The building at 163-169 Main Street in Seymour was built in 1921 and was originally called the Donavan Building. Its front marquee was added c. 1941 when the Stand Theater opened. It later became a second-run theater and is one of Connecticut’s few remaining single-screen movie houses. Its Art Deco interior was restored in the 1990s. The building is owned by the Knights of Columbus.
A German immigrant who arrived in the United States in 1874, Bernard C. Apel established a furniture and undertaking business at Depot Square in North Manchester. In 1888 he erected the large brick commercial building that stands at the corner of Apel Place and Oakland Street (35 Oakland Street). The basement contained the undertaking establishment and above it was his mercantile showroom, which he had expanded to include a wide variety of products, from carpets, wall paper and curtains, to crockery, lamps, clocks, stoves and pianos. The upper floors of the building housed a large community hall/theater called Apel’s Opera House. A fire gutted the opera house in 1899. Apel rebuilt, but did not reconstruct the original audience gallery. Serving as a warehouse and salesroom in later years, the building was acquired by the Central Connecticut Cooperative Farmers Association in 1977. The Co-op, which had been located on Apel Place since 1942, was a major supplier of livestock feed to farmers and had a retail store and farm stand in the former Opera House. The Co-op closed in the summer of 2016 due to current economic conditions and the decline in the number of farms.
The Benjamin Williams, Jr. Homestead was erected in 1814 at what is now Essex Square in Essex. In 1925 the old house was removed and replaced by the Essex Square Theatre building. The theatre showed movies and also had space for four retail stores and four offices. Films played there until 1972 and in 1984 the building was acquired by Talbots.
The Capitol Theater in New London was built in 1921 at 39 (29-41) Bank Street on the site of a earlier theater called Aborn Hall. A vaudeville and movie theater (legend has it that George Burns and Gracie Allen met here), it has been closed since 1974 and is in need of restoration. Read the rest of this entry »
At 15 Bank Street in New London is the Lawrence Hall Building, built in 1920. It replaced an earlier Lawrence Hall building on the same site, which is described in Frances Manwaring Caulkins’ History of New London (1895 edition) as follows:
Lawrence Hall, a private building owned by Joseph Lawrence, Esq., is the principal Hall in the city for public lectures and exhibitions. It was completed in Feb. 1856, and is 105 feet in length, 57 in breadth, and arched above to the height of 24 feet from the floor. It is a beautiful Hall in decoration, proportion and interior accommodation, and with its gallery or corridor, will accommodate 1,200 persons. Architect, W. T. Hallett.
It deserves to be remembered here that the elder Lawrence was the first man who gave New London a strictly metropolitan building, Lawrence Hall, a fine structure built from the plans of the celebrated architect, Hallett. When it was going up some of the citizens expressed their fears that it would overshadow the rest of the city, and Mr. Lawrence replied: “ That is all right; the city will grow up to it.”
The 1920 Lawrence Hall was built after the 1856 Lawrence Hall was destroyed in a fire. The new building was described in the book Modern Connecticut Homes and Homecrafts (1921) soon after it was built:
In the making of the design for Lawrence Hall Building on Bank street, New London, there is shown again [the architects] Mssrs. Bilderbeck and Langdon’s marked ability to obtain decorative quality through their knowledge of the resources of materials, and beauty of form in the development of natural structural lines.
The building at 20 Broad Street in New Britain was erected in 1923 as the Rialto Theater. The owners went into receivership in the late 1920s and the building was foreclosed in 1930. Nest 88 of the Polish Falcons of America acquired the building in 1934. The Polish Falcons are a fraternal benefit society headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Nest 88 was chartered in 1907 after a first meeting in Lee Hall on Lafayette Street in New Britain. The organization has an emphasis on physical fitness, but in the early twentieth century it also trained volunteers to fight for the independence of Poland. 300 recruits from New Britain were among the 20-25,000 Polish men from North America who went to fight in the War as part of Haller’s Army (also called the Blue Army), which was composed of Polish immigrants and fought under French command in Europe. The building in New Britain has retail space on the first floor while the entire second floor is dedicated to Nest 88, with the Club Office, Club Bar, two halls, a kitchen and meeting rooms.
Niantic Cinemas at 279 Main Street in Niantic opened in 1950 as the single-screen Niantic Theatre. It was renamed after it was purchased by the Mitchell family in 1979 and was split into three screens (later 4 and, in 2003, 5 screens).