The oldest section of the building at 22 Knowles Road at Knowles Landing in Middle Haddam is possibly a house built on the site c. 1732-1735 by Jonathan Yeoman. For ten years (1735-1745), Yeoman ran a ferry across the Connecticut River. In 1747 the ferry licence was granted to Capt. Cornelius Knowles, for whom Knowles Landing is named. Jeremiah Taylor bought the Yeoman property in 1804, remodeling and expanding it in 1805 to serve as a tavern with a second-floor ballroom spanning the length of the building. The original one-and-a-half story, gambrel-roofed house became a two-and-a-half gable roofed structure. Taylor owned the building until 1826. The Italianate side veranda is a later addition. Jeremiah Taylor’s son, James Brainerd Taylor, was a minister during the Second Great Awakening whose life was a frequently used example of evangelical Protestant spirituality.
In 1865, Horatio H. Abbe (1829-1902) of East Hampton built the Greek Revival-style north section of the house at 15 Main Street. The following year, Abbe was one of the founders of the Gong Bell Company, which manufactured bell toys and other metal toys. Around 1871, reflecting his growing prosperity, Abbe added the Italianate-style south section of the house, which includes a tower and veranda. As related in an obituary of Abbe that appeared in The Iron Age (Vol. LXX, September 11, 1902), Abbe was born in Enfield.
He was married January 26, 1853, to Miss Laura A. Hayes. After engaging in business with a brother he went to East Hampton July 31, 1862, beginning his business life there as a machinist in the employ of Markham & Strong.
January 1, 1866, he, with E. C. Barton, Ezra G. Cone and A. H. Conklin, formed the partnership of the Gong Bell Mfg. Company for the manufacture of the Abbe Gong Door Bell, of which Mr. Abbe was the inventor. This business relationship continued harmoniously and without a break for 33 years, or until the death of Ezra G. Cone, in 1898, when a joint stock company were incorporated, of which Mr. Abbe became the president and Mr. Conkiin secretary and treasurer.
Mr. Abbe was widely known in Masonic circles, of which he was a thirty-second degree member, he being prominently connected with a number of lodges and commanderies. The funeral services were held at his late residence, the interment being at Enfield, Conn.
Mr. Abbe is mourned by those who were intimately associated with him as an honored citizen and one whose generosity, loyalty and genial ways endeared him to a Iarge circle of friends and acquaintances.
Middle Haddam in East Hampton was a shipbuilding center in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century and Samuel B. Butler made pulleys and other hardware for the shipbuilding industry. He built a Greek Revival house at 30 Knowles Road in 1838. It was purchased by Captain Edward M. Simpson in 1855. He was a steamboat pilot on the Connecticut River and was captain of the famous steamboat City of Hartford. His daughter later had a house nearby.
The church at 1 East High Street in East Hampton was built in 1855-1856 by residents on the north side of town who wanted to separate from the East Hampton Congregational Church. As described in the History of Middlesex County (1884):
The members of the ecclesiastical society, living in the vicinity of the lake, becoming dissatisfied with the location of the meeting house, in 1855 erected an edifice of stucco work, 56 feet in length. 35 feet in width. with a spire 120 feet in height, about three-fourths of a mile north of the old meeting house. It was finished in the summer of 1856, and in September of that year 25 persons who had been dismissed from the First Church for the purpose of organizing a new church, called a council of pastors and delegates from the neighboring churches. They were constituted a Christian church under the name and title of the Union Congregational Church of East Hampton.
The new church flourished during the religious revival of the 1860s, but attendance later declined and the church closed its doors in 1880. In the 1880s, the building was used by various town groups for meetings and entertainments. Around 1890, Swedish immigrants, who had been working at the Portland brownstone quarries, began settling in East Hampton. In 1898 they purchased the former Union Congregational Church, which was rededicated as the Bethlehem Lutheran Church. The church is mentioned in an article entitled “The Town of Chatham,” (Chatham was renamed East Hampton in 1915) that appeared in The Connecticut Magazine, Vol. V, No. 6, June, 1899:
The Lutherans of Swedish descent having become quite numerous in this place have for some time held services in private houses. The service is conducted by Rev. L. P. Ahlquist of Portland, one of the foremost of the Swedish Lutheran ministers in the United States. The Lutheran communicants of East Hampton have recently purchased the edifice which was once used by the Union Congregational Church, at the corner of Main and High Streets, renovated it, and dedicated it as the place of their worship, Sunday, May 14, 1899, with impressive services. These recent comers from the northern part of Europe are like the last preceding mentioned [Irish Catholics], giving the native-born citizens good examples in the neat appearance of their church and its surroundings.
The Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church‘s appearance has been altered over the years. The rear parish hall was built in 1957. The church’s exterior fieldstone walls were refinished in 1978 to resemble sandstone blocks. The original steeple was removed in 1888 and replaced. The current steeple was erected within the last 30 years.
Henry Skinner was a wheelwright who owned a sawmill and gristmill on Pocotopaug Stream in East Hampton. In the 1850s, he built a Greek Revival house at 66 Skinner Street, across the street from his mills. He sold the house in 1867, the same year he completed a new and larger house, built in the Italianate style at 70 Skinner Street. His new house remained in his family until 1919, when it was divided into apartments.
At 17 Shipyard Road in Middle Haddam is the former Parker and Judson Factory. Built in 1865, the factory produced hardware, toys and silk ribbons. In 1909 it was converted into a residence. Next to the former factory is the old Parker and Judson stone dam, constructed before 1830.
Abel Shepard was a shipbuilder who had a shipyard near the landing in Middle Haddam. He had three sons, Abel, Jr., Bartlett and Harry, who followed him in the shipbuilding trade and constructed Federal-style homes for themselves on their father’s property. Bartlett‘s House, at 112 Moodus Road, was built around 1800 and has a Colonial Revival front portico, which was added later.