Hawley Armory on the campus of the University of Connecticut in Storrs was built in 1914-1915 for the school’s military department, but its gymnasium and drill hall also served as the location for numerous athletic and social activities over the years. The Armory was named for Willis N. Hawley, a student at what was then called the Storrs Agricultural College. A first lieutenant of the cadet company on campus, he joined the army after graduating in 1898, but before he could fight in the Spanish-American War, he died of typhoid fever at the Red Cross Hospital in Philadelphia. As noted by President George W. Flint in the Annual Report of the Trustees of the Storrs Agricultural College (1899):
When the war with Spain was imminent, and the President of the United States issued his call for volunteers, five students of Storrs Agricultural College responded to the call, and were found to be well qualified for official positions. Of these, First Sergeant Willis N. Hawley was taken sick at Camp Meade, and died in the hospital at Philadelphia, November 19, 1898. When the State shall erect its library building at Storrs Agricultural College, we trust that some memorial will find a place in that structure to show the State’s appreciation of those who are willing to die for her honor, and for the freedom of an oppressed people.
Mention of the Armory and athletics at the College in general is made by Charles A. Wheeler in the Biennial Report (1917):
As chairman of the Athletic Advisory Board from its inception and now of the Athletic Council, which continues the work of the former organization, I think it fitting to mention our greatly increased facilities for athletic work, and the marked improvement in our standing among colleges. The Hawley Armory gives facilities for every student to exercise, and provision for athletic teams in the way of shower baths and dressing room with lockers. Our quartermile track has been re-surfaced with rock screenings and the opportunities for track-work increased. Our main interest in athletics has centered about football, basketball, and baseball. The support of athletics rests upon the student body, the faculty, and such alumni and others as attend the games. Football costs about $800. a year, basketball $300. and baseball $600. The past two years have been a transition period for us in athletics from the high and preparatory school group to the college group. We are now playing college and university teams, and, though victories for us are scarce, we have as a rule made a creditable showing in each game and have the respect of our adversaries. It seems to me that the past two years have shown 100% improvement in athletics. Looking back over a period of thirty years as student and teacher in college, I believe the interest of students in athletics has been a helpful influence in college life, and that our armory and gymnasium, is our most useful college building.
At 1332 Storrs Road, on the campus of the University of Connecticut, is a colonial house that has served as student housing and is now UCONN’s Veterans House. The house was built c. 1757 and was the home of Cordial Storrs. This is most likely the Cordial Storrs (1692-1782) described in The Storrs Family (1886), by Charles Storrs:
Cordial Storrs of Mansfield, Conn., third son and ninth child of Samuel Storrs of Sutton-cum-Lound, Nottinghamshire, England, Barnstable, Mass., and Mansfield, Conn., was born in Barnstable, Mass., Oct. 14, 1692, and came with his father to Mansfield, Conn., in or about 1698. He married Hannah, daughter of Thomas Wood of Rowley, Mass. [They had four children]
Mrs. Hannah Wood Storrs died March 18, 1764. There is a tradition that she joined the Separatists and was disciplined by the church, but there is nothing in regard to this on the church records. The Separatist movement followed the great revivals which prevailed in Windham County in 1740-41. Itinerant preachers went about producing violent excitement among the people, decrying the old religious worship, and organizing new churches.
Cordial Storrs married, Oct. 10, 1765, Mrs. Catharine Bicknell, widow of (Capt.) Zachr. Bicknell of Ashford, Conn. He was sixty-seven [actually closer to 73] years of age at the time of this second marriage, and he seems to have contracted it with great care as to financial matters.
The farm and home of Cordial Storrs were in the North Parish. At the first church meeting of the Congregational church in that Parish, he was chosen deacon “by a very unanimous vote;” an office which he held until his death at the advanced age of ninety years, Oct. 1782.
