Built in 1800, the Federal-style cape house at 111 Moodus Road in Middle Haddam was constructed (literally) by a shipbuilder, Abel Shepard, and his son, Abel Shepard, Jr. In 1804, father Abel sold it to son Abel, who moved to Cleveland, Ohio five years later. A later owner of the house was Patrick Daly, an Irish immigrant, who much altered the house in 1870, reinforcing the foundation with concrete, changing the roofline and adding the two dormer windows on the front facade.
As related in A Statistical Account of the County of Middlesex, in Connecticut (1819) by David Dudley Field:
The [Ecclesiastical] Society of Hadlyme was incorporated in Oct. 1742, and was thus called, because it was made partly from East-Haddam and partly from Lyme. The church was organized, with ten male members, on the 26th of June 1745, and on the 18th of the succeeding September, the Rev. Grindall Rawson, who had been minister several years at South-Hadley, Mass. was installed their pastor.
The current church, built in 1840 and located on Town Street (Route 82) in East Haddam, is the second building to be constructed on the site.
Construction of the house at 307 Town Street in East Haddam is traditionally attributed to John Warner (1677-1750) of Hatfield, Massachusetts, c. 1738. He had married Mahitable Chapman Richardson, widow of Lemuel Richardson and daughter of John Chapman, a wealthy East Haddam landowner. The house’s current exterior features date to c. 1790, around the time John‘s grandson, Oliver Warner, was married. Both John and Oliver were skilled blacksmiths who produced hardware such as hinges and latches, some of which are still within the house. There is also a barn on the property that may date to the same period as the house. Adjacent to the property is the Warner family burying ground, now owned by the Town of East Haddam. The house remained in the Warner family until after the Civil War.
In 1936 Frederic C. Palmer (1901-1971), a pioneer restoration architect, acquired the house and restored it the following year, filling it with antiques. Palmer was commissioned to rehabilitate two East Haddam landmarks, the Goodspeed Opera House and the First Church of Christ Congregational. For the Antiquarian and Landmarks Society (now Connecticut Landmarks) he restored the Buttolph-Williams House in Wethersfield and the Joshua Hempsted House in New London. After Palmer’s death his partner, Howard A Metzger (1921-2005), continued to live in the house, leaving it with an endowment to become a museum of Connecticut Landmarks. Although currently maintained by CT Landmarks, the house has yet to be opened as a museum due to financial and other issues.
In 1842, Luther Boardman invented and patented an improved mold for creating britannia silverware. He established a factory in East Haddam where he produced britannia spoons. In 1864, Luther Boardman entered a partnership with his son Norman S. Boardman, under the name L. Boardman & Son. This successful business peaked in the 1860s and 1870s. Norman Boardman had already built the Italianate house at 8 Norwich Road when another grand residence was constructed next door circa 1875. A more eclectic house than its neighbor, it features an Italianate design and an octagonal rear tower on west side with a mansard roof and Eastlake-style iron cresting. There is some confusion over who built the house. The National Register of Historic Places nomination for the East Haddam Historic District lists the house as the Norman S. Boardman House, while an 1880 bird’s-eye-view of East Haddam lists it as the residence of his father, Luther Boardman. An online collection of images from the Boardman Collection at the East Haddam Historical Society has a photo of the house with the description “The Lawton House owned by the Boardman Family.”
Down Johnsonville Road from the Emory Johnson Homestead in Moodus, East Haddam, is a surviving building of the Neptune Twine Mills, owned by Emory Johnson and then, after his death in 1896, by his son, E. Emory Johnson. The area around Johnson’s mills was known as Johnsonville. In the “Nineteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the Year Ended November 30, 1903” (printed in Public Documents of the State of Connecticut, Vol. I, 1903; published in 1904), a picture of the building is captioned “Neptune Twine and Cord Mill, No. 3, Moodus.” The report describes the other two mill buildings as follows:
The Neptune Twine and Cord Mills, Inc., property consists of two mills, the upper one of which was constructed by Emory Johnson. In 1862 he constructed this mill, and began the manufacture of twines, and though the civil war was then in progress this mill did a successful business, and was the only one in town in operation during the entire period. The lower mill, in which Mr. Johnson had formerly an interest, again came into his possession in 1867. This mill, which was erected by Mr. Johnson’s father-in-law (Stanton S. Card), is now known as the Neptune. The name of “Neptune,” as applied to these mills, was adopted in 1864. The upper mill is 34×80 feet on the ground floor, and has two stories. On the first floor is done the carding. Its motive power is a 36-inch turbine water wheel of seventy-five horse power. The lower mill is 36×80 feet, and has four floors: on the first floor, carding, etc.: second floor, the spinning; third floor, the twisting, winding up, and on the fourth floor, the packing, baling, etc. The motive power is water, and has a force of one hundred horse power. The mills employ forty hands and consume 19,000 pounds per week. They manufacture soft and hard twines, cable cords, etc., etc.
The firm was incorporated in 1902, and the present officers are as follows: E. Emory Johnson, president and treasurer; Matthew W. Plumstead, vice president; Elsie S. Johnson, secretary and assistant treasurer.
The upper mill, known as Triton, was destroyed by fire 1924 and the lower mill, dating to 1832, was also lost in a fire in 1972. The surviving mill building (No. 3) was built in 1899 and included the mill’s office and a Post Office. As related in Fibre and Fabric, Vol. XXXV, No. 908 (July 26, 1902):
Mr. Johnson takes great pride in the appearance of his property, and the village of Johnsonville is a model of neatness. The main offices of the mills are located near the Neptune mill and are sumptuous in their appointments. In the office building is the Johnson library, containing 3,000 volumes, opened in the fall of 1899, which is free to all the employees of the mills as well as to the employees of the other factories. There is also a smoking room in the building and a room where the records of the mill for 70 years are kept. All are neat and tasty in their appointments. Mr. Johnson’s enterprise is commendable and thoughtful in promoting the welfare of the employees of the Neptune mills and is appreciated.
On Johnsonville Road in Moodus, East Haddam, is an Italianate-style house built (according to the sign on the house) in 1842. It was the home of Emory Johnson, who owned twine mills near the Johnson Mill Pond across from his home. In the nineteenth century, Moodus was the “Twine Capital of America,” with twelve mills in operation. Johnson’s father-in-law, Stanton S. Card, owned the Neptune Twine Mills, which he left to his son-in-law at his death in 1867. Johnson had already opened his own mill, called Triton, in 1862. The area of worker housing that grew up around the mills became known as Johnsonville. The two mills continued to be operated by Emory Johnson and then by his son, E. Emory Johnson, who died in 1905. In the 1960s, the house and other Johnsonville properties were acquired by Raymond Schmitt and became a Victorian era attraction. Closed in 1994 and vacant for many years, the property was recently sold.
In 1836, Henry P. Haven (1815-1876; A biography of Haven by Henry Clay Trumbull, entitled A Model Superintendent, was published in 1880) established the Gilead Sunday School in Waterford. In 1876, Gilead Chapel was built at the corner of Foster Road and Parkway North to serve as the home of this interdenominational school. After the school closed in the early 1940s, the building was used for a decade by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints. Vacant several years thereafter, in 1969 it was purchased by Raymond Schmitt for his his Historic Johnsonville Village in Moodus in East Haddam. The building was taken down and reassembled in Moodus at the intersection of Johnsonville Road and Neptune Avenue.