The building that today serves as the Town Hall of Montville was built in 1917-1918 as the Uncasville School. Located at 310 Norwich-New London Turnpike, it was designed by Wilson Potter, a New York City-based architect of schools throughout the Northeast. A substantial addition (1925), probably also designed by Potter, consists of the two projecting wings that flank the recessed central block that was the original building. Another one-story addition was made in 1953. The school was the gift of Grace Palmer Melcer, a civic leader and daughter of Edward A. Palmer, a local industrialist. It was built at her own expense as a memorial to her mother, Isabel Mitchell Palmer, who died in 1916. With a substantial number of immigrants from Eastern Europe and elsewhere settling in Montville at the time to work in the the area’s mills, the school had a curriculum that emphasized acculturation and integration. The school, now used as the Town Hall, is located next to a 1938-1939 building that had previously been the Montville Town Hall.
The building at 42 Main Street in North Stonington was built just before 1809 by Daniel Packer and Jedidiah Randall. It served as a store and for a time as a jail. It was moved from another spot on the same lot in the late nineteenth century. The building was the T.S. & H.D. Wheeler Store (a general store) before it was converted into North Stonington‘s Town Hall in 1904. A neighboring garage was converted into a new Town Hall in 1978. Today the old Town Hall is used for the offices of the selectmen, resident state trooper, and other town officials.
In 1886 the Fairfield County Bar Association and county representatives decided that the time had come to build a new county courthouse in Bridgeport. The city’s first courthouse (now called McLevy Hall), built in 1854, had become inadequate and its location near the public square meant that noise from the street, including from streetcars, had become a a nuisance when court was in session. As had occurred before in the 1850s, when the county seat was moved from the town of Fairfield to Bridgeport, the city of Norwalk made its own bid to build the new courthouse, but Bridgeport leaders, including Sidney B. Beardsley and P.T. Barnum, appropriated more funds and won legislative approval. The cornerstone for the building, located near the northwest corner of Golden Hill and Main Streets, was laid on June 24, 1887. Completed in 1888, the Courthouse is a Richardsonian Romanesque structure designed by Warren R. Briggs. There is also a Fairfield County Courthouse in Danbury.
Opened at 300 Main Street in Old Saybrook in 2009 is The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, named for the famous actress who lived in town. Before the building was restored to become a new cultural arts center, it had served from 1911 until 2004 as Old Saybrook’s Town Hall. Designed by New London architect James Sweeney, it was constructed in 1910-1911 to be the Old Saybrook Town Hall and Theater, with town offices in the raised basement and a theater above that was used both for performances and community gatherings. A driving force behind the building‘s construction was Joseph A. Cone, a printer, performer and musician, and the Old Saybrook Musical and Dramatic Club, which he had founded. Unfortunately, by the 1950s the old theater space had been subdivided for more town offices. Today it again serves its original purpose as a performance space.
The house at 895 Saybrook Road in Haddam was built by the brothers Nehemiah and John Brainerd to serve as a social hall called Brainerd Hall. The brothers owned a granite quarry that they opened in 1792. Brainerd Hall was constructed soon after the brothers’ uncle Hezekiah Brainerd and his wife Elizabeth acquired the land from Elizabeth’s father, John Wells, in 1794. After John Brainerd’s death in 1841, the hall housed students at the nearby Brainerd Academy, a school established by the Brainerd brothers.. After 1857, Erastus G. Dickinson operated the Golden Bull Tavern in the building. It remained in the Dickinson family until 1964.
The brick commercial building at 242-244 Main Street in Bristol was built c. 1873 to house the Bristol Savings Bank. Organized in 1870 by Miles Lewis Peck, the bank was previously located in a building that was destroyed by fire in 1873. Bristol town offices were housed on the upper floor of the building until the turn of the century. The space was then occupied by the Bristol Chamber of Commerce. The building is now home to The Shaffer Company, Inc., a mechanical contracting company founded in 1890.
Mapleton Hall, at 1305 Mapleton Avenue in Suffield, was constructed in 1883. First known as Central Hall and located on Crooked Lane, which was soon changed to Mapleton Avenue, the building was used as a meeting hall for town government and farmers’ associations. As described in Celebration of the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Settlement of Suffield, Connecticut, October 12, 13 and 14, 1920:
A strong community spirit has characterized the people residing in that part of the town long known as Crooked Lane and later as Mapleton. Early in the seventies they began to hold Lyceum and Farmers’ meetings in the old brick school house at the foot of the hill. It became too small for the interesting meetings and in the winter of 1879-80 a public hall was suggested. This sentiment quickly grew and at a meeting early in 1880 a committee consisting of Cecil H. Fuller, Arthur Sikes and Edward Austin was appointed to draw up articles of organization and agreement. They were presented at a meeting at the school house April 16, 1880, and an association organized. The articles of agreement were accepted and the following officers elected: president, Edward Austin; secretary, John L. Wilson; auditor, Dwight S. Fuller; trustees, Cecil H. Fuller, Henry D. Tinker and D. D. Bement. In the next two years enough money was raised so that the construction of Mapleton Hall was begun in the spring of 1882. It was ready for use in January of the next year and was dedicated January 16 with exercises that included an “old home week.” At first it was called Central Hall, but the name was later changed to Mapleton Hall. In 1896 a large addition was built to meet the requirements. All debts are paid and the association has money in the treasury.
The old Lyceum and Farmers’ meetings were continued in the new hall till 1885, when the Grange was organized to take their places. The organization occurred February 19, 1885 with Henry D. Tinker, master, Arthur Sikes, secretary and George A. Austin, lecturer. From that time till the present the organization has held meetings twice a month. When organized there were twenty-eight charter members; the membership is now two hundred.
Mapleton Hall later fell into disrepair but was restored over twenty years by the Mapleton Hall Association. Since 1978 it has been the principal performing space of the Suffield Players, who purchased the building in 1999.