The Derrin House is a vernacular farmhouse at 249 West Avon Road in Avon. Its oldest sections may date to c. 1747 (could that be 1767?) and it was added to at least four times over the years. The most recent section of the house is closest to the road and the sign for the house reads c. 1810. It was built by the Derrin (or Derring) family. Little is known about the family other than that they built several houses along the same road in the western part of Avon in the eighteenth century on land they acquired in 1766. The house is located in Horse Guard State Park and is owned by the State of Connecticut Military Department for the First Company Governor’s Horse Guard, which is based across the street. The house is currently being restored by the Avon Historical Society.
In the nineteenth century, Salem was home to what is considered to be the first music conservatory (the first degree-granting school of music, or at least music teaching certificate-granting school) in the United States. Founded around 1835 by Orramel Whittlesey, son of the local Methodist minister Rev. John Whittlesey, the school was first called Mr. Whittlesey’s School, later the Salem Normal Academy of Music, and eventually the Music Vale Seminary. Young women from all over the country came to attend the school. After its original rambling classroom building burned down in 1868, it was replaced by an elaborate Italianate structure. The school closed soon after Whittlesey’s death in 1876 and the main building was destroyed by fire in 1897. The school’s large barn, built c. 1849, does survive. It is typical of an “English barn,” a type also called a side-entry or eave entry barn, a “thirty by forty” (based on its dimensions), a “Yankee barn” or a “Connecticut Barn.” The school‘s farm played an important role for the institution, supplying animals and crops. The Bodman family later owned the Music Vale property and donated much of it to the Salem Land Trust. The barn is now part of what is known as Music Vale Farm. Read the rest of this entry »
Like the neighboring house at 224 Cornwall Avenue, the house at 214 Cornwall Avenue in Cheshire was built in the 1850s by Edward A. Cornwall to rent to rent to one of the many miners from Cornwall, England who were emigrating at the time to Cheshire to work in the barite mines. Barite was discovered in Cheshire around 1840 and mining activity continued until 1878. The house was purchased for $850 by William Moon, a miner from Cornwall, in 1862. He paid $$250 down with a $600 mortgage held by Edward Cornwall. The current owners have expanded the house in recent years. (pdf source)
In the nineteenth century, Cheshire became famous for its barite mines. Barite was discovered in Cheshire around 1840 and mining activity continued until 1878. Many miners from Cornwall in England settled in Cheshire to work in the mines. One such miner was Richard Brown, who rented the house at 224 Cornwall Avenue. It was built in the 1850s as an investment property by Edward A. Cornwall, a prominent citizen of Cheshire. Cornwall sold many other parcels of land from the Cornwall Farm, which went back in his family to the 1790s. Richard Brown later purchased the house with a mortgage held by Cornwall. The house was a twin of the residence next door at 214 Cornwall Avenue, which was also a rental property erected by Cornwall. The house at 224 Cornwall has a later Victorian front porch. The large dormer on the west side of the house was added in the late 1970s. (pdf source)
Atypical for Connecticut, the house at 75 Rope Ferry Road in Waterford (pdf) was constructed of granite ashlar blocks. The stone was quarried in Waterford. Known as the Stone House and the Powers-Allyn-Rosenthal House, it was built in 1877 (date on the cornerstone), although the wing may be earlier. A later resident of the house was Beatrice Holt Rosenthal (1900-1981). Active in support of women’s rights, Rosenthal was a delegate to Democratic National Convention from Connecticut in 1956 and 1960 and a Democratic National Committeewoman in 1963.
A sign on the house (now used as a real estate office) at 62 Greenmanville Avenue in Mystic (in Stonington) indicates that it was the home of Joseph S. Williams, yeoman, and was built in 1899. Joseph S. Williams was no doubt related to Joseph Stanton Williams, whose farm once dominated the eastern side of Greenmanville Avenue. In the 1890s, the farm was developed into an industrial area. The old Joseph S. Williams farmhouse, which stood on the hill east of what is now Mystic Seaport, later fell into disrepair and was burned in the 1950s.
At 87 Mountain Road (corner of Buena Vista Road) in West Hartford is the town’s oldest extant schoolhouse, a brick structure known as the Old West School. Since 1936, the former school has been occupied by the West Hartford Art League, which purchased the building from the town in 1965 on the condition that it be preserved and used exclusively for non-profit cultural and educational purposes.