The building at 130 Main Street in Wethersfield was built as a Methodist church and is today a synagogue. The first Methodist sermon in Wethersfield was preached in 1790 by Jesse Lee in the North Brick School House, now the site of Standish Park. Wethersfield was visited by itinerant Methodist preachers until a circuit preacher for Wethersfield, Newington, New Britain, and Kensington was appointed in 1821. Early services were held at Academy Hall until the Methodist Episcopal Church was built at 130 Main Street in 1824. The church was moved 26 feet onto a new stone foundation in 1882. A fire in 1941 destroyed the church’s original Sunday school addition of 1913 and damaged the sanctuary. The church was repaired and a new Sunday school addition, twice as large, was constructed. The church soon outgrew its 1824 building and in 1959 moved to a new church at 150 Prospect Street.
The Jewish Community Group of Wethersfield was formed in 1954. The group purchased the former Methodist Church on Main Street in 1960 and adopted the name Temple Beth Torah. The building was converted to become a synagogue and the new Temple’s Day of Dedication was celebrated on May 28, 1961. Work began in 1964 to give the Temple a new facade. The former church’s steeple was removed and a new entrance in the colonial revival style was added.
At 455 West Avenue in Norwalk, at the corner of Butler Street, is a former church that was later converted into a retail store. It was built as the First Church of Christ, Scientist. The first services were held in the building on October 28, 1935 and the church’s dedication services were held on December 29, 1935.
The house at 1 Elizabeth Street in Hartford’s West End was built in 1928 for Curtis H. Veeder and his family. Born in Alleghany, Pennsylvania, in 1862, Veeder was an engineer who got his first patent at age eighteen. He founded the Veeder Manufacturing Company in Hartford in 1895. The company’s first product was one of Veeder’s inventions, a bicycle cyclometer. Promoted with the slogan “It’s Nice to Know How Far You Go,” the devices measured the distance a bike has traveled by counting the number of rotations made by the wheels. The company later merged with the Root Company of Bristol, Connecticut, to form Veeder-Root, which continues to produce counting and computing devices today. Veeder died in 1943 and in 1950 his widow, Louise Stutz Veeder, sold the house to the Connecticut Historical Society. Founded in 1825, the society had been based for almost a century in the Wadsworth Atheneum. CHS constructed two large additions to the Veeder House, originally designed by William F. Brooks, to house its collections and museum exhibition space.
The house at 608 Harbor Road in Southport was built in the early nineteenth century (perhaps c. 1834) for Capt. Jeremiah Sturges, a shipbuilder. As related in the Commemorative Biographical Record of Fairfield County, Connecticut (1899), Sturges
also carried on a drug store and a coal yard. He owned some oceangoing ships, having nine vessels in the Mediterranean trade, besides several in the coastwise trade and in the West Indies trade. He was one of the most public spirited men of his times, and a great benefactor to humanity. He was largely instrumental in securing the building of the breakwater, himself being the contractor. Jeremiah Sturges married Maria Shelton. daughter of Philo Shelton, of Bridgeport, and by her had children as follows: Henry, and Henryetta, who married Henry Perry, a brother of Francis and Charles Perry. Jeremiah Sturges was prominent in political affairs, and he was president of the bank for many years. He taught navigation to all the sea captains of the State, keeping what was substantially a school of navigation. He died in the year 1845, his wife in 1861.
Jeremiah Sturges was also in charge of the Mill River Fencibles, a militia unit of the War of 1812. His son, Henry Sturges, succeeded to his father’s business. As further related in the Commemorative Biographical Record of Fairfield County, Connecticut (1899):
Though he followed shipbuilding only for a time, yet he retained his interest in the marine business for some years, retiring altogether early in life. Some time previous to the breaking out of the Civil war he purchased a farm in Plymouth, Litchfield county, on which he lived for some ten or twelve years, and then he purchased a plantation in southwest Georgia, which he kept seven years. This he exchanged for various properties, inclnding a farm on the Raritan river, and engaged in dairying on a large scale. After six or seven years thus spent. he retired from farming and dairying and returned to Southport, where he lived the remainder of his days. Though he was a graduate of Trinity College and a licensed lawyer, yet he never practiced law. Politically, he was a Republican, and had much to do in the way of administrator of estates, holding also several minor offices.
