The Roderick Block is a “flatiron”-shaped Victorian Eclectic commercial building in the industrial village of Baltic in Sprague. It was built in 1898 by Raymond J. Jodoin, a businessman who was Baltic’s largest landowner. He also served several terms as Sprague’s First Selectman and in the state legislature. Born in St. Hyacinth, Quebec, Jodoin‘s family came to Baltic in 1865, when he was seven weeks old, during a period of mass immigration of French-Canadians. According to the Legislative History and Souvenir of Connecticut, Vol. VII (1910):
At the age of nine years he went to work in the mill at Baltic. He saved his earnings until he was able to buy a small livery stock and successfully conducted this business several years. In April, 1888, Mr. Jodoin went to Providence, where he secured a position as traveling salesman in the wholesale grocery house of Waldron Wightman & Co. He remained with them ten years and then accepted a similar position with Daniels & Cornell, of Providence, with whom he has since remained. His territory covers Eastern Connecticut. Southern Massachusetts and Western Rhode Island.
As related in an article in the Bridgeport Herald of April 3, 1910 (“Representative Jodoin Urged for Democratic State Ticket”):
Mr. Jodoin is much attached to his home village, Baltic, and some years ago when he began to invest his savings in real estate there, he met with dark phrophesies of financial loss from all his friends, but his judgment has been justified since by the increase in the value of his investments. He is one of the heaviest individual owners of real estate in the town, and has been found always ready to back any movement that promised to be of advantage to the place. Throughout the village are seen many evidences of his public spirit, and he is most popular with all classes. Kindly and charitable, he is ever ready to help those less fortunate, but with his characteristic modesty he dislikes to have his good deeds known.
At 87 Mountain Road (corner of Buena Vista Road) in West Hartford is the town’s oldest extant schoolhouse, a brick structure known as the Old West School. Since 1936, the former school has been occupied by the West Hartford Art League, which purchased the building from the town in 1965 on the condition that it be preserved and used exclusively for non-profit cultural and educational purposes.
Camp meetings, religious revival meetings where parishioners would set up their carts and tents around a central preaching platform, were once a vital feature of frontier American Protestant Evangelicalism in the nineteenth century. Participants, freed from their daily routines, could attend the almost continuous services that often lasted several days. While Presbyterians and Baptists sponsored camp meetings, these religious gatherings came to be particularly associated with the Methodist denomination. Methodists soon introduced the camp meeting, originally a western phenomenon that flourished before the Civil War, to the east.
The New Haven District of the Methodist Church founded a campground for summer revival meetings in the west end of Plainville (320 Camp Street) in 1865. Methodist camp meetings would continue to be held there every summer until 1957. Initially tents were pitched around a central platform. Soon the Association Building was constructed, where equipment could be stored. Individual churches then began constructing 2-story cottages facing the center of the Campground, along what is known as The Circle. Nineteen of these central cottages survive today. Individual families also began to build their own cottages on the narrow avenues radiating from The Circle, replacing the tents of the campground‘s early years. Most of the cottages date from the 1880s to 1910, although a few were constructed as late as 1925. The present Auditorium building was built around 1905 in place of the original preaching platform. At one time a screened pavilion, the Auditorium is now open to the outside. The Plainville Campground Association purchased the property from the Methodists in 1957. 87 of the cottages are now private residences, the other 39 being owned by various churches. A few of the cottages have been modified for year-round use, while the rest are occupied in the summer. I have additional photos of the Campground: Read the rest of this entry »
In 1836, Henry P. Haven (1815-1876; A biography of Haven by Henry Clay Trumbull, entitled A Model Superintendent, was published in 1880) established the Gilead Sunday School in Waterford. In 1876, Gilead Chapel was built at the corner of Foster Road and Parkway North to serve as the home of this interdenominational school. After the school closed in the early 1940s, the building was used for a decade by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints. Vacant several years thereafter, in 1969 it was purchased by Raymond Schmitt for his his Historic Johnsonville Village in Moodus in East Haddam. The building was taken down and reassembled in Moodus at the intersection of Johnsonville Road and Neptune Avenue.
At 77 West Town Street in Lebanon is a house built c. 1880 by Isaac Gillette. He was a delegate to the state Constitutional Convention in 1902. Pin Oak seedlings were distributed to each delegate to plant in his home town. Gillette planted his in his front yard, where the Constitution Oak (not pictured above) still grows today.
At 5 Elm Street in Ansonia is a house built circa 1789 and altered in later years (including the addition of a Victorian-era front porch). Called the Sheldon Curtiss House, it was an inn in the early nineteenth century, serving the coach road between New Haven and Humphreysville (now Seymour).
Built circa 1882 (or 1876?) and designed by Henry Austin & Son, the house at 612 Chapel Street in New Haven was the residence of Herrick Frost. As described in Volume 2 of A Modern History of New Haven and Eastern New Haven County (1918), Herrick Payne Frost
in 1856 made his home in New Haven, where after several experiments in various enterprises, in 1858 he formed a partnership with Julius Tyler, Jr., establishing the wholesale grocery house of Tyler & Frost, on State street. This business Mr. Frost prosecuted with great energy and varied success for nearly twenty years, the partnership being dissolved in 1876, at about the time the telephone was just coming into public notice.
Inspired by Alexander Graham Bell’s demonstration of his new invention–the telephone–at Skiff’s Opera House in New Haven on April 27, 1877, Civil War veteran and telegraph man George W. Coy created an experimental switchboard. He won a Bell telephone franchise for New Haven and Middlesex counties and received financial backing from Herrick Frost and Walter Lewis, superintendent of the New Haven Clock Company. Establishing the District Telephone Company of New Haven, the partners opened the world’s first telephone exchange in January 1878 with 21 subscribers.
Again according to A Modern History of New Haven and Eastern New Haven County:
The new enterprise attracted general attention, and in less than three months after its inauguration it had one hundred and fifty subscribers, and within a year over four hundred. Mr. Frost and his partner were thus instrumental in giving to New Haven the credit of leading the world in this important line. By 1880 capital had become interested in the further development of the system, and the New Haven Telephone Company was merged into the Connecticut Telephone Company, with the late Marshall Jewell, of Hartford, as president, and Hon. Charles L. Mitchell and Morris F. Tyler as directors. This company in 1884 underwent another change, becoming the Southern New England Telephone Company, with a capital of one and a half million dollars. Through the foresight, energy and ability of Mr. Frost, to whom was committed the general management of this great and growing corporation, the lines of the company were carried into nearly every town, hamlet and school district, within the territory in which they operated, and until a very few years ago there was no district in the world with so many telephones in use, in proportion to its population, as Connecticut.