Branford House (1903)

July 24th, 2009 Posted in Groton, Houses, Tudor Revival

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Morton Freeman Plant, son of the railroad and steamboat magnate Henry Bradley Plant, was a very wealthy businessman who was also known to live a playboy lifestyle He built the mansion known as Branford House on Avery Point in Groton. Instead of building his expensive summer home in Newport, Plant, who had a great interest in agriculture, chose the less crowded Groton, where there was greater space to build extensive gardens, greenhouses and farms. The 31-room Tudor Revival mansion was built in 1903 and named Branford House, after the town where Plant had been born. It was designed by Plant’s wife, Nellie, with English architect Robert W. Gibson carrying out her plans. The granite used in the construction was quarried from the surrounding grounds. After Plant died in 1918, the estate passed to his son and then his daughter-in-law. The house was eventually sold at auction in 1939 and later became the property of the United States Coast Guard, with the house being used as offices and quarters for the families of the station’s commanding and executive officers. Much of the grounds were bulldozed during this period and the adjacent Avery Point Lighthouse was built in 1942. In the 1960s, the Coast Guard station moved and the land reverted to the State. It was then given to the University of Connecticut and is now UCONN’s Avery Point branch campus. The mansion was refurbished in 2001 and is available for rental.

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