The building at 360 Main Street in Middletown was built circa 1873-1876 to replace an earlier structure, a hotel called that Kilbourn House, that had burned down. The new building served as a hotel, known as the Farmer’s and Mechanic’s Hotel and later the Hotel Chaffee. In 1905 the building was sold to the Pythian Building Corporation. From then on, the first floor has contained retail businesses (Woolworth’s was here in the 1920s and 1930s). The second floor was converted for office use and the third floor became the meeting space of the Knights of Pythias, a fraternal organization. The Pythian Building‘s current facade, with marble and large windows on the first two floors and a Palladian window on the third story, dates to 1938.
Opened at 300 Main Street in Old Saybrook in 2009 is The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, named for the famous actress who lived in town. Before the building was restored to become a new cultural arts center, it had served from 1911 until 2004 as Old Saybrook’s Town Hall. Designed by New London architect James Sweeney, it was constructed in 1910-1911 to be the Old Saybrook Town Hall and Theater, with town offices in the raised basement and a theater above that was used both for performances and community gatherings. A driving force behind the building‘s construction was Joseph A. Cone, a printer, performer and musician, and the Old Saybrook Musical and Dramatic Club, which he had founded. Unfortunately, by the 1950s the old theater space had been subdivided for more town offices. Today it again serves its original purpose as a performance space.
One of Hartford’s movie palaces was the Colonial Theater at 488 Farmington Avenue. Built in 1926, the former theater has an elaborate Federal-style facade designed by architect James A. Tuck. Like other theaters of the period, the Colonial began as a venue for vaudeville before making the transition to motion pictures. In 1961 the theater was updated for Cinerama. After the theater finally closed in 1979, the building was used for retail shops until 2000, when the building was demolished except for the facade. It then took several years before a new building, housing the Churrascaria Braza restaurant, was built on the site utilizing the old facade. Intended to spark additional neighborhood development, the restaurant eventually closed in 2012.
The Telephone Building (now AT&T) at 348 Grand Street in Waterbury was built in 1930. Designed in the Georgian Revival style by Douglas Orr, the building’s cornice and entrance have Art-Deco foliated decoration.
The summer cottage at 25 Pettipaug Avenue in the Borough of Fenwick in Old Saybrook was built circa 1871 on land sold that year to Mrs. Cyrus Knight. Her husband, Rev. Cyrus Frederick Wright was rector of the Church of the Incarnation (later renamed St. James’ Episcopal Church) in Hartford from 1870 to 1877. He resigned after an incident in which church funds were stolen by the parish treasurer. Rev. Knight then served as rector of St. James Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, from 1877 to 1889, but continued to summer in Fenwick. When he became Bishop of Milwaukee in 1889, he and his wife could no longer make the long trip to Fenwick and therefore rented the cottage for the summer. Rev. Knight died in 1891 and his wife, Elizabeth P. Pickering Knight, in 1912. The cottage was then owned for a time by Heywood Whaples. It was purchased in 1952 by Ellsworth Grant (1917-2013) and his wife, Marion Hepburn Grant (1918-1986), the sister of Katharine Hepburn. The cottage has later rear additions. You can read more about the cottage in Marion Hepburn Grant’s The Fenwick Story (Connecticut Historical Society, 1974), pages 128-131.
In 1839, thirty citizens of the Town of Plymouth (which includes Terryville), organized the Terryville Lyceum Library, a private subscription library. Interest dwindled after the Civil War, but near the turn of the century a new group of townspeople established the Terryville Free Public Library, which received the donation of all of the Lyceum Library’s books and 52 books from Francis Atwater, author of the History of the Town of Plymouth (1895). Initially the library was housed in the Town Hall courtroom and then for a time in a room in the old Main Street School before a demand for classroom space forced a relocation back to the Town Hall. The library finally got its own building, at 238 Main Street in Terryville, in 1922. An addition to the library was constructed in 1975.
The house at 500 South Brooksvale Road in Cheshire combines elements of the Colonial Revival and Craftsman styles. Known as Brookside, it was built in 1898 as a summer cottage for Peter Palmer of Brooklyn.