The building at 21-23 Colony Street in Meriden was erected in 1877 as a Y.M.C.A. The rear of the structure has a mansard roof and the front facade once had one as well, but the building was altered c. 1920 after the Y.M.C.A. moved to a new building on West Main Street. At that time the building was converted to commercial use with a new facade in the Neoclassical style.
The handsome and commodious new building is now ready for occupancy, and it has been built almost solely through the untiring energy and exertions of the president of the association, Mr. W. E. Benham. He has never faltered since he took the matter in hand, but has kept on through difficulties and discouragements which few other men would have surmounted. The association now has one of the handsomest buildings of the kind in the state. Its large and pleasant reading rooms, its gymnasium, and the pleasant parlors will furnish places of resort which cannot fail of doing much good, and Mr. Benham can certainly reflect with great satisfaction upon the good work he has accomplished.
According to The Life and Writings of W. E. Benham (1882):
Its whole internal arrangements are found to have been wisely planned for the accomplishment of its benevolent purposes. It is said to be the most elegant and best built building in Meriden, is admired by all, subscribers and citizens generally, as the right building in the right place, an attractive, convenient center, in which the public, especially young men, in large numbers, delight to resort and pleasantly improve their leisure hours in intellectual, physical, social, moral and religious culture, where, away from the evil, all the surrounding influences are good and elevating. It is estimated’that between 1,000 and 2,000 persons average daily to enter this building, for the various purposes of water, baths, hair-dressing, food, clothing, reading, singing, gymnastics, writing, arithmetic, lectures, concerts, mission schools, lyceums, religious and other meetings. In short, it is an inestimably important building for the moral welfare of Meriden, and could not be spared without an irreparable loss.
Built in 1922 on the site where a train station had once stood for 28 years in Meriden, the Colony Building (39-49 Colony Street) is a Neoclassical Revival-style structure. The original occupants of the building included Emerson & Whitney Shoe Co. and Jepson’s Book Store. The latter store later moved to 31 Colony Street. It had been founded in 1910 by Louise J. Jepson and was later run by George S. Jepson and Mildred Jepson.
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.