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.
The Post Office at 150 Main Street in Thomaston (pdf) was built in 1937 and was dedicated in 1938. The building features a WPA/New Deal-era mural, “Early Clock Making,” painted in 1939 by Lucerne and Suzanne McCullough, twin sisters from New Orleans.
On Library Road in Middlebury is a Georgian Revival building built in 1898. It was originally Center School, a two-room schoolhouse, and later served as a town hall annex and then as the town library, and now is occupied by the Middlebury Historical Society.
Brandegee Hall, at 983 Worthington Ridge in Berlin, was built in 1884 by William Brandegee to be used for concerts, plays and other entertainments such as roller-skating. In 1907, the building was acquired by the town of Berlin and used as a Town Hall until 1974. Over the years it also housed a post office, the Berlin Grange and the Berlin Playhouse, a local theater group. With the erection of a new Town Hall, the old building was sold to a private owner and used for storage. Having fallen into disrepair, the Hall was renovated in the early 2000s in response to the town’s new blighted property ordinance.