One of the most stunning homes (in my opinion) in the state of Connecticut is the David Kinne House in Plainfield. Located at the end of Old Black Hill Road, the massive Georgian home features two-story pilasters, a hipped roof with a monitor, and a gorgeous Palladian window over the south-facing entrance. The home was built atop Black Hill, so called as it was apparently often burned by Indian tribes nearby. When David Kinne (1736-1808) sought to develop the land for his home, he planted a double row of maple trees along a mile stretch of the road, with the suggestion the name be changed to Green Hill, it never took.
Lemuel Cleveland House // 1871
One of the most grand homes in Plainfield, CT is the Lemuel Cleveland House on Norwich Road. The Second Empire style home was built for Lemuel Woodward Cleveland (1841-1919), an heir to an Ohio real estate fortune. Lemuel’s great-uncle was apparently one of the original settlers of Cincinnati. Lemuel and his wife lived at the home until their deaths.
The home is a high-style Second Empire masterpiece with flush-board front facade, triptych of round arched windows set within a deeply recessed central opening, and a concave mansard roof. The symmetrical facade and amazing attention to detail (paired with owners who clearly appreciate the architecture of their home) make the property one of the best examples of the style in the region.
Arnold Fenner Mansion // 1855
Considered to be one of the best-preserved Italian Villas in the state of Connecticut, the Fenner Mansion on Main Street in Plainfield, CT, is a head-turner! The home was built for Arnold Fenner (1794-1871), a mill-owner in Plainfield, who lived in sight of his business. The Italian Villa with the characteristic box-like form, flat roof, veranda, belvedere, arched shapes, and bay windows; the plethora of brackets, quoins, canopies, balustrades, and jigsaw scalloped decoration epitomizes the Victorian taste for abundant architectural detail at the time.
First Congregational Church of Plainfield // 1816
Located on Norwich Road in Plainfield, the First Congregational Church of Plainfield stands as one of the oldest extant buildings in Connecticut designed by Ithiel Town (1784-1844), one of the premier architects at the time. The building served as a new meetinghouse (the former was blown down in the Great Gale of 1815) was paid for by a combination of a publicly sanctioned lottery, private subscriptions, and a town-wide tax. Citizens donated not only money but labor, timber, teams of horses or oxen, and stones from their farms. When it was built, it was a secular public building as well as a church, and even after the State Constitution of 1818 disestablished Congregationalism, public meetings continued to be held here.
The Federal period Church features a prominent projecting gabled temple front supported by four columns, and a multistage tower with steeple. The rustic stone construction adds much intrigue to the street. Large wooden quoins frame the three symmetrical entrances with round-arch windows above. The building has been home to the First Congregational Church of Plainfield since a separate town hall was constructed in the 1870s in town.
Wauregan Mills Company Store // 1875
Located a block away from the Wauregan Mill, and surrounded by worker’s housing built by the Wauregan Mill Company, the former company store remains as a later remnant of the once bustling Wauregan Mill community. Built in 1875, this Italianate building was constructed as a store and public meeting space for the workers of the mill, many of whom were parts of larger families from Europe. The company store enabled workers to buy fresh food and milk that were produced in the company farm north of the village. On the top floor, a large ballroom allowed for larger events and religious meetings before the local church was built. The building was later occupied by the Connecticut Mop Manufacturing Company.
Wauregan Mill // 1853
Located in the Wauregan Village of Plainfield, Connecticut, this massive mill complex is a lasting memory of a neighborhood which once thrived. Like hundreds of mill villages all over New England after WWII, the mill and surrounding neighborhood saw decline with the shift from manufacturing to service jobs paired with the globalization of the U.S economy.
Wauregan, which means “Pleasant Valley” in Mohegan (a native tribe in the area), began in about 1850 when Amos D. Lockwood, bought water privileges and land on the east side of the Quinebaug River in present day Plainville. The Wauregan Mills Company became well-known for their specialty cotton goods, with an emphasis on cotton flannel sheeting. The first mill building was constructed in 1853 of local stone and comprised of a singular four-story building. Within five years, Lockwood sold the mill and the surrounding land for much more than he invested to James S. Atwood, who sought to develop a “model hamlet” around the mill building which would allow factory employees to live and shop near their work.
Worker housing in the village included 104 company-owned buildings containing 255 tenement apartments for rental to workers, plus two boarding houses for unmarried female workers. A railroad station was built in 1859 and a post office was established in 1860. Atwood also expanded the mill at this time and constructed a near-identical structure behind the old building and a small connector between.
On August 1955, torrential rains from Hurricanes Connie and Diane caused many dams along the Quinebaug River to break, including the one at Wauregan. The mill was flooded to the level of the first floor ceilings. Workers tried to salvage as much cloth, raw materials and machinery as they could but ultimately the company lost more than $1,500,000. In 1957, James Arthur Atwood III, grandson of James S. Atwood, and the rest of the company directors decided to cease all operations resulting in the company’s final closing. The building remains vacant to this day.