One of Connecticut’s oldest surviving houses is the Meigs-Bishop House, at 45 Wall Street in Madison. It is Madison’s second oldest house after the 1685 Deacon John Grave House. The Meigs-Bishop House was built in 1690 by Janna Meigs on land he had received from his father, Deacon John Meigs. As related in the Record of the Descendants of Vincent Meigs: Who Came from Dorsetchire, England, to America about 1635 (1901), by Henry B. Meigs:
Capt. Janna was evidently a man of education, as the importance of the many offices he filled would indicate; was deacon in the church; represented his district in the legislature of the Colony of Connecticut in 1716-’17-’18 and 1726; and was Justice of the Peace for New Haven Colony, annually from 1722 to 1733 inclusive, a position of greater importance then than now. In military life he was Captain of a Company in the Queen Ann wars.
He left the house to his son, Lt. Janna Meigs, who deeded it to his first cousin, Capt. Phineas Meigs. After serving in the Revolutionary War from 1777 to 1780, Capt. Meigs retired from the army and was named captain of the Guilford militia. On May 19, 1782, three British frigates tried to capture an American schooner that had run aground on a sand bar. Capt. Meigs set out from his Wall street home leading his men to battle British soldiers who had landed on shore. In the ensuing fight, Capt. Meigs was shot through the head. He is believed to be the last New Englander to be killed in an action against the British in the Revolutionary War. The green wool round hat he was wearing that night survives and is in the collection of the Connecticut Historical Society. It bears the entry and exit holes of the musket ball that killed Capt. Meigs.
Later owned by the Bishop family, the house has most recently been used for a succession of businesses.
The oldest surviving building in West Haven is the Ward-Heitmann House at 277 Elm Street. It may have been built as early as 1684 and was certainly on the site by 1725. The house was built by Ebenezer Clark, who sold it in 1730 to John Humphreville, who had married Clark’s sister Rebecca. The house remained in the Clark family until 1788, when it was purchased by sea captain Thomas Ward (d. 1839). It remained in the Ward family until George Ward sold it to Susan Perrin in 1861. She eventually sold it to Louisa Ward Heitmann, George Ward’s sister, in 1868. Her daughter, Henrietta Heitmann, inherited the house in 1897. She was engaged in various business ventures and also added the north wing to the house and used it as a dame school. The house passed out of the Ward-Heitmann family when Charles Elliott Pickett purchased it in 1910. In the twentieth century the house had a number of owners and for a time housed an antiques store and later a tearoom. The Milano family owned the house from 1949 to the early 1990s and left it to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which sold it to the Ward-Heitmann House Museum Foundation in 1995. The house was then restored to become a museum.
The Abraham Scranton House, a Colonial saltbox at 548 Boston Post Road in Madison, opposite the Green, may have been built in 1703, 1720 or 1750. The latter date is when it came into the Scranton family.
The saltbox house at 450 Harbor Road in Southport in Fairfield was originally built in 1715 by Samuel Bradley in East Haven. Occupied by his descendants until 1945, in 1945-1948 it was moved and reconstructed at its current address.
Nathaniel Harrison II (1692-1760) built the house at 124 Main Street in Branford in 1724. The house was once thought to have been built around 1680, at which point the land was owned by Daniel Swain, so it is listed as the Swain-Harrison House in the National Register of Historic Places. The house passed to Nathaniel Harrison III and then to his daughter Martha, who married Nicodemus Baldwin. Martha sold the house to Joseph and Lorany (Bradley) Linsley in 1800, so it is also known as the Harrison-Linsley House. The Linsleys’ daughter, Lorany Linsley Smith, lived in the house until her death in 1915 at the age of 100. The Smith family owned it until 1938, when it was acquired by the architectural historian and preservationist J. Frederick Kelly, who restored the house. Upon his death in 1947 Kelly bequeathed the house to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, now Historic New England. Under a long-term lease, the house is maintained by the Branford Historical Society as its museum and headquarters.
Col. Eliphalet Dyer (1721-1807) was one of Connecticut’s notable figures from the period of the Revolutionary War. Born in Windham, he graduated from Yale in 1740 and in 1746 became a lawyer and a Justice of the Peace. Dyer was a founder and leader of the Susquehannah Company, which focused on settling the Wyoming Valley in northeastern Pennsylvania. During the French and Indian War, Dyer was a Lt. Colonel in the militia as part of the expedition to capture Fort Crown Point from the French in 1755 and then, as a Colonel in 1758, he led a regiment in support of Amherst’s and Wolfe’s operations in Canada. Dyer served in the Connecticut legislature from 1742 to 1784 and in the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1783 (except for 1776 and 1779). Appointed to the Council of Safety in 1775, Dyer served until it was disbanded in 1783. Dyer’s daughter Amelia was married to Joseph Trumbull, who also served in the Continental Congress. A justice of Connecticut’s superior court, Eliphalet Dyer was Chief Justice from 1789 until 1793, when he retired to Windham. His home there was a colonial house (17 North Road) built circa 1705-1715.
The house at 297 Silvermine Avenue, in the Silvermine section of Norwalk, was built around 1724. The land for the house was deeded to Jacob St. John by his father Ebenezer St. John in 1722. Jacob St. John gave the property to his only son Abraham in 1765. The lean-to, which gives the house a saltbox form, was probably built when the house was originally constructed. The house also has an original fieldstone chimney.