St. John’s Industrial School, a Catholic residential school for boys in need of care, was established in Hartford in 1904. An impressive new building for the school, overlooking the Connecticut River, was built in Deep River in 1907-1908. The school was staffed by the Xaverian Brothers, a worldwide teaching congregation, until 1919. An orphanage for boys in Hartford, run Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambery, moved to the site in Deep River and the Sisters of St. Joseph administered the home and school until 1958. Over the years, many additions were made to the facility, which evolved into a Home and School for Boys. The residential program closed in June 2013 and in September The Academy at Mount Saint John (135 Kirtland Street, Deep River) reopened as a Clinical Day School.
Alpheus S. Williams was a Union general in the Civil War. He was born in 1810 in Saybrook (now called Deep River). [see General Alpheus S. Williams (1911), by Joseph Greusel and Memorial Addresses on the Life and Character of Alpheus S. Williams (1880)] In 1817, his father, Ezra Williams, built a house at the corner of Main and Elm Streets in Deep River. The year before, Ezra Williams had partnered with George Read, Phineas Pratt and others to form Ezra Williams & Company to manufacture ivory combs.
Deep River’s town library was formed in 1900 and was at first located in a room in the Town Hall. Although plans had been made at various times to construct a library building, by the 1930s this had still not been done. Eventually, the 1881 home of Richard Spencer, who had been a President of the Deep River National Bank and a state senator, was purchased by the Library Association and donated to the town as a gift. The Queen Anne/Stick Style House, located on the corner of Main and Village Streets, was renovated and modified to become a library, under the direction of Harvey J. Brooks. The Deep River Public Library opened in 1933, with a new addition being constructed in 1995.
The Saybrook Colony, later the town of Saybrook, eventually divided into several towns. Lyme broke off as early as 1655, with Chester, Westbrook, Essex and Old Saybrook (the earliest settled area of Saybrook) following in the nineteenth century. The second Congregational Church to be founded in what had been the Saybrook Colony (and the earliest in what is now the town of the Essex) was established in Centerbrook in the 1720s. The residents of the area of Saybrook called Deep River attended this church until 1833 (Centerbrook remained part of the town of Saybrook until it was added to Essex in 1859). Deep River’s own Congregational Church was built in 1833. Worship was held in the church as soon as it was completed, although it was not officially dedicated until it was entirely paid for the following year. The town of Saybrook was renamed Deep River in 1947. Earlier this year, the Church celebrated its 175th anniversary.
The Stone House in Deep River (which was known as Saybrook until 1947) was built in 1840 by Deacon Ezra Southworth for he and his new wife, Eunice Post Southworth. The house was built using stone quarried on the property. The original flat tin roof was later replaced by a gabled roof. A rear addition was constructed in 1881, just before the marriage of the Southworth’s son, Ezra Job Birney Southworth, to Fanny Shortland of Chester. The wraparound porch was added to the house in 1898. Deacon Ezra’s granddaughter, Ada Southworth Munson, who died in 1946, bequeathed the property to the Deep River Historical Society. It is now a house museum open to the public. On the property, there is also a late nineteenth century barn (now called the carriage house) and a section from an old bleach house, owned by Pratt, Read & Co., which was used for whitening ivory. At one time, Pratt Read in Deep River and Comstock, Cheney & Co. in Ivoryton, dominated the ivory products manufacturing industry in the U.S.
Deep River‘s distinctive Town Hall was built in 1893 in a “flatiron” shape to conform to its location, where Elm and Main Streets intersect diagonally. The building originally had businesses and a post office (which moved out in the 1960s) on the first floor, with town offices being on the second floor. The third floor has an auditorium. The building’s granite foundation and the 1905 granite fountain outside were both donated by Samuel F. Snow in memory of his wife.