John Edward Cowles (1818-1898), prosperous farmer and a director of the Hartford bank, built the house at 47 Main Street in Farmington in 1844. When it was erected, the house was in the Italianate style. It was inherited by Cowles’ son, Henry Martyn Cowles (1845-1926), who was the New England agent for the M.H. Birge & Sons, manufacturers of fine wallpapers. The house was inherited by H. M. Cowles’ two unmarried nieces who sold the property to Rose Anne Hardy Day Keep in 1927. She and her husband, Robert Porter Keep, headmaster of Miss Porter’s School, extensively remodeled the house in 1927 in the Neoclassical Revival style, adding two-story porticoes with Corninthian columns on either end of the building’s street-facing elevation. Since 1968 the house has been a dormitory of Miss Porter’s School called Porter-Keep House.
The house at 44 Main Street in Farmington is often dated to 1872 in the belief that a previous house on the property had burned down the preceding year, but it may be that this is that earlier house, built for Edward Whitman (1792-1862) c. 1851. Erastus Gay (1843-1912), a store-owner, acquired the property in 1871. Gay had married Grace F. Cowles, daughter of Francis Cowles, in 1867. Elizabeth V. Keep purchased it in 1916 and soon after willed the house to Miss Porter’s School. Once used as a dorm, it is now the school’s Colgate Health Center.
“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.
Seth Cowles (1763-1842), together with his four brothers, was a successful merchant in Farmington. When he died in 1842, his daughter Susan Cowles (1815-1894) inherited his homelot on Main Street in Farmington. Susan and her husband, Augustus Ward (1811-1883), originally from Massachusetts, removed the existing house and replaced it with the current residence, at 56 Main Street, around 1842. As related in Farmington, Connecticut, the Village of Beautiful Homes (1906):
Augustus Ward was born December 4, 1811. and died April 6, 1883. son of Comfort and Plumea Ward. He was a merchant in New Britain in its earlier days. Marrying a daughter of Mr. Seth Cowles in 1840, he removed to this village and built a new house on the site of the old Cowles mansion. He was a farmer, but had much to do with the Farmington Savings Bank after its organization in 1851, being one of its most able and efficient directors.
In 1891, Susan Cowles Ward sold the house to Henry R. Hatch of Ohio. Within a few days he sold it to Sarah Porter, headmistress of Miss Porter’s School. The house has been owned by the school ever since and is a dormitory called “Ward.” An addition was built in 1902. Read the rest of this entry »
The Thomas Hart Hooker House, on Main Street in Farmington, was built in 1770 by Judah Woodruff for Hooker, a descendant of Thomas Hooker and of Stephen Hart, one of the founders of Farmington. Hooker had married Sarah Whitman Hooker in 1769 and in 1773 they moved to what is now West Hartford. The house was later owned by Samuel Deming, an abolitionist who used his home as a stop on the Underground Railroad. Deming also joined with Austin Williams and John Treadwell Norton in bringing the Africans from the Amistad to Farmington in 1841. The house, now owned by Miss Porter’s School, is on the Connecticut Freedom Trail.
Originally a private residence, built around 1800, the dorm of Miss Porter’s School called “Humphrey” is a Federal Style building which is connected to the “Colony” dorm by a “Senior Room” built in 1970.
Originally built between 1813 and 1818 as a store and warehouse for Elijah and Gad Cowles, this three-story Federal-style structure on Main Street in Farmington was later a drugstore, when it was purchased by Miss Porter’s School in 1901. It later served the school’s Leila Dilworth Jones Memorial Library, until the construction of a new library in 2001.