The building listed in the nomination to the National Register of Historic Places for the Colony Street/West Main Street Historic District as the Cahill Beef Block (55 Colony Street [historically 57 Colony Street] in Meriden) is a Georgian/Neoclassical Revival structure built in 1902-1903. It was also a branch of the Swift Beef Co., as described in Meat-packer Legislation: Hearings Before the Committee on Agriculture, House of Representatives, Sixty-Sixth Congress, Second Session, on Meat-packer Legislation, Tuesday, March 18, 1920:
C. W. Cahill, Meriden, Conn.: Local slaughterer became Swift agent, organized Cahill Beef Co. 1909. Sold out his interest to Swift 1915 because he had to handle Swift goods exclusively. Corporation dissolved 1916. Now Swift branch house.
A more detailed account of Cornelius W. Cahill’s career can be found in An Historic Record and Pictorial Description of the Town of Meriden, Connecticut and the Men Who Have Made It, AKA A Century of Meriden (1906):
He was born in Ireland, Februarv 12. 1844, and his parents located in Middletown when he was three years old. . . .
In 1865 he came to Meriden and became a clerk in the provision store of Samuel C. Paddock where by courteous attention to patrons he made himself not only valuable to his employer but popular with a large number of customers. When he was offered a more lucrative position in the same line of business he made up his mind that he could be as much value in his own store as in that of others and encouraged by his customers, of whom he had made personal friends, established the City Market. After carrying on the business for some time alone he took in a partner, John W. Coe, and continued the business for three years. John W. Coe sold his interest to Patrick Cahill and M. O’Brien. It then became known as Cahill & O’Brien Later with Bartholomew & Coe he went into the pork packing business, but within a year returned to the retail business at the City Market. Some time afterward he retired from the retail business, selling his interest in the City Market to B. B. Lane, and became again the partner of Bartholomew & Coe, who in the meantime had become the Meriden agents for Swift’s beef. At the end of a year Messrs. Coe and Bartholomew retired, selling their interest to Mr. Cahill,; who for the past twenty-five years has continued the wholesale commission business in handling the Swift beef, which at the close of the first century of Meriden’s history has increased to almost mammoth proportions.
In 1903 Swift & Co. erected their present handsome brick building on North Colony street which is equipped with every modern facility for receiving, keeping and handling the large amount of beef shipped daily from Chicago and supplied by Mr. Cahill to the meat markets in the vicinity of Meriden.
The former Swift/Cahill building is now known as The Studios at 55 and features band rehearsal rooms, a recording studio, and a performance hall.
The Myrtle Avenue School in Bridgeport was constructed in two sections, both designed by architect Warren R. Briggs. The first section, a mansard-roofed structure, was built in 1884. A flat-roofed Beaux Arts section was constructed in 1916, fronting 325 Myrtle Street and filling the space that had been the old building’s front yard. The school was later renamed as the Jefferson School. No longer used as a school, the building was altered (with a new pitched roof) to house condominiums under the name Jefferson School Lofts.
In downtown Bridgeport is a vacant and dilapidated 13-acre building complex, which occupies a city block. Ghost hunters are very interested in the building, which was possibly built on a Native American burial ground. The Beaux Arts structure, built in 1922, was once home to the Poli Palace, the Majestic Theater and the Savoy Hotel. The Poli Palace was built by theater impresario Sylvester Z. Poli as a vaudeville house. Mae West appeared at the theater in 1927. It was the largest theater in Connecticut and continued in use (later renamed Loew’s Palace Theater) until 1975. The Majestic Theater was smaller than the Poli Palace. It was in operation as a movie theater until 1971. Both theaters were designed by Thomas W. Lamb. Between the two theaters was the 109-room Savoy Hotel. In 1935 the Prohibition-era gangster and bootlegger Dutch Schultz moved to the Stratfield Hotel across the street for several months after two trials for tax evasion in New York State. It is wondered if he was involved in the murder of two people in the second floor lobby of the Savoy during this period. A month after leaving Bridgeport Dutch Shultz was gunned down in Newark, New Jersey. The city is seeking to redevelop the property.
A subscription library in East Guilford (now Madison), called the “Farmers’ Library,” had existed from 1792 until the 1860s. A new Madison Library Association was formed in 1878. The library’s collection was housed in various places in town until it was lost in a fire in 1895. Eighteen books survived (those checked out at the time of the fire) and the Library Association soon resumed operations. A permanent home for the library was built at 801 Boston Post Road on the corner of Wall Street in Madison in 1900 by Miss Mary Eliza Scranton, who offered the fully furnished building to the town. The library was designed by Henry Bacon, later the architect of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. In 1901, the Library Association was dissolved and the E.C. Scranton Memorial Library was incorporated.
At 243 State Street in New London is Lyric Hall, a commercial building with an auditorium on the second floor. Originally a theater, by the mid-twentieth century the auditorium space was being used for dance classes. The Classical Revival building was designed by architect James Sweeney of New London. The building has had various owners and been used for different purposes over the years. It has recently undergone restoration work and has very recent new owners.
At 758 Main Street in Branford is the imposing James Blackstone Memorial Library, constructed between 1893 and 1896. The library was a gift of Timothy B. Blackstone, a railroad executive born in Branford, in memory of his father. The James Blackstone Memorial Library Association, with a board of trustees consisting of six residents of Branford and the librarian of Yale University, was incorporated in 1893. Blackstone provided an endowment fund $300,000. The monumentally-scaled library, constructed of Tennessee marble with a domed octagonal rotunda, was designed by Solon Spencer Beman of Chicago. It is a Classical Revival building with architectural details modeled on the Erechtheion on the Acropolis in Athens. The dome has murals painted by Oliver Dennett Grover. The library was dedicated on June 17, 1896. There is also a Blackstone Library in Chicago, also designed by Beman and named after Timothy Blackstone.