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.
Harmon B. Johnson
Union Army Private
Died For One Flag
March 8, 1865
Harmon B. Johnson served in the 15th Connecticut Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. His name is inscribed on the Soldiers’ Monument in Guilford under the heading “Fredericksburg.” The 15th Connecticut fought at Fredericksburg but Johnson was killed at the Battle of Wyse Fork, fought March 7-10, 1865 near Kinston, North Carolina. The house is now a condominium unit.