The Plant Building (now called the Dewart Building) at 300-310 State Street in New London was built in 1914 for Morton F. Plant (1852-1918), a millionaire financier who invested substantially in the development of New London. The building contained shops on the first floor with offices and a large assembly hall above. It was designed by architect Dudley St. Clair Donnelly, who had his own offices on the fourth floor. The Plant Building was later renamed for William J. Dewart, the local business manager for Frank Munsey, the magazine publisher who built the Mohican Hotel in New London.
At 15 Bank Street in New London is the Lawrence Hall Building, built in 1920. It replaced an earlier Lawrence Hall building on the same site, which is described in Frances Manwaring Caulkins’ History of New London (1895 edition) as follows:
Lawrence Hall, a private building owned by Joseph Lawrence, Esq., is the principal Hall in the city for public lectures and exhibitions. It was completed in Feb. 1856, and is 105 feet in length, 57 in breadth, and arched above to the height of 24 feet from the floor. It is a beautiful Hall in decoration, proportion and interior accommodation, and with its gallery or corridor, will accommodate 1,200 persons. Architect, W. T. Hallett.
It deserves to be remembered here that the elder Lawrence was the first man who gave New London a strictly metropolitan building, Lawrence Hall, a fine structure built from the plans of the celebrated architect, Hallett. When it was going up some of the citizens expressed their fears that it would overshadow the rest of the city, and Mr. Lawrence replied: “ That is all right; the city will grow up to it.”
The 1920 Lawrence Hall was built after the 1856 Lawrence Hall was destroyed in a fire. The new building was described in the book Modern Connecticut Homes and Homecrafts (1921) soon after it was built:
In the making of the design for Lawrence Hall Building on Bank street, New London, there is shown again [the architects] Mssrs. Bilderbeck and Langdon’s marked ability to obtain decorative quality through their knowledge of the resources of materials, and beauty of form in the development of natural structural lines.
Currently owned by Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, the building at 45 Franklin Street in New London was built in 1892 as the carriage house of the Elisha Palmer estate. It originally stood at the corner of Broad and State Streets, behind the New London Courthouse, but was moved to its current address in 1982 to make way for a parking lot.
Between about 1868 and his death in 1900, Dr. Robert A. Manwaring had practiced medicine in a house in New London where the building at 225-237 State Street now stands. The building was constructed in 1913 as the result of a bequest by the doctor’s son, Wolcott B. Manwaring (to support a memorial children’s hospital). Designed by Dudley St. Clair Donnelly, the Manwaring Building has housed many businesses over the years. Read the rest of this entry »
The Cronin Building, at 80-88 State Street in New London, was built by Jeremiah D. Cronin, a plumbing contractor and a promoter of the Post Hill Improvement Company. It was built on the site of the City Hotel, where Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln once stayed. The hotel burned down in 1891. The Cronin Building was designed by George Warren Cole, an architect from the firm of Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge (H.H. Richardson‘s successors) who came to New London to supervise the construction of three buildings: the Public Library, the Williams Memorial Institute and the Nathan Hale School. The vacant Cronin Building is in need of restoration.
At 243 State Street in New London is Lyric Hall, a commercial building with an auditorium on the second floor. Originally a theater, by the mid-twentieth century the auditorium space was being used for dance classes. The Classical Revival building was designed by architect James Sweeney of New London. The building has had various owners and been used for different purposes over the years. It has recently undergone restoration work and has very recent new owners.
The building at 138 Bank Street in New London was erected in 1840 as residence and has since been significantly remodeled for retail businesses. The Greek Revival-style house was built by Franklin Smith, a whaling captain. As related by Frances Manwaring Caulkins in the History of New London (1860), Capt. Franklin Smith
made the most successful series of voyages, to be found in the whaling annals of the port, and probably of the world! In seven voyages to the South Atlantic, in the employ of N. and W. W. Billings, and accomplished in seven successive years, from 1831 to 1837, inclusive—one in the Flora, one in the Julius Cesar, and five in the Tuscarora-—-he brought home 16,154 barrels of whale, 1,147 of sperm. This may be regarded as a brilliant exhibition of combined good fortune and skill. Two subsequent voyages made by him in the Chelsea, were also crowned with signal success. These nine voyages were accomplished between June, 1830, and August, 1841.
Capt. Smith was accompanied by his wife on four four of his voyages and his only daughter was named Chelsea after the ship on which she was born while at sea. In 1842 Smith became a partner in the whaling firm of Perkins & Smith.