Happy Thanksgiving! A classic example of a colonial house with few alterations is the Eliel Williams House, at 82 Elm Street in Rocky Hill, built in 1769. According to Vol. 3 of the Encyclopedia of Connecticut Biography (1917), Corporal Eliel Williams was
born in Stepney Parish, January 30, 1746, died there August 2, 1819. He was one of the four corporals enrolled under Captain John Chester, and sent from Wethersfield on the Lexington Alarm and fought at Bunker Hill. He married Comfort Morton, a maternal descendant of Governor Thomas Welles, and her great-great-paternal grandmother, Honor Treat, was a sister of Governor Robert Treat, and wife of John Deming, one of the first settlers of Wethersfield.
Merriam Williams, son of Corporal Eliel Williams, was born in Stepney Parish, July 3, 1785, and died May 10, 1857. He was a tanner and currier and shoe manufacturer of Rocky Hill, also a landowner and farmer. He married Elizabeth Danforth, daughter of Thomas Danforth, a manufacturer and merchant of Rocky Hill.
Methodists in Rocky Hill built their first church in 1859. When that church burned to the ground on Valentine’s Day 1895, the ladies of the sewing society only had time to save an 1814 Bible and a pair of altar chairs from the building. A new church was opened less than a year after the fire. Now called the Rocky Hill United Methodist Church, it is located at 626 Old Main Street, on the corner of Church Street. This Gothic Revival church has triangular window shapes instead of the pointed arches that are more typical of the style.
The Italianate-style house at 559 Old Main Street in Rocky Hill was built around 1850. It is also possible that the house was built much earlier and was then later adapted to the Italianate style. In the mid-nineteenth century, the house was owned by William Neff, a merchant who ran a wagon shop at Rocky Hill landing along the Connecticut River.
The house at 447 Old Main Street in Rocky Hill was built around 1760 and was home to the Deming family. The covered Federal-style front doorway portico was added to the house around 1800. The property was later owned by members of the Merriam family. Around 1863, James Warner acquired the house, which was valued at $10,000 in the 1860 census. The property continued to be farmed by members of the Warner family over several generations. It was passed down to Carl Warner, an optician who later retired to St. Petersburg, Florida, where he died in 1967. Carl Warner also owned the house next door, which was built in 1773 and later demolished. The current owners of the James Warner House purchased it in October 2011 and have a blog called Confessions of An Antique Home in which they relate their adventures in owning a historic house.
Charles Bulkeley the 2nd was a ship captain who built the house at 530 Old Main Street in Rocky Hill between 1785 and 1790. He lived just down the street from the house of his father, Charles Bulkeley, Sr. The younger Charles Bulkeley married Eunice Robbins in 1785. After her husband died of smallpox in the West Indies in 1799, Eunice stayed on in the house until her own death in 1835 and passed it down to her unmarried daughter Augusta.
The house at 79 Elm Street in Rocky Hill was built in 1785 for Rev. John Lewis, who was minister of Stepney Parish (now Rocky Hill) from 1781 until his death in 1792. The house was purchased by Rev. Lewis’s successor as minister, Dr. Calvin Chapin, in two transactions. In 1795, Dr. Chapin bought 2/3 interest from the guardian of the Lewis children, who were minors, for 333 pounds, 10 shillings. In 1799, he bought the remaining 1/3 from the widow of Rev. Lewis. According to the Memorial History of Hartford County, Vol. II (1886):
[Rev. Calvin Chapin, D.D.] was a native of Springfield, Mass.; was graduated at Yale College in 1788; studied theology with the Rev. Nathan Perkins, D.D., of West Hartford; was licensed to preach in 1791; a tutor at Yale College until 1794, and had the educational charge of Jeremiah Day, afterward its president. He was installed at Stepney, April 30, 1794. He preached there until Thanksgiving Day, 1847. His office closed with his death, in March, 1851.
The late Rev. Noah Porter, D.D., of Farmington, said of Dr. Chapin: “He was distinguished for exactness, enterprise, and humor, and a constant interest in all Christian and benevolent enterprises.” From its organization, in 1810, until his death, he was Secretary of the A. B. C. F. M. [American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions] In 1826, as “Missionary,” he made the tour of the Western Reserve, Ohio; publishing a pamphlet giving the results of his observation. When the Connecticut State Temperance Society was organized, in 1829, he was made chairman of its executive committee. As a humorist he was keen, kind, and incisive.
It was during Dr. Chapin’s ministry, in 1808, that the present Congregational meeting-house was built.
During his pastorate, the Town of Rocky Hill was incorporated in 1843. Library service in Rocky Hill had begun on December 11, 1794 at a meeting held at the Chapin House. Dr. Chapin was also actively involved in the building of Academy Hall in 1803. A book entitled Appreciation of Calvin Chapin, D. D., of Rocky Hill, Conn. was published in 1908. The Chapin House has an Italianate front porch and two bay windows, all added later in the nineteenth century. Read the rest of this entry »
The Jacob Robbins House, at 244 Old Main Street in Rocky Hill, has the appearance of a Greek Revival-style home, but the earliest parts of the colonial structure date to around 1770. The facade is dominated by a large Greek Portico, that was only added in about 1920. This may be the home of the Jacob Robbins who is said to have married a niece of Noah Webster.