Archive for the ‘Norfolk’ Category

Battell Chapel, Norfolk (1887-1888)

Sunday, February 17th, 2013 Posted in Churches, Norfolk, Romanesque Revival | 1 Comment »

Battell Chapel

Next to the Congregational Church in Norfolk, facing the Green, is the Battell Chapel, an impressive granite building constructed by Mrs. Urania Battell Humphrey of Brooklyn in honor of her parents, Sarah and Joseph Battell. Designed by J. Cleveland Cady of New York in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, it was built in 1887-1888 and given to the Congregational Church for religious uses. The church has five Tiffany windows, installed in 1929 as a gift from Ellen Battell Stoeckel. A wing was later added to the Chapel for offices.

Infinity Hall (1883)

Saturday, October 29th, 2011 Posted in Commercial Buildings, Norfolk, Shingle Style, Theaters | 3 Comments »

The building now known as Infinity Hall in Norfolk opened in 1883 as the Norfolk Village Hall. It was designed by an unknown architect, but is similar to buildings in the shingle style by noted architect Stanford White. The building originally served as a cultural center and contained an opera house, general store, barbershop, saloon and several town offices. The theater closed in the 1940s and various retail businesses continued on the first floor until the building was closed in 1994. In 1998, playwrights and theater producers Maura Cavanaugh and Richard Smithies purchased and restored the building as the Greenwoods Theater, which closed in 2007 due to financial difficulties. It opened again under new owners as Infinity Hall, a performing arts theater and restaurant.

Whitehouse (1799)

Friday, July 29th, 2011 Posted in Colonial Revival, Federal Style, Houses, Norfolk | 1 Comment »

The Joseph Battell House, a 1799 mansion off Norfolk Green on the Ellen Battell Stoeckel Estate, has long been known as “Whitehouse,” its name predating that of the White House in Washington, D.C. The house was built by Joseph Battell, a wealthy merchant whose store had become the market center for the region. He built the house for his future bride, Sarah Robbins, daughter of Rev. Ammi Ruhamah Robbins, minister of the Congregational Church next door. One of their sons, Robbins Battell, was born in the house in 1819 and died there in 1895. An 1839 Yale graduate, Robbins Battell was an adviser to Abraham Lincoln, and a benefactor to his town and Yale University. Called by Frederic S. Dennis “the father of modern Norfolk,” Battell was also a composer and art collector, who had a picture gallery at Whitehouse containing the works of many notable American artists. His only daughter, Ellen, was raised in Whitehouse and later lived there with her second husband, Carl Stoeckel. They were great patrons of music, constructing the Music Shed on their Norfolk estate in 1906. Carl Stoeckel died in 1925 and when Ellen died in 1939, she bequeathed the estate as a trust, primarily for the performance of music under the auspices of Yale University. It continues as the home of the Yale Summer School of Music–Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. Whitehouse, which has been enlarged and altered over the years, is currently being renovated.

Giles Pettibone Tavern (1794)

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011 Posted in Federal Style, Houses, Norfolk, Taverns & Inns | No Comments »

In 1794, Giles Pettibone, Jr., son of Col. Giles Pettibone and grandson of Jonathan Pettibone of Simsbury, built a tavern on the Green in Norfolk. After Giles Pettibone died in 1811, according to The Norfolk Village Green (1917), by Frederic S. Dennis,

His son Jonathan Humphrey Pettibone, who died in 1832, succeeded his father as Tavern keeper. This Tavern a little later was kept by John A. Shepard […] This Tavern was known as Shepard’s Tavern and during the stage coach era was a place of great activity. Here the stages stopped to change horses en route between Hartford and Albany and between Winsted and Canaan. This Tavern was in late years rebuilt for a private residence by Mr. Frederick M. Shepard, the son of Capt. John A. Shepard, and was occupied by him and his family as a summer residence. […] An interesting fact connected with the old Tavern is that seven generations of the Shepard family have lived in it.

The Tavern is now covered with aluminum siding, but the central doorway surround is the original wood.

The Joseph Jones House (1776)

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011 Posted in Colonial, Houses, Norfolk | No Comments »

According to a sign on the Joseph Jones House on Norfolk Green, it was built in 1776 (although according to another source, the house was built in 1780). Again, according to the sign, Jones was a tailor, town clerk and postmaster in Norfolk and served in the Revolutionary War. He married Abigail Seward in 1772.

