Located at 146 Hartford Road in Manchester is a former office building of the Cheney Brothers silk mills. The office was built in 1910, replacing an earlier office. After the Cheney Brothers mills closed, the building was owned at different times by the electric company and Manchester Community College. Currently it serves as the offices of Fuss & O’Neill, an engineering firm.
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.
At 87 Post Road East (at the intersection of Church Lane) in Westport is a flatiron-type building built in 1924 to house the Westport Bank and Trust Company. The bank was founded in 1852 by Horace Staples (1801-1897) as the Saugatuck Bank. Soon renamed the First National Bank of Westport, it long occupied offices in National Hall in Westport, which it shared with the Westport Savings Bank, founded by Staples in 1863. The two banks merged in 1913 and eleven years later moved into the new building, designed by Charles E. Cutler (1881-1962), in the developing downtown east of the Saugatuck River. The building, later home to Hudson United Bank, has two large (10’x12′) murals that are reminiscent of works of the WPA-era. The murals were painted in 1965 by Robert L. Lambdin (1886-1981), a local artist, and depict scenes from Westport’s history. They are entitled Shipping on the Saugatuck and Hotel Square. In 2005 the building was restored as mixed-use retail space by David Adam Realty, which saved and refurbished the original exterior, terrazzo flooring, murals and four of the five bank vaults.
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 »