One of Connecticut’s oldest surviving houses is the Meigs-Bishop House, at 45 Wall Street in Madison. It is Madison’s second oldest house after the 1685 Deacon John Grave House. The Meigs-Bishop House was built in 1690 by Janna Meigs on land he had received from his father, Deacon John Meigs. As related in the Record of the Descendants of Vincent Meigs: Who Came from Dorsetchire, England, to America about 1635 (1901), by Henry B. Meigs:
Capt. Janna was evidently a man of education, as the importance of the many offices he filled would indicate; was deacon in the church; represented his district in the legislature of the Colony of Connecticut in 1716-’17-’18 and 1726; and was Justice of the Peace for New Haven Colony, annually from 1722 to 1733 inclusive, a position of greater importance then than now. In military life he was Captain of a Company in the Queen Ann wars.
He left the house to his son, Lt. Janna Meigs, who deeded it to his first cousin, Capt. Phineas Meigs. After serving in the Revolutionary War from 1777 to 1780, Capt. Meigs retired from the army and was named captain of the Guilford militia. On May 19, 1782, three British frigates tried to capture an American schooner that had run aground on a sand bar. Capt. Meigs set out from his Wall street home leading his men to battle British soldiers who had landed on shore. In the ensuing fight, Capt. Meigs was shot through the head. He is believed to be the last New Englander to be killed in an action against the British in the Revolutionary War. The green wool round hat he was wearing that night survives and is in the collection of the Connecticut Historical Society. It bears the entry and exit holes of the musket ball that killed Capt. Meigs.
Later owned by the Bishop family, the house has most recently been used for a succession of businesses.
The house at 591 Main Street in Cromwell was built on the site of an earlier house, purchased by Amos and William Savage from the estate of Joseph Ranney in 1756. Samuel Spencer (1744-1818) purchased half of the house and land in 1771 and the other half six years later. He may have incorporated the earlier residence into the new house he built c. 1777. After Spencer‘s death, the house passed to his daughter, who was married to Dr. Titus Morgan. Another daughter, Sarah “Sally” Spencer, married Joseph Morgan, Dr. Morgan‘s cousin, who was the grandfather of J. Pierpont Morgan. In 1873, the house became the first Cromwell residence of Russell Frisbie, who later bought the house on Main Street that is now home to the Cromwell Historical Society. It was probably Frisbie who added the Italianate decorative elents to the facade of the Spencer House, which originally had a gambrel roof.
The Martha J. Newell House is located at 89 High Street in Bristol. Built around 1870, it is an Italianate house that was once the residence of Martha Judd Brewster Newell (d. 1905). Mrs. Newell was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Women’s Board of Missions. She was the wife of Samuel Pomeroy Newell (1823-1888). According to The Brewster Genealogy, Vol. II (1908), compiled and edited by Emma C. Brewster Jones:
Samuel P. Newell was graduated from Yale Law School in 1848, and was a lawyer of extensive practice at Bristol. He served as U.S. internal revenue collector and was judge of Probate Court for the District of Bristol. His son-in-law, John J. Jennings, was his law partner.
According to the National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination for the South Britain Historic District, the house at 712 South Britain Road in South Britain in Southbury was built c. 1795 and was the home of Dr. Baldwin, South Britain’s first physician. A more recent brochure for the South Britain Historic District, however, lists the Wheeler House at 715 South Britain Road as the home of South Britain’s first physician, Dr. Wheeler. The NRHP Inventory Nomination’s description of No. 715 lists it as the S. Johnson & Miss N. Mitchell House and does not mention Dr. Wheeler. The Nomination further relates that, early in the nineteenth century, No. 712 served as “Miss Pierce’s Academy for Fashionable Young Ladies,” which later moved to Litchfield, although other sources state Sarah Pierce‘s Academy was founded in her Litchfield home in 1792.
The house at 380-382 Main Street in Cromwell was originally a center-chimney residence. Built between 1744 and 1758, probably by Israel Wilcox, it was sold by Charles Wilcox to Capt. Daniel Ranney in 1757. Capt. Ranney, who had become wealthy in the West Indies trade, died the following year and the house eventually was passed on to his grandson, Capt. James Butler and then was owned (1831) by Stillman K. Wightman, a lawyer who had married Butler’s daughter Clarissa. After his son Edward K. Wightman was killed in 1865 in the Civil War, Stillman K. Wightman made a long journey through a war-torn countryside to recover his son’s body in North Carolina. Greek Revival additions were made to the house around 1830. The property remained in the family until 1912. Colonial Revival alterations were made around 1920. The house, also called the William Ranney House, is haunted and was featured in an episode of the TV series “A Haunting.”
The house at 36 North Street in Watertown was built in 1836 as the Parsonage (minister’s house) for the First Congregational Church of Watertown. It served as a Parsonage from 1836 to 1953. In the latter year, Agnes DeForest Curtiss Buckingham, widow of Charles Benedict Buckingham, decided that the Trumbull House, where she lived next to the Congregational Church, was too large for her as an elderly woman living alone. “Granny B”, as her family called her, arranged with the church to swap properties, exchanging the Trumbull House for the Parsonage, where she then lived until her death in 1979. Before moving in, she added the pillared stone porch to the the side of the house.
The oldest surviving building in West Haven is the Ward-Heitmann House at 277 Elm Street. It may have been built as early as 1684 and was certainly on the site by 1725. The house was built by Ebenezer Clark, who sold it in 1730 to John Humphreville, who had married Clark’s sister Rebecca. The house remained in the Clark family until 1788, when it was purchased by sea captain Thomas Ward (d. 1839). It remained in the Ward family until George Ward sold it to Susan Perrin in 1861. She eventually sold it to Louisa Ward Heitmann, George Ward’s sister, in 1868. Her daughter, Henrietta Heitmann, inherited the house in 1897. She was engaged in various business ventures and also added the north wing to the house and used it as a dame school. The house passed out of the Ward-Heitmann family when Charles Elliott Pickett purchased it in 1910. In the twentieth century the house had a number of owners and for a time housed an antiques store and later a tearoom. The Milano family owned the house from 1949 to the early 1990s and left it to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which sold it to the Ward-Heitmann House Museum Foundation in 1995. The house was then restored to become a museum.