Church of Christ Congregational of Norfolk (1813)

Sunday, August 1st, 2010 Posted in Churches, Federal Style, Norfolk | 1 Comment »

Rev. Joseph Eldridge describes the erection of the first meeting house in Norfolk in the History of Norfolk (1900):

In dimensions it was fifty feet by forty, and of suitable height for galleries, without a steeple. In 1759, two years previous to the settlement of Mr. [Ammi Ruhamah] Robbins, [Norfolk’s first minister, who also served as an army chaplain during the Revolutionary War] the house was raised and covered. In 1761, the year of his ordination, it was underpinned and the lower floor laid. Such was its condition when he was ordained in it. In 1767 the gallery floor was laid; 1769 the lower part of the house and the pulpit were finished. January 2, 1770, it was, in the words of the time, dignified and seated; that is, the places to be occupied by those of various ages determined, and individuals located in them, as is done now. The next year the galleries were completed, and a cushion for the pulpit procured. The outside was painted the color of a peach blossom.

This meeting house, which was painted white in 1793, was taken down in 1813 and a new meeting house, designed by David Hoadley, was constructed. As Frederic S. Dennis explains, in The Norfolk Village Green (1917):

in 1814 the second Meeting House was finished, 60 by 45 feet in dimensions, and with a steeple and bell. This was built near the site of the original and was erected under the supervision of Michael F. Mills, who was appointed as agent by the society to build the best house he could for $6,000. It is still in existence; but after the death of Rev. Joseph Eldridge [in 1875] the interior was beautifully decorated and painted, a new platform and pulpit erected, electric lights installed, a new organ donated, Munich stained glass windows placed behind the pulpit, all through the great generosity of the Eldridge and Battell families.

As Dennis further writes:

The Meeting House as it now stands is a model of colonial church architecture. Its symmetry, its proportions, its graceful steeple, its artistic Sir Christopher Wren spire, its site on the knoll overlooking the Green, its beautiful interior decoration, its magnificent organ, make it one of the most attractive and beautiful in New England. One feature is most unusual to find in a Congregational church, a cross at the apex of the spire. It is “the only Puritan Meeting House whose spire from the first was surmounted by a cross and the same cross still points skyward.” This cross was evidently placed on the steeple in [1814] according to dates found in Rev. Thomas Robbins‘s diary.

Nineteenth-century Italianate alterations to the front facade of the Church of Christ Congregational of Norfolk were removed in 1926 and replaced with the current two-story pillared front porch, the gift of Alice Eldridge Bridgman, completed in 1927.

Norfolk Library (1888)

Thursday, May 13th, 2010 Posted in Libraries, Norfolk, Romanesque Revival | No Comments »

Frederic S. Dennis, in The Norfolk Village Green (1917), writes that the earliest library in Norfolk dates to 1761:

A library company was then formed, and about 150 volumes were collected; and this library remained in activity about thirty-five years, when it was dissolved, the books to be distributed among the original donors. In 1824 a second library was formed and incorporated with 142 volumes, besides periodicals. Like its predecessor it was short lived and dissolved in 1866. The books passed into the hands of Mrs. Charlotte Mills, and Miss Louise Stevens, who subsequently founded a third library, which was in the hands of a committee. This new Library was placed on a business basis and a yearly fee of one dollar was charged for membership. It continued for a year and its books formed the nucleus of a fourth Library. In 1881 Miss Isabella Eldridge opened a reading room in the Scoville house on the Green, and the books of the third Library were placed there.

Isabella Eldridge’s reading room was so successful, that in 1888 she decided to endow a library in memory of her parents, the Rev. Joseph Eldridge and Sarah Battell Eldridge. She hired architect George Keller of Hartford to design the Norfolk Library, which was constructed in 1888 and opened to the public in 1889. The library has a first floor built of red freestone, quarried at Longmeadow, Massachusetts. The upper floors feature fish scale shingles and the original roof had fluted Spanish tile, since replaced. In 1911, Keller designed a reading room, added to the rear of the Library. A later addition is the children’s wing of 1985, designed by Alec Frost and also constructed of Longmeadow red freestone.