A German immigrant who arrived in the United States in 1874, Bernard C. Apel established a furniture and undertaking business at Depot Square in North Manchester. In 1888 he erected the large brick commercial building that stands at the corner of Apel Place and Oakland Street (35 Oakland Street). The basement contained the undertaking establishment and above it was his mercantile showroom, which he had expanded to include a wide variety of products, from carpets, wall paper and curtains, to crockery, lamps, clocks, stoves and pianos. The upper floors of the building housed a large community hall/theater called Apel’s Opera House. A fire gutted the opera house in 1899. Apel rebuilt, but did not reconstruct the original audience gallery. Serving as a warehouse and salesroom in later years, the building was acquired by the Central Connecticut Cooperative Farmers Association in 1977. The Co-op, which had been located on Apel Place since 1942, was a major supplier of livestock feed to farmers and had a retail store and farm stand in the former Opera House. The Co-op closed in the summer of 2016 due to current economic conditions and the decline in the number of farms.
The unusual building at 926-940 Farmington Avenue in Kensington was built c. 1875 by the brothers, Augustine F. Wooding and Ralph A. Wooding. They started a business making dog collars, later expanding to harness trimmings and saddlery hardware. In the 1896, they built a dam and pond and were granted a contract to supply water to trains on the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad. The building’s tower was then erected to serve as a water tower. Known as the Tower House, in later years the building was used as apartments. Read the rest of this entry »
The Tate Block, originally known as Tate’s Building, is a commercial block at 187-195 (aka 185) Bank Street in New London. It was built in 1890 on a site that was once the gardens of the neighboring Jonathan Starr House, built a century earlier.
The house at 1146 Boston Post Road in Old Saybrook was built c. 1800-1803 for William Chalker. It originally stood on the opposite side of the street but was moved and an addition built when the road was straightened later on in the nineteenth century. Around that time the house was acquired by Daniel C. Spencer.
A wealthy merchant, Daniel Chapman Spencer (1823-1906) started his business career as a store clerk and then was a traveling salesman with a stock of goods carried in a peddler’s wagon. He then worked for Moulton, Plympton, Williams & Co., one of the leading wholesale dry goods firms of New York. After that company went out of business he moved on to Claflin, Mellen & Co. in New York, at the time the second largest dry goods store in the United States and soon to become the largest. He ran the company‘s notion department for thirteen years, until he broke down from the strain and decided to retire on January 1, 1868. He chose to retire to his hometown of Old Saybrook. As described in the History of Middlesex County, Connecticut with Biographical Sketches of Its Prominent Men (1884):
Mr. Spencer had previously purchased a number of acres contiguous to the old homestead property in Saybrook, known as the Chalker farm. Here he retired to spend his days. The old place was enlarged and improved and soon made to “blossom like a rose.” The meadows were turned into cranberry patches on which he spent several thousand dollars in working and improving. He surrounded his residence with trees and flowers until it now has the appearance of fairy land. Amid these surroundings he soon recovered his health and then devoted his energies to making such public improvements in the town as should tend to attract others to this beautiful spot selected by Col. Fenwick as the “garden spot of the earth,” more than two hundred years ago.
The Chalker-Spencer House was altered around 1880 when the original roof was replaced by a Mansard roof. It was later used as a boarding house.
At 668-670 Harbor Road in Southport is a 1787 building that was significantly altered in later years. It may give the impression of being a nineteenth-century mansard-roofed commercial block, but the upper floors began as the homestead of Miah Perry. It was possibly altered and expanded in 1834. By that time the building displayed the influence of the Dutch Colonial style with two low-pitched gambrel roofs intersecting at the street corner. In the 1870s, the house was raised by Nehemiah Jennings to sit above a commercial section. In one part of the new ground floor Jennings ran a market and post office, while the other part contained the John Wood dry goods store. Miss Mary Allis (1899-1987) purchased the building in 1947 and refurbished it the following year. She had started renting space for her antiques store on the southeast corner in 1945. Mary Allis was a major figure in the world of folk-art collecting.
This the 3,000th post at Historic Buildings of Connecticut! That’s 3,000 great buildings throughout the state!
Mrs. Benjamin Pomeroy, the wife of a shipping merchant, had the house at 658 Pequot Avenue in Southport erected for herself and her daughters. The Second Empire-style house, which features an elaborate front porch and mansard roof, was designed by the architectural firm of Lambert & Bunnell. Constructed in 1868-1869, the house’s builder was Gamaliel Bradford of Fairfield. The house remained in the family until 1946. The house’s carriage house was erected around the same time as the main house.