Joseph Bellamy was a prominent Congregationalist minister, theologian and leader during the Great Awakening. He was pastor of the First Church of Bethlehem from 1760 until his death in 1790. Rev. Bellamy was the author of twenty-two books, the best known being True Religion Delineated (1750). In 1760, Bellamy moved into a Bethlehem farmhouse built in 1754. In 1767, he expanded the house and his son David, a farmer and legislator, added Federal-style embellishments (the Palladian pavilion on the south front) in the 1790s. After the Bellamys, some additional changes were made as the house had various other owners. The property continued as a working farm. In 1912, it was acquired as a summer residence by Henry McKeen and Eliza Ferriday of New York. After Henry’s death, his widow and daughter, Caroline Ferriday, continued to make improvements to the house and established a formal garden. After her mother’s death, Caroline Ferriday sought to restore the house, removing later Victorian-era additions. Miss Ferriday was an actress, conservationist and philanthropist. She left her house and furnishings to the Antiquarian and Landmarks Society (now Connecticut Landmarks) upon her death in 1990. Much of her land is now owned by the Bethlehem Land Trust, which she had helped to establish. Read the rest of this entry »
The Nathaniel Hempsted House is a stone, gambrel-roofed house on Jay Street in New London. It was built in 1759 by Nathaniel Hempsted, the grandson of the diarist Joshua Hempsted, whose house is located just behind it. Like the William Coit House, the Nathaniel Hempsted House was once on the waterfront, before Bream Cove was filled in. The building was once known as the Old Huguenot House, because it was believed that Huguenots (French Protestants) helped to build it. Actually, it was Acadians (Catholic French Canadian refugees) who were more likely involved in the construction. The house was later sold out of the Hempsted family, but was eventually acquired by Connecticut Landmarks to join the adjacent Joshua Hempsted House as a museum.
Joshua Hempsted is a well-known citizen of colonial New London because he kept a detailed diary for nearly fifty years, from 1711 until his death in 1758. Hempsted was a farmer, surveyor, carpenter, gravestone carver and local official who was born and lived in a house at 11 Hempstead Street, which had been built by his grandfather in 1678. Joshua added the east section of the house in 1728. It is New London’s oldest surviving house and was occupied by the Hempsted family until 1937. With the death of Anna Hempstead Branch, the house was left to the Antiquarian and Landmarks Society, which restored the house in 1956. Today, along with the adjacent house of Joshua Hempsted’s nephew, Nathaniel Hempsted, the Hempsted Houses are a Connecticut Landmarks site open to the public.
The Amasa Day House in Moodus (in East Haddam) was built in 1816 by Colonel Julius Chapman, who farmed on the property. After his death, in 1842, the property was sold at auction and purchased by Amasa Day. In the following years, Day, who was an insurance agent and banker, sold off parts of the land. The house was inherited by his daughter, Katherine and her husband, Eugene Chaffee, who worked for the New York Net and Twine Company, one of several twine factories in Moodus. Their son was Dr. Amasa Day Chaffee, a well-known art photographer. The house was donated to Connecticut Landmarks in 1967 and is now a museum.
This Fourth of July we celebrate Connecticut’s State Hero by featuring the Nathan Hale Homestead in Coventry, now a historic house museum operated by Connecticut Landmarks. In 1776, Nathan Hale, who was gathering intelligence for George Washington and the Continental Army, was captured by the British and hanged in New York as a spy. Before his death, he is said to have spoken the famous last words, possibly derived from Addison‘s influential play, Cato, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” In that same year, his father, Deacon Richard Hale, razed and rebuilt the family homestead (the Hales had lived on the property since 1740) to provide more space space. Nathan Hale had been born in the earlier house, built in 1746, and would never see the new house, which was completed a month after his execution. Deacon Richard Hale died in 1802. By the early twentieth century, the house was in disrepair, but was purchased in 1914 and restored by George Dudley Seymour, a lawyer and antiquarian who was great admirer of Natan Hale. He also purchased the nearby Strong-Porter House, home of the uncle of Nathan Hale’s mother. When Seymour died in 1945, the house was bequeathed to the Antiquarian and Landmarks Society, now Connecticut Landmarks.
Today’s Independence Day post at Historic Buildings of Massachusetts is Boston’s Faneuil Hall!
Built in 1854 on High Street in Hartford, the Isham-Terry House is an Italian Villa-style home that was once surrounded by a residential neighborhood, now lost to urban renewal. Many drivers may notice this distinctive house, standing alone in its isolated position, as they go by on I-84. It was built for Ebenezer Roberts, a partner in a wholesale grocery firm with the Keney Brothers. In 1896 it was bought by Dr. Oliver K. Isham, who used it as both a home and doctor’s office. He lived there with his two sisters, Julia and Charlotte. The sisters continued to live there after his death, despite the vast changes to the neighborhood, remaining into the 1970s. In 1980, they willed the house to the Antiquarian and Landmarks Society, and today it is a historic house museum.
The house is notable for a variety of features. The tower to the rear was a later addition and has a third-floor window that awkwardly intersects with the main roof of the house. The house also has intricate cast iron work on the exterior balconies, ordered from the Pheonix Iron Works catalog of 1853 (Francis Pratt and Amos Whitney, two young machinists working for this Hartford company, would start their own company in 1860). The doorway features elaborate columns and stained glass. The inside of the house is virtually unchanged, remaining as the sisters left it, and thus represents a unique survival of a Victorian house interior, even including Dr. Isham’s undisturbed office.
Built around 1711-1720, on Broad Street in Wethersfield, the Buttolph-Williams House was at one time thought to date to the 1690s, when David Buttolph owned the part of the Buttolph family lot on which the house was built. More recent research of land tax records now indicates that house was most likely built during the period the land was owned by Benjamin Belden, who bought the lot in 1711 and sold it to Daniel Williams in 1721, by which time the presence of a “Dwelling House” is clearly indicated in the records. Although not constructed as early as was once assumed, it is still an excellent example of a seventeenth century-style post-medieval English house and shows that a more traditional style continued to be built in the Connecticut River Valley into the eighteenth century.
What was later known as the “Older Williams House” (which can be seen as it appeared before its restoration in a 1930s photograph) was restored in the 1950s and is considered the most faithful restoration of a house of its type in the CT River Valley. The house also helped to inspire the local author, Elizabeth George Speare, to write her historical novel for young adults, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, which won the Newbery Medal in 1959. The Buttolph-Williams House was used as a model for the house depicted in the book, which takes place in Wethersfield in the 1680s.