At 98 Fair Street in Guilford is a mansard-roofed house built c. 1869-1870 in the French Second Empire style. It was built by Edwin Alonzo Leete (1822-1870), a cabinetmaker and undertaker. Behind the house is a building (1090 Boston Post Road) he used as his workshop and display room. Leete had previously lived in an octagon house on Fair Street. A veteran of the Civil War, Leete served six months in Co I, 14th CT Regiment and fought at the Battle of Antietam. After his death, his son Edward and grandson Earle continued the undertaking business and also developed an interest in antique furniture. As related in Vol. II of A Modern History of New Haven and Eastern New Haven County (1918):
Edward Morris Leete acquired his education in the schools of Guilford, Connecticut, and there learned the furniture business with his father and also mastered the undertaking business. He continued in the furniture trade in Guilford until 1912. His wife [Eva Bishop] from 1885 had been dealing in New England antique furniture and the business grew so extensive that in 1912 the E. B. Leete Company was incorporated and the modern furniture business of Mr. Leete was discontinued in order that he might concentrate his entire attention upon the antique furniture trade which had been developed.
[. . .] The parents and second son [Earl Bishop Leete] are all interested in the antique furniture business which is carried on under the name of Mrs. Leete as the E. B. Leete Company, for the trade was developed and built up by Mrs. Leete, whose fame as a dealer in colonial and antique furniture is very wide. She is the president of the company and has been dealing in this line of goods for thirty years. She is probably the best authority in New England on colonial furniture and is the largest dealer in and collector of New England antique furniture. She has four old houses in Guilford completely filled with this furniture on display and exhibition and she also has two large storehouses filled with it. Her collection of antique furniture is the largest in New England and many pieces in her possession are more than two hundred and fifty years old. She loaned the antique furniture for and furnished completely the Connecticut House at the Jamestown Exposition at Jamestown, Virginia, and through the Society of Colonial Dames furnished the Connecticut houses at the St. Louis and Chicago fairs. Her patronage is very extensive and gratifying and she has among her patrons many of America’s best known families. She has made a very close and discriminating study of the subject and her comprehensive knowledge of furniture, its value, its methods of manufacture and the period at which it was made enables her at all times to speak with authority upon the subject. Moreover, she displays a most enterprising and progressive spirit in the conduct of the business, possessing marked executive ability. She is also one of the organizers and a charter member of the Dorothy Whitfield Historical Society.
In 1843, 123 members of the First Congregational Church of Guilford who were strongly anti-slavery decided to form their own church, the Abolition Church, later renamed the Third Congregational Church of Guilford. These members had been refused permission by First Church to hold meetings of the local Anti-Slavery Society. They were also supporters of Rev. Aaron Dutton, First Church’s minister from 1806 to 1842, who had resigned due to dissensions within the congregation over his abolitionist stance. As related in The History of Guilford, Connecticut (1877), by Ralph D. Smith:
The present house of worship was built in 1844, and dedicated to the service of God, January 1, 1845. It was remodeled in 1862, and supplied with a suitable organ in 1873.
A chapel at the rear was added in 1879. By 1919 church membership had dwindled. The congregation of Third Church rejoined First Church and sold the building (49 Park Street) to Christ Church for use as a parish house. The building‘s steeple was removed in the 1920s because it had begun to lean. For several years, the former church was used as a movie theater, a kindergarten and a dancing school. In 1933 the building was sold again and renamed the Chapel Playhouse. It was converted for use by a summer stock theater group, the New York-Guilford players, and for the Guilford Town Players. The Christian Science Society bought the building in 1951 and restored it, changing their name in 1955 to the First Church of Christ, Scientist.
The developer of the Whitfield Shore condominiums, built in 1985 on the site of an old restaurant named Berenice’s, 446 Whitfield Street in Guilford, asked architect Wilfred J.O. Armster to create “something wild.” Armster’s modern design has such a distinctive appearance that it has been popularly known as the “Spaceship” ever since it was built. Proposing the construction of such a futurist structure in a town filled with so many colonial and nineteenth century houses led to a heated public hearing; but the building was approved and was built with Armster himself as general contractor.
The exact date that the house at 101 Fair Street in Guilford was built is uncertain. It was the site of a seventeenth-century home built by Thomas Cooke, one of the original settlers of Guilford and a signer of the 1639 Guilford Covenant that established the town while the colonists were still at sea. The current house on the site was possibly built by Miles Dudley around 1707, after his 1705/1706 marriage to Rachel Strong, but may contain sections built earlier. Dudley purchased the property in 1702. The Greek Revival doorway dates to the early 1830s.
Built circa 1847, the Greek Revival house at 19 Fair Street in Guilford was the home of Benjamin Corbin, Jr. (1819-1884). As described in the History and Genealogy of the Descendants of Clement Corbin of Muddy River (Brookline), Mass. and Woodstock, Conn. with Notices of Other Lines of Corbins (1905), compiled by Rev. Harvey M. Lawson:
Benjamin Corbin, Jr., was a well-to-do manufacturing druggist at Guilford, Conn., from which place he was elected to the state legislature in 1858 as an American Republican. He filled numerous political offices in the town of Guilford and also in East Haven and Fair Haven, to which place he removed in 1871. He was a leading member of the Congregational Church at Guilford. He d. Sept 4, 1884, at New Haven, and was buried in the Alderbrook Cemetery, Guilford, Conn., with the other members of his family.
The house at 94 Boston Street in Guilford was built around 1850, after the earlier three-story house on the site, built by Samuel Hill, was torn down in 1849. Owner of a large estate, Samuel Hill was regularly elected each year to Connecticut assembly between 1732 and his death in 1752. His name is one of the possible sources for the euphemism “What in the Sam Hill….” The current house was built by Deacon Alfred G. Hull, who was the conservator to Hill’s great-grandchildren Anna and Samuel Hill.