There is some uncertainty about the date and exact address of the Walter Gwatkin House on Worthington Ridge in Berlin. The nomination form for the Worthington Ridge Historic District lists it as no. 1008 and gives the date as c. 1905. A walking tour booklet (doc) for the District gives the address as 1006 and the date as c. 1861, noting that the porch dates to the early 1900s. Walter Gwatkin (1856-1921) was a prosperous butcher, farmer and landowner. Catharine M. North, in her History of Berlin (1915), makes note of the house that existed before the current one:
In 1817 Horace Steele, Elishama Brandegee’s next door neighbor on the south, was engaged in the business of bookbinding. Afterwards he made bandboxes, which he carried to Hartford to sell to the milliners.
Mr. Steele’s children were Eliza (mother of the Rev. Andrew T. Pratt, missionary in Turkey), Caroline (Mrs. Joseph Booth), Mary, Jane, Lucy Ann (Mrs. Lorenzo Lamb), and William.
Their home, a large colonial house set well back from the street, was, in its day, socially a center of attraction, filled as it was with bright, merry young people. The old house was torn down by William Steele and the house which he built on its site is now owned by Walter Gwatkin.
Brandegee Hall, at 983 Worthington Ridge in Berlin, was built in 1884 by William Brandegee to be used for concerts, plays and other entertainments such as roller-skating. In 1907, the building was acquired by the town of Berlin and used as a Town Hall until 1974. Over the years it also housed a post office, the Berlin Grange and the Berlin Playhouse, a local theater group. With the erection of a new Town Hall, the old building was sold to a private owner and used for storage. Having fallen into disrepair, the Hall was renovated in the early 2000s in response to the town’s new blighted property ordinance.
The Phineas Squires Case House, at 1121 Worthington Ridge in Berlin, is a central-chimney colonial house, built c. 1750-1770. The property, later owned by the Bunce family, has a barn which once housed a disassembled homebuilt replica of a Curtiss-Type Pusher plane, built by 17-year old Howard S. Bunce in 1912. Unable to afford a Curtiss engine, Bunce used a 4-cylinder air-cooled engine constructed by Nels J. Nelson of New Britain. The oldest surviving airplane in Connecticut, it was discovered in the barn in 1962 and can now be seen at the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks.
In a 1753 division of Wethersfield common land, Ezekiel Kelsey was granted a lot for his farm in what is now East Berlin. Ezekiel Kelsey built a house at what is now 429 Beckley Road around 1760, either for himself or for his son Asahel, to whom he gave the residence in 1768. Ezekiel Kelsey (1713-1795) also owned a share in a saw mill and was skilled as a cooper and a carpenter-joiner. He married Sarah Allis (1715–1798) in 1741. Ezekiel Kelsey’s brother, Enoch Kelsey, built a house that is also still in existence in Newington.
The house at 888 Worthington Ridge in Berlin was built c. 1890 by Phineas Squires. In 1811 Squires sold the house to Rev. Samuel Goodrich (1763-1835), the third pastor of the Berlin Congregational Church, serving from 1811 to 1833. He had previously been the pastor at the Congregational Church in Ridgefield for 25 years. Rev. Goodrich was the father of Samuel Griswold Goodrich (1793-1860), the children’s author who wrote under the name “Peter Parley.” Another son was Rev. Charles A. Goodrich (1790-1862), who was also an author of such books as The Child’s History of the United States. According to Catharine M. North’s History of Berlin (1916):
The Rev. Charles A. Goodrich, who was a public-spirited citizen, continued to live on his father’s place until 1847, when he removed to Hartford, where he died in 1862. Mr. Goodrich had a comfortable study in his south yard where he could be quiet while working on his books. That building is now attached to the rear of Mrs. William A. Riley’s house.
The house was altered in the mid-19th century when the ground floor windows were enlarged and the Greek-Revival entry portico was added.
The earliest Congregational church in Berlin was formed in 1712 as the Second Church of Farmington, later the Kensington Congregational Church. In 1772, the congregation divided into the separate East (Kensington) and West (Worthington) Societies. Two years later, the Worthington Society built its meetinghouse on Worthington Ridge. It would later become known as the Second Congregational Church of Berlin (the Kensington Church being the first) and then the Berlin Congregational Church. After the building was damaged by a fire in 1848, a new meetinghouse was constructed (c. 1850) in the Gothic style. The spire originally had four gabled dormers. The clock in the steeple was donated by town historian, Catharine M. North, in memory of her father, Deacon Alfred North. The church is located at 878 Worthington Ridge.
Jesse Hart was a cabinet-maker, tavern-keeper and postmaster in Berlin. His brick house, at 203 Hudson Street, was built c.1800. It has chimneys at each of its four corners, with corresponding fireplaces inside. In 1813, he purchased the tavern at Boston Corners and became its landlord. As related in Catharine Melinda North’s History of Berlin (1916):
Jesse Hart, born 1768, married 1792, was a cabinet maker. Before he kept the hotel, at Boston Corners, he lived in the brick house, now owned by Leon LeClair. It is probable that he built that house. His first wife, Lucy Beckley, died in 1814 and, in 1822, he married, second, Mindwell Porter, daughter of Samuel Porter. Mr. Hart died in 1827, aged fifty-nine. Mrs. Hart survived him forty-eight years, and died July 6, 1875, aged ninety-one.