The third oldest surviving Episcopal Church building in Connecticut is the former St. Matthew’s Church in East Plymouth. The church was built by a group of members of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Plymouth who lived in the eastern part of town and were displeased in 1790 when the church decided to build a new meetinghouse in Plymouth Hollow, now Thomaston, which was then in the far western part of Plymouth. St. Matthew’s Church was built in 1792 with support from Episcopalians from the neighboring towns of Bristol, Harwinton and Burlington. The largest part of the original membership of St. Matthew’s came from the northwestern section of Bristol. Many Episcopalians had settled there near Chippens Hill and wanted a church nearby. St. Matthew’s Church is a vernacular building, in many ways similar to contemporary Congregational meetinghouses. A rural community grew up around the church, which is adjacent to the East Plymouth Cemetery. The history of the building can be found in the History of the Town of Plymouth, Connecticut (1895), compiled by Francis Atwater:
The church was built in 1792, but was unfinished inside, for at a meeting held March 5, 1793, Isaac W. Shelton and Stephen Graves were appointed a committee to “lay out the money, and procure somebody to do off the inside of the church.” And again, at a meeting held at the church December 31, 1793, the following committee was appointed to “examine and find the most convenient way of doing off the church and make report at the next meeting:” Noah Andrews, Ira Dodge, Isaac W. Shelton, Calvin Woodin, and Timothy Sperry; at which meeting held January 13, 1794, it was voted to “finish the church in the following manner: to make a broad alley through the center of the lower floor, and finish the sides with pews in the most convenient manner, also to finish the gallery by making two rows of seats round the whole square, and a row of pews across the south end.” It was voted that the church be called St. Matthew’s at a meeting held October 19, 1795. On November 10, 1794, it was voted to adopt the constitution of the Protestant Episcopal Church of Connecticut, and Caleb Matthews, the parish clerk, was instructed to attend the convention at Cheshire and request the Right Rev. Dr. Seabury to consecrate the new church.
In 1795, “the church was consecrated by Bishop Samuel Jarvis, second Bishop of Connecticut.” Various changes were made to the building over the years, as again quoted from Atwater (in 1895):
When first erected the building stood in front of its present location with its entrance at the south end, but in 1842, or soon after, was turned around and placed where it now is. The old square pews were removed about 1830.
[. . .] In 1871 or ’72, the church was remodeled, a chancel arranged, the old towering pulpit taken down, and doors taken off the small pews, also a ceiling made to reach across from one gallery to another. There is no chimney, and when a stove was put in the people thought that no one could speak in such close atmosphere. It used to be a large and full congregation, but has dwindled down to half a dozen old decrepit ladies, and service is seldom performed there.
The former church is now a private residence.
Riley Ives and his son Edward produced uniform buttons during the Civil War in Plymouth Center. After the War they switched to the production of parts for mechanical wind-up toys. They assembled their toys in several shops in the village. In 1868, Edward Ives founded his own factory on Maple Street. Called the Ives Manufacturing Company, he soon moved it to Bridgeport where it became the largest manufacturer of toy trains in the United States from 1910 until 1924. His father continued to make toys in Plymouth. In 1921 an Ives factory building, built c. 1870, was moved from Maple Street to 694 Main Street to be used as the Plymouth Grange Hall. Plymouth Grange, No. 72, was organized on December 7, 1887. As described in the History of the town of Plymouth, Connecticut (1895), compiled by Francis Atwater:
The grange now own the building on Main street next to the post office, in Plymouth Center, and have a well furnished hall where meetings are held every alternate Wednesday evening. One prominent feature at each meeting is the “lecturer’s hour.” This is composed of select readings, essays, and discussions on farm topics, recitations, music and debates. In fact, anything that pertains to the household or the farm. This gives the farmer and his family an opportunity for social intercourse and intellectual improvement, which, owing to their isolated vocation, were it not for the grange, they would be deprived of. “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity,” is one of the underlying principles of the order.
The building now houses businesses.
Built in 1843 (or perhaps c. 1860) for two blacksmiths, the house at 104 Main Street in North Stonington is a vernacular residence with Victorian-era embellishments. John Own Wheeler (1818-1900) and Thomas William Wheeler (1822-1900) (who may have been a laborer and not a blacksmith) were sons of Jesse Wheeler (1786-1852), who was also a blacksmith.
Adjacent to the Rising Sun Tavern in North Haven is a barn on the same property that was originally located on Long Hill Road in Guilford. Built circa 1820-1830, the barn was moved to North Haven in 1999 and rebuilt. The original post and beam construction was maintained with few timbers needing to be replaced, although new siding was required as the original had deteriorated.
The sign on the house at 534-536 Naubuc Avenue in Glastonbury indicates that it was built c. 1820 by George Wrisley. The Commemorative Biographical Record of Hartford County, Connecticut (1901) mentions a George Wrisley who built a house later occupied by his son, George Smith Wrisley, and grandson, Ransom Wrisley, but that house must have been built earlier than 1820 if it was built by George, Sr. The 1855 map of Hartford county indicates an “H. Risley” living about where the house is located.
The oldest one-room schoolhouse still standing in New Haven County is the Little Red Schoolhouse in Northford in North Branford. Built in 1805, it was used as a school until 1890. The League of Women Voters moved the Little Red Schoolhouse from its original location on Forest Road to its current address at 13 Old Post Road in 1933 to serve as to the Northford Public Library. The building was recently restored to become a museum maintained by the Totoket Historical Society.
The building at 311 Main Street in Wethersfield was built in 1862 as the High Street School. A brick building, it replaced an earlier wooden school building, built in 1770, which stood just to the south-east. It was in this earlier building that Wethersfield’s first library, called the Union Society Library (established in 1783) was located until 1798. The former brick schoolhouse was converted into a residence in 1928 and wooden side dormers were added.