The house at 27 Main Street in Farmington was built for Samuel Smith in 1769. It was later the home of Horace Cowles (1782-1841) and his wife Mary Ann (1784-1837). In the years before the Civil War, they were stationmasters on the Underground Railroad who his fugitive slaves in their home. One day they had to go out and they left their young daughter, Mary Ann (1826-1899), in charge. She sat at the front door all day long and refused to let anyone enter, including a slave catcher from the South who had to leave empty handed. One of the three Mende girls from the Amistad stayed with the Cowles family when the captives from that ship were staying in Farmington. After Cowles died, his son, Samuel Smith Cowles inherited the house and continued his father’s work aiding fugitive slaves. He also edited an anti-slavery newspaper, The Charter Oak. Samuel Smith Cowles also became Treasurer of the Farmington Savings Bank.
At 120 Main Street in Unionville is a Greek Revival house (pdf) built in 1836 by Frederick W. Crum (1813-1895) and his wife Ellice C. Crum (1812-1846). Crum’s second wife was Susan M. Crum (1822-1902). His company, Hill and Crum, manufactured saws. As related in the second volume of the Memorial History of Hartford County (1886):
in 1854 Mr. Albert Hills and Mr. Frederick W. Crum built a small factory on the Cowles Canal. The business continued until the rise of the great saw-factories in Pennsylvania, during the war period, made competition too severe for small concerns. They sold out their factory to the Union Nut Company.
Crum later made caskets and became an undertaker.
On the property that is now 778 Farmington Avenue in Farmington, Elijah Lewis is said to have had a store going back to 1780. In 1841, the property (which was then part of the Lewis Place, later the Elm Tree Inn) was sold to wheelwright Daniel Buck by Eunice J. Woodruff, daughter of Noadiah Woodruff (son of Judah Woodruff). Buck used it as his home and workshop/store. It has had many owners over the years, including Alfred A. Pope, who purchased it in 1900. By that time it was being used as a plumbing shop and Pope purchased it for Arthur Joseph Parker, a plumber whom he had hired to install the plumbing and heating in his new house, Hill-Stead.
The house (pdf) at 304 Main Street in Farmington was built in 1710 and was originally the home of Simon Newell and his wife Mehitabel Bird Newell. In later years the house served as a home to farmers, a shoemaker and a wheelwright and, in the mid-twentieth century, as an antiques store. Today it is Keiler & Company, an advertizing agency. The house has been much added to over the years.
Born in Farmington in 1795, John Treadwell Norton (d. 1869) became successful in the hardware business in Albany, New York. Treadwelll, who had been a surveyor and engineer for the Erie Canal, returned to Farnmington to construct a feeder canal that would supply water to the Farmington Canal from the Farmington River in Unionville. On land inherited in 1824 from his grandfather, he built a Georgian-style mansion at 11 Mountain Spring Road in Farmington in 1832, where he lived as a gentleman farmer. The house of his grandfather, John Treadwell (1745-1823), who served as Governor of Connecticut, had been a station on the Underground Railroad. John Treadwell Norton was also an abolitionist. He was one of the first people to visit the Amistad captives who were confined in a jail in New Haven. He played a major role in bringing the captives to Farmington, where they lived for 8 months before returning to Africa. The property was later owned by Austin Dunham Barney and was called the Barney House. For a time, the house was a used as a conference center and bed and breakfast by the University of Connecticut. In 2001, it was sold to its current owners, who have returned to calling the house its original name of Glenbrook.
John Thompson was a blacksmith in Farmington. He built the house at 17 Main Street around 1769, on land willed to him by his father, also named John Thompson. To build his house, Thompson tore down the old James Judd House, which had previously stood on the property. The Thompson House is possibly the work of Farmington builder Judah Woodruff.
In 1847, Deacon Edward Lucas Hart built a house called “The Hemlocks” at 45 High Street in Farmington. He was the nephew of Deacon Simeon Hart, who ran the Hart School for boys in his home in Farmington. As explained in Farmington, the Village of Beautiful Homes (1906), Deacon Edward Lucas Hart
was born in East Haven, December 31, 1813, and died in this town May 15, 1876. He graduated at Yale College in 1836, and after teaching in New Haven and Berlin became associate principal in his uncle’s school in this village. He was a successful and inspiring teacher, much beloved by all who were favored by his friendship. He was for many years a director in the Farmington Savings Bank.
Further, as related in Alfred Andrews’s Genealogical History of Deacon Stephen Hart and His Descendants (1875):
He married April 26th, 1837, Nancy Champion Hooker, daughter of William G., of New Haven. [...] He has a fine residence in Farmington, with a school-house on the premises, where he still continues a school for boys, especially in the winter season. Mr. Hart was chosen deacon of the Farmington Church in 1854.
In 1892, the Hemlocks was acquired by Amasa A. Redfield, a New York City lawyer who used the house as a weekend, summer and retirement home. When he died, the New York Times of October 20, 1902 stated that “Mr. Redfield was one of New York’s most prominent lawyers, and was also well known as a writer on legal subjects.” The house was then owned by his son, Robert Latimer Redfield, from 1902 to 1925.