At 210 Broadway in Norwich is the Reverend Frank Norton House, an elaborate Gothic Revival residence. Little is known about Rev. Norton. Could he be the Frank Norton listed as born in Norwich in 1844? There are also some surviving medical bills for the reverend and his wife, covering the years 1877 to 1881. He was not connected to any church in Norwich, so it is assumed he was retired when he lived in the house, which was built in 1876. The house is next to the William M. Williams House, which was built two years later.
The Russell Hubbard House, at 161 Broadway in Norwich, was built in 1826. Its second-story glassed-in porch and front entry-porch are later additions. Russell Hubbard‘s father Thomas Hubbard, was the first publisher of the Norwich Courier. As related in The American Journal of Education, Vol. 5, No. 13 (June, 1858), edited by Henry Barnard:
Russell, on attaining his majority, became a partner with his father in the publication of the Courier, and in 1808, on the death of his father, became sole proprietor of the Courier, which he continued to publish until April, 1822. He also carried on a general business in bookselling and publishing, in connection with the publication of his paper; and, engaged, to a limited extent, in the manufacture of paper. In 1822 this last mentioned department of his business seemed to claim his exclusive attention, and he accordingly relinquished his interest in publishing and bookselling, and continued actively engaged in the manufacture of paper for fifteen years. In 1837, he listened to a proposition from his brother, Amos Hallam Hubbard, who was engaged in the same business, for the formation of a partnership, and thus originated the well known firm of R. & A. H. Hubbard, which continued, until it was terminated by the death of the senior partner, on the 7th of June, 1857. [...]
No sooner did he come into the possession of ample means, than he began to devise means of more extended usefulness. He was a liberal contributor to the various benevolent enterprises of the age; but, aside from these, cherished a desire to aid in the establishment, in his native city, of an institution of learning, which should afford to coming generations advantages superior to those which were engaged in his childhood. Prompted by this desire, he become an efficient counselor, and one of the most liberal contributors in the establishment of the Norwich Free Academy.
Quoting the History of Norwich (1866), by
Mr. Russell Hubbard was an early and efficient patron of the Free Academy, contributing about $11,000 towards its establishment. He was one of the trustees to manage the funds and erect buildings, and the first president of the board. The Hubbard Rhetorical Society, connected with the Academy, perpetuates his name.
With a commanding location overlooking Washington Square at the intersection of Church, Main, Water and Washington Streets in Norwich is the Beriah S. Rathbun House and Apartments. It was built about 1869 at 6-8 Church Street by Beriah S. Rathbun, a carpenter who lived in the building and took in boarders. He came to Norwich in 1840 and built a house in the winter of 1841-1842 which he sold in 1868 when he constructed his house/apartment building. In Norwich he was one of thirty-seven people who organized the Central Baptist Church, constructing the stairs of the original church building..
Rathbun (see pdf) married Martha D. Coburn, his second of three wives, in 1846. She was a soprano in the choir of the Central Baptist Church. One Sunday in 1849, Ithamar Conkey, organist and choir master at the church, became very irritated that Mrs. Ratbun was the only member of his choir to show up for the morning service. After playing the prelude, he closed his organ and went home in disgust. Later he felt remorse for having walked out. Reflecting on one of the hymns to have been sung that morning to John Bowring’s text, “In the Cross of Christ I Glory,” Conkey decided to write a new tune for the text and named it Rathbun, in honor of the faithful soprano (see pdf).
To the left of the Rathbun Building is a house built around 1737 by Captain Joseph Kelley, one of Norwich‘s earliest shipmasters.
The Nathaniel Backus House, at 44 Rockwell Street in Norwich, was built as a Colonial era house in 1750, but is notable for its later Federal-style detailing. The house is named for Nathaniel Backus, Jr., who married Hannah Baldwin in 1726. Backus was one of only six men in Norwich who owned their own carriages in the years before the Revolutionary War. The house originally stood on lower Broadway. In 1951, it was saved from demolition and moved to Rockwell Street by the Faith Trumbull Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Together with the neighboring Perkins-Rockwell House, the Backus House is operated as a museum by the DAR.
At 22 Court House Square in Norwich is the 1910 building of the Uncas-Merchants National Bank. It is located along what was Norwich’s “Banker’s Row,” with other bank buildings on either side. The building was constructed for the Merchants National Bank, which had been organized in 1823. In 1928, Merchants merged with the Uncas National Bank, which had been organized in 1852 and incorporated in 1855. Before the merger, the Uncas National Bank had been located in a 1913 building on Shetucket Street. The Uncas-Merchants National Bank merged with the Hartford National Bank & Trust in 1955. The bank building is now used as offices.
The house at 118 Washington Street in Norwich was built in 1809 by John Vernet. Born in France, the aristocratic Vernet had fled the French Revolution and settled first in Martinique and later in Norwich. In 1802, he married Ann Brown, daughter of tavern-keeper Jesse Brown. Vernet built an expensive and elegant house on property that had been owned by his father-in-law, but he quickly faced financial difficulties. Vernet sold the house in 1811 or 1812 and moved with his family to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The house was bought by Benjamin Lee of Cambridge, whose family owned it for sixty years. According to tradition, the house was a stop on the Underground Railroad and had a tunnel to the river, but this has not been confirmed by physical evidence. In 1873, the house was sold to Albert P. Sturtevant, a manufacturer, and was home to his son, Charles P. Sturtevent. In 1920, the house became the Rectory of Christ Episcopal Church, but today it is again a private residence.