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 Central Fire Station, later called the Main Street Fire House, at 533 Main Street in Middletown, was built in 1899 during the era of horse drawn fire coaches. There is a hosedrying tower on the building’s northwest corner. It has been continuously used by the Middletown Fire Department ever since and its Renaissance Revival design has made it a notable landmark of the north section of Main Street. Read the rest of this entry »
At 134 Washington Street in South Norwalk is an arcaded yellow-brick commercial building that was built around 1890. It appears to have been constructed in two stages, as the cornice does not line up evenly across the entire facade. Today, the building has stores with condominiums above. It is located between Donovan’s Saloon and Hoyt’s Theatre.
At the corner of Pearl Street and Ann Uccello Street in Hartford is a brick building that displays the name “——— Building.” The part that has been chiseled out once read “Telephone.” The Telephone Building was built in 1890 and is attributed, based on its style, to architect William D. Johnston. The three-story Renaissance Revival building was constructed for the Southern New England Telephone Company. The company’s growth led it to construct a new building in 1911 at 185 Pearl Street, which was later torn down. Yet another Telephone Building was erected in 1931 at 55 Trumbull Street (later enlarged, it has since been converted into apartments). The original Telephone Building, at 249 Pearl Street, is now used for offices.
The building listed in the nomination to the National Register of Historic Places for the Colony Street/West Main Street Historic District as the Cahill Beef Block (55 Colony Street [historically 57 Colony Street] in Meriden) is a Georgian/Neoclassical Revival structure built in 1902-1903. It was also a branch of the Swift Beef Co., as described in Meat-packer Legislation: Hearings Before the Committee on Agriculture, House of Representatives, Sixty-Sixth Congress, Second Session, on Meat-packer Legislation, Tuesday, March 18, 1920:
C. W. Cahill, Meriden, Conn.: Local slaughterer became Swift agent, organized Cahill Beef Co. 1909. Sold out his interest to Swift 1915 because he had to handle Swift goods exclusively. Corporation dissolved 1916. Now Swift branch house.
A more detailed account of Cornelius W. Cahill’s career can be found in An Historic Record and Pictorial Description of the Town of Meriden, Connecticut and the Men Who Have Made It, AKA A Century of Meriden (1906):
He was born in Ireland, Februarv 12. 1844, and his parents located in Middletown when he was three years old. . . .
In 1865 he came to Meriden and became a clerk in the provision store of Samuel C. Paddock where by courteous attention to patrons he made himself not only valuable to his employer but popular with a large number of customers. When he was offered a more lucrative position in the same line of business he made up his mind that he could be as much value in his own store as in that of others and encouraged by his customers, of whom he had made personal friends, established the City Market. After carrying on the business for some time alone he took in a partner, John W. Coe, and continued the business for three years. John W. Coe sold his interest to Patrick Cahill and M. O’Brien. It then became known as Cahill & O’Brien Later with Bartholomew & Coe he went into the pork packing business, but within a year returned to the retail business at the City Market. Some time afterward he retired from the retail business, selling his interest in the City Market to B. B. Lane, and became again the partner of Bartholomew & Coe, who in the meantime had become the Meriden agents for Swift’s beef. At the end of a year Messrs. Coe and Bartholomew retired, selling their interest to Mr. Cahill,; who for the past twenty-five years has continued the wholesale commission business in handling the Swift beef, which at the close of the first century of Meriden’s history has increased to almost mammoth proportions.
In 1903 Swift & Co. erected their present handsome brick building on North Colony street which is equipped with every modern facility for receiving, keeping and handling the large amount of beef shipped daily from Chicago and supplied by Mr. Cahill to the meat markets in the vicinity of Meriden.
The former Swift/Cahill building is now known as The Studios at 55 and features band rehearsal rooms, a recording studio, and a performance hall.
At 53-55 West Main Street in Meriden is a five-story brick building constructed in 1893 (also variously dated 1889, 1890 and 1896). It was built by August Yost (1844-1915), who came to america when he was 11 years old. Yost worked for 17 years in the woolen mills of Rockville. He then became a baker in New Britain, forming the company of Lang & Yost with William Lang. In 1872, Yost moved to Meiden, where he formed a new partnership with William Albrecht. Yost soon took on the entire business and opened a store on West Main Street in 1875. He retired in 1895, two years after building the Yost Block. His son took over the business and August Yost turned to politics, serving on the Board of Assessors from 1899 until his death in 1915, the last four years as chairman.
Hoyt’s Theatre is a former music hall at 130 Washington Street in South Norwalk. It was built by I. Mortimer Hoyt, father of Ira Ford Hoyt, who also became a theatrical manager. As related in an article in The Norwalk Hour of February 3, 1922 (“Early Theatrical Days in Norwalk”):
Mr. Hoyt was manager for fourteen years of old Music hall . . . There came a day when he realized that a playhouse, in order to achieve a full measure of success, should be on the ground floor, easy of ingress and egress. The experience of getting scenery in and out of Music hall, frequently through third-story windows; the limited stage room for the production of some of the plays of that day; the two long flights of stairs leading to the auditorium, and still another flight to the gallery, were some of the difficulties Mr. Hoyt had to contend with. In 1890, after prolonged negotiations with the Marvin brothers for the land, he began the erection of Hoyt’s theater, which was formally opened in 1892, with Oliver Dowd Byron in “Across the Continent” as the attraction.
The theatre was first listed in the city directory in 1893 and by 1923 it was listed as the Rialto Theatre, operated by Warner Brothers as a movie house. The interior was remodeled in the Art Deco style in 1941. The theatre closed c. 1959-1961 and has since contained other businesses on the first floor with condominiums above. Read the rest of this entry »