The summer cottage at 16 Fenwick Avenue in the Borough of Fenwick in Old Saybrook was built in 1880 by Ebenezer Roberts of Hartford for his daughter Florence Clarissa and her new husband, Colonel William Converse Skinner. Ebenezer Roberts was a partner with the Keney Brothers of Hartford in in their wholesale grocery business. As described in American Biography: A New Cyclopedia, Volume 9 (1921), Roberts’ son-in-law, Col. William C. Skinner, was “A man of pleasing personality, kindly, considerate and courteous to all, a levelheaded, finely poised man of affairs, quick and decisive of action, conservative but determined.” As that book further describes,
Colonel William Converse Skinner, son of Dr. Calvin and Jane (Blodgett) Skinner, was born in Malone, New York, January 26, 1855, and there completed courses of grade and high school study, graduating with the high school class of 1872. He then entered Trinity College whence he was graduated A. B., class of 1876, later receiving from alma mater the degree M. A. During the next session of the New York Legislature he was appointed clerk to the Judiciary Committee of the House, and while in Albany attended lectures at Albany Law School. He was deterred from further progress in legal study by a serious throat trouble, and spent a year in Colorado to effect its cure. After his return he located in Hartford, Connecticut, there forming in 1882 a partnership with General Henry C. Dwight which continued for eighteen years, Dwight, Skinner & Company becoming one of the best known firms in the State in the wool trade. In May, 1899, Colonel Skinner withdrew from the firm and has since been connected with the Colt’s Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company in official capacity. He was elected a director and vice-president of the company, July 2, 1901. and on January 5, 1909, was elected president of the company to fill the vacancy caused by the death of President Grover. President Skinner resigned the office of president, January 1. 1911, becoming chairman of the board of directors, holding that position until the death of President Charles L. F. Robinson, when he was again elected president of the company, July 13, 1916, whose position and importance in the industrial and business world is so well known.
Col. Skinner died in 1922, but around 1885 he had already sold his Fenwick home to Colonel Jacob Greene of Hartford, president of the Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company. Jacob Lyman Greene grew up in Maine, but later went to the University of Michigan and became a lawyer. He later served in the Civil War, eventually becoming a Colonel and the Adjutant-General of General George Armstrong Custer. He and Custer became best friends and Greene was best man at Custer’s wedding in 1864 to Libbie Bacon, who was friends with Greene’s wife, Nettie Humphrey. After the War, Col. Greene went to work for the Berkshire Life Insurance Company. In 1870 he moved to Hartford to work for Connecticut Mutual, eventually becoming the company’s president. When President Theodore Roosevelt visited Hartford in 1902 and became the first president to ride in an automobile in public, it was Col. Greene was sat next to him as chairman of Hartford Citizen’s Committee.
The cottage in Fenwick later passed through other owners. You can read more about the cottage in Marion Hepburn Grant’s The Fenwick Story (Connecticut Historical Society, 1974), pages 64-67. By the time that book was published the cottage was owned by the Dickinson family and is referred to as the Dickinson Cottage. The illustration of the cottage on page 64 of the book reveals that it has been much altered in the last forty years. A number of dormer windows, a balcony, a front porch and sun room have been added and the house house has been given shingled siding to match the many other shingle style houses in Fenwick. I do not know if these are restorations to an earlier appearance the house may have had or new innovations.
The summer cottage at 9 Pettipaug Avenue in the Borough of Fenwick in Old Saybrook has been described as a gem that is “particularly illustrative of shingle style architecture” (by Christopher Little in “A Summer Place,” Places, Vol. 1, No. 3, 1984). It was built in 1905 by Lucius B. Barbour (1878-1934) of Hartford (whose 1865 house on Washington Street still survives). Their daughter Alice was a childhood friend of Katharine Hepburn. In 1953, after the death of Barbour’s widow Charlotte Cordelia Hilliard Barbour, the cottage was sold to Richard F. Cooper and in 1961 it was sold again to Oliver Jensen (1914-2005), a co-founder of American Heritage Magazine. He was also one of the founders and the chief visionary for the 1971 revival of the Connecticut Valley Railroad (today part of the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat attraction). You can read more about the cottage in Marion Hepburn Grant’s The Fenwick Story (Connecticut Historical Society, 1974), pages 110-114.
