Benjamin Bulkeley was the cousin of Capt. Charles Bulkeley, who built the impressive gambrel-roofed house at 56 Broad Street Green in Wethersfield. Benjamin built his own house at 106 Broad Street c. 1792. The house has later nineteenth-century alterations.
Across Church Street from the old Railroad Depot in Wethersfield (the subject of yesterday’s post) is an old factory building erected c. 1880. Early on, the factory was occupied by Hopkins & Chapin and then Bailey Manufacturing (aka Bailey & Co. book binders). The Elmer Tool Company occupied the building until c. 1914. It then remained vacant until 1919, when it was acquired by the National Machine Company (see “National Machine Co. Has Option on Wethersfield Plant,” Hartford Courant, October 18, 1919). It had remained in or had returned to an abandoned state by September 3, 1927, when the Hartford Courant ran a story: “Eight Boys Accused Of Vandalism: Charged With Having Damaged Abandoned Plant of National Machine Co. on Church Street.” It was reported that the boys tore slate off the roof, broke windows, stole a telephone and caused other damage. The following year the factory was acquired by the Gra-Rock Bottling Company. In 1980 the building became home to Clearing House Auction Galleries, a company operated by the LeClair family since 1955. Not long after the death of the company’s president, auctioneer and appraiser Thomas G. LeClair, in 2011, his sister decided to close the business. Earlier this year the Wethersfield Wetlands Commission approved a development proposal to convert the old factory for residential and commercial use and to erect a new building with 30 condominiums behind it.
Near the intersection of the Silas Deane Highway with Church Street in Wethersfield, at 7 Railroad Place, is a former railroad depot, erected in 1871. A small wood-frame structure, it was built by the Connecticut Valley Railroad line, which became the Hartford and Connecticut Valley Railroad in 1880. Two years later the railroad line became a branch of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad and was eventually acquired by the State of Connecticut in 1970. A passenger station once stood next to the depot but later burned down. The once vacant depot was until recently home to Narcissus Chocolate Cafe, but since 2013 it has been the offices of the Jones Group Insurance Agency.
The building at 311 Main Street in Wethersfield was built in 1862 as the High Street School. A brick building, it replaced an earlier wooden school building, built in 1770, which stood just to the south-east. It was in this earlier building that Wethersfield’s first library, called the Union Society Library (established in 1783) was located until 1798. The former brick schoolhouse was converted into a residence in 1928 and wooden side dormers were added. Read the rest of this entry »
A reader who contacted me on Facebook a while back noted the similarities of the former Sacred Heart Church at 32 Garden Street in Wethersfield to another Catholic church, St. Augustine Church in Glastonbury. Perhaps they used the same plans? Sacred Heart Parish began as a mission of St. Mary, East Hartford in 1877 and later became a mission of St. Lawrence O’Toole, Hartford. The building on Garden Street, which was the first Catholic church in Wethersfield, was erected in 1880, on a lot purchased in 1876. The church was dedicated on May 29, 1881. Sacred Heart was made a parish on September 1, 1897 and in 1924 moved to a new building, the former Meggat Seed Warehouse on Hartford Avenue, which was converted into a church. A fire in 1938 forced the congregation to move back into the Garden Street church. By 1943 the former Meggat granary was again made a church and was used by the parish until the current Sacred Heart Church, at 56 Hartford Avenue, was dedicated on June 29, 1963. In the 1940s the former Sacred Heart Church on Garden Street became storage for John Oldham Art and Display (now Oldham Studios). The company was founded in 1931 by John W. Oldham, Sr., an illustrator who painted portraits of movie stars for film premiers in the Hartford area. Continued by his son and grandson, the company expanded into a trade show display design and fabrication company, based at 888 Wells Road in Wethersfield. The Queen Anne house next to the church was built in 1900 as the parish rectory. Read the rest of this entry »
The building at 130 Main Street in Wethersfield was built as a Methodist church and is today a synagogue. The first Methodist sermon in Wethersfield was preached in 1790 by Jesse Lee in the North Brick School House, now the site of Standish Park. Wethersfield was visited by itinerant Methodist preachers until a circuit preacher for Wethersfield, Newington, New Britain, and Kensington was appointed in 1821. Early services were held at Academy Hall until the Methodist Episcopal Church was built at 130 Main Street in 1824. The church was moved 26 feet onto a new stone foundation in 1882. A fire in 1941 destroyed the church’s original Sunday school addition of 1913 and damaged the sanctuary. The church was repaired and a new Sunday school addition, twice as large, was constructed. The church soon outgrew its 1824 building and in 1959 moved to a new church at 150 Prospect Street.
The Jewish Community Group of Wethersfield was formed in 1954. The group purchased the former Methodist Church on Main Street in 1960 and adopted the name Temple Beth Torah. The building was converted to become a synagogue and the new Temple’s Day of Dedication was celebrated on May 28, 1961. Work began in 1964 to give the Temple a new facade. The former church’s steeple was removed and a new entrance in the colonial revival style was added.
The Allyn Smith House, at 168 Broad Street in Wethersfield, was built in 1790 on what had been the homesite of Abraham Finch in 1634. Abraham Finch (d. 1638) was one of the ten adventurers who first settled Wethersfield.