The Militia Act of 1903, also known as the Dick Act, was federal legislation that mandated greater oversight of National Guard units by the regular army. As part of the military reforms arising from the act, the federal government had provided the Connecticut National Guard with an artillery battery, subject to inspection by regular army officers to ensure both performance and proper care for government property. In 1909 the War Department was dissatisfied with a recent inspection and demanded that the state erect an armory to house the equipment. Following negotiations, in 1911 the state General Assembly approved a new armory to be built in Branford to house Battery A of the field artillery. Completed in 1913, the armory was designed by the architectural firm of Palmer and Townsend, which had just completed the Meriden Armory. Located at 87 Montowese Street, the armory has been updated at different times and housed various National Guard units over the years (the original field artillery moved out in the 1920s). Branford Armory & OMS is now also home to the 2nd Company Governor’s Foot Guard, which moved out of its New Haven armory in 2009. Controversy arose in 2011 when the Branford Armory Tank (actually a Marine armored personnel carrier), placed on the front lawn in the 1970s as a memorial by Korean War veterans, was removed by the Guard without warning as part of an effort to restore historical military equipment for display at Camp Niantic. Branford veterans and citizens successfully lobbied to have the tank returned. For more information about the Branford Armory, see Built to Serve: Connecticut’s National Guard Armories 1865-1940 (2003), by Geoffrey L. Rossano & Mary M. Donohue, pages 58-61.
Trinity Episcopal Church in Southport was built in 1862. Eight years later the parish began to consider plans to build an adjacent chapel that would serve as a Sunday school. The Parish School opened on September 23, 1872 in the new Carpenter Gothic-style Chapel, which features board-and-batten siding. Originally a free-standing structure, the Chapel, which now serves as a parish hall, has been connected to the church complex through twentieth-century additions.
On Cottage Green in Enfield is a row of four small Gothic Cottages (46, 50, 54, 58 Cottage Green). Possibly designed by Alexander Jackson Davis, they are the survivors of a group of cottages that were erected for factory workers around the now built-over Cottage Green, which was once a grassy square with a fountain or well in the center. This is a less commonly found arrangement for worker tenements designed to appeal to skilled workers imported from abroad. They were built c. 1848 to house employees of the Enfield Manufacturing Company, a hosiery factory founded in 1845 by H. G. Thompson that failed in 1873, after which its property was purchased by the Hartford Carpet Company. A brochure entitled “Historic Enfield,” alternately claims that the houses were built c. 1830 for Scottish weavers employed at the Bigelow carpet mill. Actually, according to the nomination for the Bigelow-Hartford Carpet Mills Historic District, they were built for English-born workers and the earlier cottages, built by Thompson’s father Orrin Thompson for imported Scottish weavers, do not survive today. This type of housing recalls the “Potsdam” Cottages (featured on this last week!) built in 1859 by Samuel Colt in Hartford for imported German workers at his willow ware factory. Pictured above is the house at 50 Cottage Green in Enfield, which is presently more in need of work than its neighbors.
At 13, 17, 21, 23, 29, 33, 37, 41, 45 Curcombe Street in Hartford is a row of cottages. These were built in 1859 as part of Samuel Colt’s factory village of Coltsville. To protect his famous armory in Hartford from flooding, Samuel Colt constructed a dike along the Connecticut River. Willow trees flourished there and this inspired Colt to import workers from Potsdam, Germany, to produce furniture from the trees’ wood. Colt constructed ten “Swiss Cottages” (a style today referred to as “Carpenter Gothic”) to house his imported workers, nine of which survive today. These were built as two-family houses. Most have been greatly altered, but several still display original architectural features, including brick first floors with decorative half-timbering, board-and-batten siding on the second floor and prominent overhanging eaves. Similar in style to the cottages was the willowware factory itself that stood behind them on Warwarme Avenue. Built in 1859, the factory was destroyed by fire in 1873. Today the cottages are across from the park space used as Hartford’s old time baseball grounds. The cottage depicted above is No. 41 Curcombe Street, one of the better preserved examples. Read the rest of this entry »
The First Congregational Church of Windham was formally organized in 1700, having met informally since 1692. The church’s first meeting house, built c. 1697-1700, was replaced by a larger one (or else the original one was enlarged) c. 1713-1716. A new building was constructed in 1751-1755 and pulled down in 1848 to build another. The current church was built in 1887. It is now known as the Windham Center Church and is not a member of any denomination.
Merry Christmas from Historic Buildings of Connecticut! Known as the Mother Church of Norwalk, Saint Mary Roman Catholic Church serves the second oldest parish in the Diocese of Bridgeport. The parish was founded by Norwalk’s Irish immigrants and the first St. Mary’s Church, located on Chapel Street, opposite Academy Street, was dedicated in 1851. The Irish community continued to grow and ground was broken in 1867 for a new and larger church. The basement chapel was dedicated the following year and the completed upper church was dedicated in 1870. Designed by James Murphy, the church, located at 669 West Avenue in Norwalk, recently underwent substantial renovations under the direction of Duncan Stroik, professor of architecture at the University of Notre Dame.
After the Civil War, there was an influx of Irish immigrants arriving in South Manchester to work at the Cheney Brothers’ silk mill. The Cheneys donated an acre of land on Main Street where the cornerstone for a new Catholic church was laid in August of 1874. The silk factory was closed that day to allow full attendance of Catholic residents. In spite of the liberal attitude of the Cheneys, there was also anti-Catholic sentiment in Manchester. The unfinished church was vandalized during the night of May 4-5, 1876. Thirty-five stained glass windows were smashed, altar ornaments were stolen and the vandals attempted to set the church on fire. Work on Saint James Church continued and the Gothic edifice was dedicated on August 20, 1876.