Seaside Sanatorium – Superintendent’s Residence // 1936

The last stop we will see at the stunning Seaside Sanatorium campus in Waterford, Connecticut is the former Superintendent’s Residence. Built in 1936, the home is elegantly sited at the waterfront, which would have provided amazing views for the man in charge of running Seaside, the Tuberculosis hospital for children here. Like the Maher Building, Nurse’s Residence, and Duplex Residence previously featured, this building was designed in the Tudor Revival style and is also credited as a work of architect Cass Gilbert. The Superintendent’s Residence is interesting as it has two completely different facades. The campus-facing facade features an L-shape with a garage wing and projecting entry pavilion in stone. Above, a diamond-pane window would allow natural light into what may be the stairhall. At the waterfront, a large open porch (since boarded up) and large windows at the first floor, would provide natural light and air into the building, along with amazing views of Long Island Sound. Additionally, a catslide roof extends from the rightmost bay and covers a recessed porch with basketweave brickwork above. I would for sure live here, could you?

Waterfront Facade

First Baptist Church, Waterford // 1848

Founded in 1710, when Waterford was still part of New London, the Baptist Church was one of the dominant institutions in the historical development of the Jordan Village, which became the historic population center of town. The fact that Jordan Village in Waterford sprang up around a Baptist and not a Congregational church gives it an unusual religious significance in the state. The Baptist denomination was introduced to Connecticut from Rhode Island in 1705. The separation from the City of New London, which was organized around the locally supported Congregational church, was due in large part to the differences between the the formal, structured, Congregationalists and the evangelical Baptist farmers. In 1848, when this church in Jordan Village was built, many residents followed the architectural vocabulary and built Greek Revival homes nearby, creating a large development boom in the new town center. The church remains today as an active member of the community.

New London Harbor Light // 1801

In 1760, the colonial legislature of Connecticut passed an act creating a committee to pursue the funding, construction, and staffing of a new lighthouse for the harbor entrance at New London. The following year, thousands of lottery tickets were sold to raise £500 for the lighthouse (a popular method of raising funds for construction projects in those days). The lighthouse, a sixty-four-foot-tall stone tower with a wooden lantern at the top, was finished that same year at the west side of the harbor entrance. By 1799, issues began to pile-up, including a crack in the structure compromised the integrity of the tower, compounded by the fact the light was so dim as to often be indistinguishable from the lights of the surrounding homes. These challenges led the charge for a new lighthouse. Congress allocated $15,700 for a replacement lighthouse on May 7, 1800, and New Londoner, Abisha Woodward began construction on the current octagonal, tapered, eighty-foot-tall tower. The present light was completed the next year and is constructed of smooth-hammered freestone which are lined with brick inside. The current gable-roofed, two-and-a-half-story keeper’s residence was built in 1863, and in 1900 it was expanded to provide quarters for the assistant keeper and their families. Today, the keeper’s house is privately owned and the light tower is owned by the New London Maritime Society, who offer tours of the light on occasion.

John W. Loomis House // 1740

This stunning home on Main Street in Suffield, CT was apparently built in 1740. By the 1840s, it was purchased by John Wells Loomis, and altered to fit the then-fashionable Greek Revival style, replacing the center chimney with two chimneys, adding pilasters and a Greek Revival entry. John Loomis was the head of the Loomis family which made a fortune in the tobacco industry in Suffield, rolling and shipping products as far away as California. Before his death, John Loomis built his son George a house nearby, knowing that his son would carry on the business, which he did until a couple years after his father’s death when he sold the business and moved to New Haven.

First Church of Christ, Suffield // 1869

Located adjacent to the Town Common, the First Church of Christ in Suffield showcases the grandiose architecture seen in many churches after the Civil War in New England. This brick edifice is the fifth in the history of the church which dates back to around 1680. The church was designed by local architect John C. Mead, who designed many churches in the region. The church is a blending of Italianate and Romanesque Revival styles and originally featured a tall spire and secondary tower. In 1938, the New England Hurricane destroyed the tall spire (a similar event occurred to many New England Churches, including Old North in Boston). Even without the steeple, the church remains as a great architectural treasure in town.

