Historic Buildings of Connecticut’s 850th building is the Charles Ives Birthplace in Danbury. Ives, born in 1874, was an unconventional composer who combined traditional and revolutionary elements. The original timber frame of his childhood home was built in 1780 by Thomas Tucker, but this building burned in the 1820s. The remains of the structure were purchased by Isaac Ives and rebuilt as a Federal-style house. Charles Edward Ives‘ father George Edward Ives, the youngest band master in the Union Army during the Civil War, was a music teacher who taught his son to embrace unusual combinations of sounds. In 1894, the younger Ives left Danbury to attend Yale. He would go on to form a very successful insurance company, while also composing modernist musical works which would not be fully appreciated by the public until later in the twentieth century. Ives married Harmony Twitchell, the daughter of Mark Twain’s friend, Rev. Joseph Twitchell. The house where Charles Ives had been born was moved from its first location, on Main Street, to Chapel Place in 1923 and again to Mountainville Avenue in 1966. It was later restored by the Danbury Museum and opened to the public in 1992.
Three successive courthouses have stood on the same spot on Danbury’s Main Street. The first was built in 1785 and the second in 1823-1824. This latter building was enlarged in 1879, but the need for an even larger structure led to the building of the Fairfield County Courthouse of 1899. The architect was Warren R. Briggs of Bridgeport, who also designed the Fairfield County Courthouse in Bridgeport (1888) and the Connecticut Building for the World’s Colombian Exposition (1893). Today, the copper-domed Courthouse in Danbury serves as the Courthouse for Juvenile Matters.
Danbury‘s Octagon House was built in 1853 by John T. Earle and remained in the Earle family in 1918. Today, it is located at 21 Spring Street, but when it was constructed, Spring Street did not yet exist, so the house‘s original address was on Elm Street. The house, still encircled by a three story porch, is now an apartment building.
John Rider was a Danbury carpenter, who also served as a state militia captain during the Revolutionary War. The house of John and his wife Mary was built in 1785 and was occupied by members of the Rider family until 1925. In 1941, the house was saved from potential destruction through the action of citizens, who formed the Danbury Historical Society and Arts Center. This organization merged, in 1947, with the Scott Fanton Museum to form the Danbury Museum and Historical Society. The Rider House on Main Street is today a museum and has been joined by other historic structures, which together form the Museum’s main campus.