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.
Blakeslee Barns was a tinsmith in Berlin who lived at 857 Worthington Ridge. I don’t know if he is the same as or related to the Blakeslee Barns (also d. 1823) of Philadelphia who made pewter plates. As related by by Catharine Melinda North in her History of Berlin (1916):
Mr. Barnes had unusual natural business faculty, and in his occupation as a tinner, conducted, with a number of apprentices, in a shop near his home, he was quite prosperous. Denied the advantages of schools in boyhood, he studied, after he began business, to make up his lack of book knowledge. [...] After a while Mr. Barnes moved up on to the street where he died, August 1, 1823, aged forty-two years. It is supposed that he built the house which he occupied, and which was afterward purchased and remodeled by Captain Peck, now owned by Daniel Webster.
[...] Going east from the tannery, on the crest of the hill, at the left hand, stands a factory bearing the name of “Justus and William Bulkeley,” who in 1823 started here in the business of making tinners’ tools. Horse power was used at first and ten men were employed. The tools were forged in this shop, and then were taken to what is known as Risley’s saw mill, to be ground and polished. Justus Bulkeley, who lived in the house east of the shop, died in 1844. His brother William continued the business and, in 1850, put an engine into the factory.
Colonel [William] Bulkeley purchased his place in 1823 of Blakeslee Barnes, or of his estate. At that time the shop, and the house which is a part of that now occupied by the Rev. E. E. Nourse, stood on the south side of the road, between the Bulkeley house and barn, and had been used by Mr. Barnes for the manufacture of tinware. Mr. Bulkeley was a genial man, full of fun, and a good neighbor—one of the kind who would go out of his way to do a favor. In his day, whenever there was an auction in town, Colonel Bulkeley was called upon to conduct the sale. By his ready wit he made much fun for the people, as he led up to the final “Going, going, gone.”
The Sixth Connecticut Regiment was organized in 1739. Mr. Bulkeley was colonel of that regiment, 1834-1836, and thus received his title. Colonel Bulkeley died in 1878, aged eighty-one.
[...] after some years Captain Norman Peck purchased the property. The shop was moved down onto the triangle made by the division of the roads on the way to the station from Berlin street, and was called Captain Peck’s farmhouse.
The Federal-style Barnes House, built sometime before 1823 (perhaps as early as 1789?), was later altered in the Greek Revival style and then had Colonial Revival additions, including the porte-cochère.
Left Hartford about 7 o’clock, and took the middle road (instead of the one through Middletown, which I went).— Breakfasted at Worthington, in the township of Berlin, at the house of one Fuller.
The tavern that Washington writes about still stands today at 1055 Worthington Ridge in Berlin. It was built circa 1769 and has later nineteenth century alterations. Ephraim Fuller, listed in the 1790 census, was probably the Fuller who ran the tavern. Additional details about the tavern are recorded in Catharine M. North‘s History of Berlin (1916):
Some years since, when the house was repainted, the date 1769 was discovered on the brick work of the chimney, about half-way between the roof and the top of the chimney. It was built to be used as a tavern with a public hall and ballroom on the second floor. [...] Amos Kirby assumed the proprietorship of Fuller’s tavern about the year 1814, and lived on the place until his death in 1846 at the age of seventy-one. During the latter part of his years he carried on the business of a butcher and peddled meat about the town.
Around 1884, when wallpaper was being removed from the Tavern’s east room on the second floor, a mural displaying Masonic symbols was uncovered. The room had once been part of the ballroom, which once ran across the entire house from east to west and was later converted into a Masonic Lodge room. It is thought to have been the meeting place of Berlin Lodge, No. 20, organized in 1791, which later became Harmony Lodge No. 20 of New Britain and merged with Friendship Lodge No. 33 of Southington in 1995.