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 »
The building that was once the Manchester Green Elementary School is located at 549 Middle Turnpike East in Manchester. It was built in 1921-1923. Earlier school buildings had served the village of Manchester Green going back to 1751. Ending its role as an elementary school in 1978, the building was then converted to become the Manchester Senior Center.
The building at 360 Main Street in Middletown was built circa 1873-1876 to replace an earlier structure, a hotel called that Kilbourn House, that had burned down. The new building served as a hotel, known as the Farmer’s and Mechanic’s Hotel and later the Hotel Chaffee. In 1905 the building was sold to the Pythian Building Corporation. From then on, the first floor has contained retail businesses (Woolworth’s was here in the 1920s and 1930s). The second floor was converted for office use and the third floor became the meeting space of the Knights of Pythias, a fraternal organization. The Pythian Building‘s current facade, with marble and large windows on the first two floors and a Palladian window on the third story, dates to 1938.
In the early twentieth century, many Italian immigrants were settling in Middletown, with large numbers coming from the Sicilian town of Melilli. Seeking to build their own church in Middletown, they launched a massive fund raising effort. Local companies donated materials for the building of St. Sebastian Church and many parishioners contributed their labor for its construction. The church was designed by architect Raymond C. Gorrani, who was heavily influenced by the design of the Basilica of St. Sebastian in Melilli. The first Mass was celebrated in the church in December, 1931.
Harkness Memorial State Park, located on Long Island Sound in Waterford, was once the estate of Edward Harkness (1874-1940) and his wife Mary Harkness. Harkness, one of the richest men in America, inherited great wealth from his father, Stephen V. Harkness, who had been a silent partner of John D. Rockefeller in the Standard Oil Corporation. Used by Harkness as a summer estate, it was called Eolia, named for the island home of Aeolus, Greek God of the winds. The mansion, designed by Lord & Hewlett of New York, was built in 1906 for Jessie and William Taylor, Mary Harkness’s sister and brother-in-law, who sold it the following year. Edward and Mary Harkness then hired their favorite architect James Gamble Rogers to do interior renovations and add a pergola to the property. The estate’s gardens were designed by landscape architect Beatrix Farrand. Mary Harkness left the estate to the State of Connecticut in 1950. The mansion and grounds were restored in the 1990s by lead architect Roger Clarke, with contributions by architect Peter Clarke and consultant on historic gardens Rob Camp Fuoco. Today Eolia is a popular location for weddings (pdf about weddings). Read the rest of this entry »
The Curtis Building is a blonde brick commercial building at 255 Main Street in Bristol. It has apartments on the upper floors and shops on the first floor that still have their original fronts with cast iron columns.
The First Baptist Church of Waterbury was organized in 1803. At first, meetings were held in members’ homes or outdoors. The first meeting house was built in 1818 at the Mill Mill Plain crossroads, two-and-a-half miles from the center of town. It had no paint, plaster or chimney and the seats were wooden benches without backs. The second house of worship was erected (after considerable financial difficulties) c. 1840 in the town center on South Main Street. It was later significantly remodeled and extended, the entrance being moved to the Bank Street side of the building (the church spire was later taken down after it was deemed unsafe). This church was later replaced by a new one, built on Grand Street and dedicated in 1883. It was destroyed by fire in 1912. The corner stone of the church’s fourth building, at 208 Grove Street (located in a primarily residential area), was laid on October 3, 1915 and the completed church was dedicated in 1917. The Baptists later moved from the building, which is now New Life of Waterbury Church.