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.
The Weisman Building (originally the Meigs Building), located at 105-109 Bank Street in Waterbury, was built in 1902. It is one of the many structures built in the wake of the downtown Waterbury Fire of 1902. This now vacant commercial building has been for sale/lease for many years.
The Corning Building is at the southwest corner of Main and Trumbull Streets in Hartford. Today’s Corning Building was built in 1928–30 and replaced an earlier Corning Building on the site, which dated to the 1870s. Before that, the three-story Robinson and Corning Building stood here. Dating to the 1820s, it was long home to the Brown & Gross bookstore, which later moved to Asylum Street. Arriving by train to deliver a speech in Hartford on March 5, 1860, future president Abraham Lincoln walked up Asylum Street to the bookstore, where he first met Gideon Welles, the editor of the Hartford Evening Press. Welles would later serve as Lincoln’s secretary of the navy. Dr. Horace Wells had his office here, where in 1844 he had a tooth successfully removed without pain after first inhaling laughing gas–the first use of anesthesia. A plaque was placed on the Corning Building in 1894 to honor Wells on the fiftieth anniversary of his discovery.