The earliest core of the house at 93 East Street in Norwalk dates to at least 1750 (and perhaps earlier). It was built by Samuel Grumman, a carpenter and builder who came from Fairfield to erect Norwalk’s second meeting house. During the Revolutionary War, the Grumman House was at the center of the Battle of Norwalk in July 1779, when General William Tryon’s raiding forces burned much of the town. The house was damaged, but it was rebuilt in the 1780s and expanded in the nineteenth century. The current roof was added in the 1870s. In 1805, the Grumman family had sold the house to Stephen Buckingham St. John, whose descendants, including the Hoyt family, owned it until 1925. The building was subdivided into apartments in 1928.
In 2001, the neighboring Norwalk Inn & Conference Center purchased the house with the intention of demolishing it to make way for an addition to the hotel. Preservationists rallied to block these plans and preserve the historic house. Litigation ensued and in 2010, after an extended legal battle, a compromise was reached: the Inn would renovate the dilapidated building to contain extended stay suites with permission being granted to the Inn itself to expand to a third floor. The renovations were completed in 2013.
Deacon Joseph Ives (1674-1755) was one of the first settlers in what is now Cheshire. He built the house at 280 Fenn Road in Cheshire in 1724. As related in J. L. Rockey’s History of New Haven County, Connecticut, Vol. I (1892):
In the southeast portion of the town and near the residence of Mrs. Silas Ives, Joseph Ives settled in the year 1694; the same year of his marriage to Esther Benedict. He was one of the first, if not the first settler, in what is now Cheshire. He was chosen the first deacon of the Congregational church in 1724, and served the church in that capacity until the year 1739, at which time the second church edifice was erected. Deacon Ives was a very useful and devoted member of the infant parish. In this same house also his son Joseph and grandson Titus resided. The latter was a revolutionary soldier and was with Washington’s army at Harlem, N. Y., where he died in the year 1777. A letter written by his wife, and sent to him at Harlem, during his last sickness, and also the gun used by him in the colonial struggle for independence, are now extant and are preserved as precious memorials by the family of Mrs. Silas Ives, who are descendants, who reside within a few feet of the old Ives homestead, and who own and occupy the same property that has been in the possession of Deacon Joseph Ives and his descendants for about 200 years.
At 77 Ripley Hill Road on Coventry is a house that was once home to Captain Jeremiah Ripley, who ran a store and was Connecticut’s Assistant Commissary during the Revolutionary War. The earliest part of the house was built 1762 by Nathaniel Rust Jr., and Capt. Ripley stored gunpowder in the cellar in 1777. As related in the 1912 Historic Sketch of Coventry, complied by Ruth Amelia Higgins:
The assistant commissary for the State was Jeremiah Ripley, who lived on Ripley Hill in Coventry. In May, 1777, Capt. Huntington, of Norwich, was ordered to deliver 100 barrels of Continental powder to Cap. J. Ripley, of Coventry, to be carefully kept until further orders. February 26, 1778, the same Jeremiah Ripley was directed by the General Assembly to send under a guard so soon as might be, two tons of fine powder in his hands to Ezekiel Chevers, commissary of artillery at Springfield.
Across Ripley Hill Road from the house is where 116 men of the Coventry militia assembled to march to Massachusetts in response to the Lexington Alarm of 1775. Ripley later constructed what is now the main block of the house, completed in 1792. In the early twentieth century, the house was owned by George Dudley Seymour, who restored the Nathan Hale Homestead. Seymour remodeled the interior of the Ripley House, repaneling one of the rooms with boards from one of the Nathan Hale schoolhouses.
