James Norman House (1722)

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016 Posted in Colonial, Houses, Norwich | No Comments »

409 Washington St., Norwich

The house at 409 Washington Street in Norwich was once the site of Isaac Huntington’s blacksmith shop. In 1722, James Norman acquired the property from Christopher Huntington and either converted the existing building into his residence or removed it and built a new one on the site. As related in Old Houses of the Antient Town of Norwich (1895) by Mary E. Perkins:

In 1714, the town grants to Isaac Huntington 4 rods of land (frontage 2 rods), “on ye side of ye hill to be taken up between Sergt. Israel Lathrop’s orchard and Sergt. Thomas Adgate’s cartway,” and here he builds a shop, and in 1717 he receives a grant of land south of this “to build a house on,” but he evidently prefers to buy his grandfather’s homestead, when the opportunity offers, and the land and shop (frontage rods) are sold in 1722 by Christopher Huntington, who has become the owner, to James Norman. James Norman either alters the shop into a dwelling, or builds a new house, which seems to stand on the former site of the shop.

[. . . .]

Miss Caulkins mentions a James Norman, who, in 1715 was captain of a vessel engaged in the Barbadoes trade, and in 1717 was licensed to keep a tavern. This James Norman may be the one whose house we have just located, or possibly the latter was the son of the sea captain. He was in 1723 a “cloathiar.” No record has been found of his marriage, or of the birth of children, but we know that a James Norman married after 1730 Mary (Rudd) Leffingwell, widow of Nathaniel Leffingwell, of whose estate he was the administrator. Mary (Leffingwell) Norman died in 1734. James Norman died in 1743, leaving a widow, Elizabeth, and three children, Caleb, Mary, and Joshua, the two latter choosing their brother Caleb for guardian. The heirs divide the property in 1753-4.

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New Place, Miss Porter’s School (1907)

Monday, June 6th, 2016 Posted in Colonial Revival, Farmington, Houses | No Comments »

New Place

“New Place” is a dorm of Miss Porter’s School in Farmington. It was built in 1906 at 53 Main Street on the site of the old Rev. Samuel Whitman House. As related by Julius Gay in Farmington, Connecticut, the Village of Beautiful Homes (1906):

Crossing the road up the mountain we find on the corner the square house with the pyramidal roof and the chimney in the center, owned and occupied by the Rev. Samuel Whitman during his ministry. Parts if not the whole of the building are much older than its well-preserved walls would indicate. Tradition says the kitchen was built out of the remains of the old meeting-house and the Rev. William S. Porter who knew more about the history of the town than any man who lived or is likely to live, says that the house, probably the front, was built by Cuff Freeman, a colored man of considerable wealth, of course after the death of Mr. Whitman.

New Place was erected in 1907 by builder R.F. Jones of Hartford for Elizabeth V. Keep, then headmistress of Miss Porter’s School. Mrs. Keep lived there until her death in 1917. She willed the property to Miss Porter’s School. Her son, Robert Porter Keep II, became headmaster in 1917 and he and his wife, Rose Anne Day Keep, resided at New Place until 1929.

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H. Curtis House (1740)

Friday, May 13th, 2016 Posted in Colonial, Houses, Southbury | No Comments »

Curtis House, South Britain

The house at 584-586 South Britain Road in Southbury, called the H. Curtis House, is thought to be the oldest house in the South Britain Historic District. Possibly built as early as 1740, the house retains a gambrel roof, although much else has been changed over the years.

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Charles Ellsworth House (1750)

Monday, April 18th, 2016 Posted in Colonial, Ellington, Houses | No Comments »

36 Main Street, Ellington

The house at 36 Main Street in Ellington was built around 1750 by Charles Ellsworth. He was the grandson of Lt. John Ellsworth, who came to Ellington from East Windsor and passed away there in 1720.

