St. Francis of Assisi Parish was established in 1903 to serve the South Farms section of Middletown, as well as the towns of Durham and Middlefield. The parish’s first pastor, Rev. Patrick McGivney, was the brother of Fr. Michael McGivney, the founder of the Knights of Columbus. The parish’s new church (10 Elm Street in Middletown), built at a cost of $27,000, was dedicated on November 4, 1904.
According to the Genealogical and Family History of the State of Maine, Volume 1 (1909):
Caleb, son of Young and Jerusha (Beebe) Fuller, was born in Colchester, Connecticut, in 1735. He removed to Ellington in 1747. He graduated from Yale College in 1758, and received the degree of A. M. in 1762. He is called Deacon in some records, and Reverend in others. He married, October 28. 1762, Hannah Weld, daughter of Rev. Habijah Weld, the famous minister who preached at Attleboro, Massachusetts, for fifty-five years. [....] Caleb Fuller removed in 1771 to Middletown, Connecticut, and in 1790 to Hanover, New Hampshire, where he died August 20, 1815.
The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record (Vol. 35, 1904) states that, “Caleb Fuller seems never to have been a settled pastor, though doubtless he often preached as a supply, since manuscript sermons of his are now in possession of his descendants.” He moved to Hanover, NH, “perhaps because he desired to educate his son at Dartmouth College,” where he became “Deacon of the College Church.” Caleb Fuller‘s gambrel-roofed house in Middletown, built in 1771, originally stood at the corner of Main and William Street. It was moved west on William Street in 1842 when the First Baptist Church was constructed on that corner. In 1975 the house was scheduled for demolition as part of a redevelopment plan, but it was saved as part of an adaptive reuse plan. Moved to its current address at 49 Main Street, the house had its exterior restored and it was converted to office use.
Located on Cooley Avenue between Main Street Extension and East Main Street in Middletown is a former factory building, erected between 1871 and 1874 by L.D. Brown & Son. As related in The Silk Industry in America (1876), by L.P. Brockett,
L. D. Brown started in the manufacture of skein silk at Gurleyville, Conn., in 1850, in partnership with James Royce, and occupying the mill built by the latter in 1848, which has been referred to. In 1853 Mr. Brown bought the mill then occupied by the Conant Brothers, (already mentioned,) in the same locality, and continued the manufacture of skein silk there until 1865, when he took his son into partnership, sold the mill at Gurleyville to William E. Williams, and bought the William Atwood Mill at Atwoodville. In 1871, L. D. Brown & Son erected a new mill for themselves at Middletown, Conn., and sold the Atwoodville Mill to Macfarlane Brothers. They now manufacture principally machine twist and skein and spool sewing-silk. Their silk has an excellent reputation for strength and purity of dye. In February, 1875, they opened a New York house. Their brands are ” L. D. Brown & Son,” “Middletown Mills,” “Paragon,” and ” Connecticut Valley.” The junior partner, H. L. Brown, has made some inventions of considerable value to the silk industry, including an improvement in winding soft silk, which has been introduced into a number of silk mills, and a new method of silk spooling and weighing.
The Middletown factory was constructed in the city’s South Farms area, which was undergoing considerable industrial development after the Civil War. The original building was expanded later in the nineteenth century and again in the twentieth century. L.D. Brown & Son went into receivership to wind up the company’s affairs in 1903. Several other manufacturers have occupied the building over the years and it is now home to Estate Treasures. Part of the structure was demolished in 2011, with the rest perhaps to follow at some point in the future.
In the early twentieth century, many Italian immigrants were settling in Middletown, with large numbers coming from the Sicilian town of Melilli. Seeking to build their own church in Middletown, they launched a massive fund raising effort. Local companies donated materials for the building of St. Sebastian Church and many parishioners contributed their labor for its construction. The church was designed by architect Raymond C. Gorrani, who was heavily influenced by the design of the Basilica of St. Sebastian in Melilli. The first Mass was celebrated in the church in December, 1931.
The Central National Bank Building, at 363 Main Street in Middletown, was built in 1915. The bank was in business from 1865 to 1955. Considered to be the first modern office building in Middletown, it later housed Hartford National Bank and Trust and now Webster Bank.
At 428-432 Main Street in Middletown is an Art Deco building that was built as a Woolworth’s store (F.W. Woolworth Co.) in 1939. An horrific tragedy took place in 1989, when a 9-year old girl, having walked out of the store during a street fair with her mother and sister, was fatally stabbed by a mental patient from the Connecticut Valley Hospital, a psychiatric institute in Middletown. The Woolworth’s store closed in late 1993 and the building is now home to Irreplaceable Artifacts.
As described in yesterday’s post, Thomas Danforth I (1703-1786) was a prominent maker of pewter in Norwich. One of his sons, also named Thomas, established himself as a pewterer in Middletown in 1756. He handcrafted pewter in a combination workshop and store that was originally located in an artisans’ neighborhood along Henshaw Lane, now called College Street. Thomas Danforth II (1731-1782) had six sons who became pewterers. A grandson continued the trade in Middletown until 1846. The Danforth Pewter Shop was dismantled in 1979, when its College Street location was slated to become a parking lot. It was reassembled a few years later next to 11 South Main Street, at the intersection of South Main, Pleasant and Church Streets, near Union Green. The former pewter shop is privately owned and not open to the public.