Around 1739, John Fletcher (d. 1788) and his wife, Rachel Wing Fletcher (1697-1778) (they married in 1720 in Harwich, Massachusetts), settled in the village of Wormwood Hill in Mandfield. By the mid-1750s they had built the central-chimney house at 611 Wormwood Hill Road. According to Wormwood Hill: Its Settlement and Growth (2009) by Rudy J. Favretti and Isabelle K. Atwood, John Fletcher became wealthy purchasing and selling various pieces of land. His son John possibly lived in the house, which then passed to his younger brother, Capt. Richard Fletcher (1736-1812), who sold it in 1806. It then had other owners. In 1843 it was acquired by Amos G. Fenner (1807-1882), a farmer originally from Warwick, Rhode Island. His son William (1837-1918) and daughter-in-law Damorous Anstice Holley Fenner (1835-1907) later lived in the house and turned the south lawn into a croquet court. In 1913, their son Frank E. Fenner (1865-1933), who lived in Waterbury, sold the house to his cousin, George Silas Clark (1869-1938). In 1954, it was purchased by H. John Thorkelson (d. 2003), an economics professor at UCONN, and his wife Virginia, is now the home of their son, Peter Tork, formerly of the band The Monkees.
In 1746, Sylvanus Freeman purchased a farm in the Wormwood Hill area of Mansfield and in 1752 he built a gambrel-roofed house on the property. Freeman sold the farm in 1764 and it passed through several other owners until 1817, when it was acquired by Selah Holley, a widow from Charlestown, Rhode Island, whose husband had passed away two years before. She lived in the homestead with her children, among whom was Perry Holley, who continued to reside in the house with his mother after his marriage in 1830 to Lois Fenton. As described in the Commemorative Biographical Record of Tolland and Windham Counties, Connecticut (1903), Perry Holley
was born July 2, 1809, in Rhode Island, and came to Mansfield when a boy. During his boyhood he worked upon the farm, and when still a young man learned the trade of forger, working at the manufacture of bits and augers in various localities where those goods were made; he was also one of the first operators of the trip hammer, being very expert in the handling of the clumsy machine, and consequently commanded good wages. In company with Hiram Parker he operated a forge shop near his house for a few years. After working at his trade for many years, he spent his declining years in Mansfield, farming, and died there in March, 1885. In religion he was a member of the Methodist Church at Gurleyville, and when a young man took a very active part in its affairs. Mr. Holly married Lois Fenton, a native of Mansfield, daughter of Elisha and Phileta (Storrs) Fenton, where her father was a blacksmith. Mrs. Holly died on April I8, 1892, aged eighty-four years, four months, to a day.
The Holley Homestead was sold out of the family in 1889 to Mary F. Sewall of Montclair, New Jersey, who used it as a summer home. One autumn, as she prepared to return to New Jersey for the winter, she asked a local carpenter to build an addition to the house. When she returned next summer, she was astonished to find that he had built what was essentially an entirely new house attached to the old gambrel-roofed colonial. The original house was later altered with the addition of a porch and gables. After 14 years of ownership, Sewell sold the house to Elizabeth Scheib Doty of Brooklyn, whose husband, Ethan Allen Doty (d. 1915), owned a large paper mill called Doty & Scrimgeour. The house, located at 627 Wormwood Hill Road, was next sold in 1931 to Stanley Kunitz, a well-known poet who worked on restoring the structure. It was again sold in 1935 to John Plimpton, who rented out rooms in the house. It is still owned by his heirs.
At 640 Wormwood Hill Road in Mansfield is a house originally built by Capt. Richard Fletcher (1736-1812) and sold, in 1777, to Zachariah Parker, Jr., who farmed on the property. The house would remain in the Parker family until 1901. Zachariah passed it to his eldest son, Thomas Parker, who had five sons and one daughter with his wife, Hannah Atwood Parker. The elder brothers, Miner and Pliny, married, but the three younger brothers did not. Their sister, Hannah Parker (1804-1895), kept house for her brothers at the Parker Homestead, where she lived until her death. Hannah Parker also taught school at Wormwood Hill and professed to be the first female teacher in Mansfield. Her nieces and nephews inherited the house and sold it in 1901 to Gertrude Cantor of New York. She and her sister, Alice Cantor, ran the property as a summer boarding house. To make more room for their many guests, the sisters raised the house from its original one-and-a-half stories to a full two stories. Read the rest of this entry »
At 78 Atwoodville Road, in the Atwoodville (formerly East Mansfield) section of Mansfield, is a house built in 1778 by Arad Simons. Born in 1754, he married Bridget Arnold in 1775. Arad Simons was in the Connecticut Marine Service and was later a civil engineer. The house has had many owners over the years, including Elisha Fenton (1774-1864), a blacksmith, and his wife, Philata Storrs, whose family lived there in the first half of the nineteenth century.
Possibly built by Edwin Fitch, the Hartung-Trumbull House in Mansfield Center dates to around 1835. John Hartung, wagon-maker and town postmaster, owned the property until 1845. From 1859 to 1894, it was the home of Eunice M. Swift Trumbull, wife of William Trumbull. The Catalog of the Officers and Students of Talladega College, published in 1905, lists “The Eunice M. Swift Trumbull Scholarship of $500, established in 1895, by devise of Mrs. Trumbull, of Mansfield, Conn.” Talladega College, in Talladega, Alabama, is that state’s oldest historically black private liberal arts college, founded in 1867.
The oldest surviving house in Mansfield Center is the Williams-Salter House, built around 1711. It was first the home of Rev. Eleazer Williams, Mansfield’s first settled minister and the son of Rev. John Williams, who was famously taken to Canada, along with five of his children, after the Raid on Deerfield in 1704 (Eleazer was away at school at the time). Eleazer Williams resided in the house until his death in 1742. He was succeeded as minister by Rev. Richard Salter, who married Williams’ daughter Mary in 1744 and purchased the privately-owned parsonage in 1745. Rev. Salter and his brother, John Salter, who also settled in Mansfield, were from a prominent Boston family. Richard Salter, one of the most respected ministers in Connecticut, served in Mansfield until his death, in 1787. The property also has a notable English-style barn.
The Fitch House is a Greek Revival home in Mansfield Center, built in 1836, which is now a bed & breakfast. The house was built by the architect and builder, Col. Edwin Fitch, who was hoping to impress his father-in-law, Dr. Jabez Adams and launch his career. Fitch later designed the Second Congregational Church in Coventry. Bankrupt by 1843, Fitch sold half of the house to Edmund Golding, who bought the entire house in 1848. Golding, who died in 1854, and Lewis D. Brown, who bought the house in 1865, were both Mansfield silk manufacturers. In 1906, the house was acquired by Carrie Amidon Havens, who later married Oliver Perry, a descendant of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. They enlarged the house, adding wings with porches on either side. The property also has two connected English-style historic barns.