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.
The building at 179 Main Street in Middletown was built in 1867 to house the office of the Middlesex Mutual Assurance Company (established in 1836) and commercial tenants. The third floor contained a meeting hall for fraternal organizations. A rear addition was built in 1891 to accommodate the Southern New England Telephone Company and behind the addition a theater was constructed in 1892. The third floor then was used for lounges for theater patrons. The Middlesex Mutual Assurance Co. moved to a new building on Court Street in 1927.
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.