Union League Club of New Haven (1902)

January 26th, 2010 Posted in Neoclassical, New Haven, Organizations

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The site on Chapel Street in New Haven which is now the home of the Union League Cafe has a notable history and has seen many changes over the years. It the eighteenth century, it was the site of Roger Sherman‘s house. Sherman, who served as New Haven’s first mayor and as representative and senator in Congress, was the only person to sign all four of the great state papers of the United States: the Continental Association, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. In 1860, an Italianate house was built here designed by Henry Austin for Gaius Fenn Warner, head of G. F. Warner & Co., manufacturers of malleable iron. Peter Carll moved to the house in 1874 and in 1880 built an opera theatre, later called the Hyperion Theater, at the back of the house. This theater was demolished in 1998, having been vacant for more than two decades. During the demolition, a second-floor projection booth in the building collapsed, raining down slabs of concrete, bricks and steel and spreading a thick cloud of smoke over Chapel Street. The house itself served as the home of the Union League Club of New Haven, a private civic and social club, from the 1880s to the 1940s. In 1902, the current Beaux Arts addition, designed by New Haven architect Richard Williams, was built on the front of the building, creating a striking facade on Chapel Street. Although vacant for a time, the structure, known today as the Sherman Building, is now home to the Union League Cafe, a French restaurant. Adjacent to the building is Sherman’s Alley, originally a grassy area, which is now home to retail outlets.

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