In 1798 Ebenezer Hale (1771-1843) of Glastonbury married Sarah Cornwall of Portland. The couple shared the house at 1381 Main Street in Glastonbury with Ebenezer’s brother Gideon Hale, Jr., who married Anna Case in 1803. Eventually the house became too small for two families and Ebenezer Hale built his own house at 1378 Main Street in 1806. Ebenezer’s grandsons, George and John Howard Hale, started a peach orchard in 1866. The farm paymaster would pay the orchard workers at the long window on the north side of the house. John H. Hale developed peach trees that could better withstand the northern climate. The first to grade their fruit, the brothers developed their business on a national scale with 1200 acres in Connecticut and Georgia by 1915. As related in A Handbook of New England (second edition, 1917):
It was J. H. Hale, the ‘Peach King,’ who more than any other man in its history put Glastonbury on the map. He began in a small way with upland farms worth $10 an acre, and on this “barren” land proved that peaches could be produced, unequaled in flavor, which would bring the highest prices in the nearby New England markets. Wealth has poured in upon him and is utilized in developing at Fort Valley in Georgia the greatest peach-growing industry of the world.
An interesting recollection of J.H. Hale appears in a speech made by Frank B. White of Chicago at the annual convention of the Wisconcin State Board of Agriculture and printed in the 1905 Annual Report of the Wisconsin State Board of Agriculture:
I had occasion to speak to a gentleman this morning about the Hon. J. H. Hale, of South Glastonbury, Conn. We call him the “Peach King.” When he began the production of peaches in Connecticut, he at once sought to specialize his work and to send forth “Hale’s” peaches as the best product in the market, and he has made a great reputation simply by the peach itself. He had each peach carefully wrapped and on each wrapper it was advertised that it was a “Hale” peach, and in putting up packages, he was careful that every peach should be the same, from the top to the bottom of the package. In doing that, he said he found great difficulty, because he even had to discharge men who insisted upon putting nicer peaches at the top. He said, “I had to discharge my men and employ girls, because the girls are more honest than the men.” After that he had no trouble whatever. But when he put these peaches in the great markets of the east, he found that the commission merchants rather discouraged the idea, they didn’t care to bother with them. He demanded a better price, and he just asked the privilege of putting them in that people might know what Hale’s peaches really were, and it was but a short time before he had them coming for his peaches; letters were being sent to him from different parts of the country, saying, “Send on your peaches, our customers want them,” and from that little beginning he now has 2,300 acres of peaches in a bearing condition, and last year he shipped 210 large refrigerator cars from his Georgia orchard to the markets of the north and had a ready market for all he could produce. He made that market by judicious advertising of the article itself.
Bear in mind, it is the man on the farm that will make the success just as surely as it is the man behind the gun that will win the victory.
A reader who contacted me on Facebook a while back noted the similarities of the former Sacred Heart Church at 32 Garden Street in Wethersfield to another Catholic church, St. Augustine Church in Glastonbury. Perhaps they used the same plans? Sacred Heart Parish began as a mission of St. Mary, East Hartford in 1877 and later became a mission of St. Lawrence O’Toole, Hartford. The building on Garden Street, which was the first Catholic church in Wethersfield, was erected in 1880, on a lot purchased in 1876. The church was dedicated on May 29, 1881. Sacred Heart was made a parish on September 1, 1897 and in 1924 moved to a new building, the former Meggat Seed Warehouse on Hartford Avenue, which was converted into a church. A fire in 1938 forced the congregation to move back into the Garden Street church. By 1943 the former Meggat granary was again made a church and was used by the parish until the current Sacred Heart Church, at 56 Hartford Avenue, was dedicated on June 29, 1963. In the 1940s the former Sacred Heart Church on Garden Street became storage for John Oldham Art and Display (now Oldham Studios). The company was founded in 1931 by John W. Oldham, Sr., an illustrator who painted portraits of movie stars for film premiers in the Hartford area. Continued by his son and grandson, the company expanded into a trade show display design and fabrication company, based at 888 Wells Road in Wethersfield. The Queen Anne house next to the church was built in 1900 as the parish rectory. Read the rest of this entry »
The brick house at 273 South Main Street in Cheshire was built c. 1850. It is transitional in style between the Greek Revival and the Italianate Villa. Two owners of the house in the mid-nineteenth century were E. Talmadge and U. P. Hokum.
At 67 Wall Street in Norwalk is a building constructed in 1922 for the Fairfield County Savings Bank. The bank, chartered in 1874, had an earlier building at 51 Wall Street whose facade was significantly altered in the 1970s. The building at 67 Wall Street was renovated in 1990. The Fairfield County Savings Bank merged with the Ridgefield Bank to form the Fairfield County Bank in 2004.
The house at 671 Main Street in Middlefield originally stood on the site of the David Lyman II House. Built in 1785 by David Lyman (1746-1815), it passed to his son William Lyman (1783-1869). After William’s son, David Lyman II (1820-1871), built his grand new residence on the property, the old Lyman House was moved to its current address in 1864 and was altered from a central chimney to a two-chimney house. The front columned verandah was possibly added around 1901.
The building at 20 Broad Street in New Britain was erected in 1923 as the Rialto Theater. The owners went into receivership in the late 1920s and the building was foreclosed in 1930. Nest 88 of the Polish Falcons of America acquired the building in 1934. The Polish Falcons are a fraternal benefit society headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Nest 88 was chartered in 1907 after a first meeting in Lee Hall on Lafayette Street in New Britain. The organization has an emphasis on physical fitness, but in the early twentieth century it also trained volunteers to fight for the independence of Poland. 300 recruits from New Britain were among the 20-25,000 Polish men from North America who went to fight in the War as part of Haller’s Army (also called the Blue Army), which was composed of Polish immigrants and fought under French command in Europe. The building in New Britain has retail space on the first floor while the entire second floor is dedicated to Nest 88, with the Club Office, Club Bar, two halls, a kitchen and meeting rooms.
In 1911 the First Company Governor’s Horse Guards became Troop B Cavalry, Connecticut National Guard. Troop B soon began construction of a privately funded armory (with stables and drill shed) at 836 Farmington Avenue in West Hartford. The plans were provided by architects and troop members A. Raymond Ellis and Francis E. Waterman, who made the building very functional without extra features in order to keep costs down. Built in 1912-1913, the armory was soon officially acquired by the state. The unit served along the Mexican border in 1916 and in World War I as a Machine Gun Battalion. By the late 1930s mechanization was bringing an end to horse cavalry in the US Army. In 1940 the unit became part of the 208th Coastal Artillery Regiment and the Armory was converted to store large vehicles. After the War, the First Company Governor’s Horse Guards was reorganized as a state militia unit and today has a facility in Avon. The Army continued to house various units in the West Hartford Armory until the early 1980s, when the building was decommissioned and sold by the state. It was then extensively altered for use as professional office suites.