The house at 44 Main Street in Farmington is often dated to 1872 in the belief that a previous house on the property had burned down the preceding year, but it may be that this is that earlier house, built for Edward Whitman (1792-1862) c. 1851. Erastus Gay (1843-1912), a store-owner, acquired the property in 1871. Gay had married Grace F. Cowles, daughter of Francis Cowles, in 1867. Elizabeth V. Keep purchased it in 1916 and soon after willed the house to Miss Porter’s School. Once used as a dorm, it is now the school’s Colgate Health Center.
Frederick L. Scott built a house he called “Ingleside” at 113 Main Street in Farmington in 1894. Two years earlier Edward H. Deming had made Scott his partner in a general store on the west side of Main Street. Scott bought out Deming’s interest in the store in 1901 and succeeded him as postmaster the following year. Scott married Alice F. McKeen (1856-1912) in 1892. She was a music instructor at Miss Porter’s School and directed the Congregational Church choir. Scott sold the store in 1920 but retained ownership of the house for a number of years.
“New Place” is a dorm of Miss Porter’s School in Farmington. It was built in 1906 at 53 Main Street on the site of the old Rev. Samuel Whitman House. As related by Julius Gay in Farmington, Connecticut, the Village of Beautiful Homes (1906):
Crossing the road up the mountain we find on the corner the square house with the pyramidal roof and the chimney in the center, owned and occupied by the Rev. Samuel Whitman during his ministry. Parts if not the whole of the building are much older than its well-preserved walls would indicate. Tradition says the kitchen was built out of the remains of the old meeting-house and the Rev. William S. Porter who knew more about the history of the town than any man who lived or is likely to live, says that the house, probably the front, was built by Cuff Freeman, a colored man of considerable wealth, of course after the death of Mr. Whitman.
New Place was erected in 1907 by builder R.F. Jones of Hartford for Elizabeth V. Keep, then headmistress of Miss Porter’s School. Mrs. Keep lived there until her death in 1917. She willed the property to Miss Porter’s School. Her son, Robert Porter Keep II, became headmaster in 1917 and he and his wife, Rose Anne Day Keep, resided at New Place until 1929.
John Smith built the house at 163 Main Street in Farmington in 1742. He sold it to John Hart, but repurchased it from Hart in 1750-1751. It was then acquired by Dr. Elisha Lord in April 1751, who resided there until 1762. He served in the French and Indian War, as mentioned in Proceedings of the Connecticut Medical Society (1863):
Dr. Elisha Lord, son of Cyprian and Elizabeth (Backus) Lord, was born Aug. 10, 1726. He located first at Farmington, but subsequently returned to Norwich. After accompanying the troops sent against Crown Point, he was appointed, May, 1758, surgeon to the first regiment. In this capacity, and as director of hospital stores, he served till Dec. 22, 1760. He died at the age of forty-two.
Stephen Dorchester and Elizabeth Gould Dorchester lived in the house from 1762 to 1786. The house then passed through a succession of other owners. It was a property of the Wilcox family from 1845 to 1910. The Root family owned and leased the property between 1915 and 1963, at some point moving the house back from the street and converting it into a duplex.
Seth Cowles (1763-1842), together with his four brothers, was a successful merchant in Farmington. When he died in 1842, his daughter Susan Cowles (1815-1894) inherited his homelot on Main Street in Farmington. Susan and her husband, Augustus Ward (1811-1883), originally from Massachusetts, removed the existing house and replaced it with the current residence, at 56 Main Street, around 1842. As related in Farmington, Connecticut, the Village of Beautiful Homes (1906):
Augustus Ward was born December 4, 1811. and died April 6, 1883. son of Comfort and Plumea Ward. He was a merchant in New Britain in its earlier days. Marrying a daughter of Mr. Seth Cowles in 1840, he removed to this village and built a new house on the site of the old Cowles mansion. He was a farmer, but had much to do with the Farmington Savings Bank after its organization in 1851, being one of its most able and efficient directors.
In 1891, Susan Cowles Ward sold the house to Henry R. Hatch of Ohio. Within a few days he sold it to Sarah Porter, headmistress of Miss Porter’s School. The house has been owned by the school ever since and is a dormitory called “Ward.” An addition was built in 1902. Read the rest of this entry »
Some would date the house at 22 Main Street in Farmington to c. 1855 based on stylistic considerations (it combines Greek Revival and Italianate characteristics). The house, however, does not appear on an 1869 map of Farmington, so it has also been dated to c. 1870. It was built by William Gay, who operated a store in Farmington. In 1875 William Gay sold the property to his son Richard H. Gay. According to American Biography: A New Cyclopedia, Volume 12 (1922):
Richard Holmes Gay, the oldest son of William Gay, was born April 7, 1832, and died March 30, 1903. He married, September 25, 1856, Gertrude Rivington Palmer, who was born in Whitehall, New York, September 25, 1835, daughter of Hunloke and Mary (Rivington) Palmer. Their children were: Mary Rivington, Margaret Palmer, Anna Rivington, and Gertrude Holmes.
The complex of buildings along the Farmington River at 37 Mill Street in Unionville were once the factory of the Upson Nut Company. The company, which produced nuts and bolts, was founded by Andrew S. Upson (1835-1911), as described in his obituary in The Iron Trade Review, Vol. XLVIII, No. 14 (April 6, 1911):
After receiving his early education in public and private schools, he entered business on his own account. He bought a stock of nuts and bolts made by his brother-in-law, Dwight Langdon, in his shops at Farmington, and with horse and wagon sold his goods throughout New England. Finally he was engaged as regular salesman by Langdon. Upon the death of Langdon, in 1860, Mr. Upson and George Dunham bought the works, adding improved machinery. In 1863 a company formed including Messrs. Upson and Dunham, Samuel Frisbie, Dr. William H. Sage and Gilbert J. Hines, to purchase a patented hot forged nut machine, and in 1864 they organized the Union Nut Co. to manufacture hot forged nuts. In 1865, Mr. Upson purchased Mr. Dunham’s interests and in 1866 he sold out to the Union Nut Co., of Unionville, Conn.
In 1872 the Union company established a western branch in Cleveland, in partnership with the Aetna Nut Co., of Southington, Conn., and the Lamson & Sessions Co., of Cleveland, the organization being known as the Cleveland Nut Co., and erecting a large factory there. By 1877 the interests of the other partners had been purchased by the Union Nut Co., and in 1883, by act of the Connecticut legislature, the name was changed to the Upson Nut Co., the capital being increased finally to $300,000. In 1890 the Upson company absorbed the bolt works of Hotchkiss & Upson, Cleveland, and of Welch & Lea, of Philadelphia. Mr. Upson was elected president and treasurer of the company Sept. 3, 1864, and held the former office until his death. In 1866 he resigned the treasurership and was succeeded by Samuel Frisbie, who held this office and that of secretary until his death in 1897. In 1889, Mr. Upson removed his residence to Cleveland and from that time forward the Cleveland end of the company became the more important, although the works at Unionville have been maintained.
A gable-roofed brick building (c. 1860) is the oldest on the site, while another long flat-roofed building [pictured above] (29 Mill Street, c. 1870) has a facade enhanced by a stepped parapet. The buildings were later owned by the Pioneer Steel Ball Company (established in 1946), but they had been vacant for twenty years when restoration work began in 2013 to develop them for commercial and residential use.