In 1824, the Marquis de Lafayette stopped at a store in Old Saybrook to make a purchase (according to tradition he bought either a pair of socks or a bar of saddle soap). Built in 1790 as a general store for the Humphrey Pratt Tavern, the building was moved in 1877 to the corner of Pennywise Lane where it became a pharmacy. A new section with a soda fountain was added in 1896 by owner Peter C. Lane, who had received his license in 1895 becoming one of the first two black pharmacists in Connecticut. From 1917 to 1967, the James Pharmacy was run by his sister-in-law and partner, Anna Louise James, the first African American woman to graduate from the Brooklyn College of Pharmacy and Connecticut’s first female African American pharmacist. Miss James, as she was called, retired in 1967 and continued to live in the building’s back apartment until her death in 1977. Miss James’s niece, Ann Lane Petry, was also a pharmacist and worked for a time at the pharmacy. Petry became known as a writer, most notably for her novel The Street (1946), which became the first book by a black woman writer with sales topping a million copies. Closed after Miss James’s retirement, the building was restored and reopened by new owners in 1984 and then had other owners. Today, it is owned by the neighboring Deacon Timothy Pratt House B&B and is known as the James Gallery & Soda Fountain.
The house at 404 Main Street in Old Saybrook has been dated back to 1697 or even 1687. By the mid-eighteenth century, the house was owned by John Shipman. This Cape-style house has been altered over the years, but still has four fireplaces and a beehive oven in the kitchen.
Located right next to Grace Episcopal Church in Old Saybrook is the Rectory, built in 1892, which replaced an earlier rectory, which had been lost in a fire. The design of the building was influenced by a house seen by the church’s rector in England. The Rectory is currently being leased out, with the rector and his wife live elsewhere.
For Easter, we’re featuring here an English Gothic-style church in Old Saybrook. Regular Episcopal services began to be held in Old Saybrook in 1825, meeting in the Center Schoolhouse. The first Grace Episcopal Church was constructed in 1830-1831, later replaced by the current church building, built in 1871-1872. The second church used the cornerstone of the first church, which was subsequently moved around the corner to the Old Boston Post Road.
Old Saybrook‘s Main Street School was built in 1936. In 1999, voters approved a referendum to convert it to serve as the new town hall. At the same time, restoration of the former town hall of 1911 was also approved and it has been restored as the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center.
Built around 1836, the J. Shipman House, on Main Street in Old Saybrook, has bold Greek Revival detailing and a later side bay window and enclosed side porch. The building now houses Old Saybrook Youth & Family Services.
Built around 1785, the Humphrey Pratt Tavern in Old Saybrook was a stage stop between New York and Boston and housed Saybrook’s first post office. There is also an attached ell containing a ballroom. The Marquis de Lafayette stayed at the Tavern in 1824. Humphrey Pratt, who also built a house in 1785 for Saybrook’s minister, Frederick William Hotchkiss, was a brother of Deacon Timothy Pratt, whose house stands nearby, and the Tavern remained in the family until 1943. The building also had an adjacent general store, built in 1790, which was later moved down the street and is now the James Pharmacy and Soda Fountain.