At 3237 Bronson Road in Fairfield is the parsonage of the Greenfield Hill Congregational Church. It is a Greek Revival residence built in 1874. As related in Ye Church and Parish of Greenfield (1913), by George H. Merwin:
About the time Mr. Smith accepted the call to Greenfield, the parsonage matter was agitated again, perhaps to some extent due to the suggestion in the pastor’s letter of acceptance in regard to a home “for himself and family free from rent.” A committee consisting of Morris M. Merwin and Oliver Burr was appointed to investigate the matter. This committee, on June 24, 1873, reported that Dea. William B. Morehouse had that day purchased an acre of land of B. B. Banks for $1,000, and offered the same to the society for $400; and in addition Dea. Morehouse offered $1,000 more as his subscription towards a building. Other subscriptions were coming in rapidly, and the parsonage question was now solved. The following were appointed as a building committee: Oliver Burr, M. M. Merwin, Rev. H. B. Smith, Dea. W. B. Morehouse and Dea. N. B. Hill. Work was started at once by the contractor, Mr. Uriah Perry, but the building was not entirely completed until the spring of 1874, the pastor’s family living in the meantime in the small house owned by Mr. B. B. Banks.
Some of the items of expense in connection with the building of the parsonage are these:
- One and one-fourth acres land $1300.
- Contract for house $3575.
- Extras on house $150.
- Barns and out-buildings $405.
- Well, etc. (dug by Joel Banks) $231.
- Fences, painting, etc. $325.
- Flagging stone, drain, etc. $200.
A vote of the society ordered that no more be spent on the parsonage than should be subscribed for that purpose, so no indebtedness was incurred.
A sign on a tree on the Parsonage property reads:
Rev. H.B. Smith in
1876, the Church’s
The Greenfield Hill section of Fairfield began as a farming community in the early eighteenth century. Local residents successfully petitioned the General Assembly to establish a Congregational church in 1725 as a new Northwest Parish, separate from the Fairfield Congregational Church. The first meeting house was erected in 1727. As related in Ye Church and Parish of Greenfield (1913) by George H. Merwin:
The new meeting-house which was so acceptably framed during the summer of 1727, was not completed at once. The members of the parish were evidently not inclined to tax themselves too heavily during any one year, for we must remember that all parish expenses were met by a tax rate levied at the annual parish meeting precisely the same as we now levy the annual town tax. So each year, for five years or more, the parish voted to raise a rate for Mr. Goodsell’s salary, and for the carrying on of the work on the meeting-house. We have conclusive evidence that the new meeting-house was in use at least as early as 1730 for the records of the meeting held October 13 of that year state that “ye school shall be kept in ye old school-house where ye parish used to meet in.”
Mr. Pomeroy had been pastor but a short time when the society decided to build a new meeting-house. The old meeting-house had been in use scarcely thirty-three years, yet it was becoming dilapidated, and out of date. Its shape was like that of the common country school-house, perfectly plain; there was no steeple and no place for a bell. A young and active preacher and a parish of loyal and prosperous people demanded a more up-to-date house of worship.
So on February 4, 1760, it was voted “that a new meeting-house be built; that it shall stand on the Place of Parade, where now stands a monument of stones, and that Samuel Bradley Jr. shall be a committee to apply to the county court in behalf of the parish, to affix and establish the place on which it shall stand.” A few weeks later it was decided that “the dimensions of the building shall be 60 by 42 feet, with a well-proportioned and well-built steeple; that Samuel Bradley Jr. and Moses Dimon Esq. shall be the committee for building said new meeting-house.”
As related by Merwin, the next meeting house was built in 1845:
Soon after Mr. Sturges’ settlement, the subject of building a new house of worship was agitated. It seemed unwise to expend more in the repair of the old meeting-house, which had been in use for more than eighty years. The hardest problem to solve was not the raising of funds, but how to get the consent of the pew-owners, who held their pews by deeds derived from their fathers. But after much labor on the part of the pastor, Governor Tomlinson, and others, the necessary vote was secured to pull down the old and build a new meeting-house.
[…] The plans and specifications had been furnished by the noted New York architect, Richard Upjohn, the designer of Trinity Church, New York, and many other churches and public buildings. The style of the church was what was commonly known in architecture as “Gothic,” and considered by everyone as very beautiful. During the few years it remained standing it was known as the handsomest church in this section.
On November 2, 1850, the Ladies’ Sewing Society asked permission to place a furnace under the church at their own expense; their request was readily granted, but the furnace, perhaps through improper management, proved to be a poor investment and most disastrous in destroying property, for three years later, after having been in use but little more than five years, between Sunday evening, November 13, and the morning of November 14, 1853, this most beautiful and much-admired house of worship was entirely consumed by fire. The loss was a great disappointment to those who had built the church at much expense, toil and sacrifice, and we do not wonder that they felt somewhat discouraged.
The Gothic church was soon replaced by a new one:
It was voted that this church should have a basement under at least two-thirds of it, and Thomas Merwin and William Sherwood took the contract for the excavation. Albert C. Nash furnished the plans, for which he was paid $100. The mason work of the underpinning was performed by John Conrad, the contractor for the carpenter work was David Smith of Black Rock (brother of Franklin Smith of Greenfield), the contract price being $5,500. The interior decorating of walls, considered at the time a work of art, was done by Oris Fritz of New York, for $250. A new bell was purchased at a cost of $276.80, and put in place October 4, 1854, but the building was not entirely completed and accepted by the society until February, 1855[.]
