The Cronin Building, at 80-88 State Street in New London, was built by Jeremiah D. Cronin, a plumbing contractor and a promoter of the Post Hill Improvement Company. It was built on the site of the City Hotel, where Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln once stayed. The hotel burned down in 1891. The Cronin Building was designed by George Warren Cole, an architect from the firm of Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge (H.H. Richardson‘s successors) who came to New London to supervise the construction of three buildings: the Public Library, the Williams Memorial Institute and the Nathan Hale School. The vacant Cronin Building is in need of restoration.
At the confluence of Bigelow Brook and the Hockanum River in Buckland, Manchester is a former factory complex known as Hilliard Mills. Aaron Buckland had a woolen mill on the site by 1794 (and perhaps as early as 1780). The mill provided blankets for soldiers in the War of 1812. As related in the first volume of The Textile Industries of the United States (1893), by William R. Bagnall:
We have no information concerning the mill or its business after the war till 1824, in which year, on the 20th of September, Aaron Buckland sold the property to Andrew N. Williams and Simon Tracy, of Lebanon, Conn. Williams & Tracy operated the mill less than four years and sold it, March 13, 1828, to Sidney Pitkin, also of Lebanon. Mr. Pitkin owned the mill, alone, till July 31, 1832, on which date he sold an interest in the property of one fourth to Elisha E. Hilliard, one of his employes. They operated the mill nearly ten years till April 26, 1842, when Mr. Pitkin sold the remaining three fourths to his partner, Mr. Hilliard.
Elisha Edgarton Hilliard sold one-fourth to Ralph E. Spencer in 1849, but he was sole owner again by 1871. The company made blankets and clothing for the Union Army during the Civil War. A small manufacturing village called Hilliardville (see pdf article) once existed near the mill.
After E. E. Hilliard‘s death in 1881 his son, Elisha Clinton Hilliard, ran the company. E. C. Hilliard moved his family to Woodland Street in Hartford in 1890 while his unmarried sisters, Maria Henrietta and Adelaide Clementine, continued to live in Hilliardville. E.C. Hilliard’s daughter, Charlotte Cordelia, married Lucius B. Barbour. They lived at the Barbour House on Washington Street in Hartford and summered at their cottage in Fenwick. E.C. Hillard’s son, Elisha Earnest Hilliard, ran the mill after his father’s death.
The mills closed in 1940 and were afterwards used by other manufacturers, including United Aircraft Corporation during World War II and Bezzini Brothers, furniture manufacturers. The surviving mill buildings are currently being redeveloped for business and commercial uses.
Pictured above is Hilliard Mills Building #2, which was built in 1895 by E. C. Hilliard. The building has irreplaceable long-grain yellow pine beams and birds-eye rock maple flooring. Read the rest of this entry »
At 712 Main Street in Middletown is the New Hope Bible Way Church. The building, which originally stood on the west side of Main Street between College and Court Streets, was built in 1799. It was then the fourth meetinghouse of Middletown’s First Church of Christ, a Congregational society first organized in 1668. The structure has been moved twice. The first time was in 1822, when it was shifted back 8 feet as it was thought to be too close to Main Street. In 1873, after the congregation moved to a new building (the current First Church of Christ on Court Street), the old meetinghouse had its steeple removed and the structure was relocated to its present location. The original rear of the church became the new front facade facing Main Street, to which storefronts were eventually added. For a time, the former church’s audience room was used for meetings of St. Mary’s Total Abstinence and Benevolent Society. Before becoming a church again, the building housed small businesses and apartments.
The summer cottage at 9 Pettipaug Avenue in the Borough of Fenwick in Old Saybrook has been described as a gem that is “particularly illustrative of shingle style architecture” (by Christopher Little in “A Summer Place,” Places, Vol. 1, No. 3, 1984). It was built in 1905 by Lucius B. Barbour (1878-1934) of Hartford (whose 1865 house on Washington Street still survives). Their daughter Alice was a childhood friend of Katharine Hepburn. In 1953, after the death of Barbour’s widow Charlotte Cordelia Hilliard Barbour, the cottage was sold to Richard F. Cooper and in 1961 it was sold again to Oliver Jensen (1914-2005), a co-founder of American Heritage Magazine. He was also one of the founders and the chief visionary for the 1971 revival of the Connecticut Valley Railroad (today part of the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat attraction). You can read more about the cottage in Marion Hepburn Grant’s The Fenwick Story (Connecticut Historical Society, 1974), pages 110-114.
Bradley, Hoyt & Co. constructed a textile mill in South Britain, on the east bank of the Pomperaug River (modern address: 24 Hawkins Road) in 1866. Two-story additions were later made to the original four-story mill. In 1901 the building was taken over by the Hawkins Manufacturing Company, makers of animal traps and other metal products. In 1895, the Hawkins Company, makers of tacks and buttons, had merged with the Blake and Lamb Company, animal trap manufacturers. The factory was powered by a nearby dam, part of which was knocked down in the Flood of 1955. The factory operated into the 1960s.
The house at 51 Main Street in Essex was built in 1803 by Thomas Millard, a shipcarver and housewright, and was the home of Felix Starkey from 1805 to 1856. Felix Starkey (1777-1856) was a merchant and the brother of Timothy Starkey. He married Esther Hayden. (The sign on the house reads “Timothy Starkey 1720″).
The John Rose House at 48 Bradley Street. in Branford was built c. 1747. The house was later altered in the Federal period. By 1897 the house was owned by John Buckley, who worked at Malleable Iron Fittings (MIF), which by 1915 was the largest employer in Branford.