The house at 94 State Street in Guilford was once the single-story residence of Ambrose Benton (1769-1847). He married Mary Evarts in 1790. The original first floor dates to 1798 and the house’s second story was added in 1909.
In 1790 Andrew Fowler transferred ownership of a partially finished house in Guilford to his son, Jonathan Fowler, for five years’ service. The house was erected on an island next to the West River (current address 55 York Street). The property has a modern barn.
The structure at 33 and 37 Fair Street in Guilford has had a long and complicated history. By 1740 Mehitabel and Anna Fowler lived in a house at 33 Fair Street. A title search has revealed that their house had been built c. 1682 by the Fowler Sisters’ father and transferred to them in 1727. The house was acquired in 1824 by Russell Frisbie, who may have rebuilt or replaced the original house. In 1864, an Italian Villa-style structure (with the address of 37 Fair Street), either moved from elsewhere or newly erected, was attached to the older house. Here resided Frisbie‘s granddaughter Cornelia and her husband, Dr. Benjamin West. Their son, Dr. Redfield West altered the entire building to have a Gothic appearance, but it was later returned to its earlier appearance. Dr. Redfield West had earlier practiced medicine in New York, Boston and New Haven. As related in the Proceedings of the Connecticut State Medical Society (1921)
In order to be with his parents in their declining years, he removed to Guilford in 1892, opened his office in the house in which he was born and where he died, and soon succeeded in establishing a large and lucrative practice. Early in life he became intensely interested and very successful in chemical researches, and in 1899, and also 1900, was granted letters patent for improvements in photographic printing. In 1894 Dr. West was appointed by Governor Morris, State Chemist; reappointed by Governor Coffin in 1896; again by Governor Cooke in 1898, and by Governor Lounsbury in 1900. In 1897 he was appointed town health officer for Guilford, and also medical examiner in the same year, offices which he held for a period of years.
Meeting House Hill in North Guilford is noted for the impressive view of its two early-nineteenth-century churches: the North Guilford Congregational Church and St. John’s Episcopal Church. The latter, located at 129 Ledge Hill Road, was built in 1812-1814 in the Federal style. The church was originally founded by members who had left the North Congregational Church in 1747, building their first small meeting house south of the hill in 1754. By 1812 they had developed a solid relationship with their neighboring church, which donated land for them to to build a new church on Meeting House Hill. The top section of the original steeple was removed and replaced with a belfry in 1843. The interior was remodeled and the chancel, sacristy, and vestry were added in 1870. Around the same time, Gothic arches were added to the windows as well. The belfry was repaired after being struck by lightning in 1890. Originally standing on large stones, the church did not acquire a permanent foundation until the 1950s. A rear addition added in 1972.
Guilford farmers began clearing land in the north part of town in 1705. As related in A History of the Plantation of Menunkatuck and of the Original Town of Guilford, Connecticut, Comprising the Present Towns of Guilford and Madison (1897) by Bernard Christian Steiner:
on December 6, 1716, the town voted to grant the petition of the “North Farmers in Guilford,” that they may have “the liberty to hire a minister for 4 months for their ease in attending the worship of God, the Town being at no charge in contributing to the same.”
In 1720 the town
granted 50 acres on Hooker’s Hill “to be disposed for the ministry forever,” and permitted the meetinghouse to be set” on the hill called the ledge, in the highway against Sam’l Bishop’s lot.”
The first meeting house on Mettinghouse Hill was built in 1723 and a separate religious society was granted by the General Assembly in 1725. The current North Guilford Congregational Church building was erected in 1812-1814. Workmen erecting the steeple during the War of 1812 observed British ships on Long Island Sound during the Battle of Stonington. Abraham Coan of Guilford was the architect/builder of the Federal-style church, which stands in a dramatic location on Meetinghouse Hill. The interior was remodeled and the Chancel was added in 1855, possibly to a design by Henry Austin. A rear addition to the church was constructed in 1957.
The Italianate house at 49 Church Street in Guilford was built c. 1848 by Frederick A. Fowler. He was married to Laura Brooks, sister of Captain Oliver N. Brooks, who also lived at the house for a time. Captain Brooks was the lighthouse keeper at Faulkner’s Island from 1851 to 1882. He was described in Forest and Stream (Vol. LXXX, No. 8, January 18, 1913):
It was a piece of heroism performed on the night of Nov. 23, 1858, that caused Captain Brooks to be spoken of as the “Hero of 1858.” That night the schooner Moses F. Webb went ashore in a heavy gale on Goose Island, not far from Faulkner’s Island. Captain Brooks, disregarding the weather, put out to the stranded vessel in an open boat, and safely took off the five men of the crew. This feat was widely heralded. The Life Saving Benevolent Association of New York presented him a gold medal and the citizens of New Haven gave him a purse of gold.
Captain Brooks was known to every Connecticut ornithologist of thirty years ago as a careful observer of birds, and as possessing in his home at the lighthouse a collection of birds of unusual interest. His name has been quoted in many a list of Connecticut birds during the last forty or fifty years.
Captain Brooks was a delightful man, full of stories of his experiences and observations. He was twice a member of the Connecticut General Assembly.