In 1762, Martin Kellogg, 22, whose his great-grandfather was one of the first settlers of Norwalk, bought a 110-acre apple farm for himself and his wife, Mercy Benedict of Danbury. It is likely he built his home at that time. By 1812, Kellogg owned 500 acres in New Fairfield, land that would be annexed into Brookfield in the 1960s. The couple had five children in the home – Ira, Hanford, Polly, Rachel, Abigail and Mercy Maria. Five generations of Kelloggs would eventually live in their colonial house. When Martin died in 1824, the home was willed to his eldest surviving son, Ira. It is probable that when Ira inherited the home, he modernized it with the federal fanlight above the front door. The present owner purchased the home in 1970 and has preserved the home in all of its Colonial glory!
Brookfield Village Store // 1867
Significant as the last extant commercial building in the quaint Brookfield Village, this 1867 structure gives us a glimpse into village life in the latter half of the 19th century. The structure was constructed by Henry Smith Peck (1834-1884), who also constructed a home for his new family next door. Within a year of the store opening, Peck was joined by a partner and they opened Peck & Somers, a general store for the village, which sold local wares as well as imported goods. As is the history of many towns, in the 1960s, 100 years after the store was built, a developer purchased the building in order to demolish it for a “modern store”. The townspeople spoke out against the proposal, saving this charming building! The building is now occupied by a local real estate company.
Barzillai B. Kellogg House // 1845
This stunning Greek Revival house was built in 1845 for Barzillai Bulkley Kellogg (yes, it is possibly the coolest name ever) on a peninsula jutting out into Candlewood Lake, the largest lake in the state of Connecticut. The lake was created in the 1920s, destroying homes and flooding land, but providing recreational opportunities and desirable house lots along the new shore line, perfect for New Yorkers who began moving out to the suburbs at the time. Luckily, this home was spared, due to its location on high ground. Barzillai B. Kellogg (1818-1882) worked in town as a school teacher at one of the district schoolhouses, but his connections and business sensibilities forced him to become more involved with the economy. He later owned a brickyard and operated a farm on his land, and likely built his home with bricks manufactured at his plant, providing a sort of advertisement to their quality. He was later involved in banking. This home is especially interesting as it features the cubic form and shallow/flat roof seen in Italianate homes, but has a colonnade porch supported by Ionic columns and a bold entablature under the eaves of the building, punctured by attic windows.
Baldwin-Geleg House // c.1810
This perfect country home was built around 1810, likely for Eli Baldwin (1782-1832) and sits in the Iron Works Village of Brookfield, CT. Eli and his wife Lucy had 10 children at the home before Eli died at just 52 years old. Lucy lived at the home until the family sold the house and she moved into the home of one of her children. In the early 20th century, the property was purchased by Andrew Gereg, who immigrated to Connecticut from Hungary. It remained in the Geleg family until the 1980s. The story is one of the “American Dream” where today, it seems less attainable as 90% of the children born in 1940 ended up in higher ranks of the income distribution than their parents, only 40% of those born in 1980 have done so. This is paired with the limiting of immigration into the country compared to the early 20th century, a symptom of xenophobia, which has impacted immigrants here for centuries. Anyways, here is a well-preserved, historic house!
Brookfield Theatre // 1907
The Curtis School for Boys was founded in 1875 in Bethlehem, Connecticut by Frederick S. Curtis as a private school for young men aged 9-13. Curtis moved the school to Brookfield Center in 1883 and began constructing a campus. Buildings for the 30 pupils and five instructors included a dormitory, President’s residence, schoolhouse, caretaker’s cottage, and gymnasium on 50 acres. The school never expanded beyond a few dozen students, likely under Frederick Curtis’ supervision. The school closed in 1943, at the onset of America’s involvement in WWII, and it never re-opened. The campus sat in the village center for over a decade, with many of the buildings falling to the wrecking ball for safety reasons. Possibly the only building remaining is the 1907 gymnasium, constructed of rubblestone. The building was purchased by the Brookfield Country Players in 1959 and remodeled as a community theater. The theater group was founded two years prior, and it required its own theater space after a school complained about an actor appearing on stage without a shirt, the horror! The group remains a regional institution in the arts and is a great caretaker of their historic Arts and Crafts style building.
