Frederick Gunn, founder of the Gunnery School in Washington, was also the founder, in 1852, of the Washington Library Association, of which he became president in 1855. In the 1880s the Library Association evolved into the Washington Reading Room & Circulating Library Association, which opened a reading room in 1891. E.H. Van Ingen pledged land and money toward erecting a permanent library building in 1902 and the completed building was dedicated in 1908. It was designed by noted architect Ehrick K.Rossiter, who had become a summer resident of Washington. The interior has ceiling murals by Washington resident H. Siddons Mowbray and bronze busts by English sculptor A. Bertram Pegram. The local DAR branch had opened a historical room in a nearby house in 1899. This collection was turned over to the library in 1907. Originally located in the library’s basement, the museum later collection moved to the adjacent house, bequeathed to the library by June S. Willis in 1965. A new 7,500 square foot addition, five times the size of the original library, was completed in 1994. The plans were drawn by King & Tuthill.
Although the Town of Mansfield decided to erect a town hall at a meeting held on December 3, 1838, electors wrangled over the details for three years. A building committee was finally confirmed on January 24, 1842 and the building was completed the following year. Located in the village of Spring Hill, near the geographic center of town, the old Town Hall was joined by a new Town Office Building on the same property, built in 1934. In the late 1970s, town offices moved to what is now the Audrey Buck Municipal Building. In 1980, the two older town buildings were occupied by the Mansfield Historical Society, which renovated the Old Town Hall to become a museum.
The former Machine Shop of the Cheney Brothers silk mill in South Manchester was constructed in several phases beginning in 1895. Extending from Elm Street to Pine Street, the 40,000 square-foot Machine Shop was built to repair German-made velvet looms. In later years, after the silk mill closed, David Rines operated a one-man machine shop on the lower level (Forest Street side) of the building from 1975 to 1995. Located at 175 Pine Street, the building was purchased by the Manchester Historical Society in 1999 and rehabilitated to become the Manchester History Center.
Pleasant Valley District #5 Schoolhouse, at 711 Ellington Road in South Windsor, was built in 1862 to replace an earlier schoolhouse, built in 1837 on the north side of Ellington Road. Used as an elementary school from 1862 to 1952, it is the only former district schoolhouse in South Windsor that has not been demolished or converted into a residence. Since 1978 it has been operated by the South Windsor Historical Society as a local history museum.
Located in Mill Hill Historic Park in Norwalk is the former Town House (or Town Hall), a Federal-style brick structure erected in 1835. Norwalk’s first Town House was erected by 1736 at the site of the old Trolley Barn at Wall and Knight Streets. A newer Town House was later built at Mill Hill, but it was destoyed when the British burned Norwalk on July 11, 1779 during the Revolutionary War. It took fifteen years before a new structure was erected in 1794. As described by John Warner Barber in his Connecticut Historical Collections (1836):
The old town house was pulled down in July, 1835. It had been long in a ruinous state, and much disfigured the appearance of the place. Some persons in the town who took upon themselves the responsibility of regulating things of this nature about the town, being impatient of the “law’s delay,” took advantage of the darkness of night, pulled down the obnoxious building, and piled up the rubbish by the side of the road.
The current building was built by by Captain Lewis Raymond, who used brick brought to Norwalk as ship’s ballast. The building was used as the seat of government until the Town of Norwalk and the City of South Norwalk were consolidated in 1913. Starting in 1924, the Norwalk Daughters of the American Revolution leased the building from the city, eventually adding a rear kitchen wing. The building was restored in 1965 for meeting and educational purposes. Still owned by the city, it is maintained, along with the rest of Mill Hill Historic Park, by the Norwalk Historical Society and the Norwalk-Village Green Chapter of the DAR.
Located at the west end of the Willington Green is the Daniel Glazier Tavern. Built around 1815, the first recorded tavern keeper was Daniel’s son Isaac Glazier. The last tavern-keeper was Fielder Heath, who bought the property in 1839. The second-floor ballroom was used for town meetings in cold weather until 1840. The Tavern is thought to have been a station on the Underground Railroad. Charles T. Preston, a lawyer and Civil War veteran, bought the former tavern in 1881. His life is described in The Judicial and Civil History of Connecticut (1895):
Born in Willington, Conn., August 7, 1834. He was educated at the Connecticut Literary Institute at Suffield. He studied law with Hon. Richard Hubbard at Hartford, and was graduated at the Albany Law School. Admitted to the bar in Hartford county in March, 1858. He settled in practice in Hartford, serving during a portion of the war in the Twelfth Regiment of Conn. Volunteers. In 1867 he removed to Willington, where he is chiefly engaged in literary pursuits.
January 15, 1869, he married Mary E. Marsh, of New York city; she died May 2, 1871, and October 8, 1874, he married Carrie A. Preston.
The building at 305 Main Street, at the corner of Peck Street, in Kensington, Berlin is currently home to the Berlin Historical Society. It was built in 1901-1902 as the permanent home of the Kensington Library Society. Founded in 1829, the Library Society had stored its books at various places around town before the building was constructed: first at the Kensington Congregational Church; from 1874 to 1877 at Hart’s Hall; next in a room in the Berlin Savings Bank; and in 1890 back at the church. In 1900, Susan A. Peck was a leader among those seeking to build a permanent home for the library. She convinced her cousin, Henry Hart Peck, to donate the funds for a new building, which was built on land donated by Miss Harriet Hotchkiss and Mrs. Fannie Hotchkiss Jones. The Library Society was incorporated in 1901 in order to receive the donation. The Peck Memorial Library building was dedicated on November 5, 1902. A modern addition to the library was built in 1963. In 1986 the Town of Berlin took over the library, thus making it a public institution. In 1989, the Berlin-Peck Memorial Library moved into a new building at 234 Kensington Road. The former building on Main Street then became the home of the Berlin Historical Society. The building was renamed the King-Peck Memorial in 1994 to honor Ron King, who was active in various civic groups in Berlin.