George Wrisley House (1820)

May 16th, 2015 Posted in Glastonbury, Houses, Vernacular | No Comments »

George Wrisley House (1820)

The sign on the house at 534-536 Naubuc Avenue in Glastonbury indicates that it was built c. 1820 by George Wrisley. The Commemorative Biographical Record of Hartford County, Connecticut (1901) mentions a George Wrisley who built a house later occupied by his son, George Smith Wrisley, and grandson, Ransom Wrisley, but that house must have been built earlier than 1820 if it was built by George, Sr. The 1855 map of Hartford county indicates an “H. Risley” living about where the house is located.

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Dewart Building (1914)

May 15th, 2015 Posted in Commercial Buildings, Neoclassical, New London | No Comments »

Dewart Building, New London

The Plant Building (now called the Dewart Building) at 300-310 State Street in New London was built in 1914 for Morton F. Plant (1852-1918), a millionaire financier who invested substantially in the development of New London. The building contained shops on the first floor with offices and a large assembly hall above. It was designed by architect Dudley St. Clair Donnelly, who had his own offices on the fourth floor. The Plant Building was later renamed for William J. Dewart, the local business manager for Frank Munsey, the magazine publisher who built the Mohican Hotel in New London.

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Rising Sun Tavern (1738)

May 14th, 2015 Posted in Colonial, North Haven, Taverns & Inns | No Comments »

Rising Sun Tavern

The house at 1 Old Tavern Lane in North Haven was built in 1738 as a tavern by William Walter. It was first known as the Half-Mile House (it is located on a half-mile strip of land that was once part of East Haven but later given to North Haven). After the Revolution it was renamed the Rising Sun Tavern. After Walter, the Tavern was run by Gideon Todd (1737-1817) for many years. Todd also maintained the road and charged travelers at a tollgate. Gideon Todd served as a sergeant during the Revolutionary War and was made a state militia captain in 1787. According to tradition guns were hidden from the British during the War in a secret room above the tavern’s kitchen. The interesting story of Todd’s marriage is described in the The Todd Family in America (1920):

Prudence Tuttle was from Wallingford, Conn., her father being an officer there under the King. Gideon Todd was born in North Haven, Conn. Their marriage created a sensation in Colonial society. The Tuttle’s were a wealthy and aristocratic family and when young "Gid" Todd asked their daughters hand in marriage, he was haughtily refused. He was their equal by birth and lineage, but had his fortune yet to make, and they had other views for their daughter. One winter day, there was consternation and dismay in the Tuttle mansion; Prudence was missing and investigation revealed the fact that she had eloped, mounted on a pillon, behind her lover, they had ridden to North Haven and were married. Her parents disowned her and her name was never to be mentioned. As time passed, reports reached them that Gideon Todd was getting on in a remarkable way; accumulating property and esteemed by every one, and they thought it time to forgive the disobedient daughter; so, they loaded a cart with bedding, furniture, and other valuables, and started the hired man with it for her home, they going on horseback. Arriving there first, they found their son-in-law at home, and were courteously received. After a time, the cart drove up to the door and they then announced that they had brought some presents, when Capt. Todd said with dignity, “Time was when the furniture and bedding would have been acceptable, for when we were first married, we slept on the floor on a straw bed; but now I can supply my wife with every comfort, and your presents cannot come into the house; but you will always be welcomed.” And tradition has it, they returned home, as chagrined and mortified, as their neighbors were amused.

Now a private residence, the tavern was sold out of the Todd family in the early twentieth century. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rev. Benjamin Trumbull House (1761)

May 13th, 2015 Posted in Colonial, Houses, North Haven | No Comments »

Reverend Benjamin Trumbull (1735-1820) was a notable Congregational minister and an early American historian. Born in Hebron, he graduated from Yale in 1759 and then studied under Reverend Eleazer Wheelock. Ordained in 1760, he was pastor in North Haven for sixty years and also served as a chaplain during the Revolutionary War and in 1777 as a captain of sixty men from Mt. Carmel (Hamden) and North Haven. Rev. Trumbull was the author of a number of works. He wrote a series of letters in the Courant in support of Connecticut’s claim to the Susquehanna purchase. These were collected in a pamphlet published in 1774 entitled A Plea, In Vindication of the Connecticut to the Contested Lands, Lying West of the Province of New-York. Rev. Trumbull also wrote a Complete History of Connecticut from 1630 till 1764, a two-volume work published in 1797. He labored many years on his three-volume General History of the United States of America, only completing the first volume, which was published in 1810. He was awarded a D.D. degree from Yale in 1796.

Rev. Trumbull’s house, which faces the Green in North Haven, is discussed in Vol. 1 of J. L. Rockey’s History of New Haven County (1892):

It was in the summer of the latter year [1760] that he came to North Haven church, and November 14th was ordained as its pastor. The following year he purchased a tract of land of Joseph Pierpont, and began the erection of a dwelling house upon it. The old mansion is still standing and in excellent repair. It is the property of Hon. Ezra Stiles, who has occupied it something more than 60 years. As a historic point, there is none greater in the town. The great double doors were ever ajar. Over its threshold were ceaselessly trooping scores of busy feet. Ministers, messengers, committees, referees and strangers made it a religious caravansary and rested in its shadow. Hither came during the revolutionary war aids and officers with despatches, and later eminent historians and theologists tarried within its walls.