The house at 1820 Main Street in East Hartford was built c. 1750. It was the home of Levi Goodwin (1757-1836), a tobacco farmer, who kept a tavern behind his home that faced the King’s Highway (now Ellington Road). Hearing news of the Lexington alarm, he left to serve in the Revolutionary War. Upon his return from the War he held a celebration at his tavern at his own expense that lasted for three days. As described in The Goodwins of Hartford, Connecticut, Descendants of William and Ozias Goodwin (1891), complied by James Junius Goodwin
He marched for Boston, April 17, 1775, on the Lexington alarm, and was paid for ten days’ service. He enlisted as a private in the Company of Capt. Jonathan Hale, in the Regiment commanded by Col. Erastus Wolcott, which was called out January, 1776, for six weeks, service, to aid the army under General Washington in the vicinity of Boston. He was also in the Company of Capt. Abraham Sedgwick, in the Battalion commanded by Col. John Chester, raised in June, 1776, to reinforce the army under General Washington at New York. These troops were in the battles of Long Island, August 27, and of White Plains, October 28, their term of service expiring on the 25th of December of the same year. For his services in this war he received a pension from the United States Government. His residence was in East Hartford, and he represented that town in the Legislature of October, 1818. He married Jerusha Drake, daughter of Jonathan Drake of East Windsor. Levi Goodwin died April 24, 1836, aged 78. Jerusha (Drake) Goodwin died March 26, 1832, aged 76.
In 1790, Captain Samuel Stiles (1757-1813), a veteran of the Revolutionary War, erected the house at 169 Melrose Road in East Windsor. As catalogued in The Stiles Family in America: Genealogies of the Connecticut Family (1895), by Henry Reed Stiles:
Capt. Samuel Stiles left the sum of $1,000 to the Scantic Parish (East Windsor) as a fund for the support of the Gospel ministry in that parish. He was also a prominent Free Mason. The following are the inscriptions on his gravestone, and that of his wife, in the Ireland St. graveyard in E. W.:
“Capt | Samuel Stiles | died of a consumption | 9th of January A.D. 1813 | His name will ever be gracious to all who knew him, especially to the congregation with whom he habitually assembled for divine worship. As a tribute of gratitude and as a testimony of respect to his beloved memory this stone is raised by surviving friends to mark the place where his body rests in the silence of the grave.”
“Mrs. Jennet, wife of Capt. Samuel Stiles, died Feb; 20, 1824, ae 62, as a testimony of respect to her beloved memory this stone is raised to mark the spot where her body rests, till it shall arise at the call of him who conquered death.”
born at East Windsor, Conn., Jan. 11, 1818; married Dec. 14, 1843, Julia Ann (daughter of Eli and Rocksalena Allen) Gowdy (born Feb. 5, 1819), of East Windsor. He was a farmer at Melrose, Conn., where he died, April 12, 1886.
The was later the Melrose post office for about four decades.
The house at 1091 Main Street in South Windsor is currently attracting the attention of the preservation community who have sought to delay its demolition. Its current owners claim that renovation of the building, which has suffered deterioration through neglect over 80 years, is not feasible. Built in 1782, it is known as the Asahel Olcott House and was built by either Asahel (1754-1831) or his father Benoni Olcott (1716-1799). It is an unusual example in Connecticut of a house with a “Beverly jog” (usually only found in houses on the North Shore of Massachusetts). Asahel Olcott was a soldier in the Revolutionary War who responded to the Lexington Alarm in 1775.
Happy Thanksgiving!!! Here’s a Colonial house in Haddam, at 95 Jacoby Road. It was built in the first third of the eighteenth century, possibly around 1720. Around that time Stephen Smith came to Haddam from West Haven. He distributed land to his four sons in 1753, this house going to Captain John Smith (1728-1808), a seafarer. His son, John Smith, Jr., was a blacksmith. According to tradition he forged the links of a chain across the Hudson River intended to interfere with British shipping during the Revolutionary War. He also shod a horse for George Washington. John Smith III was an apprentice blacksmith under his brother-in-law Elisha Stevens, who later founded the J & E Stevens Company in Cromwell. The house remained in the Smith family until 1899. In the mid- 20th century the property was home to Joseph and Mae Harrington from New York who grew strawberries and grapes that were sold at Rozniaks in Higganum. Joseph Harrington was the author of the Lieutenant Kerrigan mystery series. The house is unusual in Connecticut for having a large cellar fireplace. The property also has a barn dating to 1725-1730 and a creamery shed that was connected to the house in 1978 to become a library.