The house at 264 Court Street in Middletown was built in 1873-1874 on land that had once been part of the Russell Estate. The house was built by John and Maria Haskell and remained in the Haskell family until 1921. John Haskell was a partner in Willard & Haskell, a company that dealt in lumber and manufactured sash, blinds and doors. From 1921 to 1933, the house was owned by Mary T. Vinal and then by Sebastian Pappalardo. Since 1958, the house has been owned by Wesleyan University and used as faculty housing.
The house at 324 Washington Street in Middletown was built around 1835. Transitional in style between the Federal and Greek Revival, the house was probably built by Henry Aston. The History of Middlesex County (1884) states that, “H. Aston & Co., pistol factory, in the employ of the United States, have fifty hands, and make six thousand pistols a year, worth $35,000.” The house remained in the Aston family until 1942 and is now owned by Wesleyan University (pdf).
The Chi Psi fraternity established a chapter at Wesleyan in 1844. Their new fraternity house, built in 1904, was designed in the Colonial Revival style by Raymond F. Almirall, of Brooklyn, NY. It was destroyed in a fire in 1912 and was replaced by a new building, completed in 1927. Wesleyan acquired the property in the 1970s and it continued as a fraternity house until the University converted it into a residence hall around 2002. According to the University, “200 Church Street was established as housing for students who wish to build a safe, self-affirming, energetic, and close-knit community that focuses on social justice and diversity.”
When Wesleyan University was founded in 1831, it took over a campus on which two buildings, North College and South College, had already been built in 1825. They were originally constructed by the City of Middletown for use by Captain Partridge’s American Literary, Scientific and Military Academy. In 1829, after the Connecticut legislature declined it a charter to grant college degrees, Capt. Alden Partridge moved his Academy to Rutland, Vermont. The Academy later became Norwich University and the Middletown buildings were acquired by Wesleyan. The book, Norwich University, 1819-1911, Vol. I (1911), provides the following description of South College (originally called the Lyceum) and North College (called the Barracks):
These buildings were constructed of brown sandstone from the quarries in Portland. The “Barracks” was four stories high, 150 feet long and 52 feet wide, with a large attic and basement. Halls extended the full length of the building. The “Lyceum” was located 20 feet south of the Barracks, was three stories high, with a basement partly above the ground. At the front of the building was a tower 14×16 feet and 73 feet high. The basement floor was used for an arsenal and laboratory and the first and second floors for class rooms; the third floor called the “Hall of the Lyceum” was used as a chapel, drill room, and for public services.
The original North College was destroyed in a fire in 1906, but South College survived, being converted into offices that same year. The cupola and the belfry, which contains the Wesleyan Carillon, was designed by Henry Bacon and was added in 1916.
At 202 Washington Street in Middletown is a house that has gone through a number of stylistic changes over two centuries. Known as the Wetmore-Weeks or Alsop-Weeks House, it was built around 1780 by Chauncey Whittlesey, wealthy merchant and supporter of the American Revolution. The house was later owned by Charles R. Alsop, developer of the now rare Alsop Pocket percussion revolver. Alsop, who also served as mayor of Middletown (1843-1846) and state senator (1855), made alterations to the house around 1840, remodeling the Georgian-style building in the then-popular Gothic Revival style. Later in the nineteenth century, the Atwater family remodeled the interior of the house in the neo-Federal style. They sold it to Frank B. Weeks, who had just served as governor of Connecticut from 1909 to 1911. After his term, Weeks became a trustee of Wesleyan and bequeathed the house to the University at his death in 1935. The house has since been a student residence. A rear addition was constructed in 1966.
The Eclectic Society was established as a fraternity at Wesleyan University in Middletown in 1837, later adopting the Greek letters Phi Nu Theta. The Society‘s first permanent house, which did not have residential accommodations, was built 1882. In 1906, the Society hired architect Henry Bacon to design a Doric Greek revival structure at 200 High Street. Bacon had previously worked for the architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White and would go on to design the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC and to make preliminary sketches for Wesleyan’s Olin library. Completed in 1907, the Eclectic building is seen as a precursor to the Lincoln Memorial, both having a Doric design but lacking the typical accompanying pediment. In 1970, there was a split between undergraduate and alumni members: ties were severed and the alumni organization, the Socratic Literary Society, incorporated a century before, was dissolved. The undergraduates abandoned the use of Greek letters, elected women to membership and sold the house to the University.
One of Wesleyan University‘s most impressive buildings is Fisk Hall, built in 1904. Named for Willbur Fisk, Wesleyan’s first president, Fisk Hall was designed by Cady, Berg and See of New York in the Romanesque style and is constucted of Portland brownstone. On February 21, 1969, Fisk Hall was the location of a takover by African-American students challenging the University’s administration. In addition to classrooms and offices, Fisk Hall housed the campus store and post office from 1974 to 1984. Today, it contains most of Wesleyan’s foreign language departments.