The Glastonbury Knitting Company (begun as the Glastenbury Knitting Company in 1855) later expanded to Manchester with a mill at Manchester Green. A mill was first built on the site in 1851 and rebuilt after a fire in 1861. The mill produced men’s long woolen underwear. An interesting item that appeared in the September 2, 1911 issue of Fibre and Fabric: The American Textile Trade Review (Vol. 54, No. 1382) stated that:
The Glastonbury Knitting Co. shut down their mill at the Green last Saturday for a week. So many of the employees desired a vacation that the managers decided to shut down. The company is fairly busy, and at the present time gives employment to about 70 hands.
The mill was expanded over the years (did it reach its current form in 1901?), but closed in the 1920s (although the company’s mill in Glastonbury was in operation until 1936). Since that time the old mill building (501 Middle Turnpike East) has been used as an antique store, drug store, bar, a printer’s shop, a shoe store, a warehouse, a bookshop and two different furniture stores. Read the rest of this entry »
At 98 Fair Street in Guilford is a mansard-roofed house built c. 1869-1870 in the French Second Empire style. It was built by Edwin Alonzo Leete (1822-1870), a cabinetmaker and undertaker. Behind the house is a building (1090 Boston Post Road) he used as his workshop and display room. Leete had previously lived in an octagon house on Fair Street. A veteran of the Civil War, Leete served six months in Co I, 14th CT Regiment and fought at the Battle of Antietam. After his death, his son Edward and grandson Earle continued the undertaking business and also developed an interest in antique furniture. As related in Vol. II of A Modern History of New Haven and Eastern New Haven County (1918):
Edward Morris Leete acquired his education in the schools of Guilford, Connecticut, and there learned the furniture business with his father and also mastered the undertaking business. He continued in the furniture trade in Guilford until 1912. His wife [Eva Bishop] from 1885 had been dealing in New England antique furniture and the business grew so extensive that in 1912 the E. B. Leete Company was incorporated and the modern furniture business of Mr. Leete was discontinued in order that he might concentrate his entire attention upon the antique furniture trade which had been developed.
[. . .] The parents and second son [Earl Bishop Leete] are all interested in the antique furniture business which is carried on under the name of Mrs. Leete as the E. B. Leete Company, for the trade was developed and built up by Mrs. Leete, whose fame as a dealer in colonial and antique furniture is very wide. She is the president of the company and has been dealing in this line of goods for thirty years. She is probably the best authority in New England on colonial furniture and is the largest dealer in and collector of New England antique furniture. She has four old houses in Guilford completely filled with this furniture on display and exhibition and she also has two large storehouses filled with it. Her collection of antique furniture is the largest in New England and many pieces in her possession are more than two hundred and fifty years old. She loaned the antique furniture for and furnished completely the Connecticut House at the Jamestown Exposition at Jamestown, Virginia, and through the Society of Colonial Dames furnished the Connecticut houses at the St. Louis and Chicago fairs. Her patronage is very extensive and gratifying and she has among her patrons many of America’s best known families. She has made a very close and discriminating study of the subject and her comprehensive knowledge of furniture, its value, its methods of manufacture and the period at which it was made enables her at all times to speak with authority upon the subject. Moreover, she displays a most enterprising and progressive spirit in the conduct of the business, possessing marked executive ability. She is also one of the organizers and a charter member of the Dorothy Whitfield Historical Society.
Ponemah Mills in Norwich once boasted the largest textile mill in the world under one roof. The mill buildings were constructed near a dam along the west bank of the Shetucket River. The investors who founded the company were led by Edward and Cyrus Taft of Providence, Rhode Island and the manufacturing village of Taftville was built next to the mill to house and serve the mill workers. The earliest workers were Irish immigrants. After a strike in 1875, the Irish were replaced with French-Canadian workers. The first Ponemah Mill building was constructed between 1866 and 1871. A massive mansard-roofed structure, it features two tall stair towers with roofs that have classical detailing, dormers, cupolas and turrets. In the twentieth century the mill converted to the production of synthetic fabrics. It finally closed in 1972. Later occupied by various small manufacturers, it then became the home of the Helikon Furniture Co., makers of high-end office furniture. More recently, Helikon moved out of the building and the mill is being restored to contain apartments under the name the Lofts at Ponemah Mills.
Hoyt’s Theatre is a former music hall at 130 Washington Street in South Norwalk. It was built by I. Mortimer Hoyt, father of Ira Ford Hoyt, who also became a theatrical manager. As related in an article in The Norwalk Hour of February 3, 1922 (“Early Theatrical Days in Norwalk”):
Mr. Hoyt was manager for fourteen years of old Music hall . . . There came a day when he realized that a playhouse, in order to achieve a full measure of success, should be on the ground floor, easy of ingress and egress. The experience of getting scenery in and out of Music hall, frequently through third-story windows; the limited stage room for the production of some of the plays of that day; the two long flights of stairs leading to the auditorium, and still another flight to the gallery, were some of the difficulties Mr. Hoyt had to contend with. In 1890, after prolonged negotiations with the Marvin brothers for the land, he began the erection of Hoyt’s theater, which was formally opened in 1892, with Oliver Dowd Byron in “Across the Continent” as the attraction.
The theatre was first listed in the city directory in 1893 and by 1923 it was listed as the Rialto Theatre, operated by Warner Brothers as a movie house. The interior was remodeled in the Art Deco style in 1941. The theatre closed c. 1959-1961 and has since contained other businesses on the first floor with condominiums above. Read the rest of this entry »
The house at 136-138 Collins Street in Hartford was built in 1870. An impressive mansard-roofed Second Empire-style house, it was once owned by Isaac Frisbie. He was superintendent of the Hartford Alms House, which once stood on a property to the rear of his house. The Alms House and adjacent Town Farm were abolished in the 1890s when Hartford’s town government was consolidated with its city government. Today the house on Collins Street is used as a halfway house for federal and state inmates who are transitioning back to freedom. The house once had a one-story veranda–traces of its roofline can be seen along the facade of the western half of the house.
The house at 72 Broad Street in Guilford was built c. 1847 for Edward Sherman Fowler, who was born in 1817 in the house at 66 Broad Street to Samuel and Sophie Fowler. He soon moved to New London where he worked as a railroad conductor. In 1855 the Guilford Institute acquired the house and sold it in 1868. A later owner was Alfred N. Wilcox, who served in the Civil War as a sergeant in Co. G, 14th Regt., Connecticut Volunteers. Yet another owner operated a blacksmith shop on the property until 1968. Around 1870, a French Second Empire Mansard roof was added to the house, which had previously had a flat Italianate-style roof. The current front porch was added in 2003.
The Mansard-roofed house at 111 Whitney Avenue in New Haven (pdf) was built in 1870. It is known as the William H. Taft Mansion because the former President (1909-1913) (soon to be Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court) owned the house around the time of the First World War, although he never actually lived in it. He sold the house in 1921. Extensively remodeled in 2008, the house was recently used as the offices of Research Edge, an independent research firm, which later became Hedgeye Risk Management. More recently, the house has become home to the William F. Buckley Jr. Program, a Yale conservative group founded in 2010.