The Wallingford Public Library was first organized in 1881 as The Ladies’ Library and Reading Room Association. In its early years, the library occupied space in several locations, including the Wallace Block and the Simpson Block. The library was able to move into its own building through a bequest of Samuel Simpson (1814-1894) in memory of his daughter, Martha DeEtte Simpson (1841-1882). He donated land at 60 North Main Street, $25,000 for construction and $20,000 for an endowment fund. The cornerstone of the building, designed by Wilson Potter, was laid on September 21, 1899 by Margaret Tibbits, Samuel Simpson’s great-granddaughter. That same year, the library became a free library. In 1958 membership was opened to men as well as women and the name was legally changed to the Wallingford Public Library Association. An addition was constructed in 1931 and the building was extensively renovated in 1962, but the need for more space led to the construction of a new library at 200 North Main Street in 1982. The cornerstone for the new structure was laid by the same great-granddaughter of Samuel Simpson, Margaret Tibbits Taber (1891-1985)! The former library was converted into office space. The current owner is considering future uses for the old library.
A chapter (called a “tribe”) of the Improved Order of Red Men was established in Bristol in 1890. The organization constructed a three-story brick meeting hall at 43 Prospect Street in Bristol in 1911. Designed by Walter Crabtree and built by B.H. Hubbard Co. of New Britain, the Redmen’s Hall had a state armory on the first floor and a meeting hall on an upper floor. Many town events were held in the hall in the early years of the twentieth century. In 1940 the building was renovated to become a movie theater called the Carberry Theater. The building is now owned by the Christian Fellowship Center.
G. Fox & Company, the legendary Hartford department store, was founded as a fancy goods store in 1847 by Gerson Fox. It was later expanded into a department store under the leadership of his son, Moses Fox, and then his granddaughter, Beatrice Fox Auerbach (1887–1968). After renting space during its early years, G. Fox built the first building of its own on Main Street in Hartford in 1880-1881. Damaged during a fire in the Averill building next door in 1887, four years later Moses Fox purchased the building that had replaced the Averill for his expanding store. A devastating fire destroyed the G. Fox properties along Main Street on January 29, 1917. The store soon rebuilt, constructing a grand eleven-story building, designed by Cass Gilbert, the leading master of the Neoclassical Revival style. In the 1930s, Beatrice Fox Auerbach updated the store’s interiors in the Art Deco style and added the prominent Art Deco marquee to the front of the building. G. Fox closed its doors in 1993 but, a decade later, the building found new use as the home of Capitol Community College.
At the head of the Town Green in Ellington is the Hall Memorial Library, which first opened in 1903. The building was designed by architect Wilson Potter of New York, who specialized in schools and libraries and also designed the Bristol Public Library. The library was the gift of Francis Hall, who had left Ellington for Elmira, NY, in honor of his father, Judge John Hall, and his brother, Edward Hall, who had both headed renowned schools in Ellington. A bookseller, Francis Hall went to Japan in 1859 to collect material for a book and to serve as correspondent for Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune. He kept a detailed diary of his experiences in Japan from 1859 to 1866. In Yokohama, he helped found Walsh, Hall and Co., which became the leading American trading house in Japan. Two acres of land in Ellington were purchased from Chauncey C. Chapman for the library, with the understanding that the remaining part of the property would be maintained as a green. A 19,000 square foot addition was made to the library in 1992. Click for some postcard images of the library: 001, 002, 003.
The Central National Bank Building, at 363 Main Street in Middletown, was built in 1915. The bank was in business from 1865 to 1955. Considered to be the first modern office building in Middletown, it later housed Hartford National Bank and Trust and now Webster Bank.
Mary Stillman Harkness her husband Edward Harkness were philanthropists who had a mansion in New York City and a summer estate in Waterford called Eolia. Mrs. Harkness, who was a fiend of Katharine Blunt, president of Connecticut College from 1929-1943 and 1945-1946, gave the college a residence hall: Mary Harkness House, completed in 1934. In 1938 she also provided funds to build a chapel and an endowment for its upkeep. Harkness Chapel, which has a granite facade, was designed by architect James Gamble Rogers in a style he called “colonial Georgian.” Rogers was the Harkness family’s favorite architect and Mrs. Harkness was intimately involved in the details of the chapel’s construction. The nondenominational Harkness Chapel was consecrated January 14, 1940.
The former home of the Savings Bank of New London, now used as a branch of Citizens Bank, is located at 63 Eugene O’Neill Drive in New London. The Savings Bank of New London was incorporated in 1827. Offices were located in the Union Bank & Trust Company’s building on State Street until the Savings Bank built its own building on Main Street (now Eugene O’Neil Drive) in 1852. This building was expanded with two wings in 1890. The current facade dates to the period of 1903 to 1905, when the earlier building was completely enclosed by a new structure, designed by Dudley Saint Clair Donnelly, an important New London architect. The bank has an elaborately ornamented exterior of “Milford Pink” granite from Milford, Mass. The facade is slightly curved to conform with the curve in the street.