John F. Butler (1840-1905), who was born in County Kilkenny, Ireland, founded the long-lived Butler Paint Company in Meriden in 1876. The store opened on June 25, 1876, the same day Custer made his last stand at the Little Big Horn. In 1892 Butler organized a joint stock company, taking a number of his employees into the new corporation. The store was originally located in the Horace C. Wilcox Block on Colony Street. As related in An Historic Record and Pictorial Description of the Town of Meriden, Connecticut and Men who Have Made It: A Century of Meriden “The Silver City.” (1906):
With a progressive spirit always characteristic of him, Mr. Butler in connection with the Meriden Furniture Co., in 1894, built the handsome block on Colony street which the John F. Butler Company now occupy.
Located at 51-53 Colony Street, the building housed the Meriden Furniture Company on one side and Butler Paint on the other. The Meriden Furniture Company went out of business in 1965, replaced for a time by the Music Box. Butler Paint went out of the family in 2001 and finally closed in 2011.
In 1895 St. Rose Catholic parish in Meriden purchased a chapel on West Main Street from the Trinity Methodist Church to serve its expanding membership in the city’s west side. Originally dedicated to the Sacred Heart, the chapel soon became St. Joseph’s Church when a new parish was created in 1900. The site for a new church, at the corner of West Main Street and Goodwill Avenue, was purchased the following year and the cornerstone was laid on October 12, 1902. A basement chapel opened in 1903 and the completed St. Joseph Church was dedicated in early 1908.
As related in a section entitled “Modern Buildings of Conspicuous Design” in the 1921 book Modern Connecticut Homes and Homecrafts:
It is generally accepted that good building construction prevails in Connecticut, so it must naturally follow then that to win distinction in this field is evidence of exceptional merit, as in the instance of Mr. Lewis A. Miller of Meriden, who during a business career of about a quarter century has built, as general contractor, many structures of various kinds throughout the state that are notable for the excellence of their craftsmanship.
Much of Mr. Miller’s work has been in the line of commercial, industrial and others of the larger type of construction, yet one of the finest residences in the central part of Connecticut is of his making. This house, the home of Mr. A. L. Pelton in Winthrop Terrace, Meriden, is conspicuous for the excellence of its workmanship and materials. Designed in an adaptation of the Spanish style, the walls of the house are of white stucco on interlocking hollow tile, and the roof is of red Spanish tile which makes it particularly effective in its color combinations.
While the house’s color scheme has changed (the roof is no longer red tile), this impressive home, built c. 1918, still stands at 126 Winthrop Terrace in Meriden. The name of A. L. Pelton appears in numerous advertisements from c. 1908-1922 that appeared in such magazines as Popular Science, The World’s Work, Popular Mechanics, The Magazine of Business and The Cosmopolitan. Head of the Pelton Publishing Company, he promised to make men rich by selling them the book The Power of Will, by Frank Channing Haddock, a self-help author. Pelton also published other books such as Creed of the Conquering Chief (1915).
Though it has a front facade dating to c. 1870 and it was later much altered on the first floor, the building at 29 West Main Street in Meriden is thought to have been built in 1854. Known as the Lewis Block, should not be confused with the larger Hall and Lewis Block at the corner of Colony and West Main Streets.
The building listed in the nomination to the National Register of Historic Places for the Colony Street/West Main Street Historic District as the Cahill Beef Block (55 Colony Street [historically 57 Colony Street] in Meriden) is a Georgian/Neoclassical Revival structure built in 1902-1903. It was also a branch of the Swift Beef Co., as described in Meat-packer Legislation: Hearings Before the Committee on Agriculture, House of Representatives, Sixty-Sixth Congress, Second Session, on Meat-packer Legislation, Tuesday, March 18, 1920:
C. W. Cahill, Meriden, Conn.: Local slaughterer became Swift agent, organized Cahill Beef Co. 1909. Sold out his interest to Swift 1915 because he had to handle Swift goods exclusively. Corporation dissolved 1916. Now Swift branch house.
A more detailed account of Cornelius W. Cahill’s career can be found in An Historic Record and Pictorial Description of the Town of Meriden, Connecticut and the Men Who Have Made It, AKA A Century of Meriden (1906):
He was born in Ireland, Februarv 12. 1844, and his parents located in Middletown when he was three years old. . . .
In 1865 he came to Meriden and became a clerk in the provision store of Samuel C. Paddock where by courteous attention to patrons he made himself not only valuable to his employer but popular with a large number of customers. When he was offered a more lucrative position in the same line of business he made up his mind that he could be as much value in his own store as in that of others and encouraged by his customers, of whom he had made personal friends, established the City Market. After carrying on the business for some time alone he took in a partner, John W. Coe, and continued the business for three years. John W. Coe sold his interest to Patrick Cahill and M. O’Brien. It then became known as Cahill & O’Brien Later with Bartholomew & Coe he went into the pork packing business, but within a year returned to the retail business at the City Market. Some time afterward he retired from the retail business, selling his interest in the City Market to B. B. Lane, and became again the partner of Bartholomew & Coe, who in the meantime had become the Meriden agents for Swift’s beef. At the end of a year Messrs. Coe and Bartholomew retired, selling their interest to Mr. Cahill,; who for the past twenty-five years has continued the wholesale commission business in handling the Swift beef, which at the close of the first century of Meriden’s history has increased to almost mammoth proportions.
In 1903 Swift & Co. erected their present handsome brick building on North Colony street which is equipped with every modern facility for receiving, keeping and handling the large amount of beef shipped daily from Chicago and supplied by Mr. Cahill to the meat markets in the vicinity of Meriden.
The former Swift/Cahill building is now known as The Studios at 55 and features band rehearsal rooms, a recording studio, and a performance hall.
At 53-55 West Main Street in Meriden is a five-story brick building constructed in 1893 (also variously dated 1889, 1890 and 1896). It was built by August Yost (1844-1915), who came to america when he was 11 years old. Yost worked for 17 years in the woolen mills of Rockville. He then became a baker in New Britain, forming the company of Lang & Yost with William Lang. In 1872, Yost moved to Meiden, where he formed a new partnership with William Albrecht. Yost soon took on the entire business and opened a store on West Main Street in 1875. He retired in 1895, two years after building the Yost Block. His son took over the business and August Yost turned to politics, serving on the Board of Assessors from 1899 until his death in 1915, the last four years as chairman.