Lillibridge Farmhouse // c.1770

Getting lost in New England is always fun because you can simply stumbleupon old farmhouses like this, which look like a setting of a movie! Located in northern Willington, CT, this farmhouse dates to the Revolutionary War! David Lillibridge (1744-1831) of Exeter, Rhode Island, served from 15 to 17 in the French and Indian War, and manned Fort Stanwix. In 1767, he was militia lieutenant, at the age of 25 converted, and entered the Baptist ministry. In 1777, he purchased a farm (unclear if there was a house on the land) from a Moses Holmes in modern day Willington and resided in this old saltbox Georgian home. The home remained in the Lillibridge family at least until the 1870s, when it was owned by Burnham Lillibridge. The house was moved from its previous location right on the street, and set back into the bucolic landscape, a fitting move!

Orrin Holt House // c.1840

Located on Tolland Turnpike in Willington, east of the Town Common, this temple-front Greek Revival home stands in an excellent state of preservation. The home was built for General Orrin Hatch (1792-1855) in about 1840 after his work as a member of the Connecticut State House of Representatives 1830–1832, and in the Connecticut Senate in 1835 and 1836. He was re-elected as a Democrat to the Twenty-fifth Congress, serving until 1839. After leaving Congress, he served as Inspector General of the Connecticut State Militia, until his death in 1855. He likely built this home after leaving Congress in 1839, in his hometown. There is something about a temple-front home like this, they are so stately!

Daniel Glazier Tavern // 1815

The Daniel Glazier Tavern is located at the west end of the Willington Green, an area showcasing great vernacular examples of Federal and Greek Revival architecture. The tavern was apparently built by Daniel Glazier as a stop along the route connecting Norwich, CT to Springfield, MA, where visitors could grab a bite to eat and/or stay the night to rest. Daniel’s son Isaac was the first tavern-keeper, followed by Daniel’s son-in-law Arial Eldridge until his death in 1849. The ballroom of the tavern had long been used in the winter months for town meetings, as he basement of the Town Meetinghouse, used for town meetings, lacked any form of heat. Since 2009, the property has been owned by the Willington Historical Society, who have restored the building.

Old Baptist Meetinghouse, Willington // 1829

The Baptist Meetinghouse in Willington was built in 1829 by a local carpenter Albert Sharp, in a transitional Federal/Greek Revival style, common for the period. Its clapboarded facade has a projecting pavilion with two entrances flanking a two-story round-arched window. Four pilasters are surmounted by a wide entablature and the flushboarded pediment of the pavilion. Round-arched windows are repeated on the side elevations and the belfry, which is topped by an octagonal drum and a small dome. The Willington Baptist Church was organized in 1828, started by Rev. Hubbell Loomis, the fourth pastor of the Congregational Church across the common. Rev. Loomis was prominent both as a minister and an educator, and founder of Shurtleff College of Illinois. During his pastorate at the Willington Congregational Church, Mr. Loomis had strong tendencies toward Baptist sentiments. From this, membership of the congregational church split, some leaving for a new Baptist belief and others remained at the congregational church. The two congregations were split until 1911, when they again worshiped under the same roof, as the Federated Church of Willington, meeting in this building.

Old Willington Congregational Church // 1876

The Congregational or Town Church of Willington, Connecticut, has existed since the town’s incorporation in 1728, but originally met in a member’s small home on the Town Green. The Victorian Gothic style church we see today was built in 1876, after members gathered funds to construct the building. Land, materials, and labor were donated to offset costs for the small congregation. The church flourished until a split in the beliefs led to the formation of the Baptist Church of Willington. Eventually, the Congregational Church merged with the Willington Baptist Church in 1911 to form The Federated Church of Willington. The congregation then moved to the Baptist meeting house across the Green. In 1924, the Old Congregational meeting house, which was erected in 1877, was sold for $1 to the Town of Willington with certain restrictions, the most important of which was that, if it should cease to be used for public meetings under the control of the selectmen, possession would revert to the Congregational Ecclesiastical Society. From 1926-1974, the church was used as town hall (when the smaller building next door was outgrown. The church’s bell was removed during World War II to allow plane-spotters to use the tower. Instead of being placed back in the tower, it was mounted on a pedestal outside the building, where it remains today. The Willington Town Offices moved to a former industrial building a short distance away, but retain and maintain the building.

