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.
Harkness Memorial State Park, located on Long Island Sound in Waterford, was once the estate of Edward Harkness (1874-1940) and his wife Mary Harkness. Harkness, one of the richest men in America, inherited great wealth from his father, Stephen V. Harkness, who had been a silent partner of John D. Rockefeller in the Standard Oil Corporation. Used by Harkness as a summer estate, it was called Eolia, named for the island home of Aeolus, Greek God of the winds. The mansion, designed by Lord & Hewlett of New York, was built in 1906 for Jessie and William Taylor, Mary Harkness’s sister and brother-in-law, who sold it the following year. Edward and Mary Harkness then hired their favorite architect James Gamble Rogers to do interior renovations and add a pergola to the property. The estate’s gardens were designed by landscape architect Beatrix Farrand. Mary Harkness left the estate to the State of Connecticut in 1950. The mansion and grounds were restored in the 1990s by lead architect Roger Clarke, with contributions by architect Peter Clarke and consultant on historic gardens Rob Camp Fuoco. Today Eolia is a popular location for weddings (pdf about weddings). Read the rest of this entry »
The Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury was first established in 1877 as the Mattatuck Historical Society. Initially dedicated to preserving the history of Waterbury and its surrounding towns, the Museum‘s mission later expanded its focus to include the work of Connecticut artists. From 1912 to 1987, the Museum was located in the John Kendrick House on West Main Street. It then moved into a former Masonic Temple, located at 160 West Main Street. Built in 1912, the steel-framed Temple, with a facade of brick and limestone, was designed by Waterbury architect W.E. Griggs. The Museum’s new home comprised two distinct structures, meeting at a right angle: the West Main Street building and the Park Place auditorium building. Located between the two wings of this “L” was a former service station (144 West Main Street), built c. 1930, that had a modern retail front added in 1966. This structure was replaced, in 1986, by the Museum’s new entrance and courtyard garden, designed by renowned architect César Pelli, who also renovated the interior of the 1912 building. The materials of the new addition match the brick and limestone of the original building, while the new main entrance has a copper crown, indicating the Museum’s public function. Read the rest of this entry »
The Jewett City Savings Bank was founded in 1873. It began business in an old building, previously occupied by the Jewett City National Bank, which had closed around 1870. The bank moved into a new Romanesque Revival-style building in 1890. According to an article in the Hartford Courant of August 23, 1890 (“Jewett City: Impressions Made on One by the Village After an Absence From It”), the building was “a fine brick structure, and more conveniently arranged banking rooms than it contains cannot be found in the the state outside of the large cities.” Now gone, it was located next to the Slater Library. According to the Jewett City Souvenir (1896), It’s upper floor was “rented for a town clerk’s office and the general business of the town of Griswold.” The bank’s current Neoclassical building at 111 Main Street was built in 1929. A later expansion seems to have more than doubled its size. Read the rest of this entry »