Local tradition holds that the house at 119 Deerfield Road in Windsor was built in 1670 and associates it with Thomas Allyn (1635-1696), which would make it a very early example indeed of a brick house. The house has wood framing which is tied into the brick walls with iron tie-plates. These plates once featured the date of the house, but only the “1” and the “0” survive, although it is agreed that the missing numerals were “6” and “7.” While this could have been 1670, it is more likely, based on architectural evidence and Henry R. Stiles’ History of Ancient Windsor, that house was built in 1760, probably by Captain Benjamin Allyn II, a descendent of Thomas Allyn. Thomas Eggleston is said to have provided the bricks for the house.
Jesse Lee, the minister who established Methodism in New England, preached his first sermon in New England in June of 1789 in the center of Norwalk. The town’s first Methodist church was built in South Norwalk in 1816. By 1858, the congregation had grown so large that it divided. Planning for a new church, which is now called the Norwalk United Methodist Church, began at a meeting on April 25, 1858 at “Phoenix Hall,” which was then located at the Norwalk River Bridge on Wall Street. Work on the church edifice at 724 West Avenue started in 1859 and the building was dedicated on December 6, 1860. An Italianate structure, it was designed by architect Tappan Reeve of Brooklyn, New York. Ornamentation, removed from the church’s towers in the wake of storm damage in the 1920s, has more recently been replicated and the church repainted in its original colors.
The house at 16-18 Spring Street in Bristol was built in 1883 (or perhaps as early as 1870?). It was designed by the Bristol architect Joel T. Case. It later became the home of Edward Dutton Rockwell (1855-1925), who came to Bristol in 1888 with his brother Albert F. Rockwell. Their New Departure Bell Company grew into one of the largest bell factories in America and the largest producer of ball bearings in the world. E.D. Rockwell later left New Departure to become manager of the Liberty Bell Company. The house has lost its original Italianate tower and second-floor porch.
Yesterday I featured the Gurdon Perry House, located at 780 Harbor Road in Southport in Fairfield. Nearby at 712 Harbor Road is the home of Austin Perry, brother of Gurdon. Both men were members of a family of wealthy ship owners and merchants. Both houses were built around the same time, circa 1830, but the Austin Perry House had a Corinthian portico added in the 1840s. It is considered to be one of the finest porticos of its type on a house in the United States.
The house at 780 Harbor Road in the Southport section of Fairfield was built circa 1830 by Walter Perry (1770-1837) for his son Gurdon Perry (1807-1869). The Perry family were ship owners and merchants and Walter Perry owned Southport’s waterfront district. While typical of the large homes of wealthy merchants of the time, the house was built when Southport was just about to experience two decades of phenomenal growth as a shipping port. Merchants in Southport would soon be constructing even grander residences with greater architectural ambitions.
The house at 1062 Worthington Ridge in Berlin is known as the David Sage House in the nomination for the Worthington Ridge Historic District. It is also known as the George Porter House. Built c. 1770, it has elaborate Georgian detailing on its front facade. Among its residents were Dr. Josiah Meigs Ward. In 1825, Berlin suffered an epidemic of the Spotted Fever. As related in Catharine M. North’s History of Berlin (1916):
Dr. Josiah M. Ward was then in his prime, and he had sixty cases of the typhoid on his hands. Day and night he rode and visited his patients until he was so exhausted that he would sleep anywhere, even on horseback. Parson Graves and his family in Westfield were all down with the fever, and it was while in attendance there that Dr. Ward fell asleep on the steps of the church opposite the house. He awoke in a chill—the precursor of the fever, from which in his worn condition he could not rally. He died August 25, 1823, at the age of forty-three. Mrs. Ward and three of their children took the fever. One morning the clock struck eight and the children did not come down to breakfast. Diadema, a half sister, went to the chamber and said, “It is late, you must get up.” She lifted the little Samuel, four years old, and carried him down the stairs, in her arms. On the way he spat on the floor, and Diadema reproved him. The children were never allowed to do such a thing as that in the house.
In was the beginning of the sickness. In twenty-four hours the child was dead. Mary was sick two days and died. Laura’s fever ran two or three weeks and she recovered. The mother was restored to health after a second attack of the disease.
In the late nineteenth century, the house was owned by Burr Kellog Fields (1856-1898), a civil engineer who graduated from the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University in 1877. According to his obituary in the Proceedings of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Vol. XXIV, No. 8 (October 1898):
in 1886 Mr. Field accepted an appointment as Assistant Engineer of the Berlin Iron Bridge Company, of East Berlin, Conn. His advancement with this company was very rapid, and at the time of his death he occupied the important position of Vice-President, having full charge of the making of all contracts. During Mr. Field’s connection with this company its business was much extended, and its product introduced into all parts of the world. In achieving this Mr. Field had no small part, and his death has been a severe loss, not only to the company, but also to his associates.