Thomas Fitch (1696-1774), a lawyer, was Governor of the Colony of Connecticut from 1754 to 1766. His house, built around 1740, once stood on Earls Hill on the east side of East Avenue in Norwalk. The house was partially burned in the British raid on Norwalk on July 11-12, 1779. Fitch descendants occupied the reconstructed house until 1945. The section of the house that had survived the British raid (part of the house’s kitchen wing) was moved to Mill Hill in 1956 when the rest of the building was demolished to make way for the construction of the Connecticut Turnpike (now I-95). In 1971 the building was restored as a museum to resemble a law office such as one that Governor Fitch might have used in the eighteenth century. The foundations and chimney of the Law Office were constructed using stones from the cellar walls of the original Fitch House. The Law Office is one of three buildings at Mill Hill Historic Park maintained by the Norwalk Historical Society and the Norwalk-Village Green Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
The building at 9-11 Wall Street in Norwalk was built in 1875 but Col. Frederick St. John Lockwood on the site where the general store of E. Lockwood & Sons operated in the eighteenth century. The building originally had retail stores and a market on the first floor, offices on the second floor and Lockwood Hall, a large hall for public functions and entertainments, on the third floor. The structure was remodeled in the Art Deco style and renamed the Twin City Building in the 1930s. In the 1950s and 1960s the second floor was shared by the Hilltop Athletic Club and Radio Station WNLK. Today the building’s principal tenant is The Fat Cat Pie Co.
A landmark of South Norwalk is the Donovan Building at 138 Washington Street, corner of Water Street. Built in 1889, it was the home of Jeremiah Donovan‘s Saloon. A civic leader and politician, Jeremiah Donovan served in the state house from 1903 to 1904 and the state senate from 1905 to 1909, and again from 1911 to 1913. He then served a term in the U.S. Congress from 1913 to 1915, and as mayor of Norwalk from 1917 to 1921. The building has since housed a bar/restaurant under various owners, except for the period of prohibition when it was an A. & P. Today the restaurant has a collection of vintage prizefighter pictures that belonged to “Battling Bat Kunz”, a regional champ who owned the restaurant for several decades. The current owner, Richie Ball restored the restaurant and bar in 1979 to its original Victorian style and renamed it after its original founder, Jeremiah Donovan. On the east side of the building is a mural depicting one of the last working schooners on Long Island Sound, the Alice S. Wentworth. It was painted in 1978 by Brechin Morgan, a local artist. After a billboard company painted over it in 1983, Morgan repainted the mural with some friends. It was touched up in 2007. Read the rest of this entry »
Dating to around 1800, the building at the corner of Bank and Pearl Streets in New London was part of the business operations of Jonathan Starr‘s family. Starr, who lived across the street, operated the Chester & Starr lumberyard and a grocery store at the site. According to the New London Heritage Trail plaque at the site: “Coffins and groceries both sold here.” The building now houses a restaurant and bar.
Located at 1175 (1171-1177) Main Street in East Hartford is Comstock Hall, built in 1899 to house a theater (later converted to a roller-skating rink and then demolished) and offices. The classically proportioned building was constructed by Lewis Comstock, a railroad engineer and descendant of an old East Hartford family. In 1926, Comstock erected an adjoining building to the south (1165-1169 Main Street, aka 2 Orchard Street). The two buildings are joined by a continuous first-floor storefront cornice, but the 1899 structure is taller and has a more elaborate classical revival design.
The building at 484-494 Main Street in Middletown, built in 1889-1890 and considered one of the first “modern” stores in town, was once home to the Caulkins & Post Company. The business sold carpets, drapes and furniture and soon expanded to sell automobiles around 1903. This latter business was so successful that the company erected a building for its car dealership across the street in 1905. The company changed its name to F.L. Caulkins and Co. in 1906.
The late Federal/Early Greek Revival building at 60 Main Street in North Stonington was built between 1816 and 1828. Originally a residence, it was being used as a post office and store by the 1860s. The post office had previously been located in the nearby Holmes Block. Hillard’s general store occupied the building at 60 Main Street in the early twentieth century. The Town Clerk’s office was located here as well until 1904. The post office continued in this building until 1986. The building was then home to the law office of William H. Hescock, Esq.