Versailles United Methodist Church // 1876

After the Civil War, the Village of Versailles’ Congregational Church was seeing less attendance and its deathknell was a fire which destroyed the building in 1870. That next year, a vote was taken by members of the Congregational Church as to a preference for their denomination. A majority voted for Methodist Episcopal and asked the New England Conference to appoint a Pastor for the new church. Funds were gathered and this church was opened in 1876, in the Italianate and Victorian Gothic styles. The building sits upon a raised brick foundation with small windows on the facade. In 1887, the Versailles church was linked with Baltic and Greenville (Norwich) the following year.

Versailles School // 1924

While Baltic has long been the dense population center of the Town of Sprague, Connecticut, the Village of Versailles has also had ties to industry and growth. The village was originally named Eagleville but was renamed sometime in the late 19th century. The village is located along the Shetucket River and has had industry, which was slower to grow than neighboring Baltic. The village had a wood-frame school building, which was consumed by fire in the early 20th century. In 1924, this substantial “fire-proof” school was built just at the time the Town of Sprague was consolidating schools, in the three main population centers: Baltic, Hanover and Versailles. The schools were consolidated again and this building was sold in the mid-1950s. It was later a Masonic Lodge and is now a commercial use, occupied by Dark Manor, Inc., a haunted house company.

Academy of the Holy Family // 1914

Built adjacent to and just a few years after the St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church in Baltic (last post), the Academy of the Holy Family stands as a high-style Colonial Revival building in the town. The building stands four full floors with a raised basement and attic story, and is symmetrical in its design. A large fan-light transom and stone trimmings add much depth to the buildings large massing. The structure was built in 1914, and has housed the Academy of the Holy Family, a private, Roman-Catholic all-girls prep school, which is still active today.

St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church // 1911

One of the grandest and high-style buildings in Sprague’s Baltic Village is the St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church. As Irish, French- Canadians and Poles settled in the village of Baltic, they formed a substantial Catholic community. This congregation was founded by 1860 and a modest church building was erected at that time. As the town’s Catholic population grew, the Archdiocese decided to fund a new church building. This Romanesque Revival style building was constructed in 1911 and it must have made a big statement when it was completed. The building is one of the most unique church designs that I have seen in Connecticut.

Baltic Mill Warehouse // c.1890

Situated along the Shetucket River in Sprague, Connecticut, lies the remains of what was once the nation’s largest textile mill. At its peak, over 1,000 employees operated 1,750 looms and 70,000 spindles to produce some of the country’s finest cotton. The Baltic Mill (as it became known) not only helped reshape Connecticut’s economic and cultural landscape, but its geographic one as well, giving rise to the founding of an entirely new village. The Baltic Mill did very well until the economic Panic of 1873 set in, decimating the company’s finances. The mill was forced to scale back their operations. Then, in 1877, a fire destroyed the interior of the mill, bringing an end to the complex for decades. At the turn of the 20th century, a businessman from Pawtucket, Rhode Island, named Frederick Sayles purchased the property with an eye toward revitalizing the local textile industry. He founded the Baltic Mills Company and set about making extensive repairs and upgrades to the property, including this c.1890 storage building for materials and finished textiles. Unfortunately for Sayles, the New England textile industry had already begun to decline and it wasn’t long before the company’s depleted finances forced Sayles to sell off much of its assets. The company did survive long enough to produce uniforms, parachutes, and life rafts for soldiers in World War II, but the mill’s operations ultimately came to a halt in 1966. The large 19th century mill would eventually be demolished, but this old Warehouse (a fraction of the size of the mill) is one of the last industrial pieces of the former sprawling complex and is now occupied by local businesses.

Cote Block // c.1910

The population of Sprague, Connecticut nearly doubled between 1900 and 1910 from 1,300 to 2,500. As a result, the town needed a new town hall and commercial buildings to service the new residents. A member of the Cote Family in Sprague took this as a good opportunity to erect this three-story mixed-use building on Main Street, renting out space for retail, a confectioner, and a clubhouse with residences above. The building is constructed of concrete block, a building material that surged in popularity after concrete block machines allowed these blocks to be manufactured quickly off molds of uniform style and dimension. The building also features inset center and corner porches off the street and a projecting cornice. The storefronts have since been enclosed, but the building remains one of the finest in town (even with its original windows!)

Sprague Former Town Hall and Fire Station // 1911

At the turn of the 20th century, the town of Sprague (including Baltic Village), had 1,300 residents. Just ten years later, in 1910, the population doubled, largely due to Frederick Sayles‘ purchase of the Sprague Mill and re-investment in the village’s housing and buildings. The need for new town offices and a fire station was evident, and this building in the village was constructed in 1911 to serve both needs. The old Town Hall and Fire Station is a late example of Romanesque Revival style architecture with the arched windows at the second floor and in the dormer. The space was outgrown again and the town offices relocated to a Modern building down the street after WWII.

Giddings Homestead // c.1800

This old gambrel-roofed home sits on the beginning of Pautipaug Hill Road just outside the industrial village of Baltic, in Sprague, Connecticut. The house’s history is a little unclear, but it shows up on historic maps as being owned by W. Giddings. This appears to have been Walter Giddings (1788-1854). Walter may have built or inherited this property from his father Nathaniel, who died in 1809. Walter married Laura Lucretia Fillmore in 1811 and they had four children. Laura died in 1827 at just 37 years old and Walter remarried within a year to Lydia Lathrop Ladd. The property remained in the Giddings Family at least into the second half of the 19th century. It was later “Victorianized” with two-over-two windows, side and front porches, and a octagonal bay window. The home has been suffering from deferred maintenance for over 15 years (as far back as Google maps goes) and was listed for sale, so here’s to hoping this old beauty survives!

Sprague Grist Mill – Sprague Public Library // c.1875

The town of Sprague, Connecticut was incorporated in 1861, with the land formed from portions of the town of Franklin. A few years earlier, in 1856, former Rhode Island Governor and U.S. Senator William Sprague III of Rhode Island had laid out plans to build “the largest mill on the Western Continent” in eastern Connecticut, only to die later that year. His nephews William and Amasa Sprague constructed the Baltic Cotton Mill in what was to become the village of Baltic, which is today the geographic and population center of the town of Sprague. The village of Baltic developed largely between the years 1857-1861, when the Sprague brothers developed the mill, commercial buildings, and workforce housing for the employees. In 1870, 804 men, 396 women, and 210 children worked in the Baltic mill. This building was constructed after the initial period of development for the town in about 1875 as a grist mill. It is now home to the town’s library!

Smith’s Corner Store // c.1865

One of the largest and most stunning buildings in the town of Franklin, Connecticut is this Italianate style structure along the Hartford-Norwich Turnpike. The building appears to have been built soon after the conclusion of the American Civil War by brothers John Owen Smith (1819-1896) and Prentice Orrin Smith (1817-1898) who possibly operated the building as a tavern or inn along the route between Hartford and Norwich. The three-story, five-bay facade structure featured round arched windows at the top floor, a raised belvedere at the roof, bracketed cornice with overhanging eaves, and later storefronts at the facade. The building is occupied today by Victorian House, a furniture store.