The first Masonic Lodge in Meridan was established on January 1, 1851. The current Masonic Temple, at 112 East Main Street, was built in 1927. The Neo-Classical building features two Egyptian-style columns at the front entrance.
The oldest surviving structure at Fort Trumbull in New London is a granite blockhouse, built in 1796. It was built after Congress authorized funds for the fortification of American seaports in 1794. The fortifications in New England were under the direction of a French engineer, Stephen Rochefontaine. Designed with tapering walls to resist exploding shells, the blockhouse (also known as a citadel) housed a powder magazine and soldiers’ living quarters. It was also intended to become its own mini-fort, a final stronghold if the main fort fell to an enemy. Of all the buildings constructed in America as part of the 1794 program, the blockhouse at Fort Trumbull is the only one still standing today.
In 1838, Elizabeth Apthorp moved from her first home on New Haven’s Hillhouse Avenue, which she had been sharing with her half-sister, Abigail Whelpley, to another one nearby, again arranged by James Hillhouse and newly completed the year before. The Apthorp House was designed by A.J. Davis. He described the house as an Etruscan Villa, although its overall shape conformed to the Greek Revival style and the original focus of the facade was an Egyptian Revival porch. The building has been constantly added to over the years with new and reused elements in a variety of styles. In the early twentieth century, the house was occupied by the family of former Yale president Timothy Dwight. It is now owned by Yale and is one of the buildings housing the Yale School of Management. It was renovated in 2001.
In 1775, Governor Jonathan Trumbull recommended that a fort be constructed near the mouth of the Thames River to protect the port of New London. The first Fort Trumbull, completed in 1777, was captured by the British during Arnold’s 1781 Raid. The Fort was rebuilt around 1808 as a “second system” fort, a structure that was later replaced by the present fortification, a “third system” fort, constructed between 1839 and 1852. Fort Trumbull is a five-sided, four-bastion coastal defense fort and is unique among American forts because it was built in the Egyptian Revival style, inspired by the Temple of Luxor. During the Civil War, the Fort was an organizational center and the headquarters of Connecticut’s 14th Infantry Regiment. Over the years, Fort Trumbull has also been used as a training facility: it was the site of the the U.S. Revenue Cutter Academy and then the Coast Guard Academy until 1932; the Merchant Marine Officer Training School program from 1939 to 1946; and was used as the Fort Trumbull campus of the University of Connecticut from 1946 to 1950, where it served veterans attending college under the GI Bill. Fort Trumbull next became the Naval Under Water Sound Laboratory. After the Laboratory was closed in the 1990s, the site was redeveloped to become a State Park. Work began in 1999 and in 2001 it was opened to the public for tours.
The Groton Battle Monument commemorates the Battle of Groton Heights, fought during the Revolutionary War on September 6, 1781. The battle was a result of the British raid on New London, led by Benedict Arnold. Fort Trumbull, on the New London side of the harbor, and Fort Griswold, built on the heights on the Groton side, were built to protect the strategic port of New London. Arnold had information from an American turncoat which enabled the British to avoid the fire from Fort Griswold‘s guns and surprise the Americans. The British forces then burned New London and, after a fierce battle, in which 150 rapidly assembled American defenders faced a British force of 800, Fort Griswold was captured. The American commander, Col. William Ledyard, is said to have been killed by his own sword after surrendering to the British. According to American sources, a massacre of the Americans followed the surrender, although British sources mention neither the death of Col. Ledyard or a massacre.
Today, the remains of Fort Griswold are part of a Connecticut State Park. Also on the park grounds are the Monument House Museum and the Groton Battle Monument. The Monument is a granite obelisk, constructed between 1826 and 1830. It is the oldest monument of its kind in America, preceding the Bunker Hill Monument and the Washington Monument. The Groton Monument has a marble plaque listing the names of those who fell defending Fort Griswold. In 1881, the centennial anniversary year of the battle, the top of the monument was enclosed and its height raised to 134 feet. Visitors to Fort Griswold can climb the tower and reenactments of the battle are also held at the Park.
The Baptist Church in Essex was founded in 1811. The congregation’s first church was a brick building, built in 1817, which stood across Prospect Street from Hill’s Academy. In 1845, a new church was built, adjacent to the Academy on Baptist Hill. Constructed by master builder Jeremish Gladding, the Baptist Church was designed in the Egyptian Revival style, modeled on an 1844 Presbyterian church, the Old Whaler’s Church in Sag Harbor, Long Island, designed by Minard Lafever. Both of these buildings are interesting examples of a style not often used for churches in America. The church’s original steeple was destroyed after being struck by lightning in 1925. It was replaced by the current steeple, a Colonial Revival structure which features a gold dome and a variation on a ‘Widow’s Walk” below.