Chartered in 1849, the Norwalk Savings Society occupied various spaces, including rooms in the United Bank Building from 1868 into the early twentieth century. The bank constructed a Classical Revival building at 48 Wall Street in 1923. An interesting incident in the history of Norwalk’s banking industry is related in the 1901 volume Norwalk After Two Hundred & Fifty Years as follows:
The history of a savings bank, as a rule, does not make an exciting narrative, particularly when it is carefully managed and its depositors successful and thrifty. Norwalk’s savings banks have enjoyed every advantage contributing to a peaceful financial life. Once only the Norwalk Savings Society by having a “run,” precipitated by the thoughtless attempt at wit on the part of a local newspaper. In the rear of the Street Railway barn was a high mound which had furnished the building sand of Norwalk for several years and was believed to contain a further abundant supply. Without previous indication the sand was exhausted and cobbles only were found. The local paper, departing from its usual course of recording the sickness of Mrs. Smith’s child or the painting of Brown’s rear fence, essayed a “scoop” on the sandbank incident and announced that the managers of the oldest bank in town were astounded to discover that their reserved deposits, which they believed to be good were on examination found to be worthless. The explanation that the statement referred to a sandbank was never read bv many bank depositors, but grabbing their books, they demanded payment from the old Norwalk Savings Society. To the credit of the paper it must be said that every effort was made by it to overcome the ill effects of its silly joke. Unauthorized statements and injudicious news items have in other cases and in other papers done harm to the business interests of Norwalk, even where every wish of the publishers was for the growth of the industry referred to.
Located at 1175 (1171-1177) Main Street in East Hartford is Comstock Hall, built in 1899 to house a theater (later converted to a roller-skating rink and then demolished) and offices. The classically proportioned building was constructed by Lewis Comstock, a railroad engineer and descendant of an old East Hartford family. In 1926, Comstock erected an adjoining building to the south (1165-1169 Main Street, aka 2 Orchard Street). The two buildings are joined by a continuous first-floor storefront cornice, but the 1899 structure is taller and has a more elaborate classical revival design.
Located across from the triangle in New Haven formed where Temple Street diverges from Whitney Avenue is the home of Berzelius, a senior society at Yale University. Founded in 1848, it is a secret society named for the Swedish scientist Jöns Jakob Berzelius. It was originally founded as part of the Sheffield Scientific School, which was later integrated into Yale University. The building, built in 1910, is located at 78 Trumbull Street. It was designed by architect Donn Barber.
The John Fitch School, at 156 Bloomfield Avenue in Windsor, was built in 1921. It was named in honor John Fitch, who was wounded in King Philip’s War and returned to Windsor where he died in 1676. He left his estate to the town to be used in establishing a school. His bequest continued to help finance higher education in Windsor for 200 years. The Fitch School was designed in the Beaux Arts style by William Henry McClean of Boston. An addition was constructed in 1929 and this addition was expanded to the rear in 1934. Originally a high school it became an elementary school in the 1950s and was converted to senior housing in the 1990s. Read the rest of this entry »
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.