Southport was for many years a part of the Fairfield parish. The people of Southport, having built a meeting-house in their own village in 1841, resolved at a meeting held February 18, 1843, to form a new church, and therefore called a council of the five neighboring churches for March 7, 1843. This council organized “The Southport Congregational Church,” with a membership of twenty-eight. The sermon in the afternoon was by the Rev. Lyman Hotchkiss Atwater, of Fairfield. In the evening the meeting-house was set apart to the worship of God, the Rev. Dr. Nathaniel Hewit, of Bridgeport, preaching the dedication sermon. The church was received into the Fairfield West Consociation June 6, 1843.
The Pequot Library in Southport (in Fairfield) was founded in 1889 by Elbert B. Monroe and his wife, Virginia Marquand Monroe (1837-1926), who was the adopted daughter of Fairfield jeweler and businessman Frederick Marquand. The library building, located at 720 Pequot Avenue in Southport, was built in 1893 on the the grounds of the Marquand home, a Greek Revival house built in 1832, which was demolished to make way for the library. This was a site originally settled by Frederick Marquand‘s ancestor Henry Marquand in 1768. Frederick Marquand‘s brother was Henry G. Marquand, the noted financier, philanthropist and art collector. The library opened to the public in April of 1894. Constructed of sandstone blocks with a red tile roof, the building was designed by architect Robert H. Robertson.
The house at 186 Rowayton Avenue in Rowayton, Norwalk was built in 1842 by Nicholas Vincent, a New York ship builder, for his daughter, Catherine Raymond Vincent, who married John Thomes. The house is named for a later owner, Capt. William C. Sammis (1818-1891). A coastal shipping trader in oysters until the railroad drove him out of business, Capt. Samis purchased the house in 1866 and became a farmer, sending his produce by train to market in New York City.
The house at 51 East Avenue in Norwalk was built circa 1789 for Hezekiah Jarvis (1746-1838). The son of Capt. Samuel Jarvis, Hezekiah Jarvis was the brother of the Episcopal Bishop Abraham Jarvis. According to The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. III (1893):
Hezekiah Jarvis lived to a patriarchal age and had the privilege of seeing his descendants to the fourth generation. He is described as a man of great mental gifts, possessing in particular a remarkable memory, fine discernment, a notable logical faculty, and great capacity for reasoning. He was a comprehensive and judicious reader and profound thinker. His disposition was pleasant and cheerful and even in extreme old age he was a delightful companion. Withal, he was a sincere and devout Christian, and the influence of his worthy and honorable life in the church is said to have been remarkable. He held office as warden in the church for a period of fifty-four years. He was well informed in ecclesiastical history and in church doctrines and usages, and brought up his family in accordance with his convictions. Hezekiah Jarvis was a man of inflexible integrity, who sustained throughout his life a reputation for an exalted appreciation of duty and a sense of his obligation to his Maker and his fellow-man.
A landmark of South Norwalk is the Donovan Building at 138 Washington Street, corner of Water Street. Built in 1889, it was the home of Jeremiah Donovan‘s Saloon. A civic leader and politician, Jeremiah Donovan served in the state house from 1903 to 1904 and the state senate from 1905 to 1909, and again from 1911 to 1913. He then served a term in the U.S. Congress from 1913 to 1915, and as mayor of Norwalk from 1917 to 1921. The building has since housed a bar/restaurant under various owners, except for the period of prohibition when it was an A. & P. Today the restaurant has a collection of vintage prizefighter pictures that belonged to “Battling Bat Kunz”, a regional champ who owned the restaurant for several decades. The current owner, Richie Ball restored the restaurant and bar in 1979 to its original Victorian style and renamed it after its original founder, Jeremiah Donovan. On the east side of the building is a mural depicting one of the last working schooners on Long Island Sound, the Alice S. Wentworth. It was painted in 1978 by Brechin Morgan, a local artist. After a billboard company painted over it in 1983, Morgan repainted the mural with some friends. It was touched up in 2007. Read the rest of this entry »
The headquarters of the Westport Historical Society is the Bradley-Wheeler House, located at 25 Avery Place. The house was built by Ebenezer Coley, a merchant, for his son Michael Coley. Financial troubles forced Michael Coley to deed the house back to his father three years later. Ebenezer Coley then sold it in 1799. Ann Hazzard Avery Ripley (1764-1830) occupied the house, where she also had a millinary shop, in the early nineteenth century. From 1846 to 1857 the house was owned by Farmin Patchin, who had financial problems and deed the property to the Saugatuck Bank. The house is named for two of its later nineteenth-century owners: Morris Bradley and Charles B. Wheeler, both local businessmen. It is likely that Morris Bradley was the owner who dramatically altered the style of the house to its current Italianate appearance. Bradley acquired the house in 1865 and it was occupied by him until his death in 1886 and then by his widow until it passed to his daughter, Julia A. Bradley Wheeler. She was married to Charles Beach Wheeler, who ran a store with his brother-in-law Abraham Bradley (died 1886). The house was later home to Charles and Julia’s son, Lewis Wheeler, a doctor who died in 1958. Wheeler’s estate left the property to Charlotte P. Darby. After her death in 1979, the house was left to Christ and Holy Trinity Church, which sold it to the Historical Society in 1981.
At 156 South Main Street in Colchester is a Greek Revival house with Colonial Revival additions that include an elliptical attic light, long gabled wing on the right side and a one-story veranda. The house was built circa 1840 to 1850, being purchased in the latter year from David Carroll by Dr. Solomon Everest Swift (1819-1895), a dentist who practiced homeopathic medicine. After Dr. Swift‘s death, his widow Almira Lathrop Swift (1822-1904) (who had attended Bacon Academy) lived in the house until her own death. Their daughter, Caroline Swift Willard (1863-1950), probably made the Colonial Revival alterations/additions between 1896 and 1919, the year she eventually sold the house, having moved to Redlands, California. From the late 1990s until 2006, the house was used as a gift shop and is now lawyers’ offices.