In 1822 Solomon Bidwell built a three-floor hotel at 1220 Main Street in Coventry. After Solomon died in 1858, his son Nathan Lyman ran the business, adding a wing to expand the hotel. When Nathan L. Bidwell died in 1877, it passed to his son Charles (died 1881) and then to Charles’ widow Lydia (died 1918). The hotel ceased operating in 1938. The Greek Revival building has a Colonial Revival two-story open porch across its front facade, added in the early twentieth century.
Built in 1737 by Nathaniel Lathrop, its prosperity was maintained by his son, Azariah. From here was started the first stage coach to Providence in 1768. In 1829 the property was sold to the Union Hotel Company, who erected the present building, which was later used for a boarding school.
According to Mary Elizabeth Perkins in her book Old Houses of the Antient Town of Norwich (1895):
Azariah died in 1810, aged 82, leaving the house to his widow, and son, Augustus [. . .]. Augustus Lathrop died in 1819, and in 1821, the administrator of the estate sells the tavern to Bela Peck. It was shortly after partly destroyed by fire. In 1829, the land was sold to the Union Hotel Company, who erected the large brick house now standing, which was used for some years as a hotel, but when the courts were moved to the Landing, lost its popularity, was later occupied as a boarding school, and was finally sold to John Sterry, who now occupies it as a summer residence.
In the early twentieth century, the building became The Johnson Home, a home for aged and needy Protestant woman (now accepting all denominations) incorporated in 1907 by the Connecticut branch of the King’s Daughters, a Christian philanthropic organization. A description of “The Johnson Home for Old Ladies” is given in the Report of the State Board of Charities to the Governor for the Twenty-one Months Ended June 30, 1920 (1921):
The Johnson Home is one of the more recently established places of this character and is situated near the Green in the Norwich Town district, about two miles north from the center of the city. Electric cars pass near the house.
The building occupied is a large brick structure, three stories high, which, some years ago, was an old-time inn. There are accommodations for eleven residents, and all of the rooms give an impression of home-like comfort. The management of the Home is liberal and few restrictions are imposed in the life of the occupants. An entrance fee of $500 is required for each person accepted as a resident in the Home.
The Somers Inn, 585 Main Street in Somers, originally opened in 1804 as the Kibbe Hotel (some sources indicate 1768, which may have been an earlier building on the site). It was run by Warren Kibbe and then by George Kibbe. The building started as a Federal-style structure with a hip roof, but it was remodeled around 1860 as a Greek Revival building. In 1931 it became Ye Olde Homestead Inn, run by Alphonse and Hilda Joerg and George and Emily Schiessl. In the early 1960s was renamed The Somers Inn. The historic property, which has not offered lodgings in many years, has been a popular restaurant. It was recently sold and reopened in April as the Copper House Tavern.
Dating to 1857 (or perhaps as early as 1845 according to the nomination for the Hazardville Historic District) in the village of Hazardville in Enfield is the former Hazardville Hotel at 312 Hazard Avenue. The hotel was built and operated by Sylvester Charter. Today the building is used as retail space. Read the rest of this entry »
Built in 1868 along Long Island Sound in Niantic, the Morton House Hotel (215 Main Street) has been in continuous operation for over a century. Also known as the Old Morton House, the building contains 38 guest rooms and a restaurant. Read the rest of this entry »
In downtown Bridgeport is a vacant and dilapidated 13-acre building complex, which occupies a city block. Ghost hunters are very interested in the building, which was possibly built on a Native American burial ground. The Beaux Arts structure, built in 1922, was once home to the Poli Palace, the Majestic Theater and the Savoy Hotel. The Poli Palace was built by theater impresario Sylvester Z. Poli as a vaudeville house. Mae West appeared at the theater in 1927. It was the largest theater in Connecticut and continued in use (later renamed Loew’s Palace Theater) until 1975. The Majestic Theater was smaller than the Poli Palace. It was in operation as a movie theater until 1971. Both theaters were designed by Thomas W. Lamb. Between the two theaters was the 109-room Savoy Hotel. In 1935 the Prohibition-era gangster and bootlegger Dutch Schultz moved to the Stratfield Hotel across the street for several months after two trials for tax evasion in New York State. It is wondered if he was involved in the murder of two people in the second floor lobby of the Savoy during this period. A month after leaving Bridgeport Dutch Shultz was gunned down in Newark, New Jersey. The city is seeking to redevelop the property.
This week the focus is on the Borough of Fernwick in Old Saybrook. A peninsula of land located where the Connecticut River flows into Long Island Sound, Fenwick was purchased in 1870 by the New Saybrook Company, with the financial backing of the Charter Oak Life Insurance Company of Hartford. The land was thereafter developed as a summer resort for wealthy citizens, many from Hartford. By 1899, when it was incorporated as a borough, the avenues of Fenwick were lined with numerous summer houses, referred to as cottages. There was also the Fenwick Golf Course, opened in 1896. The New Saybrook Company also constructed a large hotel at Fenwick, called Fenwick Hall. In 1887 the Charter Oak Life Insurance Company went bankrupt, and Fenwick Hall was acquired by Edward S. Stokes (d. 1901), who had connections with the New York City political machine and had famously shot his rival, James Fisk, in 1872. Stokes welcomed politicians and celebrities to the hotel. Following a tax dispute, the hotel was bought at auction in 1894 by Fenwick resident Morgan G. Bulkeley, former Governor of Connecticut. The hotel then served as a social center for residents of Fenwick and accommodated guests from the same social circle. Fenwick Hall burned in 1916, but its functions were taken over by the Riversea Inn, a Colonial Revival building at 20 Fenwick Avenue. The Riversea Inn had been built as a residence in 1885 and was remodeled into its present appearance around 1910. Since the 1950s, the building has again been a residence. You can read more about the Riversea Inn in Marion Hepburn Grant’s The Fenwick Story (Connecticut Historical Society, 1974), pages 67-75.