This is my 2,000 building post on Historic Buildings of Connecticut! Part of the purpose of this blog is to celebrate historic structures so that people won’t be inclined to tear them down. Sometimes, however, great buildings are not maintained and some are in danger of being destroyed. A case in point is the Erastus Brainerd, Jr. House, part of the campus of the former Elmcrest Hospital in Portland, which is slated for demolition. Erastus Brainerd Jr.‘s father established the Brainerd Quarry Company in Portland and owned the Hart/Jarvis House next door (also facing demolition) [see this pdf and this pdf]. The Brainerd House, built around 1852, is particularly notable because it was designed by the great New Haven architect Henry Austin. Pictured in the image above is the house’s grand front entry porch, which has fluted columns on floral urns with ogee arched decorative brackets supporting a balustraded roof. These houses should be saved! (Note this pdf and this pdf)
Trinity Episcopal parish in Portland was first organized in 1788. There have been three church edifices. The first was built in 1790, but was never consecrated. The second was built in 1830-1832 and was consecrated in 1833. The chapel of the current church was first occupied in 1874, but the rest of the building was not completed and consecrated until 1882. The present brownstone church may incorporate part of the 1830 structure.
At 422 Main Street in Portland is a house built in 1887 for Charles L. Jarvis and his wife, Louisa. Jarvis, whose father father was secretary and treasurer of the Middlesex Quarry Company, founded the Charles Jarvis Company, now called Jarvis Airfoil. Designed by David R. Brown of New Haven, the house has recently been repainted by its current owners in authentic Victorian-era colors, which highlight the home’s decorative detailing. Read the rest of this entry »
The Buck-Foreman Community Center in Portland houses the town’s police, parks and recreation, and youth services departments. The central section of the brownstone building dates to 1852 and was built in the Italianate style as the home of Jonathan Fuller, part-owner of the Shaler and Hall brownstone quarry. When he died in 1876, his daughter Jane inherited the house. At that time, the Town of Portland was looking for a new and more solid building to use as a town hall, as their current building, a former Episcopal church at the corner of Bartlet and High Streets, was a wooden structure built in 1790 and considered to be unsafe (part of the floor even caved in during a Republican Party caucus in 1894!). When Jane Fuller died in 1894, the town acquired the Fuller House and hired architect David Russell Brown of New Haven to remodel it in the Richardsonian Romanesque style. The wing on the south side of the building was added in 1896 as the Buck Library, donated by Horace Buck, who was originally from Portland and whose three children had died and were buried in town. A matching addition on the north side of the Town Hall was built in 1941. The building continued in use as a Town Hall until 1999.
Alfred Hall, a lawyer in Portland, was an executive at the Portland brownstone quarries and a grandson of their founder, Joel Hall. His house, on Main Street in Portland, has brownstone walls and was designed in the Greek Revival style by the influential architect A.J. Davis. Today, the house has been converted to serve as a bank.
Charles H. Bell was a merchant in Portland who continued the business started by his father, Edwin Bell. In 1867, the elder Bell had purchased Samuel Hall’s store on Main Street and Charles Bell would vastly enlarge the building, adding a third floor to the original two-stories. The style of the new third floor resembled the Queen Anne with stick elements of Bell’s own house, built on Main Street in 1883, which perhaps utilized the same materials. Bell’s store sold groceries, flour, hay, grain, seeds and light agricultural implements. Bell also partnered with John Anderson in a firm to manufacture a new kind of lead pipe coupling, patented by Anderson in 1895. (see Portland in 1896 pdf file, p.6)
Saint Clements Castle is located along the Connecticut River in Portland. It was built for Howard Taylor, a solicitor, and his wife Gertrude and was designed by New York architect Sidney Algernon Bell. The mansion displays the influence of sixteenth century European castles, while the roofs resemble those found on homes in the Bavarian alps. A Norman inspiration appears in the stone tower, above the French Tudor entrance. The balcony was modeled on the Inn of William the Conqueror at Dives-sur-Mer and the living room is based on the Great Hall of the Chateau of Langeais. Construction was finished on November 23, 1902. Because November 23 was celebrated in England as the Feast of St. Clement, an early pope and Apostolic Father, the name “Saint Clements Castle” was chosen for the house. In 1993, the house’s then owner turned the 82-acre estate over to the nonprofit Saint Clements Foundation, which has restored the home and is dedicated to preserving the historic property. More pictures below… Read the rest of this entry »