Wakeman Memorial (1913)

February 5th, 2015 Posted in Colonial Revival, Fairfield, Houses, Organizations

Wakeman Memorial

The Wakeman Boys & Girl Club was founded in 1913 by Miss Frances Wakeman (1835-1918) of Southport. She was the granddaughter of Jessup Wakeman, who settled in Southport in the early nineteenth century and became a well-known merchant, and the daughter of Zalmon Bradley Wakeman, a successful businessman who left a large property to his family at his death in 1865. A description of Frances Wakeman and of the club she founded can be found in Volume II of the History of Bridgeport and Vicinity (1917):

Miss Frances Wakeman was reared to womanhood in her native town of Southport, where she has spent her entire life. Her beautiful home, Rose Hill, which commands a view of Long Island Sound and surrounding sections of Southport, is one of the most attractive places in this part of the state. Miss Wakeman is a lady of innate culture, possessing refined taste and artistic temperament. She is one of the best known women of Fairfield county and she takes a most active and helpful interest in the public affairs of the village of Southport and its institutions. This was manifest in the beautiful gift which she and her cousin, Miss Crapo, made to the people of Southport. The gift was a red brick building known as the Wakeman Memorial and erected in memory of their grandfather, Jesup Wakeman, at a cost of fifty thousand dollars, to be used by the boys and girls of Southport as a club house. The building is maintained by Miss Wakeman and in it are found a reading room, a sewing room and rooms for dancing and recreation where the boys and girls may find entertainment amid delightful and beneficial surroundings. Instruction is given to the girls in sewing and dancing is also taught. This building was opened in 1913 and it contains a bronze tablet on which is engraved the following: “The Wakeman Memorial, 1913. This building was erected and equipped for philanthropic work with funds contributed by Frances Wakeman and Cornelia Wakeman Crapo. Their grandfather, Jesup Wakeman, is remembered in its name. On Christmas day of 1913 it was opened to the youth of Southport in the hope that its privileges would enable and persuade them to grow up worthy in the community which the donors love, regardless of circumstances or creed. Their welcome here depends alone upon the regard they show for that which the place provides.”

Another description of the building (648 Harbor Road in Southport) comes from “Still Investing in the Boys Business,” from the Boys’ Workers Round Table, Vol. 1, No. 2 (June, 1918):

Among the new buildings that our workers have not had an opportunity of visualizing is the Wakeman Memorial at Southport, Conn. The accompanying illustration shows the front elevation overlooking the Long Island Sound. The basement provides accommodation for industrial classes, and the two floors above are divided into reading, game and club rooms, together with a kitchen and living quarters for the Superintendent. The extension at the rear is the gymnasium. This building was erected and furnished throughout by Miss Wakeman. Securities were also set aside for the permanent endowment of the work. Southport is a village with few industries, therefore this building not only serves the boys, but is made the center of quite an extensive community work. Dr. George W. Phillips is the Superintendent.

The Wakeman Boys & Girl Club has since moved out of its original home, which is now a private residence. The building was photographed for the Historic American Buildings Survey.

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