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.
The house at 108 Cornwall Avenue in Cheshire was built in the 1880s by James Gardner Clark. It was sold to James M. Speake in 1905 and then to Susan Hotchkiss in 1909. The house was used to board students of Cheshire Academy in the 1940s and 1950s.
The two identical houses at 22-24 and 26-28 Addison Road in Glastonbury were built c. 1920 as mill worker tenements by the Glastenbury Knitting Company. The company, which manufactured underwear, used an older spelling of the town’s name. These tenement houses were built in the then-popular Dutch Colonial style, featuring gambrel roofs. The mill eventually sold off the houses in the 1930s.
The Post Office at 150 Main Street in Thomaston (pdf) was built in 1937 and was dedicated in 1938. The building features a WPA/New Deal-era mural, “Early Clock Making,” painted in 1939 by Lucerne and Suzanne McCullough, twin sisters from New Orleans.
The actress Katharine Hepburn (1907–2003) had long-standing connections with the Borough of Fenwick in Old Saybrook. Her parents, Dr. Thomas Norval Hepburn and Katharine Houghton Hepburn, who lived in Hartford, began spending their summers there in 1912. After the family’s original wooden Shingle-style cottage on Long Island Sound was swept out to sea in the hurricane of 1938, they built a new one of brick based on a design the family had modeled out of blocks and dominoes. The house, which covers about 8,000 square feet, was a frequent retreat for the actress, who eventually moved there to spend her final years. In the 1930s and 1940s, Howard Hughes would land his seaplane in the Sound, right in front of the Hepburn home. Katherine Hepburn shared the house with her brother, the playwright Richard Hepburn, who died in 2000. After Katherine Hepburn passed away in 2003, the house was acquired by the major New York City developer, Frank J. Sciame, Jr., who completely renovated the house in 2005 and put it up for sale. Although Taylor Swift came close to buying the house, Sciame took it off the market last summer because he had received no offers that matched the $30 million asking price. Sciame, who recently reduced the height of two granite posts at the end of his driveway from five to four feet after an extended legal drama with the Borough of Fenwick Historic Commission, will continue to use the house as a summer home. You can read more about the Hepburn “cottage” in Marion Hepburn Grant’s The Fenwick Story (Connecticut Historical Society, 1974), pages 171-179. Next month, a special exhibit will open at the Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford: Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen, which runs until September 13, 2014. Read the rest of this entry »