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 Raymond-Bradford Homestead is located on Raymond Hill Road in Montville. As it exists today, the house contains a mixture of eighteenth and nineteenth-century elements. The original part of the building was completed around 1710. The original gable roof was replaced by a hipped roof in about 1820. The original center chimney was replaced by two small brick ones circa 1870. The front door was also altered at that time to accommodate an enlarged hallway. The house was built by Mercy Sands Raymond, one of the noteworthy women of colonial Connecticut and Rhode Island. According to the History of New London County (1882), by Duane Hamilton Hurd:
Joshua Raymond, born Sept. 18, 1660, son of Joshua Raymond, married, April 29, 1683, Mercy Sands, daughter of James Sands, of Block Island. They resided at Block Island. Mr. Raymond having his business in New London, was absent from his family much of the time. The care and management of the home affairs devolved upon his wife, who was a woman of great energy and executive ability. He died at his residence on Block Island in 1704. Soon after his death she removed with her six children to the North Parish of New London, now Montville, where she with Maj. John Merritt purchased a tract of land containing about fifteen hundred acres. She built a house on a commanding site, on what has since been called “Raymond Hill.” Here with her son Joshua she lived until her death. In his will he gave to his son Joshua “the homestead at Block Island, one hundred sheep, twenty cattle, a team and cart,” also “his father’s homestead farm in the Mohegan fields.” She died at Lyme, while on a visit to her friends, May 3, 1741, aged seventy-eight years, and was buried near the stone church in that town.
It is this Mercy Raymond, whose name has been connected, by a mixture of truth and fable, with the story of the noted pirate, Captain Kidd. Mr. Raymond died in 1704, “at the home-seat of the Sands family,” which he had bought of his brother-in-law, Niles, on Block Island. It was a lonely and exposed situation, by the sea-shore, with a landing-place near, where strange sea-craft, as well as neighboring coasters, often touched. Here the family dwelt, and Mr. Raymond being much of the time absent in New London, the care and management of the homestead devolved upon his wife, who is represented as a woman of great thrift and energy.
The legendary tale is, that Capt. Kidd made her little harbor his anchorage-ground, alternately with Gardiner’s Bay; that she feasted him, supplied him with provisions, and boarded a strange lady, whom he called his wife, a considerable time; and that when he was ready to depart, he bade her hold out her apron, which she did, and he threw in handfuls of gold, jewels and other precious commodities, until it was full, as the wages of her hospitality.
This fanciful story was doubtless the development of a simple fact, that Kidd landed upon her farm, and she being solitary and unprotected, took the part of prudence, supplied him freely with what he would otherwise have taken by force, and received his money in payment for her accommodations. The Kidd story, however, became a source of pleasantry and gossip among the acquaintances of the family, and they were popularly said to have been enriched by the apron.
The house descended in the same family for generations.
In 1722, the North Parish of New London, later to become the Town of Montville, was established and a meeting house for the congregation was soon built near the center of the parish. In 1772, a new meeting house was constructed at a new location, at the corner of Raymond Hill Road and Meetinghouse Lane. As described in the History of Montville (1896), compiled by Henry A. Baker:
On the 25th day of May, 1823, while the congregation was engaged in worship on the Sabbath, the house was struck by lightning, the fluid entering by the spire on the north porch and following down the posts of the porch and running along the timbers of the house in all directions, shivering timbers and casements, scattering splinters and broken fragments of ceilings throughout the entire building. Two persons were instantly killed, Mrs. Betsey Bradford, wife of Perez Bradford, and a child of John R. Comstock. Many were shocked and a general consternation seized the awe-stricken assembly.
The building being very much damaged, it was soon after repaired, the upper portion of the north porch was taken off and was finished up at the same height with the south porch. This house stood until the year 1847, when it was taken down and the present house of worship erected on the site, at a cost of $2,000. Sherwood Raymond, Esq., gave $500 toward the building of the house, and the balance was made up by subscriptions varying from $200 to $25. Its size is fifty feet in length and thirty-five feet in width, with twenty-feet posts. In the year 1860 the bell was placed in the belfry, it being obtained through the efforts of Rev. Hiram C. Hayan, then acting pastor of the church.
