Built circa 1882 (or 1876?) and designed by Henry Austin & Son, the house at 612 Chapel Street in New Haven was the residence of Herrick Frost. As described in Volume 2 of A Modern History of New Haven and Eastern New Haven County (1918), Herrick Payne Frost
in 1856 made his home in New Haven, where after several experiments in various enterprises, in 1858 he formed a partnership with Julius Tyler, Jr., establishing the wholesale grocery house of Tyler & Frost, on State street. This business Mr. Frost prosecuted with great energy and varied success for nearly twenty years, the partnership being dissolved in 1876, at about the time the telephone was just coming into public notice.
Inspired by Alexander Graham Bell’s demonstration of his new invention–the telephone–at Skiff’s Opera House in New Haven on April 27, 1877, Civil War veteran and telegraph man George W. Coy created an experimental switchboard. He won a Bell telephone franchise for New Haven and Middlesex counties and received financial backing from Herrick Frost and Walter Lewis, superintendent of the New Haven Clock Company. Establishing the District Telephone Company of New Haven, the partners opened the world’s first telephone exchange in January 1878 with 21 subscribers.
Again according to A Modern History of New Haven and Eastern New Haven County:
The new enterprise attracted general attention, and in less than three months after its inauguration it had one hundred and fifty subscribers, and within a year over four hundred. Mr. Frost and his partner were thus instrumental in giving to New Haven the credit of leading the world in this important line. By 1880 capital had become interested in the further development of the system, and the New Haven Telephone Company was merged into the Connecticut Telephone Company, with the late Marshall Jewell, of Hartford, as president, and Hon. Charles L. Mitchell and Morris F. Tyler as directors. This company in 1884 underwent another change, becoming the Southern New England Telephone Company, with a capital of one and a half million dollars. Through the foresight, energy and ability of Mr. Frost, to whom was committed the general management of this great and growing corporation, the lines of the company were carried into nearly every town, hamlet and school district, within the territory in which they operated, and until a very few years ago there was no district in the world with so many telephones in use, in proportion to its population, as Connecticut.