Located at 175 North Cove Road on Saybrook Point in Old Saybrook is a building erected around 1712 by John Burrows. Known as the Black Horse Tavern, it served travelers as an inn for many years and was a customs house during the brief period Saybrook was a port of entry on the Connecticut River. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the area was a commercial district with a busy wharf. Ambrose Kirtland acquired the tavern in 1771 and deeded it to his son, Daniel Kirtland, in 1794. It may have been Daniel Kirtland who updated the building in the Federal style. From 1871 to 1924 the Valley Shore Railroad went right by the former tavern, which revived the tavern’s buiseness in the nineteenth century. The building was acquired by Henry Potter in 1866. He built a dock for trading vessels and a store on the site (since demolished) which he operated with his son until 1890, leaving it to his clerks, Robert Burns and Frank Young. In 1910 they moved the store, called Burns and Young, to Main Street in Old Saybrook. This marked the end of the North Cove neighborhood as a maritime commercial district. The house is now a private residence. The original Black Horse Tavern sign is now at the Connecticut Historical Society.
The sign on the Parker House at 680 Middlesex Turnpike in Old Saybrook gives it the date of 1646. The National Register of Historic Places nomination for the house gives a date of 1679. In either case, it is one of the oldest houses in Connecticut. It was built by William Parker (1645-1725). Born in Hartford, Parker settled in Saybrook. As described in Family Records: Parker-Pond-Peck (1892), by Edwin Pond Parker:
Dea. William Parker was a leading citizen, and very prominent in church and state. He is said to have represented Saybrook as Deputy to the General Court in more sessions than any other person, excepting only Robert Chapman. He was Sergeant in Train-band as early as 1672, and in 1678-9 the town voted him five acres of land for services “out of the town” in the Indian wars. He was elected Deacon before 1687, and probably continued in that office until his death. He was a lay member of the Saybrook Synod of 1705 that framed the “Saybrook Platform” for the churches of Connecticut.
The Italianate house at 21 Bridge Street on Saybrook Point in Old Saybrook was built in 1892 as a home for the prominent engineer William Vars. In the twentieth century it was the home of Mary Clark. By the late 1990s the house had become dilapidated, but it has recently been refurbished to become an eight-room guesthouse. Called “Three Stories,” it is owned by of Saybrook Point Inn & Spa, whose main building is located just across the street. The guesthouse, which remains true to the architecture and interior design of the period, opened in May, 2014.
Merry Chriatmas! According to a 1980 survey of historic buildings in Old Saybrook, St. John’s Roman Catholic Church, at 161 Main Street was built in the early twentieth century. The parish was founded in 1884. It began as mission of St. Jospeph’s Church in Chester. St. John’s became a separate parish in 1914, so I suspect the church was built around that date.
A number of mariners named Captain Charles Williams lived in Old Saybrook over the years. One of them (perhaps the Capt. Charles Williams who died on his birthday at the age of 75 on June 4, 1883?) built the Greek Revival House at 48 Cromwell Place on Saybrook Point in Old Saybrook in 1842.
At 170 Old Post Road in Old Saybrook is a gambrel-roofed house built c. 1790 (before 1803) by Phineas Bushnell (1718-1803), shortly after he married his second wife, Hepsibah Lewis of Killingworth, in 1789. The house passed to his son Samuel Bushnell (1748-1828), who had married Hepzibah Pratt in 1775. Their daughter, Hepzibah (1776-1818), married Samuel Dickinson (1774-1861) in 1796. The house was later owned by their son, John Seabury Dickinson (1807-1879) and then by his son, John S. Dickinson (1846-1922), who served as a Town Selectman, was president of the Saybrook Musical and Dramatic Club and was a founder and first president of a literary society known as the Crackers and Cheese Club. The house remained in the Dickinson family until 1934. Renovated in 1958, the house was recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places.