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.
The building at 9 Colony Street in Meriden was built in the 1870s but has a later c. 1935 Art Deco front. Originally home to Wilcox Hardware, the building was later Styletex Women’s clothing store. Founded by Samuel Beloff in 1920, the company grew to have three stores before finally it closed in 1972.
The former building of the Home Bank and Trust Company, at 16 Colony Street in Meriden, was built in 1922. Originally chartered as the Home Bank of West Meriden in 1854, the bank was first located in the Collins Block, which was later destroyed by fire (the Hall & Lewis Building occupies the site now). In 1863, the bank moved to its own building, at the corner of Colony and Church Streets. Abiram Chamberlin, president of the bank, who served as Governor of Connecticut from 1903 to 1905, lived on the second floor of the brick building. The 1863 building was moved around the corner to make way for the 1922 building, designed by the firm of McKim, Mead and White. The bank became Shawmut Home Bank in 1987 and the following year was acquired by Connecticut National Bank. Today, the former bank building is home to a nightclub. Read the rest of this entry »
Meriden’s first Roman Catholic Mass was celebrated in 1843 or 1844 for the community’s growing Irish community. St. Rose of Lima became a parish in 1851. A new parish church, built on Center Street, was dedicated on July 31, 1859. The church‘s front facade once had a single steeple. It was later removed and replaced by the current facade, which has two matching towers. The church was formally consecrated in 1926. Since 1998, the parish has been staffed by by Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate Conception Province of St. Francis of Assisi.
At 41 West Main Street in Meriden is a building which is faced with limestone and has elaborate Classical detailing. It was built in 1923 for the Meriden Electric Light Company and today houses a law office and a bail bond company (the building is across the street from a courthouse).
On East Peak in the Hanging Hills in Meriden stands an Castle Craig, an observation tower in Hubbard Park. Dedicated on October 29, 1900, the tower was given to the people of Meriden by Walter Hubbard, president of the Bradley & Hubbard Manufacturing Company, who also donated the park that bears his name. Constructed of trap rock, Castle Craig is 32 feet high and its base is 58 feet in circumference. There are different theories as to the inspiration for Castle Craig. Hubbard may have been inspired by a Norman French tower, a Turkish Tower on the Danube, or an ancient fortification (or maybe the 1814 Craigellachie Bridge?) in Craigelachie, Scotland. Castle Craig was rededicated on April 22, 1986 after restoration work was completed. A 90 ft. flag pole was erected near the tower in 1987.