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Jabez Bacon House (1762)

Monday, April 11th, 2016 Posted in Colonial, Houses, Woodbury | No Comments »

Jabez Bacon House

Jabez Bacon (1731-1806) was a wealthy merchant who is thought to have been Connecticut’s first millionaire. In 1758 he acquired property on Hollow Road in Woodbury where he erected a grand residence by 1762. The house has original paneling in five formal rooms that each have a distinct design. The property, unusual for Connecticut, has the original detached summer kitchen with an intact smoke room on the second floor. This structure was once referred to as the “slave quarters.” Although Bacon had at least one indentured servant, Matthew Lyon, he is not known to have owned African slaves. There is also an early barn on the property. Bacon built a store next door, which is now used as a private residence. In 1834, the Bacon family sold the property to the Curtiss Family, who owned it until 1927. The next owners of the house were the Marvin family. Harlan H. Griswold (1910-1989), a leading Connecticut preservationist, purchased the house in 1953.

A description of Jabez Bacon can be found in Cothren’s History of Ancient Woodbury (1854):

As a man he was one to make an impression on every one that came near him. The energy of the man was amazing, and, this directing all his powers to the single business of accumulation, wealth flowed into his coffers on every side. He was for years the sole merchant of this town and all the neighboring towns; and so large at times was his stock in trade, that, it is credibly reported, merchants from New Haven sometimes visited Woodbury, and purchased from Jabez Bacon goods to retail afterwards in that city.

His way of doing business was often rash, apparently, and seemingly no safe rule for others. An aged merchant of New York told the writer of this many years ago, that he (Mr. Bacon) would sometimes visit his store, make him a bid for a whole tier of shelf goods from floor to ceiling, amounting in value to thousands of dollars, and have the whole boxed and shipped in an hour to the sloop at the foot of Peck Slip bound for Derby. His vast wealth also, together with his business skill, sometimes gave him the command of the New York market so that, to a degree moderns can hardly credit, he could, with a turn of his hand, ” put the screws” on an article, and make its price in the great metropolis rise and fall like a barometer. An anecdote, an unquestionable fact, illustrates this. He was a large dealer in pork, this being the “circulating medium,” it would seem, for this region, judging from the vast quantities of it that found their way to “the old red store in the hollow,” as it was called, thence down to “Darby Narrors” where it was shipped to New York. The old gentleman had once shipped an exceedingly fine lot of this article for the city, but when he arrived there he found his purchasers indisposed to his price, as two immense ship loads were that day expected from Maine. The old gentleman merely set his teeth firm, an ominous trick of his in a bargain, and left the store. He instantly took a horse, rode some six miles up the East River shore, to about what is now Blackwell’s Island, boarded the sloops as they came along, and purchased every pound of their cargoes, staking his whole fortune for it. This at that day put the whole New York market in his hands, and tradition says he cleared forty thousand dollars by this single operation.

He was kind-hearted, open and generous, though in a bargain close to a fault. His hospitality was unbounded. A long table was kept set forth in the west parlor of what is now the residence of Daniel Curtiss, Esq., the whole year round. This might have been policy, but it was also a part of a large heart, that took pleasure in giving in this form. As a citizen he was public-spirited and useful for his day. As a husband and father his affections were endearing and indulgent, and he was the centre of a large circle of relatives and friends. But it was as a business man where he deserves to be noted; where he deserves signal mention for posterity. He was the centre of a great commotion; the main-spring of a mighty watch, such as we in this day almost consider apocryphal; and with him has passed away a business era, such as shall not soon be seen in this valley again.

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Harry B. Sisson House (1804)

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016 Posted in Federal Style, Houses, Lyme, Stick Style | No Comments »

29 Old Hamburg Rd., Lyme

A house that dsisplays an excellent example of Eastlake-style decorative woodwork is located at 29 Old Hamburg Road in the Hamburg Bridge area of Lyme. The house was built c. 1798-1804, but acquired its elaborate trim when Henry B. Sisson bought the property in 1867 for $300. Sisson, one of Lyme’s most prominent citizens, was a merchant and served in the state assembly and as town treasurer for 21 years.

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Jeremiah Shailer House (1800)

Monday, February 15th, 2016 Posted in Federal Style, Haddam, Houses | No Comments »

Jeremiah Shailer House

Jeremiah Shailer (1770-1845) built the house at 168 Camp Bethel Road in Haddam around the time of his marriage to Jerusha Shailer (1766-1843), i.e. just before 1800. Their daughter, Maria, married Smith Clark and her son, Jared Shailer Clark (1824-1888), a farmer and teacher who held the office of constable and justice of the peace, later occupied the house. The house’s original Federal-style doorway was later removed.

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