Lucerne is the name of the castle-like mansion at 20 Davis Street in Hamden. Designed by the architects Brown and Von Beren, it was built in 1906 for Frederick D. Grave. A German immigrant who arrived in America in 1861, Grave learned the cigar trade and in 1884 founded his own company in New Haven. Still in business, the company has been known since 1911 as F.D. Grave & Son. The mansion is now home to the architectural offices of Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates.
The house at 1370 Enfield Street in Enfield was built in 1783. It was a wedding present from Capt. Ephra[h]im Pease (who lived next door) for his daughter Agnes (1760-1799), who married Rev. Nehemiah Prudden (1749-1815), minister at Enfield’s Congregational Church. After Agnes died, Rev. Prudden married her sister, Sybil (1754-1822), who was the widow of Prudden’s predecessor as minister, Elam Potter (1742-1894). (Potter had been dismissed as minister following a religious controversy in 1776.) In 1811 a volume by Rev. Prudden was published in Hartford with the title: To Marry a Wife’s Sister Not Inconsistent with the Divine Law.
Tonight I’ll be giving a talk about my book Vanished Downtown Hartford at the Enfield Public Library! Stop by at 7:00 PM and buy a signed copy of my book! The house pictured above, at 158 Pearl Street in Thompsonville in Enfield, was built circa 1881. It was the home of Jabez and Elizabeth Davis. Jabez P. Davis was a veterinarian, Enfield First Selectman (1896) and judge of the town court (1907)
The house at 105 East Pattagansett Road in East Lyme was built circa 1760 by Joseph Smith, the son of Samuel Smith, whose 1685 house survives on Plants Dam Road. During the Revolutionary War, the house was rented to Elisha Beckwith, a notorious Tory, who was known to pass intelligence to the British force based at Sag Harbor, Long Island. The British would cross Long Island Sound at night, hide their boat at Crescent Beach and leave the next day with supplies provided by Beckwith. Beckwith was likely a valuable source of information for Benedict Arnold during the raid on New London on September 6, 1781. The Connecticut Gazette of November 30, 1781 (also quoted in John Warner Barber’s Connecticut Historical Collections under the date December 6, 1781) reported that
Last Friday a guard under the command of Ensign Andrew Griswold, stationed at Lyme, discovered a whale boat in a fresh pond near Black Point; and suspecting it came from Long Island, they set a guard of five men over the boat; and the night after four others of the guard with Ensign Griswold, went towards the house of the noted Elisha Beckwith; one of the party named Noah Lester, advanced faster than the rest, and was challenged by Beckwith’s wife, who was near the house; this alarmed ten men who were in the house, well armed, and they immediately seized upon and made prisoner of Lester, and carried him into the house. Soon after the other four of the guard came to the house, (not knowing Lester was a prisoner,) and went directly in; where they discovered the ten persons in arms: a scuffle immediately ensued between them; and after some lime the guard secured six of the party, among whom was Elisha Beckwith; the other four made their escape into the woods, but they all except one were taken the next day. They came in the above boat from Long Island, and were under the command of Thomas Smith, formerly of Middletown, who had a Captain’s commission under the British King. Elisha Beckwith went off with the enemy the 6th Sept. last, when they made their descent on this place. The above culprits are secured in Norwich gaol.
After spending time in the Hartford Jail, Beckwith eventually reunited with his family in Nova Scotia in 1782.
Born in Southington, Samuel Frisbie (1838-1897) was the grandson of Ichabod Cullpepper Frisbie of Southington, who had served in the Revolutionary War. As related in an 1898 volume of biographies of Connecticut’s Men of Progress:
[he] received his early education in the public schools, and later attended the Lewis Academy of that place [Southington]. He was brought up, as so many robust representatives of New England who have since won distinction were, as a farmer’s boy. He, however, left the farm at an early age and for three years devoted himself to school-teaching. But with a conscientiousness, as rare as it is invaluable (though in this case unduly exacting, we are sure), he relinquished his position as a teacher from the inner conviction that he was not properly fitted for that vocation; giving up a congenial and remunerative calling for one that was neither the one nor the other. This latter was in the form of mechanical employment and Mr. Frisbie received for his first services thirteen dollars a month, a sum our fastidious youths of today would regard with scorn, but which this more sturdy character accepted with cheerfulness and worked for with energy.
In 1860 he was hired by what would become the Upson Nut Company in Unionville as a bookkeeper. He was named director and treasurer of the company in 1866. He later served five terms in the state General Assembly (1877-1879, 1885 and 1897). On Christmas Day 1863, Frisbie married Minerva Upson Langdon, the widow of Dwight Langdon, who had established the first nut and bolt factory in Unionville. The year of their marriage, she purchased a lot at 101 Main Street, at the corner of Elm Street, in Unionville and by 1869 the couple had built an Italianate house on the property. In 1911, the house was inherited by Minerva Frisbie’s nephews, Samuel, Walter and Henry Graham and it remained in the Graham family until 1935. Today the house is used as a medical office.
Isidore Wise (1865-1956) was a leading merchant in Hartford and a prominent civic leader. The son of Leopold and Rosalie Wise, he was born in Hartford in 1865. At the age of eleven, he took his first job as a cash boy for $2.00 a week at Stern and Mandelbaum, a local dry goods store. At the age of twenty-one, with two partners, he opened a own store at the corner of Main and Kinsley Streets in Hartford, later buying out the Clark Company, located in the Cheney Building. Having run I. Wise & Company for several years, in 1897 he joined with Robert Smith and other partners to form Wise, Smith & Company, which opened on the opposite side of Main Street (You can read more about the growth of Wise, Smith in my book Vanished Downtown Hartford). Isidore Wise ran the store until 1948, resuming control in 1954, a month before it finally closed. Wise was a civic leader in Hartford, serving as a city councilman, alderman and police commissioner. He was also president of Congregation Beth Israel and the United Jewish Charities. In 1907, Isidore Wise and his first wife, Selma Stern Wise (1870-1931), moved into a Swiss Chalet/Craftsman-style residence at 810 Prospect Avenue in Hartford. Designed by Isaac A. Allen, Jr., the house has stylistic similarities to the nearby Charles E. Shepard House (1900), at 695 Prospect Avenue.