New Haven Green, New Haven, Connecticut (3)

Looking east on the New Haven Green, from near the corner of Temple and Chapel Streets in New Haven, around 1900-1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2018:

The first photo was taken from about the same spot – and presumably on the same day – as the one in the previous post, although this one shows the view looking toward Church Street on the eastern edge of the New Haven Green. Like the scene in the previous post, this view underwent dramatic changes within about a decade after the first photo was taken. The city saw rapid growth at the turn of the 20th century, with the population more than doubling between 1880 and 1910, and this helped to spur several major redevelopment projects that replaced older buildings here along the Green.

Beginning on the left side of the first photo is City Hall, an ornate High Victorian Gothic-style building that was completed in 1861. To the right of it, at the corner of Court Street, was a three-story building that housed Heublein’s Cafe. This restaurant was owned by Gilbert Heublein, a prominent food and beverage distributor who later built the Heublein Tower in Simsbury. Further to the right, in the center of the photo, was the Tontine Hotel, which was built in 1828, and on the far right side was the former Third Congregational Church. Built in 1856, it served as a church until 1884, when its congregation merged with the United Church. In 1890, it became the home of the New Haven Free Public Library, and it was used until the current library building opened in 1911.

The most significant change to this scene came soon after the first photo was taken. In the early 1910s, both the Tontine Hotel and the former Third Congregational Church were demolished to make way for two new buildings. On the left side, the Tontine Hotel was replaced with a new post office and federal courthouse, which was constructed between 1913 and 1919. Just to the right of it, the site of the church became the Second National Bank of New Haven, with an eight-story building that was completed in 1913. Today, both of these are still standing, but the only surviving buildings from the first photo are City Hall on the far left, and the Exchange Building, which is partially visible on the extreme right side of both photos.

New Haven Green, New Haven, Connecticut (2)

Looking northeast on the New Haven Green, from near the corner of Temple and Chapel Streets in New Haven, around 1900-1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2018:

The New Haven Green has served as the political, commercial, social, and cultural center of New Haven since 1638, when it was established as one of the first town commons in the English colonies. Just out of view to the left are three historic churches that stand on the Green, and behind them was the site of New Haven’s old state house and, further to the left, the Old Campus of Yale University. On the far right, also just out of view, is City Hall, which is located on the east side of the Green. The south side of the Green, located directly behind the photographer, was the site of several major department stores in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

This particular scene faces the north side of the Green, which is bounded by Elm Street. This section of Elm Street was once known as Quality Row, because of the many elegant mansions that lined the street opposite the Green. Three of these are visible in the first photo, in the center of the scene just to the left of the flagpole. Probably the most significant of these was the light-colored home in the center. This elegant Federal-style mansion was built in the late 1810s, and was the work of noted architect David Hoadley. The original owner was Nathan Smith, a lawyer and politician who later went on to serve in the U. S. Senate.

All three of these houses were demolished within about a decade after the first photo was taken. As New Haven grew, the previously residential area on the north side of the Green was eyed as the site of several different public buildings. The first of these was the main branch of the New Haven Public Library, which was built between 1908 and 1911 on the left side of the scene, at the corner of Elm and Temple Streets. This was followed in 1914 by the New Haven County Courthouse, which stands on the right side of the block at the corner of Elm and Church Streets. Today, these two buildings are now more than a century old, and they still stand on the north side of the Green as two important architectural and historic landmarks in downtown New Haven.

State House, New Haven, Connecticut (2)

The Connecticut State House on the New Haven Green, viewed from the southwest around 1875. Image courtesy of the New York Public Library.

The scene in 2018:

As discussed in an earlier post, Connecticut at one time had two capital cities, with legislative sessions alternating between Hartford and New Haven. Each city had its own capitol building, and over the years New Haven had several different ones that were all located on the Green. The last of these, which is shown in the first photo, was completed in 1831. It featured a Greek Revival design, with columned porticoes on both the north and south ends of the building, and it was the work of Ithiel Town, a noted architect who was also responsible for the nearby Center Church and Trinity Church.

The dual capital arrangement lasted until the 1870s, when it became clear that the state no longer needed two capital cities that were just 35 miles apart. Both Hartford and New Haven wanted to become the sole capital, but the decision was left to the voters of Connecticut, who chose Hartford in a statewide referendum. The New Haven State House was used for the last time in 1874, and starting the following year the legislature met exclusively in Hartford’s Old State House. A new state house, located in Bushnell Park in Hartford, was completed in 1878, and it has remained in use ever since.

In the meantime, the now-vacant state house here in New Haven was the subject of several redevelopment plans, including preserving the it and turning it into a library. However, the fate of the building polarized many New Haven residents, with some admiring it for its architectural and historical significance, while others saw it as a daily reminder of the city’s defeat in the race for the state capital. Notwithstanding an 1887 referendum, in which city voters appropriated $30,000 to restore the building, the city council chose to demolish it two years later instead. This portion of the Green has remained undeveloped ever since, and today the only surviving remnant from the first photo is the iron fence in the foreground.

