The First Universalist Society was organized in Middletown in 1829. Ten years later the Society constructed a church on Main Street at the corner of College Street (then called Parsonage Street; the building’s current address is 203-207 Main Street). Declining membership in the early twentieth century led to the sale of the building to the Odd Fellows for use as a meeting hall in 1916. The building has always had retail space on the first floor (originally the basement, as a flight of stairs led up to the church entrance from street level) and there was a conference room in the rear of the first floor. The Main Street front is currently home to Thai Gardens Restaurant.
The Central Fire Station, later called the Main Street Fire House, at 533 Main Street in Middletown, was built in 1899 during the era of horse drawn fire coaches. There is a hosedrying tower on the building’s northwest corner. It has been continuously used by the Middletown Fire Department ever since and its Renaissance Revival design has made it a notable landmark of the north section of Main Street. Read the rest of this entry »
At 712 Main Street in Middletown is the New Hope Bible Way Church. The building, which originally stood on the west side of Main Street between College and Court Streets, was built in 1799. It was then the fourth meetinghouse of Middletown’s First Church of Christ, a Congregational society first organized in 1668. The structure has been moved twice. The first time was in 1822, when it was shifted back 8 feet as it was thought to be too close to Main Street. In 1873, after the congregation moved to a new building (the current First Church of Christ on Court Street), the old meetinghouse had its steeple removed and the structure was relocated to its present location. The original rear of the church became the new front facade facing Main Street, to which storefronts were eventually added. For a time, the former church’s audience room was used for meetings of St. Mary’s Total Abstinence and Benevolent Society. Before becoming a church again, the building housed small businesses and apartments.
The present style of the front facade of the building at 191 to 195 Main Street in Middletown dates to c. 1891, when the original two-and-one-half story structure with a gable roof was raised to a full three stories. The north section of this commercial building was built in 1835 by Joshua Stow, a former county judge and Middletown post master (also a politician and ardent Jeffersonian Republican) who operated a store. In 1845 the building passed to William Trench, who rented it out to various commercial tenants. From 1882 to 1887 it was rented by the Middletown Police, who used it as the town’s first police station. The matching south section of the building was in place by 1856 (and may have been built at the same time as the north half (1835), with the brick fire wall down the center of the building being shared by the owners of the two separate halves).
The Greek Revival house at 61 Main Street in Middletown was built in 1837 for John Cookson, who was pastor of the First Baptist Church from 1828 to 1839. The house originally stood on the east side of South Main Street, opposite the church, which is no longer standing (the current Baptist church was built further north on Main Street in 1842). The house was purchased by the city’s Redevelopment Agency in 1972 and in 1977 it was moved to its current address as part of the South End Restoration project. It is now used as offices, as are two other historic houses that were relocated as part of the project: the William Southmayd House and the Caleb Fuller House.
The building at 484-494 Main Street in Middletown, built in 1889-1890 and considered one of the first “modern” stores in town, was once home to the Caulkins & Post Company. The business sold carpets, drapes and furniture and soon expanded to sell automobiles around 1903. This latter business was so successful that the company erected a building for its car dealership across the street in 1905. The company changed its name to F.L. Caulkins and Co. in 1906.
The building at 360 Main Street in Middletown was built circa 1873-1876 to replace an earlier structure, a hotel called that Kilbourn House, that had burned down. The new building served as a hotel, known as the Farmer’s and Mechanic’s Hotel and later the Hotel Chaffee. In 1905 the building was sold to the Pythian Building Corporation. From then on, the first floor has contained retail businesses (Woolworth’s was here in the 1920s and 1930s). The second floor was converted for office use and the third floor became the meeting space of the Knights of Pythias, a fraternal organization. The Pythian Building‘s current facade, with marble and large windows on the first two floors and a Palladian window on the third story, dates to 1938.