a house built two years earlier by David Grant and the Francis Gillette House. The Filley House and farm were sold out of the family in 1849 and five years later was acquired by Samuel Bushnell Pinney. In 1913 the farm was acquired by the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette, a Catholic order which had a seminary in Hartford. They owned the property until 1987. It was acquired by the Town of Bloomfield in 1992. The Wintonbury Historical Society soon leased the house and began planning for its restoration. It will become a museum, cultural center, research library, and office for the Society.
In 1738 the Rev. Hezekiah Bissell became the first pastor of the parish of Wintonbury (now the First Congregational Church in Bloomfield), serving 45 years until his death in 1783. Rev. Bissell’s house, built in 1750, is located at 669 Bloomfield Avenue. His table stone is located in the Old Wintonbury Cemetery.
The house at 439 Simsbury Road in Bloomfield was built in 1750 by a member of the Cadwell family. The site was once headquarters of the Hartford to Wesfield stage line. In 1830, the house was purchased by James Prosser, who remodeled it to become the Prosser Inn. James’ son, Levi Prosser, later lived in Massachusetts. In 1900 he left one sixth of his estate ($16,255.85) to the Town of Bloomfield to establish what is now the Prosser Public Library.
At 477 Simsbury Road in Bloomfield is a house built in 1791 by Joseph Burr. Flax grown in Wintonbury (Bloomfield) was used to make linseed oil and Burr had a linseed oil mill on Loeffler Road, which was then called called Burr Road. Read the rest of this entry »
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.
St. Thomas Seminary and Archdiocesan Center is located 467 Bloomfield Avenue in Bloomfield, just across the town line from West Hartford. A Catholic seminary, it was founded in 1897 by Bishop Michael Tierney. The original Seminary was located at 352 Collins Street in Hartford. Increasing enrollment led to a need for a larger space. Bishop John J. Nilan had the cornerstone laid for the current building on Sunday, September 29 1928. Designed by Louis A. Walsh of Waterbury and built by William F. O’Neil, it was opened on September 29, 1930.
Built in 1954-1957, the Connecticut General Life Insurance Company’s headquarters in Bloomfield (now known as the Wilde Building, for company president Frazer B. Wilde), was a pioneering example of an International Style suburban corporate structure. Designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, it was conceived as a modern campus with sophisticated amenities in a bucolic area. The skills of interior designer Florence Knoll and sculptor Isamu Noguchi were also called upon in the building’s creation. In 1982, CG and INA Corporation joined to form CIGNA, which proposed to demolish and replace the building with a new development in 1999. Preservationists acted to oppose these plans and the building was placed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Eleven Most Endangered Historic Places list in 2001. CIGNA eventually decided to remain in the building and rehabilitate it. Read the rest of this entry »