Deacon Turner House // 1849

The Deacon Turner House, built in 1849, is an impressive Greek Revival house located at the Town Common in Willington, Connecticut. The Greek Revival portion was constructed onto an earlier house or store that was built 50 years prior. The one-story structure was likely moved and incorporated into the current house as a rear ell. The present house was designed by architect Augustus Treusdel of Coventry and built for Deacon John Turner by Emery Williams a well known local builder. John Turner was Deacon of the Willington Congregational Church, nearby.

Hiram Rider House // c.1820

Located on the southern edge of Willington Connecticut’s town common, this vernacular example of the Federal style with later alterations is really appealing, mostly for its simplicity and proportions. The house was built around 1820 for Hiran Rider, who served as a judge, county sheriff, and town selectman. The Rider Family were hit by tragedy in 1851 when dysentery hit the household, killing Hiram, his wife Sarah, and their daughter. The home was altered by a later owner with 2-over-2 windows, an Italianate style door, and a door hood.

William Shaffer House // c.1835

This Greek Revival cottage appears to have been built in the 1830s or 40s based on the style, and early maps list the owner as W. Shaffer. It appears that William Shaffer (1799-1892) was hired by the West Willington Glass Works, which ran a factory across the street, and he either built this home or modernized an earlier home to give it the current configuration. The West Willington Glassworks was in operation 1817-1872 and made everything from inkwells to flasks to pickle jars. The house exhibits bold pilasters at the corners and at the entry with entablatures above them. Oh and that red is just beautiful!

Willington Train Depot // 1895

TOOT TOOT! Next stop, Willington, Connecticut. Historically, all of central Connecticut was occupied by various Algonquin tribes which for thousands of years inhabited the region, the larger Pequot and Mohegan, and the smaller Nipmuck, Podunk, Shenipset and Skunkamaug all sharing a common-lineage, and language. In 1720, a party of eight men, originally from England, bought 16,000 acres of the region and called it Wellington after the town in England. Willington was incorporated in 1727. Like many early towns, Willington began as a farming community with modest industry until the 19th century, when the American Industrial Revolution saw mills and factories sprouting up all along the river towns in the region. Villages spouted up in town, mostly following their geographic location in relation to the town center (South Willington, West Willington, etc.) and each had their own industry and character. By the 20th century with industry in decline, many of the former mills and villages closed up and residents moved to “greener pastures”. The town is today mostly rural and serves as a suburb to larger towns nearby.

This train depot is located in West Willington just over the town line of Tolland. Due to this, the depot was originally named Tolland Station. Rail service began here in 1850, when the New London, Willimantic and Palmer Railroad Company built a freight and passenger station near this location. The rail line was later absorbed into the larger Central Vermont Railway in 1871. The original depot burned down in 1894, and was replaced that same year by this structure. The line, and this station, were in use for passenger service until 1947, when it closed. The depot has luckily been occupied by businesses ever-since, preserving this building typology in America that we are losing every year.

“Brookmeade” // 1756

Built by Benjamin Dyer for his son Thomas in 1756, this mansion is believed to be the oldest extant house in Canton, Connecticut. The most famous resident of the house was William Edgar Simonds (1842-1903) who married Sarah Jane Mills, a descendant of Dyer. Simonds was a prominent patent attorney who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroics at the Civil War battle of Irish Bend, Louisiana. After his military service, he attended Yale University, was admitted to the bar and commenced the practice of law in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1883 and 1885, he was a member of the Connecticut State Legislature. In 1889, he was elected as a Republican to the 51st US Congress served until 1891 and was a United States Commissioner of Patents (1891-93). He died at age 60 in Hartford, Connecticut.