The house is more fully described in North Haven Annals. A History of the Town from Its Settlement, 1680, to Its First Centennial, 1886 (1892), by Sheldon B. Thorpe:

It stood a few rods east of his meeting-house, upon the summit of a gentle ridge, and commanded a view of the entire village. The late Hon. Ezra Stiles owned it a little more than sixty years. Its admirable preservation to-day attests the work of the painstaking, careful builder of that period. The “Society Lott” doubtless furnished the lumber. The frame of the building is of oak, dimensions 28×35. The timbers are massive and hard as iron. The covering of rent oak clapboards, smoothed beaded and jointed to a line, has defied heat and cold, sun and storm, upward of a century and a quarter and is apparently good for another term of service full as long. Exteriorly, with the exception of a bay window on the southern end, the old parsonage is as the aged divine left it. The quaint mouldings and devices surmounting windows and doors attest that unusual ornamentation was bestowed upon it. It presented a striking contrast to the humble domicile on the plain below where the Rev. Mr. Stiles [Rev. Trumbull’s predecessor] lived, and was indeed what it came at length to be called, “the quality house” of the village. Every part was builded for service, and long service at that. The enormous chimney contains a mass of material. Six separate flues connecting with as many wide fireplaces are constructed within it, and it is five feet square where it emerges from the roof, while its base, hidden deep in the earth, covers probably not less than one hundred square feet. The original color of the mansion was red, White houses were uncommon until after the year 1800, and only two places in the town had blinds for their windows in 1829.

Thorpe also attests to the many visitors Rev. Trumbull entertained at the house:

The great double doors of this hospitable mansion were ever ajar. Over the threshold tradition tells us, were ceaselessly trooping many busy feet, and its owner soon became widely known. Ministers and messengers journeying to and fro to religious gatherings, took roundabout roads to call on this rising divine. Referees, committees, consociations, came to test his judgment and his wife’s hospitality, both exhaustless. As he came in later years to be still more widely celebrated, the calibre of his visitors increased. Many an eminent man visiting Yale college thought his mission far from complete until he had ridden out to North Haven and Visited “Dr. Trumbull.”

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Bassett House (1720)

May 12th, 2015 Posted in Colonial, Houses, North Haven | No Comments »

Bassett House, North Haven

Possibly the oldest continuously occupied residence in North Haven is the Bassett House at 3 Ives Street at Outer Ridge Road, part of property owned by Captain John Bassett from 1695 c. 1714, which had buildings on it when divided by his sons in 1719. The rear section of the western half of the house (a “half-house”) was probably in existence by 1720, by which time it was owned by Captain Bassett’s son, Joseph Bassett. By the time of his death in 1761, Joseph Bassett had expanded the house into a “saltbox” form. His son, Joseph Bassett, Jr., served in the Revolutionary War and was wounded during Tryon’s Raid on New Haven in 1779. He expanded the house by building another half-house on the eastern side. His son, Jacob Bassett (1775-1844), a prominent citizen of North Haven, updated the eastern section in the Federal style, raised the roof to two-and-a-half stories and moved the front entrance to the north gable. The house passed from the Bassett family around the time of the Civil War. Edward E. Minor acquired the house in 1918 and worked with architect C. F. Townsend to restore the house, an early example of a historically accurate restoration.

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Frank C. Squires House (1896)

May 11th, 2015 Posted in Houses, North Haven, Queen Anne | No Comments »

Frank Squires House

The Frank C. Squires House, located at 29 Washington Avenue in North Haven, was built for Squires in 1896 by Solomon Linsley. A Civil War veteran and well known builder-architect in North Haven, Solomon Linsley built the Memorial Town Hall and many houses in town. The Squires family occupied the house until it was sold in 2010.

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Northford Congregational Church (1849)

May 10th, 2015 Posted in Churches, Gothic, North Branford | No Comments »

Northford Congregational Church

The Congregational church in Northford in North Branford was established in 1750. The original meeting house stood just south of the present church building, which was built in 1846. Designed by Henry Austin of New Haven, the Portland brownstone church originally had a taller wood steeple that was destroyed in a disastrous fire in 1906. The fire also gutted the interior of the church, which had to be reworked. Other changes over the years included the rebuilding of the external walls on at least two occasions (1863 and 1873). Most recently, the church’s newer wooden tower, built after the fire in 1906, was removed in 2010. The wood had rotted to such an extent that the large bronze bell in the tower was unstable (engineers believed that the bell’s weight was the only thing keeping the wood tower from blowing off in a high wind!). The church plans to restore the wood tower and a fundraising campaign is underway to “Save The Bell Tower.”

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