By the 1990s, the congregation had moved to a new church building and sought to sell the old 1847 Montville Center Congregational Church, but it was found that the church’s deed restricted its sale to a private property owner. The Town of Montville has now sought to purchase the church to turn it into a museum or community center.
On Church Lane in Uncasville near the Tantaquidgeon Museum is the Mohegan Congregational Church. In 1827, land for the church was deeded to the Mohegan Tribe by Lucy Occom Tantaquidgeon, her daughter Lucy Tantaquidgeon Teecomwas, and her granddaughter Cynthia Teecomas Hoscoat. Their friend, missionary Sarah Huntington of Norwich, raised funds and opposed the relocation of the Mohegans during the era of Indian Removal, inspiring her relative, Congressman Jabez W. Huntington, to support the Tribe’s right to remain in Connecticut. The completion in 1831 of a Christian church played an important role at the time in preventing the removal of the Mohegans from their traditional lands. More recently, proof that the church property was the only plot of land that remained continuously owned by the Tribe was a critical factor in the reinstatement of federal recognition in 1994. With new funds, the Mohegan Tribe has restored the church, which has been for so long been a center of tribal political, social, and cultural life.
The Tantaquidgeon Museum, on the Norwich-New London Turnpike in Uncasville (in Montville), is the oldest Native American owned and operated Indian museum in America. The Museum‘s stone building was built in 1931 by three members of the Mohegan Tribe: John Tantaquidgeon, who was blind in one eye and on crutches, with his son, Chief Harold Tantaquidgeon, and daughter Gladys Tantaquidgeon. Dr. Gladys Iola Tantaquidgeon (1899-2005) was a Mohegan Medicine Woman who wrote A Study of Delaware Indian Medicine Practice and Folk Beliefs (1942), later reprinted as Folk Medicine of the Delaware and Related Algonkian Indians. She also did social and economic development work with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Arts and Crafts Board. The Tantaquidgeon House and the Museum building were recently acquired by the Mohegan Tribe. In 2008, the Museum, which contains objects made by Mohegans and members of other Native American tribes, was reopened after renovations.
When Albert C. Raymond of Montville and East Hartford died in 1880, he left $10,000 in trust for the establishment of a library in Montville. A library had existed in Montville Center as early as 1823: the Union Library, a private institution located in an old store on the site of the present Congregational Church. As described in Henry A. Baker’s History of Montville (1896),
After the death of Mrs. Raymond, 16 Sept., 1883, the sum donated for the founding of the Raymond Library was received from the executors of the estate of Albert C. Raymond by the Raymond Library Company, who immediately caused a library building to be erected at a cost of two thousand dollars. The building was a beautiful brick structure, built under a contract by Mr. Robert Turner of Norwich, and completed in the winter of 1884-5. At the annual meeting of the Raymond Library Company, held October 14, 1885, the library building was formally opened to the public; a bountiful collation was prepared by the ladies of the town, which was partaken of and heartily appreciated by all the persons who gathered at the chapel of the Congregational church at Montville Center on the occasion.
The Raymond Library has since been expanded with some very obvious modern additions.
The John Raymond House is located just south-east of the Congregational Church in Montville Center. It is listed as having been owned by John Raymond in 1775 and stood on part of the land which had been granted to Samuel Rogers by Uncas in the seventeenth century. In 1713, the land became part of the Raymond Farm (the house is located on Raymond Hill Road). John Raymond is described by Henry Augustus Baker, in his History of Montville (1896), as follows:
b. 7 Jan., 1748, son of John Raymond and Elizabeth Griswold; married 26 May, 1774, his first cousin, Mercy Raymond, daughter of Joshua Raymond and Lucy Jewett. He was a farmer, and settled at Montville. His farm was located next east from tho Congrogational church, and was afterwards owned by John G. Hillhouse. He was chosen first town clerk of Montville [in 1786], and held the office sixteen years. He died at Montville 30 March, 1828. She died 30 June, 1833.