It is possible that the “Great Room” or kitchen, and “the Lentoo” of the old Fitch or Knight house were added in 1734 to the house, then erected by Sylvanus Jones, on land purchased of Andre Richard, but of this we have no positive proof.
Sylvanus Jones (b. 1707), was the son of Caleb Jones, one of the first settlers of Hebron, Ct., and his wife Rachel, daughter of John Clark of Farmington, Ct. He married in 1730 Kesiah, daughter of Isaac and Elizabeth (Curtis) Cleveland, and died in 1791. He had eight children, and at his death, his son, Ebenezer, becomes the owner of the house and land.
Ebenezer Jones (b. 1744), married in 1765, Elizabeth Rogers, and had three daughters, one of whom, Lucy (b. 1766), marries Henry J. Cooledge, and another, Rachel (b. 1771), becomes in 1793 the wife of Asa Lathrop, Jun. Louisa, daughter of Lucy (Jones) Cooledge, marries in 1832 Charles Avery of New London, and her daughter, Mrs. Harriet Robinson, now owns and occupies the house.
We do not know the occupation of Sylvanus, but Ebenezer was a cooper, and Mr. Miner pictures him “with his ads and double driver, holding it in the middle, and playing it rapidly on the empty barrel, as he drives the hoop, sounding a reveille to the whole neighborhood regular as the strains of Memnon.” His shop stood south of the house and a little back from the street.
Seth Cowles (1763-1842), together with his four brothers, was a successful merchant in Farmington. When he died in 1842, his daughter Susan Cowles (1815-1894) inherited his homelot on Main Street in Farmington. Susan and her husband, Augustus Ward (1811-1883), originally from Massachusetts, removed the existing house and replaced it with the current residence, at 56 Main Street, around 1842. As related in Farmington, Connecticut, the Village of Beautiful Homes (1906):
Augustus Ward was born December 4, 1811. and died April 6, 1883. son of Comfort and Plumea Ward. He was a merchant in New Britain in its earlier days. Marrying a daughter of Mr. Seth Cowles in 1840, he removed to this village and built a new house on the site of the old Cowles mansion. He was a farmer, but had much to do with the Farmington Savings Bank after its organization in 1851, being one of its most able and efficient directors.
In 1891, Susan Cowles Ward sold the house to Henry R. Hatch of Ohio. Within a few days he sold it to Sarah Porter, headmistress of Miss Porter’s School. The house has been owned by the school ever since and is a dormitory called “Ward.” An addition was built in 1902. Read the rest of this entry »
Today is the Ninth Anniversary of Historic Buildings of Connecticut! It’s been one post a day for nine years!
Frederick Belden (1818-1893) was a wealthy Norwalk merchant. C. 1850 he built the Italianate house at 75 East Avenue across from Norwalk Green. Frederick Belden married twice, first to Catherine E Gruman Belden (1822-1864) and then to Sarah E Hill Belden (1840-1911), the oldest daughter of Ebenezer Hill, a banker and founder of the Norwalk Lock Company and the Norwalk Iron Works. The Belden house is mentioned in Norwalk (1896), by Charles M. Selleck:
The Frederick Belden residence “on the green” supplanted the more ancient Grumman home, and was presided over by those to whom refinement and good breeding seemed a second nature. Mrs. Belden was gracefully dignified and of pleasing presence. Her good mother, Mrs. Gruman, who was for many years her daughter’s care, was, like her near neighbor, Mrs. Senator Thaddeus Betts, a feeling friend. Those of Miss Susan Betts’ school children who yet remain may recall how that good instructress was wont, during the noon recess on the green, to receive warm, appetizing viands, as a mid-day luncheon. She was unforgotten in the school’s generous vicinity. As the Belden children approached maturity the bright home invited the young. The second Mrs. Belden has preserved its reputation.
Most recently used as a funeral parlor, last summer the house sold for $250,000.
At 163 Hebron Road in Bolton is a Greek Revival house built c. 1840. On the property is also a building that served as Bolton’s South School House until 1949. The house was built for Dr. Orrin Hunt, who is described in Genealogy of the Name and Family of Hunt (1863):
Dr. Orrin Hunt was a native of Lebanon, Conn. He was born in that part which is now the town of Columbia. He read medicine with Dr. Fuller of that place, who sustained a high reputation in his profession; and was subsequently connected with the State Institution, the Retreat for the Insane, at Hartford. Dr. Hunt enjoyed the full confidence of his distinguished teacher. Dr. Hunt located in Bolton, and was successful in medical practice, and esteemed as a citizen. He afterwards removed to Glastenbury, and there also enjoyed the reputation of a skilful [sic] and faithful doctor. He continued to be much employed in Bolton; and, after a few years, returned to that place. Dr. Hunt was taught, by affliction in his family and by protracted suffering in his own person, to mingle sympathy with his prescriptions for others; an his visits were thus rendered peculiarly welcome and soothing. An acquaintance of nearly forty years enables the writer to speak of the estimation in which he was held by his patients. They looked upon him as a friend; and the medicines administered were the more effective and beneficial from the confidence he inspired, and the fellow-feeling and kindness manifested. His Christian influence was much valued, and his death deplored as a great loss
Yesterday’s building was Renbrook, the home of Pratt & Whitney Aircraft co-founder Frederick Rentschler. Another of the company’s founders was George Jackson Mead (1891-1949), who designed the Wasp aircraft engine. In 1929 George J. Mead built a mansion in the foothills of Talcott Mountain in Bloomfield named Balbrae, Scottish for “house on a hill.” Aviation pioneers Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindbergh and Igor Sikorsky were frequent guests at Balbrae. In the early 1980s the 100-acre former estate was transformed into a 154-unit condominium community by architect William Mead, George J. Mead’s son. The main house, called The Mansion, is now divided into four units.
Renbrook School in West Hartford, a private school for children age 3 through grade 9, began in 1935 when several area families decided to start a progressive school. Originally named the Tunxis School, it was first located in a rented house on Albany Avenue in West Hartford. Within months it moved to a larger house at the corner of Farmington and Outlook Avenues and was renamed Junior School. In 1937 the school erected its own building on Trout Brook Drive. By the mid-1950s the enrollment had increased and the school needed to expand again. The next move would be to the estate called Renbrook. This was the name given to the West Hartford mansion built (c. 1931) by famed aviation engineer Frederick Rentschler and his wife Faye Belden Rentschler. Frederick Brant Rentschler (1887-1956) co-founded Pratt & Whitney Aircraft in 1925. In 1929 he purchased 80 acres on Avon Mountain and soon constructed a Tudor Revival/French chateauesque mansion on the site. After Rentschler‘s death his estate announced it would lease the mansion to a worthy non-profit. The Junior School was chosen and in 1958 moved to its new home, also taking the new name of Renbrook School. Read the rest of this entry »