Yesterday I featured the Gurdon Perry House, located at 780 Harbor Road in Southport in Fairfield. Nearby at 712 Harbor Road is the home of Austin Perry, brother of Gurdon. Both men were members of a family of wealthy ship owners and merchants. Both houses were built around the same time, circa 1830, but the Austin Perry House had a Corinthian portico added in the 1840s. It is considered to be one of the finest porticos of its type on a house in the United States.
The house at 780 Harbor Road in the Southport section of Fairfield was built circa 1830 by Walter Perry (1770-1837) for his son Gurdon Perry (1807-1869). The Perry family were ship owners and merchants and Walter Perry owned Southport’s waterfront district. While typical of the large homes of wealthy merchants of the time, the house was built when Southport was just about to experience two decades of phenomenal growth as a shipping port. Merchants in Southport would soon be constructing even grander residences with greater architectural ambitions.
Southport was for many years a part of the Fairfield parish. The people of Southport, having built a meeting-house in their own village in 1841, resolved at a meeting held February 18, 1843, to form a new church, and therefore called a council of the five neighboring churches for March 7, 1843. This council organized “The Southport Congregational Church,” with a membership of twenty-eight. The sermon in the afternoon was by the Rev. Lyman Hotchkiss Atwater, of Fairfield. In the evening the meeting-house was set apart to the worship of God, the Rev. Dr. Nathaniel Hewit, of Bridgeport, preaching the dedication sermon. The church was received into the Fairfield West Consociation June 6, 1843.
The Pequot Library in Southport (in Fairfield) was founded in 1889 by Elbert B. Monroe and his wife, Virginia Marquand Monroe (1837-1926), who was the adopted daughter of Fairfield jeweler and businessman Frederick Marquand. The library building, located at 720 Pequot Avenue in Southport, was built in 1893 on the the grounds of the Marquand home, a Greek Revival house built in 1832, which was demolished to make way for the library. This was a site originally settled by Frederick Marquand‘s ancestor Henry Marquand in 1768. Frederick Marquand‘s brother was Henry G. Marquand, the noted financier, philanthropist and art collector. The library opened to the public in April of 1894. Constructed of sandstone blocks with a red tile roof, the building was designed by architect Robert H. Robertson.
The saltbox house at 349 Beach Road in Fairfield was built before 1750. The residence of Ebenezer Peter Bulkeley, it is one of the few houses to survive the burning of Fairfield by the British in 1779.
A group of Fairfield Episcopalians met in 1853 to form what became St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. The church was built in 1855-1856 on what had been the previous site of two successive Fairfield County jails (the first was burnt by the British in 1779 and the second by a prisoner in 1852). The church expanded several times: in 1891 the parish built an addition for its Sunday school and Women’s Auxiliary and in 1928 started a project that produced a transept, expanded the chancel, added a chapel adjoining the chancel and built what is now the parish hall. A new wing, dedicated in 1959, was built on land where the Old Academy had stood (it was moved to its current location on the Green in 1958).
Known as “The Orchard,” the Gen. Gold Selleck Silliman House is located at 506 Jennings Road in Fairfield. A general in the Revolutionary War, Silliman took part in the Battle of Ridgefield in 1777. In May 1779, Silliman and his son were captured in their home by a party of tories who had crossed Long Island Sound in the night. U.S. Navy Captain David Hawley later captured Thomas Jones, a highly reputed loyalist, to exchange for Silliman a year after his capture. Gen. Silliman‘s house was also used as a place of refuge by citizens fleeing the British burning of Fairfield on July 8, 1779. Gen. Silliman’s son, Benjamin Silliman, became the first professor of science at Yale University and the first to distill petroleum.