His son Cordial [born 1728] died, unmarried, in 1755, at the age of twenty-seven, and with him the male line of this branch of the family became extinct. [Their son Jabez died in 1826]
Albert Gurdon Gulley Hall at the University of Connecticut was built in 1908 as the Horticulture Building (aka Horticultural Hall) at a time when the school was called the Connecticut Agricultural College. It was the second masonry building to be erected on the campus. The first floor once contained a classroom, a laboratory and offices. The second floor had a lab and a large room for the Museum of Natural History. The basement contained spray apparatus for plant cultivation. Next to the building there was also once a greenhouse. The Horticultre Building was later named for Albert Gurdon Gulley (1848-1917), who was a professor of horticulture at the college from 1894 until his death. Since the 1960s, the building has housed University administrative offices, including those of the President and the Provost.
The design for the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington was chosen in 1964 after an architectural competition. The winning design, by Vincent G. Kling and Associates of Philadelphia, features a circular main complex, with a central courtyard, shaped like an elongated S-curve. Construction began in 1966 on the academic wing and in 1969 on the John Dempsey Hospital. Additions to the massive structure were made in 1994 and the complete Health Center campus currently consists of 35 buildings. The building has many examples of public art within. A bill passed last year provides for the construction of a new patient bed tower. Funding has been an issue, though, for the Health Center in recent years.
The last of Connecticut’s active lighthouses to be built was the Avery Point Light, which today is located on the University of Connecticut’s Avery Point campus. The lighthouse was built in 1943 as a memorial to all other lighthouses and lighthouse keepers. It was not lit until 1944, owing to fears of enemy invasion by sea during World War II. At time it was built, the property was used as a Coast Guard training facility and the light remained an active aid to navigation until the Coast Guard moved to a new location in 1967. Left abandoned, there were concerns that the light would be torn down, especially after UCONN declared it a safety hazard in 1997. In response, the Avery Point Lighthouse Society was formed to restore and relight the tower. In 2001, the old wooden lantern was removed, to be replaced by a newly crafted replica, lowered into place in 2005. Part of the restoration involved the building of a memorial brick walkway, with inscribed bricks that had been sold to raise donations for the restoration. Work on the tower itself was begun in 2003 and the official relighting and rededication ceremonies took place in 2006. There is a webcam view of Avery Point.
Morton Freeman Plant, son of the railroad and steamboat magnate Henry Bradley Plant, was a very wealthy businessman who was also known to live a playboy lifestyle He built the mansion known as Branford House on Avery Point in Groton. Instead of building his expensive summer home in Newport, Plant, who had a great interest in agriculture, chose the less crowded Groton, where there was greater space to build extensive gardens, greenhouses and farms. The 31-room Tudor Revival mansion was built in 1903 and named Branford House, after the town where Plant had been born. It was designed by Plant’s wife, Nellie, with English architect Robert W. Gibson carrying out her plans. The granite used in the construction was quarried from the surrounding grounds. After Plant died in 1918, the estate passed to his son and then his daughter-in-law. The house was eventually sold at auction in 1939 and later became the property of the United States Coast Guard, with the house being used as offices and quarters for the families of the station’s commanding and executive officers. Much of the grounds were bulldozed during this period and the adjacent Avery Point Lighthouse was built in 1942. In the 1960s, the Coast Guard station moved and the land reverted to the State. It was then given to the University of Connecticut and is now UCONN’s Avery Point branch campus. The mansion was refurbished in 2001 and is available for rental.
The Congregaional Church in Storrs began as a the Second Ecclesiastical Society of Mansfield, separating from the First Congregational Church in Mansfield Center in 1737. The first meeting house was constructed in 1745-1746 at what is now the corner of North Eagleville Road and Route 195. A later church, built in the 1840s, replaced it and can be seen in many old photos of Storrs. The church was designed by builder-architect Edwin Fitch. It was here that the Second Commencement for the Storrs Agricultural School (which became the University of Connecticut) was held in 1883. That church was replaced by the current brick church, built in 1927. This church was built at the same location as its predecessors, in what was then the center of the campus. At the same time, UCONN purchased the Dunham Memorial Carillon and, not having a suitable tower to place it in, installed it in the church.