The mansion at 301 High Street in Middletown was built in 1838-1840 by Richard Alsop IV, son of the poet, Richard Alsop III. Sometimes attributed to architect Ithiel Town (the house resembles Town’s house in New Haven), it was probably designed by Platt and Benne of New Haven. The exterior and interior of the house are noted for their decorative trompe l’oeil murals (wall paintings). Alsop, a successful merchant and banker who lived in Philadelphia, built the house for his twice-widowed mother, Maria Pomeroy Alsop Dana, and it remained in the Alsop family until 1948, when it was purchased by Wesleyan University with funds given by Harriet and George W. Davison. The Davisons commissioned renovations of the house, completed in 1952 and directed by architect Arthur Loomis Harmon of Shreve, Lamb and Harmon Associates of New York. Since 1952, the house has been home to the Davison Arts Center.
Built around 1880, the Italianate house at 167-169 High Street in Middletown was occupied by the Hart and Root families before it became a residence for faculty of Wesleyan University. At various times it has housed a dining club, faculty apartments, departmental and administrative offices, the Wesleyan Argus and, most recently, the Shapiro Creative Writing Center and various offices at #167 and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life at #169. The tower on the building’s northwest corner was once a story taller.
The former residence at 208 High Street in Middletown was built sometime between 1859 and 1870. Its original appearance was in a different architectural style. It was a cross gabled building with projecting eaves and a Victorian porch. A one-story wing (later raised to two stories) was added to the rear in 1876. The brick house was built on a tract of land developed by Israel Bailey and was a rental property until 1892, when Jennie A. Bailey Sibley and her husband, Howard A. Sibley, acquired title to the property from other heirs of Israel Bailey. The house was altered early in the twentieth century when the current entrance porch and a classical pediment and cornice with modillions were added. The Sibleys occupied the house until 1920. The following year, it was acquired by Wesleyan University for use as housing. It is now Wesleyan’s Office of Public Safety.
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.