Moses Rowe House // 1767

One of the older homes on Main Street in Suffield CT, the Moses Rowe House was built in 1767 and exemplifies the architectural history of town. The house was constructed as a two-story Georgian home with minimal detailing, as the family home of Moses Rowe (1733-1799), his wife, and nine children. According to historical maps of the area, the home appears to have been purchased by Horace Sheldon, who in the 1830s modified the home in the Greek Revival style, increasing the height of the home, adding side porches and the entablature at the roofline.

Suffield Academy-Fuller Hall // 1873

The Connecticut Literary Institute opened in Suffield, CT, with Baptist roots with the goal to educate young men for the ministry. Later rebranding as Suffield Academy, the school was the only high school in town, so it received tax revenue from the town to allow boys outside the Baptist faith to study there. Later, with changing views of women’s right to education, the school allowed women into the school in 1843. Forty years later, the school constructed this building, then known as the ‘Women’s Building’ just next door to the 1854 Memorial Hall. The Second Empire style academic building was heavily modified in 1953, just like its counterpart next door in the Colonial Revival style, adding a cupola and removing the stunning mansard roof.

Henry P. Kent House // 1871

Located on South Main Street in Suffield, Connecticut, this stunning Second Empire mansion showcases the tobacco wealth seen in the town in the mid-to-late 19th century. In 1810, a Cuban man who seemingly drifted into town, was hired by a local farmer to grow tobacco and roll cigars for sale. Decades later, dozens of farmers in Suffield erected tobacco barns and cultivated tobacco to be rolled in cigars and sold. One of the first to box the cigars as a pack for shipping and sale was Henry Phelps Kent (1803-1887). Kent’s business did very well and he eventually hired local architect John C. Mead to design a mansion to display his success in business. The large Second Empire mansion features flush-board siding, full length porch, and a projecting mansarded tower with convex roof. The home was later owned by Samuel R. Spencer, a politician who served as a Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut, the first as a blind man. The home is now operated as a bed & breakfast “Spencer on Main”.

Prudence Crandall House // 1805

While this ca. 1805 Georgian estate was built for Elisha Payne, a businessman and later well-known politician around New England. In 1831, the home was acquired by Prudence Crandall (1803-1890) who both lived in and ran an all-girls school out of the large mansion. Originally serving as a teacher for Canterbury’s wealthy families, she eventually hired Sarah Harris a Black woman, who had lived nearby and wished to become a teacher herself. Local white parents were outraged, urging Crandall to expel Harris. She refused. When white parents withdrew their children, Crandall transformed her boarding school into one for African American girls. That, too, met with hostility from local white men who feared that it would draw more African Americans into their community and would lead to interracial marriage.

Admission to the new boarding school rose to 24 in the first few years. Both Crandall as well as her students endured harassment; shopkeepers refused to sell them food, the building was pelted with stones and eggs, and, in January 1934, the townspeople unsuccessfully attempted to set the school on fire. When Crandall continued undaunted, the Canterbury legislature passed its 1833 “Black Law” (repealed in 1838), making it illegal to run a school teaching African American students from a state other than Connecticut. Crandall was arrested and jailed. Her first trial ended in a hung jury; the second trial resulted in her conviction, which was overturned by a higher court. On the night of September 9, 1834, an angry mob broke most of the school’s windows and smashed furniture. Fearing for her students’ safety, Crandall finally closed the school.

Prudence later married Calvin Philleo, a Baptist minister and abolitionist and they moved to Illinois. After she left Connecticut, and after the American Civil War, Connecticut Legislature and Windham County voted in favor of Black education and black suffrage, eventually sending Prudence a pension for her work while she lived in the state. As a white woman of wealth, Prudence Crandall broke all norms and gender barriers to provide what all would say is a basic human right, education to all. She believed that black girls were worthy of decent education, and she risked her life to provide it. The former school building and home is operated today as the Prudence Crandall Museum.