On the other side of the street from the City Mission building (yesterday’s post) is the former Ados Israel synagogue at 215 Pearl Street in Hartford. Designed by Milton E. Haymon, the Georgian Revival structure was erected in 1924 for the First Unitarian Church. Hartford’s First Unitarian Society was formed in 1844 and had two previous churches/meetinghouses: the Unitarian Church of the Saviour (1846), which stood on Trumbull Street, and Unity Hall (1881) on Pratt Street. In 1962 the Unitarians sold the building on Pearl Street and in 1964 dedicated the new Unitarian Meeting House on Bloomfield Avenue.
Congregation Ados Israel, Hartford’s oldest Orthodox Jewish congregation, was first organized by Eastern European Jews in 1872. In 1898 the Congregation built a synagogue on Market Street. This architecturally impressive building was demolished in 1963 to make way for Constitution Plaza. Ados Israel then moved to the former Unitarian building on Pearl Street. Ados Israel was Hartford’s last synagogue when it closed in 1986. Neighboring TheaterWorks acquired the building in 2002.
Before the Blackstone Memorial Library in Branford was erected in 1893, a house on the site that belonged to Lester J. Nichols was torn down to make way for the new building. Nichols, who was a director of the Malleable Iron Fittings Company, then built his new Georgian Revival house, designed by William H. Allen, at 730 Main Street. Lester Nichols was born in Middlebury in 1849. He is described in the second volume of A Modern History of New Haven and Eastern New Haven County (1918):
Reared in New Haven, Lester J. Nichols was educated in the city schools until the age of seventeen years, when he went to Branford and secured employment with the Malleable Iron Fittings Company as shipping clerk. Later he became accountant and subsequently he represented the company on the road as traveling salesman, and in 1902 was chosen secretary, in which office he has since served. On joining the company in 1866 there were only sixty employes [sic], but at the present time there are over thirteen hundred. The business has steadily grown until it has now assumed extensive proportions and it ranks among the leading industrial concerns of New Haven county. Mr. Nichols is one of the five directors of the company and all of the men at its head are good reliable business men who command the confidence of those with whom they have dealings.
On the 8th of December, 1870, Mr. Nichols was married in Branford to Miss Alice E. Cook, a native of Branford [. . . .] Since starting out upon his business career he has been identified with but one concern and has labored untiringly for its interests with most excellent results. As the years have passed prosperity has come to him and he is now one of the substantial as well as one of the most highly esteemed citizens of Branford.
A less respectful lens on Nichols’ private life can be found in a piece entitled “Nichols ‘Niece’ Talk of Branford,” that appeared in the Bridgeport Herald of December 1, 1907.
An Ecclesiastical Society to serve the West Division of Hartford (now the Town of West Hartford) was first established c. 1712. A series of meetinghouses have stood in the vicinity of the intersection of Main Street and Farmington Avenue in West Hartford Center. The original meetinghouse, erected c. 1712, was replaced by a new one, erected between 1742 and 1744. The Society’s next three meetinghouses reflected changes in architectural taste during the nineteenth century and into the early twentieth century. In 1834 the Society voted to erect a new building that was designed in the fashionable Greek Revival style. In 1882, the congregation moved into their fourth building, called the Greystone Church, a granite edifice designed by George E. Potter in the popular Gothic Revival style. By the early twentieth century, the Colonial Revival was dominant and plans for a new building in that style were already underway when the Greystone Church was destroyed in a fire on January 3, 1942. The basement floors were completed by November 1943 and services were held there until the sanctuary of the new First Church of West Hartford was built in 1946, after delays caused by material shortages during World War II. The chapel was built in 1956.
The Middletown chapter of the Alpha Delta Phi literary society, based at Wesleyan University, was formed in 1856. The fraternity’s first chapter house was built in 1884. It was demolished twenty years later and replaced on the same lot (185 High Street) by the current building (completed in 1906) designed by Charles Alonzo Rich (who also designed two dozen buildings at Dartmouth College between 1893 and 1914). An addition was built onto the rear in 1925. Alpha Delta Phi has been coed since 1972 and is one of the coed chapters that withdrew from the fraternity to form the separate Alpha Delta Phi Society in 1992.
The large Colonial Revival house at 1420 Main Street in Glastonbury, which now contains medical offices, was built in 1911 for J. H. Hale (1853-1917). Known as the “Peach King,” John Howard Hale, with his brother George H. Hale, transformed the 200-year old Hale farm into a nationally-known peach-growing empire. He developed peach trees that could better withstand the northern climate. His accomplishments are described in Men of Mark in Connecticut (1906):
Mr. Hale is now sole owner and manager of the J. H. Hale’s Nursery and Fruit Farms at Glastonbury, president of the Hale Georgia Orchard Company, at Fort Valley, Georgia, and president and general manager of the Hale and Coleman Orchard Company at Seymour, Connecticut. He was the first American orchardist to sort, grade, and pack fruit, and label and guarantee it according to its grade. He was the first in America to use trolley transportation in the fruit business, and is one of the very few Americans who ship peaches to Europe. He is fittingly called the “Father of Peach Culture in New England.” Mr. Hale has also initiated many new ideas in fruit advertising. Another novel feature introduced by him is that of having an orchestra play in the packing rooms at the Georgia orchards. Aside from bettering and developing horticulture all over America, Mr. Hale has done a valuable service to his state in making many acres of so-called “abandoned” hill lands of Connecticut and New England to bloom with beautiful orchards.
[. . .]
Mr. Hale has written numerous articles on horticultural topics for the World’s Work, Country Life in America, and other periodicals. For twelve years he was associate editor of the Philadelphia Farm Journal, and for fifteen years he edited the agricultural column of the Hartford Courant. He has had important positions in the State Grange, and has sacrificed a great deal of time and money in strengthening that organization, being at the head of same from 1886 to 1890, and now chairman of the executive committee. He was also first president of the Glastonbury Business Men’s Association.
Hale also served as a state representative, during which time he played a role in forming the Storrs Agricultural College (now UCONN). You can read more about Hale in my post about the house of his grandfather, Ebenezer Hale.
The building which now serves the Town Hall of Bozrah was built in the mid-nineteenth century (between 1832 and 1865). Its original owner was Asa Fitch, who owned the local mill and was expanding the mill village of Fitchville at the time. The building was once used as a sericulture plant and then as a recreation center for mill workers. It was acquired by the town in 1949. In 2010-2012, the Town Hall underwent an extensive renovation, in which it was completely gutted and rebuilt on the inside and an addition placed on one corner.
The first meeting house of Norwalk’s First Congregational Church was erected in 1659 at the corner of East Avenue and Fort Point Street. The current building, at the corner of Park and Lewis Streets, faces Norwalk Green from the west. It was built c. 1924, replacing the 1848 church on the site that was destroyed by fire in 1917. The meeting house on the Green before that was burned by the British in 1779 during the Revolutionary War. In 2012 a hive of honey bees that had nested in church’s steeple were rescued.