The Queen Anne/Colonial Revival building at 105-107 Water Street in Stonington was built in 1901 to house a drugstore and ice cream parlor on the first floor, while the business’ owner, Francis D. Burtch, lived in the apartment above. Various other businesses have been located in the building over the years. In 1954, poet James Merrill (1926-1995) and his partner David Jackson moved into the residence. Merrill‘s epic work, The Changing Light at Sandover, incorporated messages that he and Jackson transcribed from sessions using a ouija board in the house’s turret dining room. Merrill, who was Connecticut’s State Poet Laureate from 1985 to 1995, willed his home to the Stonington Village Improvement Association. The James Merrill House Committee runs a program that makes the Merrill apartment, maintained as it was during the poet’s lifetime, available to writers for rent-free stays of one or two semesters of an academic year.
The Farrington Building, located at 131-141 West Main Street in Waterbury, was constructed in c. 1925-1930 as an addition to the Westerly Apartments, a c. 1890 Queen Anne building. The Farrington Building is a two-story Georgian Revival retail and office structure. In 1935, the First Federal Savings & Loan Association, now known as Webster Bank, opened on the building‘s second floor. Its only employees were the company’s founder, Harold Webster Smith and a clerk. Smith started his new business during the Great Depression under the federal government’s National Housing Act, passed in 1934 to stimulate the economy and make housing construction and home mortgages more affordable. Webster Bank now has thousands of employees and numerous branches.
Mary Stillman Harkness her husband Edward Harkness were philanthropists who had a mansion in New York City and a summer estate in Waterford called Eolia. Mrs. Harkness, who was a fiend of Katharine Blunt, president of Connecticut College from 1929-1943 and 1945-1946, gave the college a residence hall: Mary Harkness House, completed in 1934. In 1938 she also provided funds to build a chapel and an endowment for its upkeep. Harkness Chapel, which has a granite facade, was designed by architect James Gamble Rogers in a style he called “colonial Georgian.” Rogers was the Harkness family’s favorite architect and Mrs. Harkness was intimately involved in the details of the chapel’s construction. The nondenominational Harkness Chapel was consecrated January 14, 1940.
There is some uncertainty about the date and exact address of the Walter Gwatkin House on Worthington Ridge in Berlin. The nomination form for the Worthington Ridge Historic District lists it as no. 1008 and gives the date as c. 1905. A walking tour booklet (doc) for the District gives the address as 1006 and the date as c. 1861, noting that the porch dates to the early 1900s. Walter Gwatkin (1856-1921) was a prosperous butcher, farmer and landowner. Catharine M. North, in her History of Berlin (1915), makes note of the house that existed before the current one:
In 1817 Horace Steele, Elishama Brandegee’s next door neighbor on the south, was engaged in the business of bookbinding. Afterwards he made bandboxes, which he carried to Hartford to sell to the milliners.
Mr. Steele’s children were Eliza (mother of the Rev. Andrew T. Pratt, missionary in Turkey), Caroline (Mrs. Joseph Booth), Mary, Jane, Lucy Ann (Mrs. Lorenzo Lamb), and William.
Their home, a large colonial house set well back from the street, was, in its day, socially a center of attraction, filled as it was with bright, merry young people. The old house was torn down by William Steele and the house which he built on its site is now owned by Walter Gwatkin.
Hugh Mead Alcorn (1872-1955) of Suffield, the son of Irish immigrants, was educated Connecticut Literary Institution (now Suffield Academy) and studied law with the Hartford firm of Case, Bryant and Case. He was elected to the state legislature in 1903 and served as state’s attorney for Hartford County from 1908-1942. He prosecuted the famous Amy Archer-Gilligan poison murders of 1913-16, which formed the basis for the famous play and movie Arsenic and Old Lace. Alcorn’s Colonial Revival house, at 300 South Main Street in Suffield, was built in 1902. The house was later enlarged by Alcorn’s son, Robert Hayden Alcorn (1909-1980), who was the author of such books as No Bugles for Spies: Tales of the OSS (1962) and The Biography of a Town: Suffield, Connecticut (1970). Hugh M. Alcorn had two other sons who became lawyers and politicians: Howard Wells Alcorn (1901-1992), who served as Chief Justice of the Connecticut Sppreme Court from 1970-1971, and Hugh Meade Alcorn, Jr. (1907-1992), known as Meade Alcorn, who was the Republican leader in the Connecticut General Assembly in the 1940s.
South Windsor’s Union District School was the most modern school building in Connecticut at the time of its construction in 1905. The new school brought together students from three others that once operated along Main Street. Located at 771 Main Street, the former school building, long believed to be haunted, was purchased from the town by the South Windsor Historical Society for $1 in 2002. The Society is currently renovating the long vacant building, which will become a museum of local history and a cultural arts center.
Located at 28 The Green in Watertown is a house originally designed by noted builder/architect David Hoadley, although it has been much altered over the years. It was built in 1805 for Alanson Warren, Senior, first president of Wheeler & Wilson, manufacturers of sewing machines. One of his sons, Truman A. Warren, built a house across the street in 1851. Another son, Alanson Warren, Jr., inherited his father’s house and made substantial alterations to it in the Italianate style: large wings were added and a veranda that spanned the front facade. In the 1930s, the house was altered again in the Federal Revival style by architect Cameron Clark (pdf). The Italianate wings were replaced with smaller ones and the interior was completely remodeled. Clark also added the central entry porch.