At 181 Bank Street in New London is a former house that now has a commercial facade on the ground floor. The house was built in 1790 for Jonathan Starr, whose earlier house, built in 1702, had stood on the same site. Starr operated a lumber yard that was located right across the street from his home. From 1914 to 1996 the Starr House was used as the James Drug Store and more recently has housed a restaurant, an antiques store and a hair salon.
G. Fox & Company, the legendary Hartford department store, was founded as a fancy goods store in 1847 by Gerson Fox. It was later expanded into a department store under the leadership of his son, Moses Fox, and then his granddaughter, Beatrice Fox Auerbach (1887–1968). After renting space during its early years, G. Fox built the first building of its own on Main Street in Hartford in 1880-1881. Damaged during a fire in the Averill building next door in 1887, four years later Moses Fox purchased the building that had replaced the Averill for his expanding store. A devastating fire destroyed the G. Fox properties along Main Street on January 29, 1917. The store soon rebuilt, constructing a grand eleven-story building, designed by Cass Gilbert, the leading master of the Neoclassical Revival style. In the 1930s, Beatrice Fox Auerbach updated the store’s interiors in the Art Deco style and added the prominent Art Deco marquee to the front of the building. G. Fox closed its doors in 1993 but, a decade later, the building found new use as the home of Capitol Community College.
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.