The current Greenfield Hill Congregational Church was dedicated on April 10, 1855.
The house at 72 Willow Street in Southport was built in 1796 by Paul King Sheffield (1764-1845). Born in Stonington, Sheffield engaged in privateering during the Revolutionary War with his father and brother in an armed vessel they equipped and sailed themselves. After the war he moved to Fairfield and married Mabel Thorp, daughter of Capt. Walter Thorp, and became a ship-master and ship-owner. The house on Willow Street was the childhood home of Paul King Sheffield’s son, Joseph Earl Sheffield (1793-1882), who grew up to become a wealthy railroad magnate and philanthropist. Later a resident of New Haven, Sheffield gave Yale University a building and a $130,000 endowment for its scientific department, which was renamed the Sheffield Scientific School in his honor.
At 3015 Bronson Road in Fairfield is a windmill erected in 1893-1894 by Frederic Bronson on his estate, called Verna Farm. Standing 105 feet high, the Bronson Windmill pumped water from a well 75 feet below ground into a 7,500-gallon wooden storage tank 70 feet up inside the windmill. Note: the wheel on top of the windmill was not installed at time the photo above was taken. It remained in operation into the 1930s. The estate became the property of the Fairfield Country Day School, which gave the windmill to the Town of Fairfield in 1971. The windmill was restored around 1980. Damaged after a storm in 1996, the Bronson Windmill was restored under the management of the Fairfield Historical Society. Today it also serves as a cell phone tower: Sprint restored and rebuilt part of the structure as part of its leasing agreement.
The building at 227 Main Street in the village of Southport in Fairfield was built in 1833 as a bank. It was originally a branch of the Connecticut Bank of Bridgeport, chartered in 1832. The branch later became the Southport Bank, independently chartered in 1851 (it became the Southport National Bank in 1865). After an embezzlement (Oliver T. Sherwood, the bank’s Cashier, was charged with defaulting on bank notes after he fled town; he was later imprisoned) the Southport National Bank went into receivership in 1903 and was reorganized as the Southport Trust Company. The building was converted into a residence in 1923.
The oldest house in Fairfield is the John Osbourne House at 909 King’s Highway, West. The oldest section consists of the original center-chimney block, which probably began as one-room and was then expanded. A lean-to added several decades after the house was built. The traditional date of construction is 1673, but the later date of 1734 is more likely. The house is traditionally associated with John Osborne, who married in 1673. His father Richard fought in the Pequot War and received a grant of land for his services. The last battle of the war was fought in 1637 in Pequot Swamp, which is located adjacent to the house. The colonial-era section of the house is flanked at both ends by two twentieth-century wings.
The house at 608 Harbor Road in Southport was built in the early nineteenth century (perhaps c. 1834) for Capt. Jeremiah Sturges, a shipbuilder. As related in the Commemorative Biographical Record of Fairfield County, Connecticut (1899), Sturges
also carried on a drug store and a coal yard. He owned some oceangoing ships, having nine vessels in the Mediterranean trade, besides several in the coastwise trade and in the West Indies trade. He was one of the most public spirited men of his times, and a great benefactor to humanity. He was largely instrumental in securing the building of the breakwater, himself being the contractor. Jeremiah Sturges married Maria Shelton. daughter of Philo Shelton, of Bridgeport, and by her had children as follows: Henry, and Henryetta, who married Henry Perry, a brother of Francis and Charles Perry. Jeremiah Sturges was prominent in political affairs, and he was president of the bank for many years. He taught navigation to all the sea captains of the State, keeping what was substantially a school of navigation. He died in the year 1845, his wife in 1861.
Jeremiah Sturges was also in charge of the Mill River Fencibles, a militia unit of the War of 1812. His son, Henry Sturges, succeeded to his father’s business. As further related in the Commemorative Biographical Record of Fairfield County, Connecticut (1899):
Though he followed shipbuilding only for a time, yet he retained his interest in the marine business for some years, retiring altogether early in life. Some time previous to the breaking out of the Civil war he purchased a farm in Plymouth, Litchfield county, on which he lived for some ten or twelve years, and then he purchased a plantation in southwest Georgia, which he kept seven years. This he exchanged for various properties, inclnding a farm on the Raritan river, and engaged in dairying on a large scale. After six or seven years thus spent. he retired from farming and dairying and returned to Southport, where he lived the remainder of his days. Though he was a graduate of Trinity College and a licensed lawyer, yet he never practiced law. Politically, he was a Republican, and had much to do in the way of administrator of estates, holding also several minor offices.
Mr. Sturges married Henryetta Baldwin, daughter of Abram Dudley Baldwin, of Greenfield Hill. He and his wife had six children, viz.: Jeremiah; Henry, living in Montreal, Canada; Henryetta Maria, married to Dr. William L. Wells; Dr. Abram Baldwin Sturges, of Southport; Anna B., married to John A. Gorham, of Southport: and William Shelton Sturges. Henry Sturges died in 1885