In downtown Bridgeport is a vacant and dilapidated 13-acre building complex, which occupies a city block. Ghost hunters are very interested in the building, which was possibly built on a Native American burial ground. The Beaux Arts structure, built in 1922, was once home to the Poli Palace, the Majestic Theater and the Savoy Hotel. The Poli Palace was built by theater impresario Sylvester Z. Poli as a vaudeville house. Mae West appeared at the theater in 1927. It was the largest theater in Connecticut and continued in use (later renamed Loew’s Palace Theater) until 1975. The Majestic Theater was smaller than the Poli Palace. It was in operation as a movie theater until 1971. Both theaters were designed by Thomas W. Lamb. Between the two theaters was the 109-room Savoy Hotel. In 1935 the Prohibition-era gangster and bootlegger Dutch Schultz moved to the Stratfield Hotel across the street for several months after two trials for tax evasion in New York State. It is wondered if he was involved in the murder of two people in the second floor lobby of the Savoy during this period. A month after leaving Bridgeport Dutch Shultz was gunned down in Newark, New Jersey. The city is seeking to redevelop the property.
A subscription library in East Guilford (now Madison), called the “Farmers’ Library,” had existed from 1792 until the 1860s. A new Madison Library Association was formed in 1878. The library’s collection was housed in various places in town until it was lost in a fire in 1895. Eighteen books survived (those checked out at the time of the fire) and the Library Association soon resumed operations. A permanent home for the library was built at 801 Boston Post Road on the corner of Wall Street in Madison in 1900 by Miss Mary Eliza Scranton, who offered the fully furnished building to the town. The library was designed by Henry Bacon, later the architect of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. In 1901, the Library Association was dissolved and the E.C. Scranton Memorial Library was incorporated.
At 455 West Avenue in Norwalk, at the corner of Butler Street, is a former church that was later converted into a retail store. It was built as the First Church of Christ, Scientist. The first services were held in the building on October 28, 1935 and the church’s dedication services were held on December 29, 1935.
In the first half of the early nineteenth century, a store occupied the lot at 63 Hurlbut Road in Gales Ferry in Ledyard. Starting in 1831, the store was owned by Samuel and Ira Vincent. At Samuel‘s death in 1837, his widow Martha sold off the store goods. She owned the property until 1843 when it was inherited by Ira’s widow, Sarah Baker Vincent (1802-1885). Around 1850, she built a house in place of the store.
The brick house at 881 Windsor Avenue in Windsor was built around 1825-1828 by Capt. James Loomis. A transitional Federal/Greek Revival house, it is one of several in the vicinity built by members of the Loomis family.
The house at 94 Boston Street in Guilford was built around 1850, after the earlier three-story house on the site, built by Samuel Hill, was torn down in 1849. Owner of a large estate, Samuel Hill was regularly elected each year to Connecticut assembly between 1732 and his death in 1752. His name is one of the possible sources for the euphemism “What in the Sam Hill….” The current house was built by Deacon Alfred G. Hull, who was the conservator to Hill’s great-grandchildren Anna and Samuel Hill.
The house at 1 Elizabeth Street in Hartford’s West End was built in 1928 for Curtis H. Veeder and his family. Born in Alleghany, Pennsylvania, in 1862, Veeder was an engineer who got his first patent at age eighteen. He founded the Veeder Manufacturing Company in Hartford in 1895. The company’s first product was one of Veeder’s inventions, a bicycle cyclometer. Promoted with the slogan “It’s Nice to Know How Far You Go,” the devices measured the distance a bike has traveled by counting the number of rotations made by the wheels. The company later merged with the Root Company of Bristol, Connecticut, to form Veeder-Root, which continues to produce counting and computing devices today. Veeder died in 1943 and in 1950 his widow, Louise Stutz Veeder, sold the house to the Connecticut Historical Society. Founded in 1825, the society had been based for almost a century in the Wadsworth Atheneum. CHS constructed two large additions to the Veeder House, originally designed by William F. Brooks, to house its collections and museum exhibition space.