Mr. Sturges married Henryetta Baldwin, daughter of Abram Dudley Baldwin, of Greenfield Hill. He and his wife had six children, viz.: Jeremiah; Henry, living in Montreal, Canada; Henryetta Maria, married to Dr. William L. Wells; Dr. Abram Baldwin Sturges, of Southport; Anna B., married to John A. Gorham, of Southport: and William Shelton Sturges. Henry Sturges died in 1885
The first Congregational meeting house in what is now Bridgeport (then called Statfield) was built by 1695 at what is today Park Avenue and Worth Street. It was replaced by a new meeting house c. 1717, located on the northwest corner of Park and North Avenues. The third meeting house, located on Broad Street, was dedicated in 1807. The powerful influence of the Second Great Awakening led to a division of the congregation in 1830, with a new Second Congregational Church being built at Broad and Gilbert Streets. The old church was called North Church and the new church was called South Church. A new North Church was built (on the same site as its predecessor) in the Gothic Revival style in 1850. A new brick South Church was also constructed (on the same site as its predecessor) and was dedicated in January, 1862. In 1916 the North and South Churches merged and planned to erect a new united church on the site of the old North Church, which was demolished. Construction was delayed by the First World War and then, when the former site of North Church was deemed to be too small, a new lot was purchased on the corner of Park Avenue and State Street in 1924. The new United Congregational Church was completed and dedicated in 1926. A Georgian Revival edifice, it was designed by Allen & Collens of New York.
The Wickham Memorial Library, at 656 Burnside Avenue in East Hartford, was built in 1939-1940. It was the gift of Clarence H. Wickham (1860-1945), a wealthy industrialist, in honor of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Horace J. Wickham. An innovator in the envelope industry, Wickham also left his estate in Manchester, “The Pines,” to become what is now Wickham Park. As noted in The Hartford Courant (“New Library Starts Soon In Burnside,” June 23, 1939), Wickham sought to perform the dual service of leaving a suitable memorial to his parents and contribute to the happiness and welfare of the Wickhams’ neighbors in the Burnside section of East Hartford. The Colonial Revival library, designed by Smith & Bassette of Hartford, had its dedication ceremony on February 9, 1940.
Hilltop Farm, located between Mapleton Avenue and the Connecticut River, just south of the Massachusetts border in Suffield, was developed in the early twentieth century as a country estate and gentleman’s farm by George Hendee, the co-founder of the Indian Motocycle Corporation of Springfield, Mass. Hendee devoted the farm to raising prize dairy cows and poultry. He developed a prize herd of Guernsey cows known as Hilltop Butterfats. In 1913, Hendee began assembling the property for his farm, which by the 1920s had grown to nearly 500 acres. His large manor house, built in 1916, was torn down in 1961 to make way for the sprawling campus of St. Alphonsus College, later occupied by the Lincoln Culinary Institute. The largest and most impressive surviving building from the estate is a massive Dairy Barn (18,700 square feet), constructed by Hendee in 1914. The architect of the manor house, Max Westhoff, may also have designed the barn, which has been called a “Monster Barn” and “Connecticut’s Agricultural Cathedral.” A two-story, Colonial Revival-style building, it is a ground-level stanchion barn with a high drive entrance. Two cylindrical silos flank the entrance on either side.
Later owners subdivided the farm. The parcel containing the barn was part of the former farm that was acquired by Pinnacle Developers in 1999. After local protest about the developers’ plans to build an assisted living facility on the land, Pinnacle sold 127 acres, including the barn, to the Town of Suffield. In 2004, the town sold 7.9 acres, including the barn and other farm buildings, to Educational Properties LLC, which owned the neighboring culinary school (aka the Suffield Conference Center). Educational Properties provided a renewable 99-year lease on the barn to the Friends of Hilltop Farm, which eventually purchased the building in 2013. The organization is restoring the barn and leases 65 acres of adjacent open space owned by the Town of Suffield. The property is now dedicated to agricultural and educational purposes.