The house at 1146 Boston Post Road in Old Saybrook was built c. 1800-1803 for William Chalker. It originally stood on the opposite side of the street but was moved and an addition built when the road was straightened later on in the nineteenth century. Around that time the house was acquired by Daniel C. Spencer.
A wealthy merchant, Daniel Chapman Spencer (1823-1906) started his business career as a store clerk and then was a traveling salesman with a stock of goods carried in a peddler’s wagon. He then worked for Moulton, Plympton, Williams & Co., one of the leading wholesale dry goods firms of New York. After that company went out of business he moved on to Claflin, Mellen & Co. in New York, at the time the second largest dry goods store in the United States and soon to become the largest. He ran the company‘s notion department for thirteen years, until he broke down from the strain and decided to retire on January 1, 1868. He chose to retire to his hometown of Old Saybrook. As described in the History of Middlesex County, Connecticut with Biographical Sketches of Its Prominent Men (1884):
Mr. Spencer had previously purchased a number of acres contiguous to the old homestead property in Saybrook, known as the Chalker farm. Here he retired to spend his days. The old place was enlarged and improved and soon made to “blossom like a rose.” The meadows were turned into cranberry patches on which he spent several thousand dollars in working and improving. He surrounded his residence with trees and flowers until it now has the appearance of fairy land. Amid these surroundings he soon recovered his health and then devoted his energies to making such public improvements in the town as should tend to attract others to this beautiful spot selected by Col. Fenwick as the “garden spot of the earth,” more than two hundred years ago.
The Chalker-Spencer House was altered around 1880 when the original roof was replaced by a Mansard roof. It was later used as a boarding house.
The house at 418 Harbor Road in Southport was built in 1871 by W. W. Wakeman for Mrs. Zalmon Wakeman and her daughters Mary and Frances Wakeman. Zalmon Bradley Wakeman (1803-1865) was a prominent sea captain and ship-owner. He married Sarah Ann Fowler (1806-1873) on March 3, 1829. The Wakeman sisters lived in the house until 1913.
At 1 Trumbull Place in North Haven is the rectory (priest’s residence) of St. John’s Episcopal Church. The rectory was built in 1855 and the third floor and mansard roof were added in the 1880s. As related in North Haven Annals (1892), by Sheldon B. Thorpe:
On the removal of Mr. [Rev. Alonzo G.] Shears to New Haven, the Rev. Seth Davis came from Woodbury, Conn., and officiated part of the time. During his term the present rectory was built—-1855-—and he was its first occupant. He remained two years and was succeeded by the Rev. Joseph Scott. This clergyman was the first, in the long list of clergymen, to be “called” as rector. He gave his whole time to the people and became greatly beloved by them. His salary was $500 and the use of the rectory.
At 494 Harbor Road in Southport in the town of Fairfield is a Gothic Revival house built in 1848 for Allen Nichols, who was in the dry goods business. The house was later remodeled in the Second Empire style and had a cupola, since removed. Nearby are two other houses built by members of the Nichols family.
Mrs. Benjamin Pomeroy, the wife of a shipping merchant, had the house at 658 Pequot Avenue in Southport erected for herself and her daughters. The Second Empire-style house, which features an elaborate front porch and mansard roof, was designed by the architectural firm of Lambert & Bunnell. Constructed in 1868-1869, the house’s builder was Gamaliel Bradford of Fairfield. The house remained in the family until 1946. The house’s carriage house was erected around the same time as the main house.
The Glastonbury Knitting Company (begun as the Glastenbury Knitting Company in 1855) later expanded to Manchester with a mill at Manchester Green. A mill was first built on the site in 1851 and rebuilt after a fire in 1861. The mill produced men’s long woolen underwear. An interesting item that appeared in the September 2, 1911 issue of Fibre and Fabric: The American Textile Trade Review (Vol. 54, No. 1382) stated that:
The Glastonbury Knitting Co. shut down their mill at the Green last Saturday for a week. So many of the employees desired a vacation that the managers decided to shut down. The company is fairly busy, and at the present time gives employment to about 70 hands.
The mill was expanded over the years (did it reach its current form in 1901?), but closed in the 1920s (although the company’s mill in Glastonbury was in operation until 1936). Since that time the old mill building (501 Middle Turnpike East) has been used as an antique store, drug store, bar, a printer’s shop, a shoe store, a warehouse, a bookshop and two different furniture stores. Read the rest of this entry »