Located at 1 Dyer Cemetery Road, just off Route 44 in Canton, is the former Dyer’s Inn and Tavern, which was featured in a recent article in the Hartford Courant (“Cars, Cash And Prohibition: The Legends Of Dyer’s Inn And Tavern,” by Dan Haar, July 27, 2014). The main house was built in 1789 by Isaac Wilcox, who moved to Pompey, New York, in 1801. In 1810 Daniel Dyer purchased the house and gave it, the following year, to his son, Zenas Dyer (1788-1856), as a wedding present. Zenas Dyer, a farmer, married Sarah “Sally” Chedsey. He opened the house as a tavern in 1821 and it soon became a favorite of travelers on the old Albany Turnpike. A tavern sign, made for the inn by by William Rice in 1823, is now in the collection of the Connecticut Historical Society. Each year, the tavern alternated the hosting of the Canton Agricultural Fair with Abraham Hosford’s Inn. Zenas, who also had a cider mill where he distilled cider brandy, operated the tavern until 1851 and the property then remained in his family for many years. In the twentieth century, Zenas’s great-granddaughter, Margaret, had a business selling fudge and salted nuts. As related in Reminiscences By Sylvester Barbour, a Native of Canton, Conn. Fifty Years a Lawyer (1908):
Mr. Zenas Dyer, grandfather of Daniel T. Dyer, was another man who took part in Canton’s setting-off proceedings. In 1812 he built the house in which the grandson lives, situated on the north side of the old Albany turnpike, near Farmington river, on an elevation commanding a fine view of varying scenery. Mr. Dyer used the house for a time as a tavern, sharing with nearby Hosford’s tavern the entertainment of the extensive traveling public. I well remember him and his son Daniel, who many years owned and occupied that house; both highly respected men. Daniel T., the only child of Daniel, succeeded to the ownership of that house, and resides there. He is the owner of some 500 acres of land, and is an honored member of the democratic party, to which party, if I mistake not, Zenas and Daniel belonged. The present Mr. Dyer and his estimable wife, to whom I have already referred, are royal entertainers. Numerically, and in winsome manners,’their children would delight the heart of President Roosevelt, and they help to make up a very happy family. Mr. Dyer’s exhibition at the centennial of his grandfather’s old tin lantern, which was a guide to travelers seeking a good inn to tarry at, attracted much attention.
The house was added to in stages over the years and the property had many outbuildings, some of which still survive today. Now the property is divided into six apartments.
Rev. John Trumbull (1715-1787) became pastor of the Congregational Church in Watertown in 1739. A slave owner, Rev. Trumbull married Sarah Whitman, daughter of Rev. Samuel Whitman of Farmington, in 1744. He was also the uncle of Connecticut’s Revolutionary War governor Jonathan Trumbull. Rev. Trumbull’s first house in town, no longer standing, was a saltbox on the east side of Main Street, south of the church. In 1772 he built a larger house just next to the church. Located at 40 DeForest Street, the house became a tavern (it was Lockwoood’s Tavern and then David Woodward’s Tavern) in the 1790s and was remodeled with a large ballroom on the third floor. Shed dormer windows on the roof and Neoclassical porches at either side of the house were added after 1900.
As related in David N. Camp’s History of New Britain (1889):
For several years before New Britain was incorporated as a distinct society, the little community had been exercised by the discussions concerning the division of Kensington, and the questions relating to the petitions and other measures to secure preaching on East Street. The death of Rev. William Burnham, in 1750, gave a new impulse to the efforts which resulted in the incorporation of the society. . . . .
The first settlers of New Britain were farmers with such limited education as could be obtained at that day. Nearly all had some property, which by frugality and industry, was increased after they occupied their new homes. In the eastern part of the parish, commencing at the northern boundary, there was a succession of farms — some large, and others comprising but a few acres—extending southerly, first on the Stanley Road, and then on both Stanley and East streets, to the southern limits of the parish, or to Great Swamp. . . . .
In the north part of Stanley Quarter, John Clark, Daniel Hart, Thomas Stanley, and his sons, Thomas, Noah, Timothy, and Gad, Jonathan Griswold, and a few others, were living upon farms, which already gave evidence of cultivation and thrift. When the society was incorporated, the first three of these men and their farms, were excluded from New Britain, though located within the bounds of the new society. Thomas Stanley had a large landed estate in Farmington and New Britain, and also land in New Cambridge (Bristol). He had several slaves employed either as field hands or help in the house, some of whom were mentioned in his will. He died before the first church in New Britain was organized, but three of his sons were members of this church, and they and some of their descendants became prominent in the affairs of the church and society. His eldest son, Thomas, had his home on the east side of the highway in Stanley Quarter; Noah, the second son, who was about thirty years old when the society was formed, lived on the west side of the road, where his son, and then his grandson, Noah W. Stanley, afterward lived. He kept a tavern at the place. A younger brother, Timothy Stanley, lived on the opposite side of the street, and had a tannery near his house.
Built circa 1754, the Noah Stanley Tavern is located at 1928 Stanley Street in New Britain. For much of the twentieth century, the house was owned by Hubert S. Blake, a New Britain native who died in 1975 at the age of 99. Read the rest of this entry »
The house at 895 Saybrook Road in Haddam was built by the brothers Nehemiah and John Brainerd to serve as a social hall called Brainerd Hall. The brothers owned a granite quarry that they opened in 1792. Brainerd Hall was constructed soon after the brothers’ uncle Hezekiah Brainerd and his wife Elizabeth acquired the land from Elizabeth’s father, John Wells, in 1794. After John Brainerd’s death in 1841, the hall housed students at the nearby Brainerd Academy, a school established by the Brainerd brothers.. After 1857, Erastus G. Dickinson operated the Golden Bull Tavern in the building. It remained in the Dickinson family until 1964.
The house at 1155 Main Street in Glastonbury was built c. 1800 and served as a tavern, complete with a second-floor ballroom, in the early nineteenth century. Run by Elijah Miller, whose family had owned the property since the early eighteenth century and had an earlier tavern, it was a stopping place for travelers who had crossed to the east side of the Connecticut River on the Nayaug ferry. The house has an ell that may have been an earlier house. It also has a second entrance on the south side, not visible in the photo above. The front portico is a c. 1946 addition.
Born in Stonington, John Breed (1752-1803) later settled in Colchester, where he married Lucy Bulkeley (born 1749) on 13 May 1773. He purchased land on Town Street (now South Main Street), then the main road between between New London and Hartford, and built a tavern in 1777. It had a large ballroom that extended the entire width of the house on the third floor. The Wooster Lodge of Masons met at the tavern between 1789 and 1801. Breed was also a gold and silversmith. After Breed died, his widow continued to operate the tavern until her own death in 1821. It was then purchased to become the residence of Elisha Avery, a wealthy Groton merchant and manufacturer. He died a year after buying the house (208 South Main Street), but it remained in his family for many generations. There is an old English Bank type barn on the property.
In 1760, Eleazar Lord, Sr. deeded an acre of land at what is now 86 Town Street in Norwich to his son, Eleazar Lord, Jr., who proceeded to build a tavern (c. 1760-1770). Lord’s Tavern was also called the Compass House because it faces due north. The tavern popular with lawyers, who came to attend session at the court house which was located across the street. The tavern’s hooded entryway is a nineteenth-century addition. At various times, the ell of the building was used as a post office. Lord’s Tavern was in danger of being torn down in 1972. After a lengthy court battle, the building became the first purchase of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation in 1976. Today the restored building is used for offices.