Adjacent to northeast of the First Congregational Church of Cheshire is a house built around 1835 (1831-1836) for Rev. Joseph Whiting, who served as the first minister in that church building, from 1827 to 1836. The house was owned by a number of ministers over the years. Arthur Sherriff, headmaster of Cheshire Academy from 1923 to 1966, was a later resident of the house, which was sold to the Congregational Church in 1969. The Greek Revival-style house has a later Colonial Revival porch.
In 1705, Thomas Brooks, from Cheshire, England, settled in the area that would later become the town of Cheshire in Connecticut. In 1732-1733, his son Enos Brooks, built a saltbox house on what is now South Brooksvale Road. The house has remained in the same family ever since, with significant additions being made over the years. According to Old Historic Homes of Cheshire, Connecticut (1895), by Edwin R. Brown, Enos’s son, David Brooks, who resided in the house,
was a graduate of Yale College in the year 1765, was ordained to the work of the ministry, occasionally preached, but never was a settled pastor. He was a delegate to the State Convention held in Hartford in January, 1788, to ratify and adopt the Constitution of the United States. He was a soldier in the war of the Revolution. He entered first as a private and was afterwards promoted to the position of quartermaster of his regiment. He prepared and delivered, in Derby, Conn., in the year 1774, a discourse on the religion of the Revolution. This discourse was highly commended, and strongly influenced public opinion in favor of the cause of the struggling colonies.
Rev. Brooks’s son, also named David, enlarged the house in 1841 and his son, Samuel Hull Brooks, added an attic and gables. In 1925, John Van Buren Thayer built a two-story addition to the house. Through the efforts Brooks descendants and the Cheshire Land Trust, 48 acres of the farm land that once belonged to Thomas Brooks has been placed under a conservation restriction to preserve the rural and scenic character of the farm. It is known as the Brooksvale Farm Preserve.
On the site where the Parsonage of the First Congregational Church of Cheshire now stands, Dr. Thomas T. Cornwall once had a house, built in 1796. It later served as the office of another doctor, then as a tavern and store. Levi Munson, who began as a clerk at the store, purchased the property and ran it as a hotel for the next three decades. Munson’s son-in-law, Franklyn Wallace, then took over and operated the establishment until it burned down in 1892. Trolley barns then occupied the site until the church built the colonial revival-style parsonage in 1912-1913. No longer used as a residence for ministers, the church has recently been considering how to best make use of the property.
The Arad Welton House, at 238 West Main Street in Cheshire, is a Greek Revival house with large wings extending on each side. The front porch was added around 1900. Arad W. Welton was a manufacturer and first president of the Cheshire Manufacturing Company, established in 1850, which produced combs, brass buttons and other stamped goods. In 1901, the company combined with the Ball and Socket Fastener Co. of Portsmouth N.H. and became the Ball and Socket Manufacturing Co., which focused on buttons.
The “Stone Cottage” is a Victorian house on South Brooksvale Road in Cheshire. It was built in 1887 by Mrs. Joseph Martin. Originally intended as a smaller building for servants, it was expanded to a full residence at the urging of Mrs. Martin’s neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. John Thayer.
The house at 96 Cornwall Avenue in Cheshire is an American Foursquare built in 1903. It was constructed for James R. Lanyon, who was born in New Hamburg, NY, but five years later came to Cheshire, where his grandfather, James A. Lanyon, had been superintendent of the Barite Mines. Lanyon served as town clerk of Cheshire for 59 years, from 1894 to 1953. He served in the Connecticut General Assembly and chaired the Republican Town Committee. As described in Taylor’s Legislative Souvenir of Connecticut for 1901-1902, “Mr. Lanyon has been the recognized leader of his party in Cheshire—its leader without being its boss—thus winning the admiration of his party associates and the profound respect of his political opponents. He is a highly respected member of the Masons and Odd Fellows.”
At 152 Cornwall Avenue in Cheshire is an 1828 house, built by Amasa Preston. A settler from Wallingford, Preston was on the building committee for the Methodist Church, constructed in 1834. The house had two rooms added to the rear in 1910. Owned by the Preston and Trithall family, the house was the childhood home of architect Alice Washburn. A former high school principal in the 1890s, in 1919 Washburn began designing Colonial Revival houses in Cheshire and surrounding communities. She continued until the Great Depression forced her retirement in 1933. Around 1920, she renovated the Preston House in the Colonial Revival style, creating a beautiful front entry featuring a semicircular fan above the door. Today, the Connecticut chapter of the American Institute of Architects sponsors the annual Alice Washburn Awards for excellence in traditional house design.