Bean Hill is a neighborhood in Norwich that was a local commercial and manufacturing center in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The area was home to the ancestors of several nineteenth-century US presidents: Millard Fillmore, Rutherford B. Hayes and Grover Cleveland. The home of President Cleveland’s grandfather, William Cleveland, a silversmith and deacon of the Congregational Church, does not survive, but there is a Fillmore family house at 8 Huntington Avenue, across from the Bean Hill Green. The house was built around 1743 (the date is inscribed on the house’s central chimney). Millard Fillmore‘s great-grandfather, Capt. John Fillmore, Jr. (1701-1777), lived in Norwich and later settled in Norwich West Farms (now Franklin). Millard Fillmore‘s grandfather, Nathaniel Fillmore, Sr. (1738-1814), and grandmother, Hepzibah Wood (1747-1783), were both born in Franklin and lived in Norwich. Another relative of the President, also a great-grandson of John Fillmore, Jr., was Rev. Jehiel Fillmore (1797-1862), who was born in Franklin and lived at Bean Hill.
I would like to know more about the house at 11 Dudley Street in Norwich. The plaque on the house gives it a date of 1729 and calls it “Woodside.” The style of the house was obviously much altered in the nineteenth century, as it now has features, such as the front portico, the brackets and the curved windows in the gable end, that are typical of the Italianate style. The property also has a large barn, which is listed on Historic Barns of Connecticut (with an address of 8 Dudley Street), but without much information about the structure. Perhaps it dates to the time the house was altered in the Italianate style, as the barn has an Italianate cupola.
The city property listing for the house at 130 Washington Street in Norwich gives a construction date of 1810, which seems too early for this Italianate building. The National Register of Historic Places nomination for the Chelsea Parade Historic District gives a date of c. 1880, which is too late because it is known that Edith Kermit Carow, future wife of Theodore Roosevelt, was born here on August 6, 1861. The house has clearly been much altered over the years. Could Italianate features have been added to a much earlier house? It was the residence of Daniel Putnam Tyler (1799-1882), Edith‘s grandfather (Tyler’s daughter Gertrude had married Charles Carow of New York City). Daniel Tyler was a West Point graduate who became an iron manufacturer and railroad president. He served as a general in the Civil War, commanding a division in the Union Army at the First Battle of Bull Run. Although he took a substantial portion of the blame for the Union disaster at that battle, he was promoted and commanded a brigade at the Siege of Corinth, Mississippi. At the Battle of Harpers Ferry, September 15, 1862, Tyler’s division surrendered to Stonewall Jackson and spent two months as prisoners of war at Camp Douglas before being officially paroled. Tyler left the army in 1864, the same year his wife passed away. He owned his house in Norwich until 1868. By the start of the twenty-first century the building had become dilapidated and was condemned, but c. 2004 it was restored and subdivided into apartments.
On the death of John Slater, May 27, 1843, his sons John F. and William S. inherited his interest in the mills at Hopeville and Jewett City, Conn., and at Slatersville, R. I., and they formed a partnership under the name of J. & W. Slater, adjusting their affairs so as to be equal partners. In March, 1845, this firm sold their Hopeville property, and in 1849 bought the interest of Samuel Slater’s heirs in the mill at Slatersville. In 1853, after the lease of this last-mentioned property to A. D. and M. B. Lockwood had expired, William S. Slater took the management of the Slatersville mill, and John F. Slater that of the Jewett City mill. The partnership of the brothers continued until Jan. 1, 1873, when it was dissolved, each taking the mill of which he had been the manager.
John F. Slater was also a principle investor in what would become the Ponemah Mills in Taftville. According to the “Walking Guide to Historic Broadway & Union Street,” the house at 274 Broadway in Norwich was built c. 1870 and in the late nineteenth century was the home of his son, William A. Slater (1857-1919). The book Norwich in the Gilded Age: The Rose City’s Millionaires’ Triangle (2014) by Patricia F. Staley, explains that the house at 274 Broadway was the home (by 1876) of Marianna Lanman Hubbard Slater (1824-1889), who married John F. Slater in 1844. (presumably she lived in the house with her husband). That book indicates that her son, William A. Slater, lived [at some point] in the Slater mansion, a now demolished house at 228 Broadway. William Slater founded the Slater Memorial Museum in Norwich in honor of his father. In the 1950s, the house at 274 Broadway became the residence of the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Norwich.
The mill village of Yantic in Norwich was home to the Yantic Woolen Company Mill. In 1824 Erastus Williams purchased a preexisting mill and enlarged it to produce woolen products. He and his wife, Elizabeth Dorr Tracy, oversaw the organization of Grace Episcopal Church in Yantic in 1853. Their daughter Elizabeth was the first church organist. Erastus was succeeded by his son and then by his grandson, Winslow Tracy Williams. Under the latter’s administration a new Grace Episcopal Church was erected. It was dedicated in 1902.
Built c. 1799 by master Ebenezer Learned, master carpenter, the house at 157 Broadway in Norwich was probably originally a Federal style building. In May 1812 the property was deeded to B. M. Ballou and in 1861 it was bought by Connecticut Governor William Alfred Buckingham for his daughter, Eliza Coit Buckingham, and son-in-law, General William Appleton Aiken (1833-1929). That same year, in late April, Gen. Aiken was dispatched by Gov. Buckingham on a mission to Washington, D. C. to assure President Lincoln of Connecticut’s support in the Civil War.
In 1867 Aiken mortgaged the house the enlarge it and remodel it in the Greek Revival style with a columned portico. He made further alterations in 1880 and 1890. It remained in the Aiken family until 1940 when Aiken’s daughter Mary sold it. In 1950 the house was bought by architect John E. McGuire who in 1957 partitioned the interior to rent out half the house as apartments.
The Colonial Revival house at 17 Broad Street in Norwich was built in 1923. Its first occupant was Mrs. Frances E. Leonard Johnson, widow of Robert C. Johnson, who had been Assistant treasurer at the Aspinook Company textile mill in Jewett City.