Originally built on Orange Street in New Haven in 1838, the Everard Benjamin House was moved to the corner of Bradley and Lincoln Streets in the late 1860s. This classical Greek Revival building, designed by Ithiel Town, was set off from the street with a large front lawn in its original location, but the house now right off the sidewalk. Everard Benjamin was a silversmith, jeweler, and watchmaker, who succeeded his father, the silversmith Barzillai Benjamin. The house was later owned by Hobart B. Bigelow, who started by learning the machinist’s trade, becoming a leading manufacturer of boilers and heavy machinery. Bigelow later became mayor of New Haven in 1879 and served as governor of Connecticut from 1881 to 1883.
Edward Augustus Russell was the brother of the Middletown merchant Samuel Russell. Edward A. Russell served as mayor of Middletown and a state representative. His Greek Revival-style house was built on High Street in Middletown in 1841-1842, next to his brother’s home of 1828. Like the Samuel Russell House, Edward’s house may have been designed by the important architect Ithiel Town. Significant alterations were made when a third floor was added in 1930.
Located on Elm Street, across from New Haven Green, the Ralph Ingersoll House was built in 1829 and was designed by Town and Davis. This early Greek Revival home was built by Nahum Hayward and a letter survives from Ingersoll to the architects explaining that the specifications, required by Hayward, had not arrived with the plans for the house. The brick walls would have originally been stuccoed or painted. The house was bought by Yale in 1919 and restored by Delano and Aldrich; some of the original furniture is preserved in the Ingersoll Room of the New Haven Museum and Historical Society. Ralph I. Ingersoll was a lawyer and politician, serving as mayor of New Haven and U.S. Representative. In 1831, he opposed the creation of a college in New Haven for African-Americans. As a lawyer, he also represented the Spanish Crown during the Amistad case.
Trinity Episcopal Church on the Green, located just southwest of Center Church, is the third church comprising New Haven Green‘s carefully laid out plan of the Federal Period. At the time of its construction (1813-1814), Trinity Church, designed by Ithiel Town, was the most unusual of the three, as it was one of the very first three Gothic-style buildings in the United States. Town’s design has been significantly altered over the years, with the original wooden upper section of the tower being replaced by the current stone structure (and a pyramid, removed in 1930). Other changes include the addition of a chancel in 1884, by Henry Congdon. Town also designed Hartford’s first Gothic Episcopal church, which is now Chist Church Cathedral.
Now that April Fools Day is over, the rest of April will be New Haven Month at Historic Buildings of CT. First up is New Haven’s First Congregational Church, also called Center Church on-the-Green, due to its central location, between two other churches, on New Haven Green. The city’s congregation goes back to the founding of the New Haven colony in 1838. The new town was carefully planned out by the settlers in what is known as the “Nine Square Plan,” with New Haven Green at the center. Four successive Meeting Houses were constructed on the Green: the first in 1640, the second in 1669 and the third in 1757. The fourth and current church was built, in the Federal style, between 1812-1814. Designed by Asher Benjamin, who sent the plans from Boston, the church was built by the then unknown Ithiel Town, who may have added some of his own elements to the design. The building was one of many in America modeled on St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London. The interior was remodeled by Henry Austin in 1842. Center Church is also famous for having been partly constructed over the town’s old Colonial burying ground, remains of which can be found in the church’s Crypt.
Built between 1828 and 1830, on High Street in Middletown, the Samuel Russell House is regarded as “one of the premier examples of Greek Revival architecture in the Northeast.” It was constructed for Samuel Wadsworth Russell, who was an important figure in the early nineteenth century China trade. Russell commissioned the well-known architect, Ithiel Town, a proponent of the Greek Revival, to design the house. The construction of the house was supervised by the builder-architect, David Hoadley. With the Russell House, Town created one of the first homes in America to feature a Greek temple design, utilizing correct Greek proportions and six Corinthian columns on the facade. Its design would prove influential in the creation of other Greek Revival houses. It also set a high standard of elegance for Middletown’s High Street, which Charles Dickens is supposed to have called the most beautiful street in America. The house was given to Wesleyan University by Thomas Macdonough Russell, Jr in 1937.