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.”
At 34 Prospect Hill Road in the Stony Creek section of Branford is the William J. Clark House, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as “Stick Style House at Stony Creek.” Designed by Henry Austin, the house was built in 1878-1880 as the summer home of William Judson Clark of Southington. In 1854, with his two brothers, Clark had founded the Clark Brothers Company, which manufactured nuts, bolts, washers, screws and rivets. Clark lived in an 1860 house in Southington.
The ashlar granite Italianate house at 5 The Green in Watertown was erected in 1851 by Truman A. Warren. He was the son of Alanson Warren, of the manufacturing firm of Warren, Wheeler & Woodruff. Alanson Warren was also the first president of a company that grew out of that firm: Wheeler & Wilson, manufacturers of sewing machines. Truman A. Warren was a Republican politician. The house has been attributed to New Haven architect Henry Austin or it may have been designed by an architect copying Austin’s style of Italianate villa.
Built around 1850, the Jared Buell House, at 113-115 Boston Street in Guilford is an Italianate house, designed by Henry Austin of New Haven. In 1907, the house was converted from a double to a single-family residence and a small cupola was added. The house was built for Jared Buell, who married Lydia Marie Weld in 1819.
The house at 122 Broad Street in Guilford was built in 1874 for Elisha Chapman Bishop (1824-1903). A native of Guilford, Bishop had become wealthy in the 1860s oil boom in Titusville, Pennsylvania. According to Vol. II of A Modern History of New Haven and Eastern New Haven County (1918), Bishop
was born April 10, 1824, in Guilford, remaining upon the home farm until he reached the age of twenty years. He then began learning the machinist’s trade, which he afterward followed in Guilford on his own account. In 1861 he began operations in the oil fields at Titusville, Pennsylvania, where he remained for ten years, meeting with substantial success. He returned to Guilford in 1870 and then took up the occupation of general farming. In 1874 he built one of the finest homes in Guilford and equipped it in a most modern manner. In politics he was originally a republican but afterward became a prohibitionist. He was an ardent supporter of the abolition party from the time that he reached his majority in 1845. In 1882 he represented his town in the state legislature and he held various local offices. His religious faith was that of the Congregational church. On the 5th of July, 1846, he married Charlotte G. Fowler and they became the parents of twelve children, six of whom are living: Robert Allen; Edward Fowler; Mary Cornelia, the wife of N. G. White, of Hartford, Connecticut; Eva B., the wife of Edward M. Leete, of Guilford; Ida, the wife of William J. Canfield, of New Haven; and Marilla Canfield, the wife of F. C. Spencer, of Guilford.
Bishop’s house in Guilford, built in the French Second Empire style on the northeast corner of Guilford Green, was designed by the noted architect Henry Austin of New Haven. The house was later inherited by Bishop’s granddaughter, Marilla, who was married to Frederick C. Spencer, president of the Spencer Foundry. After her death in 1962, the First Congregational Church purchased the house for use as a rectory.
This is my 2,000 building post on Historic Buildings of Connecticut! Part of the purpose of this blog is to celebrate historic structures so that people won’t be inclined to tear them down. Sometimes, however, great buildings are not maintained and some are in danger of being destroyed. A case in point is the Erastus Brainerd, Jr. House, part of the campus of the former Elmcrest Hospital in Portland, which is slated for demolition. Erastus Brainerd Jr.‘s father established the Brainerd Quarry Company in Portland and owned the Hart/Jarvis House next door (also facing demolition) [see this pdf and this pdf]. The Brainerd House, built around 1852, is particularly notable because it was designed by the great New Haven architect Henry Austin. Pictured in the image above is the house’s grand front entry porch, which has fluted columns on floral urns with ogee arched decorative brackets supporting a balustraded roof. These houses should be saved! (Note this pdf and this pdf)
Rose Hill is a Gothic Revival house at 63 Prospect Street in Waterbury and was home to three of the city’s most prominent manufacturing families. Designed by Henry Austin of New Haven, it was built in 1852 in the “cottage style” popularized by A.J. Downing in such books as The Architecture of Country Houses. It was constructed near the base of a hill that would soon be developed as a neighborhood filled with many other Victorian-era houses. Rose Hill was built for Wlliam H. Scovill, who lived in the house for only six months before his death. The house was then vacant for a decade, until in 1863 it became home to the successful businessman Joseph Chauncey Welton and his wife, Jane Porter Welton. The couple loved to entertain and the house became a center of Waterbury society. Their daughter, Caroline Josephine Welton, was known for her fondness for her black stallion Knight, although the horse had kicked her father in the head and killed him. She never married and after her death in a blizzard on Pike’s Peak in 1884 she left money for a bronze statue of Knight to be placed on a memorial fountain on Waterbury Green. Her relatives contested her will, which also gave $100,000 to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, on the grounds that she was insane, but they failed to stop the bequest. The statue was carved by Karl Gerhardt, whose trip to study in Paris at the École des Beaux-Arts in 1881 was financed by Mark Twain. The Rose Hill estate was next purchased by Augustus Sabin Chase. He added porches to the first and second floors. Today the mansion is home to Stepping Stone, the local program of the North American Family Institute (NAFI). It is currently a 22 bed secured residential facility with a treatment program serving delinquent girls committed to the Department of Children and Families. Plans to expand the facility a decade ago met with local resistance.