Nicholas Callahan House, New Haven, Connecticut

The house at at 175 Elm Street in New Haven, around 1935-1942. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library, WPA Architectural Survey Collection.

The building in 2018:

This house was built sometime between 1762 and 1776, was one of the many upscale homes that were built along Elm Street on the north side of the New Haven Green. It was originally owned by Nicholas Callahan, a loyalist who used the house as a meeting place for like-minded individuals during the American Revolution. Known as the Tory Tavern, it was eventually confiscated by the town in 1781, near the end of the Revolution.

In the years that followed, the house was owned by the Mix family, and then by physicians Dr. Nathan B. Ives and Dr. William H. Carmalt. Then, in 1911, it was sold to the Elihu, one of the many secret societies at Yale. Founded in 1903 and named after the school’s namesake, Elihu Yale, the society was significantly newer than some of the more established ones, such as the Skull and Bones. However, theacquisition of this house gave the Elihu a meeting hall that was substantially older than those of the other societies, and it is nearly as old as the oldest surviving building on the Yale campus.

By the time the first photo was taken, the old house had been expanded far beyond its original size, and had several major additions to the rear. It was also flanked by newer, larger buildings, with the First Methodist Church on the left and Hendrie Hall on the right. Today, though, remarkably little has changed in this scene, about 80 years after the first photo was taken. All three of these buildings are still standing, and the house continues to be used by the Elihu.

Hendrie Hall, New Haven, Connecticut

Hendrie Hall, on Elm Street between Temple and College Streets in New Haven, around 1910-1915. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The building in 2018:

Built in 1894 and expanded in 1900, Hendrie Hall was originally the home of Yale Law School. The school had previously been located a few blocks away, on the third floor of the New Haven County Courthouse, but by the early 1890s the school was looking to build a permanent facility on the Yale campus. This became a reality in large part thanks to contributions from John William Hendrie, a Yale graduate and wealthy California real estate magnate who gave a total of $65,000 toward the construction of the building. As a result, the building was named in his honor.

The Yale Law School remained here for nearly 40 years, and during this time its faculty included William Howard Taft. He became a law professor here at the end of his presidency in 1913, and he held the position until 1921, when he was appointed chief justice of the United States. Notable graduates who attended law school here in this building included U. S. Attorney General Herbert Brownell Jr. (1927), Senators Raymond E. Baldwin (1921), Estes Kefauver (1927), Augustine Lonergan (1902),and Brien McMahon (1927), Supreme Court justice Sherman Minton (1916), Philippines president Jose P. Laurel (1920), and a number of other prominent politicians, judges, and attorneys.

In 1931, the school left this building and moved to its current location in the Sterling Law Building. However, Yale has put Hendrie Hall to other uses over the years, and it is currently used by the Yale School of Music. Not much has changed in its exterior appearance since the first photo was taken a century ago, but it recently underwent major interior renovations, which were completed in 2017.

John Pierpont House, New Haven, Connecticut

The house at 149 Elm Street in New Haven, around 1935-1942. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library, WPA Architectural Survey Collection.

The house in 2018:

This house was built in 1767 as the home of John Pierpont and his newlywed wife, Sarah Beers. However, the property itself had been in the family for nearly a century, having been acquired in 1685 by Pierpont’s grandfather, James Pierpont, who was a prominent pastor and co-founder of Yale. John was about 27 and Sarah was about 23 when they were married, and they went on to raise nine children here, although four died young. Their surviving children included their oldest, Hezekiah, who later changed the spelling of his surname to Pierrepont and became a prominent merchant and real estate developer in Brooklyn.

John Pierpont died in 1805, but Sarah outlived him by 30 years and remained here until her death in 1835 at the age of 90. Her daughter, Mary Foster, then inherited the house, and her children subsequently owned it until 1900, more than 130 years after their grandfather had built the house. The property was then sold to Anson Phelps Stokes, the secretary of Yale University. He was the son of the prominent New York merchant and banker of the same name, but unlike his millionaire father he entered the field of education instead of business. He expanded the house with a large addition, and he lived here throughout his time as secretary, until he resigned the position in 1921 after being passed over for the role of university president.

That same year, Phelps sold the property to Yale, which used the house as a space for social functions. By the time the first photo was taken in the late 1930s or early 1940s, it was known as the Faculty Club, and the building later housed the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Other additions came during Yale’s ownership, including the wing on the left side, which was added sometime after the first photo was taken. However, the historic house is still standing today, as one of the oldest surviving buildings in New Haven, and it now serves as the Yale University Visitor Center.