Cornielius B. Erwin (1811-1885) was a leading industrialist and philanthropist in New Britain. At his death he became the benefactor of the Erwin Home for Worthy and Indigent Women, leaving funds for the project to the Pastor and Standing Committee of South Congregational Church. Opened in 1892, the Erwin Home continues to operate today as a non-denominational residence for “worthy women of limited means.” With an address at 140 Bassett Street in New Britain, it is a large structure with several additions. Architecturally the Erwin Home is an example of the English interpretation of the Queen Anne style. The earliest section of the building, designed by Melvin H. Hapgood of Cook, Hapgood & Co and erected in 1891, consists of two wings that extend along Bassett and Ellis Streets and join at a three-story corner tower. At the rear of the Ellis Street side, facing the building’s inner courtyard, is a small gable-roofed tower. The first addition to the Erwin Home, made in 1894 and designed by Hapgood & Hapgood, extends along Warlock Street. This connects to another addition built in 1914. These later sections feature elements of the Tudor Revival style. Further addition were made in 1971 and 1973.
An early description of the building appeared in The American Architect and Building News, Vol. XXXIII, No. 814 (August 1, 1891):
The late Cornelius B. Erwin, of the Russell & Erwin Mfg. Co., left a large sum in the hands of the committee of the Congregational Church, of which he was a member, for the purpose of having a building put up which should be an actual home for such beneficiaries as the committee should approve, saying in his will: — “it being my object in establishing said Home to aid the really worthy and deserving poor, and not to encourage those who neither are, nor desire to be self-supporting.” The architects have endeavored to carry out as closely as possible the desires of Mr. Erwin, and, instead of planning a large high structure having the appearance of an asylum, a low, rambling cluster of cottages has been arranged for, all under one roof, yet each little portion retaining its individuality.
The Domestic English style of architecture was selected as being the one best adapted for giving the desired picturesqueness and homelikeness so attractive to destitute and homeless women. [. . . .] It will be seen that the key-note of the whole design is the furnishiug of independent homes for worthy and indigent women. It is well-known that many poor but respectable people have a strong prejudice, even horror of anything which is suggestive of surveillance or a binding down to rules in an institution.
The former Temple B’Nai Israel at 265 West Main Street in New Britain was built in 1927-1929 as a Masonic Temple. It was designed by architect Walter P. Crabtree. The Masons sold the building to the Jewish congregation Aheyu B’Nai Israel (Brethren Sons of Israel) in 1940. Aheyu B’Nai Israel was organized in 1889 as an Orthodox congregation, but reorganized as Conservative in 1924. Members who held to Orthodox views split off and built Tephereth Israel Synagogue. Temple B’Nai Israel closed in the summer of 2007. Its Torah scrolls were transferred to the Hillel organizations at Trinity College, the University of Hartford, and the University of Connecticut
St. George Greek Orthodox Church was established in 1915 to serve New Britain and surrounding communities. It is the second oldest Greek Orthodox church in Connecticut. Services were held in a building on Beatty Street until the church at 301 West Main Street in New Britain was built in 1951. (Source: Peter Baldwin, “New Britain Church Marks 75th Year,” Hartford Courant, September 29, 1990).
St. Joseph’s Parish in New Britain was established on April 9, 1896. Father Richard Moore held the parish’s first mass in the basement of St. Peter Church on Franklin Square in New Britain. Ground for St. Joseph Church was broken on November 1, 1896 and the church was dedicated by Bishop Michael A. Tierney on September 19, 1897. The church features elements of the Gothic Revival and Romanesque Revival styles.
The building at 20 Broad Street in New Britain was erected in 1923 as the Rialto Theater. The owners went into receivership in the late 1920s and the building was foreclosed in 1930. Nest 88 of the Polish Falcons of America acquired the building in 1934. The Polish Falcons are a fraternal benefit society headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Nest 88 was chartered in 1907 after a first meeting in Lee Hall on Lafayette Street in New Britain. The organization has an emphasis on physical fitness, but in the early twentieth century it also trained volunteers to fight for the independence of Poland. 300 recruits from New Britain were among the 20-25,000 Polish men from North America who went to fight in the War as part of Haller’s Army (also called the Blue Army), which was composed of Polish immigrants and fought under French command in Europe. The building in New Britain has retail space on the first floor while the entire second floor is dedicated to Nest 88, with the Club Office, Club Bar, two halls, a kitchen and meeting rooms.
As related in David N. Camp’s History of New Britain (1889):
For several years before New Britain was incorporated as a distinct society, the little community had been exercised by the discussions concerning the division of Kensington, and the questions relating to the petitions and other measures to secure preaching on East Street. The death of Rev. William Burnham, in 1750, gave a new impulse to the efforts which resulted in the incorporation of the society. . . . .
The first settlers of New Britain were farmers with such limited education as could be obtained at that day. Nearly all had some property, which by frugality and industry, was increased after they occupied their new homes. In the eastern part of the parish, commencing at the northern boundary, there was a succession of farms — some large, and others comprising but a few acres—extending southerly, first on the Stanley Road, and then on both Stanley and East streets, to the southern limits of the parish, or to Great Swamp. . . . .
In the north part of Stanley Quarter, John Clark, Daniel Hart, Thomas Stanley, and his sons, Thomas, Noah, Timothy, and Gad, Jonathan Griswold, and a few others, were living upon farms, which already gave evidence of cultivation and thrift. When the society was incorporated, the first three of these men and their farms, were excluded from New Britain, though located within the bounds of the new society. Thomas Stanley had a large landed estate in Farmington and New Britain, and also land in New Cambridge (Bristol). He had several slaves employed either as field hands or help in the house, some of whom were mentioned in his will. He died before the first church in New Britain was organized, but three of his sons were members of this church, and they and some of their descendants became prominent in the affairs of the church and society. His eldest son, Thomas, had his home on the east side of the highway in Stanley Quarter; Noah, the second son, who was about thirty years old when the society was formed, lived on the west side of the road, where his son, and then his grandson, Noah W. Stanley, afterward lived. He kept a tavern at the place. A younger brother, Timothy Stanley, lived on the opposite side of the street, and had a tannery near his house.
Built circa 1754, the Noah Stanley Tavern is located at 1928 Stanley Street in New Britain. For much of the twentieth century, the house was owned by Hubert S. Blake, a New Britain native who died in 1975 at the age of 99. Read the rest of this entry »
The house at 1939 Stanley Street (at the corner of Barbour Street) in New Britain was built around 1750. The original owner of the house was George Francis. A later owner (in the mid-twentieth century) was a Mrs. Barbour, so a sign on the house calls it the “Francis Barbour House.” The house has additions dating to 1876. The original entrance to the house faces Barbour Street, but the main entrance is now on the north side.