The house at 44 Main Street in Farmington is often dated to 1872 in the belief that a previous house on the property had burned down the preceding year, but it may be that this is that earlier house, built for Edward Whitman (1792-1862) c. 1851. Erastus Gay (1843-1912), a store-owner, acquired the property in 1871. Gay had married Grace F. Cowles, daughter of Francis Cowles, in 1867. Elizabeth V. Keep purchased it in 1916 and soon after willed the house to Miss Porter’s School. Once used as a dorm, it is now the school’s Colgate Health Center.
The house at 5 Judson Avenue, adjacent to the First Congregational Church in Woodbury, was built in 1829 by Benjamin D. Beecher. This is probably Benjamin Dutton Beecher, an inventor who built a steam boat propeller similar to the screw-propeller that would later be invented by John Ericcson. His career is described by Frederick J. Kingsbury in an article entitled “An Ericcson Propeller on the Farmington Canal” (The Connecticut Magazine, Vol. VII. Nos 3-4, 1902):
Benjamin Dutton Beecher was born at Cheshire, Connecticut, November 2, 1791, and was educated at the Academy there, the late Admiral Foote having been his school-fellow and life long friend. He learned the trade of a carpenter, and at the age of twenty-two, during the war with England, he invented the first fanning-mill for cleaning grain known to the world. This invention he patented May 13, 1816. In 1828 he was living in Woodbury, Connecticut, where several of his children were born. In 1830 or 1831, he removed to New York City. While living in Woodbury he received a patent October 20. 1830, for a grain-threshing machine. In New York he bought a steam tug-boat, which he commanded himself, and did a successful business and made improvements on the boat and engine. In 1832, when the cholera broke out in New York, he left with his family by packet for New Haven, and by canal to Cheshire. His son says that so great were the fear and the haste of their flight that they abandoned everything but the clothes that they wore, and that at some point they were quarantined for a considerable period in a barn. He then took up his abode in Cheshire, On the Mountain Brook road, near where the boat was built, and erected a shop with a water-power engine attached. When his dam broke away, being in a hurry to complete his boat, he invented and built a horse-power engine, which he patented in December, 1833. In one of his trips on the canal, Admiral Foote—then lieutenant—accompanied him.
Located at 275 Carrington Road in Bethany is a house erected by Beri Beecher (died 1886) as a weeding gift for his new bride in 1834. The house remained in the Beecher family until 1900. Wallace Saxton, who served as First Selectman of Bethany from 1945 to 1953, lived in the house from 1905 to 1950. The property has been known as “Hillside Acres” and more recently as “Pear Tree Farm.” The house has a large Georgian Colonial addition constructed in 1991.
The Andrews-Bailey-Knox House is a Greek Revival house built in 1840 at 2163 Main Street in Glastonbury. It was once the home of Virginia Knox (1909-2002) who worked for the Connecticut State Library for 32 years, retiring in 1966.
Originally from Tolland, John B. Chapman (1799-1849) settled at Warehouse Point in East Windsor where he kept a store and later a lumber yard. He also served as postmaster. He built the brick Federal-style house at 115 Bridge Street in East Windsor c. 1820 (or 1848). He went to California during the Gold Rush and died at sea.
James M. Clark built the house at 26 Liberty Street in Chester within a few years of acquiring the land from Richard Ely in 1851. In the late 1850s, Clark ran a nearby cork screw and gimlet factory. In 1882 he left the house to the Congregational Society of Chester, whose trustees sold it in 1894.
One of the original settlers of the Town of Bolton was Ensign Nathaniel W. Loomis, who built the house at 261 Hebron Road in Bolton c. 1718. Loomis’ original lot was 100 acres. The property later became Fernwood Farm, where Morgan horses have been raised since 1963.