Seth Thomas (1785-1859) established his famous clock company in Plymouth Hollow (later renamed Thomaston in his honor) in 1813, buying out Heman Clark’s clockmaking business there. Thomas had previously worked with Eli Terry and Silas Hoadley in Plymouth. The company continued to expand during his lifetime and after his death, becoming one of America’s longest lived clock companies. The main Seth Thomas Clock Company building, which succeeded earlier structures, was built in 1915 (Note: I determined the date of the factory’s construction from a Sanborn Insurance map.). Located on South Main Street in Thomaston, it is a sprawling complex that was added to over the years. In 1931 the company became a division of General Time Instruments Corporation, later known as General Time Corporation. From World War II until 1967, the factory also made marine timing and navigational devices for the military as a defense plant. The factory was severely damaged in the Flood of 1955, but reopened the following year. In 1970, the company was taken over by Talley Industries of Seattle, Washington, which closed the Thomaston plant and moved all operations to Norcross, Georgia in 1979-1982. The old factory soon reopened as an industrial park for various small manufacturers.
Henry B. Norton was one of the most prominent businessmen in Norwich in the nineteenth century. Born in Branford, he arrived in Norwich as a penniless young man in 1824, eventually forming a merchant partnership with Joseph Backus in 1827. Norton rose to leadership of the Norton Brothers Grocery store, the Norwich Bleaching, Dyeing and Printing Company, the Norwich & New York Transportation Company (he owned shares in steam ships) and the Attawaugan Mill, which manufactured cotton cloth. He was also a founding trustee of the Norwich Free Academy and the Norwich Y.M.C.A. His Greek Revival house, at 188 Washington Street, was built in 1840. After his death his death in 1891, his two unmarried daughters continued to live in the house into the twentieth century. In recent years, the house has been restored.
The center-chimney colonial saltbox house at 44 Fair Street in Guilford was built in 1762 by Noah Hodgkin, Sr. In 1770, his son, Noah Hodgkin, Jr., built the house next door at 52 Fair Street. Noah Hodgkin, Sr. died in 1783, leaving his house to his widow and his son, the Reverend Beriah Hotchkin (who had altered his name from Hodgkin to Hotchkin). Rev. Hotchkin was pastor of the Fourth Congregational Church in Guilford from 1784 until 1789, when he moved to Greenville, NY, where he served as a Presbyterian minister. In 1825, Rev. Hotchkin moved to Steuben County, NY, where he died in 1829. Descendents of his family family, later known by the name Hotchkiss, continued to occupy the house in Guilford for generations. This my 50th post for Guilford!
The house and out-buildings with about forty acres of land were sold by my respected friend and agent, Hon. Thaddeus Welles, to Henry Talcott, who being unable to make payment, relinquished his claim to the property. It was then sold to Gustavus Kellogg, and by him to David Brainerd, who having previously removed the other buildings and replaced them with a new barn and tobacco and other sheds, in 1878-9 tore down the house, graded the site, and erected a good modern house thereon.
At 22 Lyme Street in Old Lyme is a former church building that is now a private home, with the old choir loft converted into children’s bedrooms and a half bathroom where the confessional had once stood. The church was built in 1843 for Old Lyme’s Baptist community, which had previously gathered intermittently at various locations, often private homes. The Baptist Society disbanded in 1923 due to declining membership. Episcopalians purchased the building three years later. In 1934, the church was leased by the Roman Catholic Diocese, which dedicated it as Christ the King Church in 1937. The Parish now has a new church building, completed in 2005, at 1 McCurdy Road in Old Lyme.
The Old Lyme Inn is located in an old farm house built around 1856 by the Champlain family. Around the turn of the century, members of the Old Lyme artist’s colony would come to the Champlain farm to paint and used the barn as a studio. Jacqueline Kennedy reportedly took lessons at the riding academy located at the farm. Construction of the Connecticut Turnpike led the Champlain family to sell the house, which became the Barbizon Oak Inn, named for the Barbizon school of painting and a 300-year-old Oak tree on the property. A fire in 1965 led to the closing of the Barbizon Oak Inn, but the building was restored by later owners to open as the Old Lyme Inn (85 Lyme Street in Old Lyme).
At 82 Bellevue Avenue in Bristol is an American Foursquare house built c. 1920. It was originally the home of Roger S. Newell (who also once lived in the house at 101 Bellevue Avenue). As described in the Commemorative Biographical Record of Hartford County, Connecticut, Vol. I (1901):
Roger Samuel Newell was born in Bristol, Oct. 18, 1867, and received his academic education in the public schools of that town and of Hartford. He graduated from the Hartford Public High School in 1886, from Yale University in 1889, and from Yale Law School in 1891. He then read law in the office of John J. Jennings, Esq., of Bristol, and in 1891 was admitted to the Bar, after which he continuously practiced his chosen profession as a partner with his preceptor until the latter’s death, April 1, 1900. He was the first clerk of the borough of Bristol, in 1895 was elected judge of the town court, and in 1896 was elected judge of probate, to succeed Elbert E. Thorpe, on the latter’s decease. Socially he and his family are prominent, and he is a member of Franklin Lodge, No. 56, F. & A. M., and Pequabuck Chapter, R. A. M. In politics he is a Republican, and in religious belief a Congregationalist. Mr. Newell was, married in Bristol, Sept. 25, 1895, to Miss Adaline Birge, daughter of Senator John and Mary A. (Root) Birge.