The building at 42 Bank Street in New London was built in 1833 in the hope that it might be used as a federal customs house. In the end the building, which resembles a Federal and Greek Revival-style row house, became home to the Whaling Bank. The bank, the third oldest in New London, was founded in 1833 by a group of whaling merchants that included Joseph Lawrence. It became the National Whaling Bank in 1864 and remained in existence until 1943.
The Queen Anne/Colonial Revival building at 105-107 Water Street in Stonington was built in 1901 to house a drugstore and ice cream parlor on the first floor, while the business’ owner, Francis D. Burtch, lived in the apartment above. Various other businesses have been located in the building over the years. In 1954, poet James Merrill (1926-1995) and his partner David Jackson moved into the residence. Merrill‘s epic work, The Changing Light at Sandover, incorporated messages that he and Jackson transcribed from sessions using a ouija board in the house’s turret dining room. Merrill, who was Connecticut’s State Poet Laureate from 1985 to 1995, willed his home to the Stonington Village Improvement Association. The James Merrill House Committee runs a program that makes the Merrill apartment, maintained as it was during the poet’s lifetime, available to writers for rent-free stays of one or two semesters of an academic year.
The Farrington Building, located at 131-141 West Main Street in Waterbury, was constructed in c. 1925-1930 as an addition to the Westerly Apartments, a c. 1890 Queen Anne building. The Farrington Building is a two-story Georgian Revival retail and office structure. In 1935, the First Federal Savings & Loan Association, now known as Webster Bank, opened on the building‘s second floor. Its only employees were the company’s founder, Harold Webster Smith and a clerk. Smith started his new business during the Great Depression under the federal government’s National Housing Act, passed in 1934 to stimulate the economy and make housing construction and home mortgages more affordable. Webster Bank now has thousands of employees and numerous branches.
Located at 199 West Town Street in Lebanon, just off the Lebanon Green, is a building which is today home to the Lebanon Green Market. It was built in 1885 by the Lebanon Grange No. 21 as a cooperative store and social hall–the first in Connecticut built specifically for the purpose of housing a Grange chapter. While nationally the Grange Movement became involved in political issues, the Lebanon Grange focused more on its educational and social role, with music playing an important part in its activities. The Lebanon Grange acquired an organ in 1898.
At 428-432 Main Street in Middletown is an Art Deco building that was built as a Woolworth’s store (F.W. Woolworth Co.) in 1939. An horrific tragedy took place in 1989, when a 9-year old girl, having walked out of the store during a street fair with her mother and sister, was fatally stabbed by a mental patient from the Connecticut Valley Hospital, a psychiatric institute in Middletown. The Woolworth’s store closed in late 1993 and the building is now home to Irreplaceable Artifacts.
Brandegee Hall, at 983 Worthington Ridge in Berlin, was built in 1884 by William Brandegee to be used for concerts, plays and other entertainments such as roller-skating. In 1907, the building was acquired by the town of Berlin and used as a Town Hall until 1974. Over the years it also housed a post office, the Berlin Grange and the Berlin Playhouse, a local theater group. With the erection of a new Town Hall, the old building was sold to a private owner and used for storage. Having fallen into disrepair, the Hall was renovated in the early 2000s in response to the town’s new blighted property ordinance.
The brick commercial building at 2977 Whitney Avenue in Hamden was built in 1877 (or possibly earlier, circa 1853, unless it replaced an earlier building on the site) by James Ives (1815-1889). A prominent manufacturer and developer of local business, Ives operated a factory, built by his father Elam Ives, on the Farmington Canal that produced brass carriage hardware. He later built a new factory on the Mill River. He also engaged in other manufacturing endeavors, including the Mt. Carmel Screw Works. The area around the factory was known as Ivesville and the intersection of Whitney Avenue and Ives Street, where the Ives Building is located, is known as Ives Corner. Ives rented out the building as a general store. There was also a post office, where Ives’ brother Lucius was postmaster, and a meeting hall in the building. After 1913, the building was home for many years to Levine’s Market. In 1934, Sydney Levine devoted a section of the market to the sale of alcoholic beverages, a business which has since grown into today’s Mt. Carmel Wine and Spirits. Read the rest of this entry »