The traditional date for the house at 886 Main Street North in Southbury is 1715, although it was more likely to have been built around 1780. The earliest owners are not known, but it passed through several families in the nineteenth through early twentieth century. In 1938 it was bought by Daniel and Marguerite Croucher. By then the house’s condition had deteriorated. The Crouchers rehabilitated the house in the Colonial Revival style, removing Victorian-era additions, which included a front porch. Daniel Croucher was a New York City antiques dealer. He acquired the neighboring White Oak School House in 1940. From 1954 to 1964 the house was owned by Helena Penrose, another New York antiques dealer. Howard and Priscilla Richmond, also antiques dealers, acquired the house from Penrose’s estate in 1965. They used the former school house as their antiques shop. Before retiring to Southbury in 1957, where he started a second career in the antiques business, Howard K. Richmond had been a graphic designer and art director in New York. He created the original layout and logo for Life magazine in 1936. He also did advertising and publicity work for Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdale’s, Elizabeth Arden and Saks Fifth Avenue.
The house at 212 Center Street in Southport was built by Francis Jelliff, a carpenter and builder. Much altered in later years, the house has since been restored to its original Greek Revival style. He also constructed another house in the 1870s for his son Charles E Jelliff, which was moved in the 1950s to 154 Taintor Drive to make way for the construction of I-95. Francis Jelliff is described in the Commemorative Biographical Record of Fairfield County, Connecticut (1899). He was
born December 8, 1816, at Westport, Conn., a son of David and Polly (Pike) Jelliff, the latter of whom was born in Southport, Conn. They had their home in Westport, where they reared their family of three children: Francis, Eliphalet and Mary. Of these, Eliphalet died young, and Mary married Sellick Sherman. Francis learned the trade of carpenter when a boy, serving a long apprenticeship, as was customary in those days, and followed that business throughout life at Southport, after a period spent in journeyman work in New York and elsewhere, among other jobs putting up cabins on vessels. In all respects he was a superior mechanic. Prior to his marriage he built his home on the corner of Pequot and Center streets, where he spent the balance of his life. In connection with carpentering he did a considerable amount of business in building and contracting, erecting many buildings in Southport and other towns, doing the entire work on the Southport Savings Bank, building the school house in the borough, and was a partner in the construction of both the Episcopal church and Congregational church. Beginning life a poor boy, he, by industry, perseverance, honesty of purpose and economy, became wealthy, at his death leaving a handsome competence.
Adjacent to the Congregational Church in Andover is the Congregational Chapel. According to the nomination for the Andover Center Historic District, it was built c. 1860, but the Town of Andover’s website calls it the Conference House and explains that it was built not long after the neighboring church, which was erected in 1833. The Conference House was constructed with timbers and other materials salvaged from the church’s first meeting house, built c. 1748. A versatile building, it was used for public meetings, elections and the local court until the Town Hall was built in 1893; as the town’s library from 1882 to 1927; as a town schoolhouse from 1888 to 1903; and as a meeting place for The Grange and other local organizations.
In the 1890s the Berlin Iron Bridge Company in East Berlin was expanding and this led to a real estate boom. Fred W. Lang purchased land from Mary O. Bunce, who was very active in the real estate market at the time, and built four adjacent Victorian Vernacular houses on Main Street which he rented to the Bridge Company’s employees. The least altered of these is at 129 Main Street. According to the 1891 Berlin Agricultural Fair Bulletin, Fed W. Lang ran a bakery cart to Kensington, Berlin, East Berlin, Westfield, and West Cromwell from corner of Hart and Hawkins Streets in New Britain. In the 1880 census his occupation is listed as Retail Bread Dealer.
The house at 239 Berlin Street in East Berlin is believed to have been built in 1802 by Colonel Richard Wilcox (1780-1839). His second wife was Olive Porter. The house originally had a hip roof and two chimneys, but this was altered in the twentieth century to provide more attic space. The double front doors date to c. 1900. There was once a front porch across the full width of the front facade (note the band of darker brick between the two floors).
On the other side of Starr Street in New London from the row of houses built in 1839 by John Bishop is another Greek Revival house built the same year at 28 Starr Street. Unlike the the Bishop houses, it does not have its gable end to the street, although it similarly displays a later Italianate alteration in its door hood. It was the second house on Starr Street built by Nehemiah Payne.
Starr Street in New London is a narrow street lined with houses built for middle class families during the city’s whaling heyday. Primarily in the Greek Revival style, many of them were built by the same carpenter, John Bishop. Charles Culver had a rope walk on the site which burned in 1834. He then sold the land as a real estate development. The new street was named for the C. Starr and Company Soap and Candle Factory, which was at one end. Most of the houses were constructed in the 1830s and 1840s on narrow building lots. They were erected right on the street line with not much space between them. The early residents included many whose occupations supported the whaling industry. There were grocers, ship carpenters, blacksmiths, teachers, ship captains, a whaling agent, a tavern keeper, a doctor, a plumber and later in the century, a railroad clerk and an engineer. Some were used as boarding houses run by a single woman or a widow. More houses were built on the site of the factory after it closed. Later houses include examples of the Queen Anne style. Many of the original Greek Revival houses were later updated in the Italianate style (note the Italianate hoods over the doors of the houses pictured below).
In the 1970s the houses on Starr Street were slated for demolition, but in 1977 most of them were bought by the Savings Bank of New London, which restored them and sold them to private owners. In 1981 Starr Street became the city’s first historic district and the Starr Street Association was formed to maintain the historic integrity of the properties.
Five of the houses built on Starr Street in 1839 were erected by John Bishop (the row shown in the photo at the top of this post, from left to right: Nos. 25, 23, 19, 17 & 15; the house on the far right, #11, dates to 1836). Read the rest of this entry »