The Italianate-style house at 180 College Street in Middletown was built in 1865-1866 by Jeremiah Hubbard and sold, shortly thereafter, to Samuel Talcott Camp. In 1858, Camp had started a grocery business on Main Street with B.F. Chaffee. Camp was president of the Farmers & Mechanics Savings Bank, He was also a Trustee of Wesleyan University from 1880 to 1903. In 1905, the Board of Trustees established the Camp Prize in his memory, awarded for excellence in English Literature. After his death, his widow, Martha E. Smith Camp, remained in the house until her own death in 1924. The house was then acquired by Frank A. Smith, who added stucco to the exterior. Read the rest of this entry »
Henry White built the house at 33 Pleasant Street in Middletown, which faces South Green, around 1870. White was in the coal business. As described in The Leading Business Men of Middeltown, Portland, Durham and Middlefield (1890):
The [coal] business now conducted by Mr. Levi S. Deming was founded many years ago by Mr. H. S. White, who was succeeded about 1860 by Messrs. White & Loveland, who gave place to Messrs. Loveland & Deming in 1871. In 1878 the firm-name became White & Deming, and in 1887 the present proprietor [Deming] (who is a native of Newington, Conn.) assumed sole control.
White was also a president of the Victor Sewing Machine Company, which was in business from 1864 to 1883. In 1895, Orrin E. Stoddard purchased the house from the heirs of Henry White. Stoddard was a partner with George Thomas Meech (they had served in the Civil War together) in a grocery business, Meech & Stoddard. According to the Encyclopedia of Connecticut Biography (c. 1917), “Besides dealing in grain, the establishment has long conducted a milling business and does both wholesale and retail trades throughout the New England territory and in other sections.” In 1927, the house was acquired by the Masons and is now home to St. John’s Lodge No. 2. The Masons added a large addition to the rear of the house.
This week the focus is on buildings in Middletown. The Ward-Cody Building, at 502-508 Main Street, is one of many surviving Victorian commercial buildings in downtown Middletown. It was built in 1889 or 1890 by George N. Ward, who developed much of the north section of Main Street in the later nineteenth century. In 1919, the building was purchased by Richard E. Cody, whose shoe store was located here for many decades. A marker on the building notes that this was, on November 26, 1899, the birthplace of Major General Maurice Rose, a son and grandson of rabbis, who was commander of the Third Armored Division (“Spearhead”) in World War II. On March 30, 1945, Rose became the highest-ranking American to be killed by enemy fire in the War’s European Theater of Operations.
The Chi Psi fraternity established a chapter at Wesleyan in 1844. Their new fraternity house, built in 1904, was designed in the Colonial Revival style by Raymond F. Almirall, of Brooklyn, NY. It was destroyed in a fire in 1912 and was replaced by a new building, completed in 1927. Wesleyan acquired the property in the 1970s and it continued as a fraternity house until the University converted it into a residence hall around 2002. According to the University, “200 Church Street was established as housing for students who wish to build a safe, self-affirming, energetic, and close-knit community that focuses on social justice and diversity.”
When Wesleyan University was founded in 1831, it took over a campus on which two buildings, North College and South College, had already been built in 1825. They were originally constructed by the City of Middletown for use by Captain Partridge’s American Literary, Scientific and Military Academy. In 1829, after the Connecticut legislature declined it a charter to grant college degrees, Capt. Alden Partridge moved his Academy to Rutland, Vermont. The Academy later became Norwich University and the Middletown buildings were acquired by Wesleyan. The book, Norwich University, 1819-1911, Vol. I (1911), provides the following description of South College (originally called the Lyceum) and North College (called the Barracks):
These buildings were constructed of brown sandstone from the quarries in Portland. The “Barracks” was four stories high, 150 feet long and 52 feet wide, with a large attic and basement. Halls extended the full length of the building. The “Lyceum” was located 20 feet south of the Barracks, was three stories high, with a basement partly above the ground. At the front of the building was a tower 14×16 feet and 73 feet high. The basement floor was used for an arsenal and laboratory and the first and second floors for class rooms; the third floor called the “Hall of the Lyceum” was used as a chapel, drill room, and for public services.
The original North College was destroyed in a fire in 1906, but South College survived, being converted into offices that same year. The cupola and the belfry, which contains the Wesleyan Carillon, was designed by Henry Bacon and was added in 1916.
At 202 Washington Street in Middletown is a house that has gone through a number of stylistic changes over two centuries. Known as the Wetmore-Weeks or Alsop-Weeks House, it was built around 1780 by Chauncey Whittlesey, wealthy merchant and supporter of the American Revolution. The house was later owned by Charles R. Alsop, developer of the now rare Alsop Pocket percussion revolver. Alsop, who also served as mayor of Middletown (1843-1846) and state senator (1855), made alterations to the house around 1840, remodeling the Georgian-style building in the then-popular Gothic Revival style. Later in the nineteenth century, the Atwater family remodeled the interior of the house in the neo-Federal style. They sold it to Frank B. Weeks, who had just served as governor of Connecticut from 1909 to 1911. After his term, Weeks became a trustee of Wesleyan and bequeathed the house to the University at his death in 1935. The house has since been a student residence. A rear addition was constructed in 1966.
The Eclectic Society was established as a fraternity at Wesleyan University in Middletown in 1837, later adopting the Greek letters Phi Nu Theta. The Society‘s first permanent house, which did not have residential accommodations, was built 1882. In 1906, the Society hired architect Henry Bacon to design a Doric Greek revival structure at 200 High Street. Bacon had previously worked for the architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White and would go on to design the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC and to make preliminary sketches for Wesleyan’s Olin library. Completed in 1907, the Eclectic building is seen as a precursor to the Lincoln Memorial, both having a Doric design but lacking the typical accompanying pediment. In 1970, there was a split between undergraduate and alumni members: ties were severed and the alumni organization, the Socratic Literary Society, incorporated a century before, was dissolved. The undergraduates abandoned the use of Greek letters, elected women to membership and sold the house to the University.