The Shingle-style summer cottage at 27 Pettipaug Avenue in the Borough of Fenwick in Old Saybrook was built in 1881 by Charles Eben Jackson (1849-1923) of Middletown. As related in the Illustrated Popular Biography of Connecticut (1891):
Charles Eben Jackson was born in Middletown, January 25, 1849. He was educated at St. Paul’s School, Concord, N. H., receiving a thorough preparation for the business activities of life. After leaving school he engaged as a clerk in a mercantile establishment, and later in a banking office in New York city. In 1872 he made the acquaintance of Miss Evelyn Quintard, daughter of E. A. Quintard of New York city, whom he married in 1873, and by whom he has had eight children, seven of them now living. Mr. Jackson has for a number of years been at the head of the Middletown banking house of C. E. Jackson & Co., well known among the reputable financial institutions of the state. He is also vice-president of the Middlesex Banking Company, treasurer of the Berkeley Divinity School, and of the Russell Library Company, and has minor official connection with other institutions of Middletown. He is by religious faith and profession an Episcopalian, being a member and senior warden of Holy Trinity parish.
The cottage later sold to Margaret Cutter Goodrich, wife of Dr. Charles Goodrich, a Hartford obstetrician. The cottage then passed through other owners, being purchased by the Brainard family in 1949. You can read more about the cottage in Marion Hepburn Grant’s The Fenwick Story (Connecticut Historical Society, 1974), pages 131-134.
In 1881 a summer cottage in the Borough of Fenwick in Old Saybrook was built by Hariette Fenwick Jackson Giraud (1830-1923) of Middletown. In 1899, the cottage was moved back from Long Island Sound to Pettipaug Avenue by Morgan G. Bulkeley to make way for his new and impressive cottage. The former Giraud Cottage was moved again, this time one lot west, in 1913 to make way for the Davis Cottage. Bulkeley gave the Giraud Cottage, now 12 Pettipaug Avenue, to his son, Morgan Jr. (1885-1926), in 1919 and it was then passed to his widow, Ruth Collins Bulkeley (1887-1973). You can read more about the cottage in Marion Hepburn Grant’s The Fenwick Story (Connecticut Historical Society, 1974), pages 155-156.
Walter C. Clark, who became president of the Aetna Fire Insurance Company in 1892, built a summer cottage in Fenwick in 1884 on a lot he purchased from Francis Goodwin, who was on his board of directors. After Clark’s death in 1919, the cottage was acquired by Houghton Bulkeley (1896-1966), son of governor Morgan G. Bulkeley. Houghton Bulkeley, who named the cottage Seagrove, was an authority on Connecticut Antiques. After his death, the cottage was owned by the McDowell family. You can read more about the cottage in Marion Hepburn Grant’s The Fenwick Story (Connecticut Historical Society, 1974), pages 150-153.
Opened at 300 Main Street in Old Saybrook in 2009 is The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, named for the famous actress who lived in town. Before the building was restored to become a new cultural arts center, it had served from 1911 until 2004 as Old Saybrook’s Town Hall. Designed by New London architect James Sweeney, it was constructed in 1910-1911 to be the Old Saybrook Town Hall and Theater, with town offices in the raised basement and a theater above that was used both for performances and community gatherings. A driving force behind the building‘s construction was Joseph A. Cone, a printer, performer and musician, and the Old Saybrook Musical and Dramatic Club, which he had founded. Unfortunately, by the 1950s the old theater space had been subdivided for more town offices. Today it again serves its original purpose as a performance space.
The summer cottage at 25 Pettipaug Avenue in the Borough of Fenwick in Old Saybrook was built circa 1871 on land sold that year to Mrs. Cyrus Knight. Her husband, Rev. Cyrus Frederick Wright was rector of the Church of the Incarnation (later renamed St. James’ Episcopal Church) in Hartford from 1870 to 1877. He resigned after an incident in which church funds were stolen by the parish treasurer. Rev. Knight then served as rector of St. James Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, from 1877 to 1889, but continued to summer in Fenwick. When he became Bishop of Milwaukee in 1889, he and his wife could no longer make the long trip to Fenwick and therefore rented the cottage for the summer. Rev. Knight died in 1891 and his wife, Elizabeth P. Pickering Knight, in 1912. The cottage was then owned for a time by Heywood Whaples. It was purchased in 1952 by Ellsworth Grant (1917-2013) and his wife, Marion Hepburn Grant (1918-1986), the sister of Katharine Hepburn. The cottage has later rear additions. You can read more about the cottage in Marion Hepburn Grant’s The Fenwick Story (Connecticut Historical Society, 1974), pages 128-131.