Atwater Homestead (1774)

January 12th, 2018 Posted in Colonial, Houses, Wallingford

The house at 242 Christian Street in Wallingford was built in 1774 by Caleb Atwater (1741–1832), a wealthy merchant who supplied the patriot forces during the American Revolution. It was located on the Atwater property, which was in the family for many generations. There is a secret passage behind the chimney inside the house, which was possibly a station on the Underground Railroad. The Atwood family property, which became known as Rosemary Farm, was later the childhood home and summer residence of Caleb Atwater’s granddaughter, Mary Lyman Atwater. She married Judge William G. Choate. In 1890, Mary Choate founded a school for girls at Rosemary Farm called Rosemary Hall. The school initially utilized another Atwater family home, no longer extant, that was built in 1758. Soon other houses in the vicinity were rented for the growing school. William Choate also founded the Choate School for boys in 1896. The two schools were neighbors, but remained separate entities. Mary wold host dances for students of both schools at the 1774 homestead. Rosemary Hall moved to Greenwich in 1900, but would move back to Wallingford in 1971 and merge with Choate in 1974. Choate had acquired the Atwater Homestead from Hunt Atwater, a nephew of Mary Atwater Choate in 1933 and it has served as a dormitory since 1936. The school undertook a major restoration of the building, known as Homestead, in 2006.

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