Washington Lodge No. 19, the first Masonic Lodge in the country named for George Washington, formed in 1791 in Monroe. By 1800 the Lodge completed what was the first Temple in Connecticut erected solely for Masonic use. This building was later moved to Hurd Street and became the Town of Monroe’s first Town Hall. A new Masonic Temple was erected in 1904 at 1 Fan Hill Road. It is a Georgian Revival structure modeled on the central section of the White House in Washington, D.C.
The house at 26 Tolland Green in Tolland was probably built sometime in the eighteenth century and was certainly standing by c. 1800. Recent research suggests it may be much older than the traditionally ascribed date of 1800. As explained in a post by the Tolland Historical Society, the land where the house stands was part of a 10-acre parcel acquired by Josiah Goodrich, Sr. in 1725. He had a trading shop on the property, which may have been located in the north wing of the present house. In 1750 Josiah Goodrich, Jr. sold the property to John Huntington, Jr.
The house is traditionally named for Judge Elisha Stearns, who was the first president of the Tolland County Bank, incorporated in 1828. The bank operated briefly inside the house until a bank building was erected in 1829. Frank T. Newcomb, Treasurer of the Savings Bank of Tolland and Tolland County Treasurer, served as postmaster and had a post office in the ell of the house from 1888 to 1893. In the nineteenth century the house was extensively remodeled in the Victorian style. It was later altered again in the Colonial Revival style.
A subscription library was organized in West Hartford in the eighteenth century by members of the Congregational Church. This became officially the West Hartford Public Library with town funding in 1897. The library remained at the church until 1917, when the first Noah Webster Memorial Library building was dedicated at 7 North Main Street. The building was also used for meetings by local clubs and organizations as well as the Town Council. This first library was soon outgrown and a new building on South Main Street was dedicated in 1938. Since then the old library has had various tenants, most recently Fringe Hair Works of West Hartford.
West Hartford’s first bank, the West Hartford Trust Company, opened in 1926 and located at 4 North Main Street at the corner of Farmington Avenue. One of the building’s architects, Milton Hayman, was known for his Colonial Revival designs. The bank merged with Connecticut Bank & Trust Co. in the 1930s and today is a branch of Bank of America. Read the rest of this entry »
Across Church Street from the old Railroad Depot in Wethersfield (the subject of yesterday’s post) is an old factory building erected c. 1880. Early on, the factory was occupied by Hopkins & Chapin and then Bailey Manufacturing (aka Bailey & Co. book binders). The Elmer Tool Company occupied the building until c. 1914. It then remained vacant until 1919, when it was acquired by the National Machine Company (see “National Machine Co. Has Option on Wethersfield Plant,” Hartford Courant, October 18, 1919). It had remained in or had returned to an abandoned state by September 3, 1927, when the Hartford Courant ran a story: “Eight Boys Accused Of Vandalism: Charged With Having Damaged Abandoned Plant of National Machine Co. on Church Street.” It was reported that the boys tore slate off the roof, broke windows, stole a telephone and caused other damage. The following year the factory was acquired by the Gra-Rock Bottling Company. In 1980 the building became home to Clearing House Auction Galleries, a company operated by the LeClair family since 1955. Not long after the death of the company’s president, auctioneer and appraiser Thomas G. LeClair, in 2011, his sister decided to close the business. Earlier this year the Wethersfield Wetlands Commission approved a development proposal to convert the old factory for residential and commercial use and to erect a new building with 30 condominiums behind it.
St. Mary’s Catholic Parish in Branford traces its origins to 1855. The original church, located on Montowese Street, was built in 1854. The next church building, on Main Street across from the Blackstone Memorial Library, was completed in 1904 and burned later that same year. It was restored and rededicated on October 19, 1906. A Renaissance Revival structure, it had a 10-story bell tower. On June 18, 1972, the church was destroyed in a fire and replaced by the current church in 1974. For many years the church’s 1917 two-ton cast bronze bell, which survived the fire, sat on a concrete slab on the church grounds. In 2009 the bell was restored and placed in a new exterior bell tower. That same year the church dedicated a new 2,500 square-foot social hall.
The commercial building at 969-985 Main Street in Manchester, called the Cheney Block, was built in 1899. It was the successor to the old Cheney Brothers general store which was located on the southeast corner of South Main and Charter Oak Streets and burned in 1898. The new building’s location, between Maple and Oak Streets, contributed to the shift of the town’s commercial district northwards to a former residential area. Many businesses, as well as the South Manchester Post Office, have occupied the Cheney Block over the years. The building has lost its original roof-top balustrade.