Atwater Homestead (1774)

Friday, January 12th, 2018 Posted in Colonial, Houses, Wallingford | No Comments »

The house at 242 Christian Street in Wallingford was built in 1774 by Caleb Atwater (1741–1832), a wealthy merchant who supplied the patriot forces during the American Revolution. It was located on the Atwater property, which was in the family for many generations. There is a secret passage behind the chimney inside the house, which was possibly a station on the Underground Railroad. The Atwood family property, which became known as Rosemary Farm, was later the childhood home and summer residence of Caleb Atwater’s granddaughter, Mary Lyman Atwater. She married Judge William G. Choate. In 1890, Mary Choate founded a school for girls at Rosemary Farm called Rosemary Hall. The school initially utilized another Atwater family home, no longer extant, that was built in 1758. Soon other houses in the vicinity were rented for the growing school. William Choate also founded the Choate School for boys in 1896. The two schools were neighbors, but remained separate entities. Mary wold host dances for students of both schools at the 1774 homestead. Rosemary Hall moved to Greenwich in 1900, but would move back to Wallingford in 1971 and merge with Choate in 1974. Choate had acquired the Atwater Homestead from Hunt Atwater, a nephew of Mary Atwater Choate in 1933 and it has served as a dormitory since 1936. The school undertook a major restoration of the building, known as Homestead, in 2006.

John Randall House (1685)

Thursday, August 24th, 2017 Posted in Colonial, Houses, North Stonington | 2 Comments »

Off Route 2 in North Stonington is a colonial house that is hidden from the highway down a long driveway (address: 41 Norwich-Westerly Road). Its earliest section dates back to c. 1685, with the main block reaching its present configuration c. 1720. Named for John Randall, it was the homestead of the Randall family. John Randall I (1629-1684), who had settled in Westerly, Rhode Island, purchased the land in 1680 and his son, John Randall II (1666-1720) built the house. His son, Capt. John Randall III (1701-1761) added to the family holdings. Later descendant Darius H. Randall (born 1823) was an abolitionist and his home was a stop on the Underground Railroad. The house, acquired by Harvey Perry in 1926, was restored about 1930 by Norman Isham, an early preservationist and co-author, with Albert Brown, of Early Connecticut Houses (1900).

William and Lucinda Clark bought the property in 1986 and the following year opened called Randall’s Ordinary Landmark Inn and Restaurant, where eighteenth-century style open hearth meals were prepared and served by staff dressed in period clothing. The property was acquired by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe in 1995 and the restaurant continued in operation until 2006. In 2015, the property was purchased by Carla and Rodolfo Bartolucci, owners of Euro-USA Trading Co. Inc., makers of organic foods under the name Jovial. Last year they opened a new company headquarters facility on the property and they plan to rehabilitate the house and other buildings on the grounds as a restored inn and restaurant.

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Washband Tavern (1714)

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016 Posted in Colonial, Oxford, Taverns & Inns | No Comments »


In 1714, John Twitchell (c. 1699-1739) built a small one-story with attic dwelling at what is now 90 Oxford Road in Oxford. Around 1741 the Washband (or Washburn) family purchased the property and enlarged the house to serve as a tavern. In 1784, coinciding with the opening of the Oxford Turnpike, the family enlarged the building again, adding what amounted to a new house attached to the old one. The Washband family operated the tavern for several generations. Before the Civil War, the tavern was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Hiding places are said to exist in the cellar. The former tavern is now home to Daoud & Associates.

Henry K. Terry House (1850)

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013 Posted in Greek Revival, Houses, Plymouth | 1 Comment »

Henry Terry House

The Henry K. Terry House, at 14 North Street in Plymouth, is a Greek Revival house with a particularly broad entablature. Henry K. Terry was a grandson of clockmaker Eli Terry. Later owned by the Taylor family, the house was a station on the Underground Railroad and had tunnel leading from the cellar to an outbuilding. The house has a later Colonial Revival front porch.

Timothy Wadsworth House (1829)

Friday, August 23rd, 2013 Posted in Farmington, Greek Revival, Houses | No Comments »

Timothy Wadsworth House

The will of Eliphalet Wadsworth, who died in 1823, deeded his land in Farmington to his relative Timothy Wadsworth, but also gave life use of the property to his widow Mary. In 1829, Timothy Wadsworth replaced the original eighteenth-century (1795?) house with a new Greek Revival one. Here he lived with his wife Mary until he died in 1841. She continued to reside there until she passed away in 1862. Their children sold the property in 1865. According to tradition, the house was a station on the Underground Railroad. In helping fugitive slaves, the Wadsworth’s made use of the passenger boats on the Farmington Canal, which ran through their property behind their house. The Timothy Wadsworth House, which is located at 340 Main Street in Farmington, is now used for offices, having been renovated and expanded for that purpose, construction being completed in 2008.

Smith-Cowles House (1769)

Saturday, May 11th, 2013 Posted in Colonial, Farmington, Houses | No Comments »

27 Main Street, Farmington

The house at 27 Main Street in Farmington was built for Samuel Smith in 1769. It was later the home of Horace Cowles (1782-1841) and his wife Mary Ann (1784-1837). In the years before the Civil War, they were stationmasters on the Underground Railroad who his fugitive slaves in their home. One day they had to go out and they left their young daughter, Mary Ann (1826-1899), in charge. She sat at the front door all day long and refused to let anyone enter, including a slave catcher from the South who had to leave empty handed. One of the three Mende girls from the Amistad stayed with the Cowles family when the captives from that ship were staying in Farmington. After Cowles died, his son, Samuel Smith Cowles inherited the house and continued his father’s work aiding fugitive slaves. He also edited an anti-slavery newspaper, The Charter Oak. Samuel Smith Cowles also became Treasurer of the Farmington Savings Bank.

John Treadwell Norton House (1832)

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013 Posted in Colonial Revival, Farmington, Houses | No Comments »

John Treadwell Norton House

Born in Farmington in 1795, John Treadwell Norton (d. 1869) became successful in the hardware business in Albany, New York. Treadwelll, who had been a surveyor and engineer for the Erie Canal, returned to Farnmington to construct a feeder canal that would supply water to the Farmington Canal from the Farmington River in Unionville. On land inherited in 1824 from his grandfather, he built a Georgian-style mansion at 11 Mountain Spring Road in Farmington in 1832, where he lived as a gentleman farmer. The house of his grandfather, John Treadwell (1745-1823), who served as Governor of Connecticut, had been a station on the Underground Railroad. John Treadwell Norton was also an abolitionist. He was one of the first people to visit the Amistad captives who were confined in a jail in New Haven. He played a major role in bringing the captives to Farmington, where they lived for 8 months before returning to Africa. The property was later owned by Austin Dunham Barney and was called the Barney House. For a time, the house was a used as a conference center and bed and breakfast by the University of Connecticut. In 2001, it was sold to its current owners, who have returned to calling the house its original name of Glenbrook.