Hubbell-Lacey Homestead // c.1750
Remaining of the oldest extant homes in Brookfield, this Georgian home has stood for almost 275 years, and looks much like it did when first built! The home was constructed around 1750 for Peter Hubbell, one of the earliest colonial settlers of the Parish of Newbury, renamed Brookfield in 1778, when the town was officially incorporated. The Hubbell Homestead is an excellent vernacular Georgian home with a central chimney and stunning board-and-batten front door with small transom above. Peter Hubbell moved to newly established Iron Works Village along the Still River in the Newbury Parish, likely for business interests. The property sold numerous times until it was sold to Dr. Noah Lacey, a town doctor who later served as a State Representative and as a member of the Connecticut Constitutional Convention in 1818. By the 1930s, the home was owned by an Alice Bennett, and that year, she was said to have had a friend living at the home, a Miss Edna Ferber. In 1930, Edna Ferber wrote her novel “American Beauty” which took place in the fictional town of Oakes Field, which has too many resemblances to Brookfield to be coincidental. Hopefully the rumors are true about her writing this book (which is a great read even today) in this home!
Brookfield Craft Center // 1832
In 1832, William D. Meeker of Brookfield purchased a c.1780 gristmill on the banks of the Still River, which ran through the agricultural town. He immediately invested in it, rebuilding the structure upon the original foundations, but as a four-story building. Meeker must have hired engineers to create a system to transfer water power from the basement water wheel up four stories. The mill was later sold to a Gregory Knapp in town. Knapp died in 1868 and his properties (including the mill) went to his widow Angeline, who became a very wealthy, and eligible, bachelorette. She remarried not long after. Fast-forward to 1952, the grist mill was occupied by the Brookfield Craft Center, which is recognized as one of the finest professional schools for creative study in America, dedicated to teaching traditional and contemporary craft skills, and fostering the appreciation of fine craftsmanship. Gotta love adaptive reuse cases like this!
Merwin-Hill House // c.1779
This Georgian home in Brookfield, CT was built around 1779 for Isaac Merwin (1742-1810), his wife, and their thirteen children. The symmetrical two-story saltbox home showcases that high-style residences were built in even remote towns all over New England, especially after the Revolution. After Isaac’s death in 1810, the property went to his son Erastus who resided there until his death in 1869. The home changed hands a couple more times until the 20th century when it was occupied by Mabel Wood Hill of New York, as her country retreat. Ms. Hill, who gave the country house the name “Wood Hill Farm”, was a Brooklyn-born composer, who wrote music scores for Leopold Stokowski, who apparently visited this home often. Mabel also was a founder of the Brooklyn Music School, the New York Music School Settlement, and the Hudson River Music School. Her Irish-Scottish ancestry helped her become an authority in the bagpipe, which she also taught.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church // 1937
Historically significant as the third home of the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brookfield, Connecticut, this building is also architecturally important as an exceptional Gothic Revival place of worship. The second church of St. Paul’s burned on Valentine’s Day 1936, and the church soon after sought to rebuilt, but with fireproof construction. Members of the church were said to have gathered stones from stone walls nearby, as the town developed, with farmland making way for suburban housing. Bridgeport architect Frederick H. Beckwith furnished plans for the Gothic Revival edifice, which apparently took inspiration from a church in Dorset, England.
John Peck House // 1812
Located in Brookfield, Connecticut, the John Peck House (1812) is one of many examples of Colonial farmhouses you can find in small New England towns. The home was built for John Peck (1759-1839), the son of Deacon Henry Peck, a pioneer settler of the town. The home has long held ties to the Congregational church in town, and for some years, was the parsonage of the church. The stunning barn was constructed around 1881 for the property, and is very well preserved to this day with its cross gambrel roof and hay door. The Federal style home appears to have been modernized in the early 20th century with a Colonial Revival entry porch roof and new windows on the facade.