Benjamin D. Beecher House (1829)

August 25th, 2016 Posted in Greek Revival, Houses, Woodbury

5 Judson Ave

The house at 5 Judson Avenue, adjacent to the First Congregational Church in Woodbury, was built in 1829 by Benjamin D. Beecher. This is probably Benjamin Dutton Beecher, an inventor who built a steam boat propeller similar to the screw-propeller that would later be invented by John Ericcson. His career is described by Frederick J. Kingsbury in an article entitled “An Ericcson Propeller on the Farmington Canal” (The Connecticut Magazine, Vol. VII. Nos 3-4, 1902):

Benjamin Dutton Beecher was born at Cheshire, Connecticut, November 2, 1791, and was educated at the Academy there, the late Admiral Foote having been his school-fellow and life long friend. He learned the trade of a carpenter, and at the age of twenty-two, during the war with England, he invented the first fanning-mill for cleaning grain known to the world. This invention he patented May 13, 1816. In 1828 he was living in Woodbury, Connecticut, where several of his children were born. In 1830 or 1831, he removed to New York City. While living in Woodbury he received a patent October 20. 1830, for a grain-threshing machine. In New York he bought a steam tug-boat, which he commanded himself, and did a successful business and made improvements on the boat and engine. In 1832, when the cholera broke out in New York, he left with his family by packet for New Haven, and by canal to Cheshire. His son says that so great were the fear and the haste of their flight that they abandoned everything but the clothes that they wore, and that at some point they were quarantined for a considerable period in a barn. He then took up his abode in Cheshire, On the Mountain Brook road, near where the boat was built, and erected a shop with a water-power engine attached. When his dam broke away, being in a hurry to complete his boat, he invented and built a horse-power engine, which he patented in December, 1833. In one of his trips on the canal, Admiral Foote—then lieutenant—accompanied him.

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