The Jabez Smith House in Groton has remained virtually unchanged since it was built in 1783. The original farmer on the property, in 1652, was Nehemiah Smith, who raised sheep and horses and grew flax and tobacco. His descendant, Nathan Smith, built the current house after the original house burned down. He then passed it on to his son, Jabez and two more generations of Smiths followed in the house. It was later used by Ann Graham Clarke of New York as a weekend retreat. She left it to the town in 1974 and, after her death in 1980, the house became a museum.
The commercial building at 15 Water Street in Mystic was built in 1859 by Isaac Randall and Dwight Ashby, who were both involved in the whaling industry. It has had many owners over the years, housing many different stores and also serving as a boarding house. Since 1965, the building has been known as The Emporium. It has a store on the main floor filled with unique merchandise and an art gallery on the second floor.
Located prominently on Baptist Hill in Mystic is the Union Baptist Church, which is actually two different church buildings that were eventually combined. The origins of the church date back to 1764, with revival services held in Groton in 1764 during the Great Awakening. Groton’s Second Baptist Church was established the following year in Fort Hill. By 1825, the village of West Mystic in Groton was being developed. According to Groton, Conn. 1705-1905, by Charles Rathbone Stark, “The need of better facilities for those on the banks of the Mystic River led a number of public-spirited men to build a house to be used for the benefit of all denominations, the pastors of the various churches rotating in occupancy of its pulpit. The house was built in 1829 and by reason of the large number of sea-faring men contributing to its erection it was called the Mariners Free Church.” The architect of the new church was Deacon Erastus Gallup of Ledyard. Over time, the other denominations built their own churches in Mystic, leaving the Third Baptist Church, founded in 1831 by members of the First Baptist Church, the only group still occupying the Mariners’ Church. Meanwhile, the Second Baptist Church had moved from Fort Hill to Mystic, building a church on High Street in 1845. In 1861, the Second and Third Churches joined to form Union Baptist Church. The Second Church’s building was moved up High Street and joined to the rear of the former Mariners’ Church. The original steeple was lost during the Hurricane of 1938 and the Church was without a steeple until a new one, with a carillon, was built in 1969.
The Italianate house at 9 Elm Street in Mystic was built for Leonard W. Morse around 1855. Morse was involved with starting a machine company, begun in 1848, which lasted until the Civil War and sold cotton gins and machinery for the southern states. The house was later owned by Albert L. Pitcher, who published the Mystic Times newspaper.
Daniel R. Williams was a marine entrepreneur who sold seine fishing nets out of the basement of his house, on Gravel Street in Mystic. The house was built in 1834 and an outbuilding on the property was a stop on the Underground Railroad.
Capt. John Appleman was a Mystic sea captain who commanded the Naptune and the Hero. His Greek Revival home was built in 1837 and is on Gravel Street in Mystic. The original pedimented entryway to the house was destroyed in the Hurricane of 1938. In 1958, the house was purchased by Capt. Edward L. Beach. He commanded the nuclear submarine, USS Triton, in 1960, when it became the first vessel to execute a submerged circumnavigation of the Earth. Capt. Beach was also a bestselling author of the World War II submarine novel, Run Silent Run Deep (1955).
The last of Connecticut’s active lighthouses to be built was the Avery Point Light, which today is located on the University of Connecticut’s Avery Point campus. The lighthouse was built in 1943 as a memorial to all other lighthouses and lighthouse keepers. It was not lit until 1944, owing to fears of enemy invasion by sea during World War II. At time it was built, the property was used as a Coast Guard training facility and the light remained an active aid to navigation until the Coast Guard moved to a new location in 1967. Left abandoned, there were concerns that the light would be torn down, especially after UCONN declared it a safety hazard in 1997. In response, the Avery Point Lighthouse Society was formed to restore and relight the tower. In 2001, the old wooden lantern was removed, to be replaced by a newly crafted replica, lowered into place in 2005. Part of the restoration involved the building of a memorial brick walkway, with inscribed bricks that had been sold to raise donations for the restoration. Work on the tower itself was begun in 2003 and the official relighting and rededication ceremonies took place in 2006. There is a webcam view of Avery Point.