Connecticut Hall, New Haven, Connecticut (2)

Connecticut Hall, seen from across the quadrangle on the Old Campus of Yale University, around 1901-1905. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2018:

As discussed in an earlier post, Connecticut Hall was among the earliest buildings to be constructed on the Yale campus. It was completed in 1752, and it originally featured a Georgian-style design that was modeled after Massachusetts Hall at Harvard. At the time, there were only a few buildings here at Yale, so Connecticut Hall served many different purposes in its early years. There was space for a dining room, library, recitation hall, chapel, and dormitory rooms, and the ground floor also housed the buttery, where students could purchase beer, tobacco, and other products not available in the dining hall.

Over the years, as Yale steadily expanded, Connecticut Hall was joined by a group of similar buildings that all stood in a line parallel to College Street. Collectively known as the Old Brick Row, these buildings alternated between long dormitories and shorter academic buildings. Connecticut Hall eventually became exclusively a dormitory, and was known as South Middle College. In the midst of this expansion, Connecticut Hall was altered around the turn of the 19th century, and the original gambrel roof was replaced with a peaked roof, as seen in the first photo.

The Old Brick Row was at the center of Yale for much of the 19th century, but by 1870 the school had adopted a new plan that called for new Gothic-style buildings along the perimeter of the campus, with a large open quadrangle in the middle, where the Old Brick Row stood. The buildings around the quadrangle were largely completed by the mid-1890s, and demolition of the old buildings began around the same time. By the turn of the 20th century, only three remained, and two of these – North College and the Lyceum – would be demolished in 1901. This left South Middle College as the sole survivor of the Old Brick Row, and at this point it was almost entirely walled in behind modern buildings, including Welch Hall on the left, Osborn Hall in the distant center, and Vanderbilt Hall on the right side of the first photo.

The old building was nearly demolished, but this threat sparked an outcry in favor of its preservation. As a result, it was instead renovated, soon after the first photo was taken. The most noticeable change on the exterior was the reconstruction of the gambrel roof, and the building was renamed Connecticut Hall. It would continue to be used as a dormitory throughout the first half of the 20th century, but it underwent another major renovation in 1952-1954, when the interior was gutted and converted into office space. Today, the building still stands, and it currently houses the offices of the Department of Philosophy. Now over 250 years old, it is the oldest surviving building on the Yale campus, along with being one of the oldest college buildings in the United States.

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.

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.

Connecticut Hall, New Haven, Connecticut

Connecticut Hall on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, around 1905-1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2018:

This area has been part of the Yale University campus since 1718, when the school’s first permanent building in New Haven was constructed just to the south of where this photo was taken. It was named College Hall, and during the early years it was the school’s only building. However, as Yale grew, the campus came to include other buildings, including Connecticut Hall, which was completed in 1752. It received its name because it was built using funds provided by the colony of Connecticut, and its Georgian-style architecture was based on the 1720 Massachusetts Hall at Harvard University.

Connecticut Hall originally served many different purposes, and included space for a dining room, library, recitation hall, and a chapel, in addition to dormitory rooms. The southeast corner of the building, seen closest to the foreground in this view, also housed the campus buttery, where students could purchase such necessities as cider, beer, sugar, pipes, tobacco, books, and fresh fruit. Over time, as new buildings were constructed on the campus, Connecticut Hall eventually became exclusively a dormitory, although the buttery remained here for many years, serving as a popular gathering place for Yale students until it finally closed in 1817.

By the turn of the 19th century, Connecticut Hall had been joined by several other brick buildings, including the First Chapel and Union Hall to the south of it, and the Lyceum and Berkeley Hall to the north. Around this time, Connecticut Hall itself was altered to match architectural tastes of the era. The original gambrel roof was removed, and it was replaced by a gabled roof that matched the other buildings. Two more buildings were added in the early 1820s, with the completion of North College and the Second Chapel, giving the school a total of seven buildings in a line running parallel to College Street. Several of the building names were changed by this point, including Union Hall, which became South College; Berkeley Hall, which became North Middle College; and Connecticut Hall, which became South Middle College. Collectively, this group came to be known as the Old Brick Row, and it was a defining feature of the Yale campus throughout most of the 19th century.

Throughout its many years as a dormitory, Connecticut Hall housed a number of notable Yale students. These included Revolutionary War hero Nathan Hale; dictionary publisher Noah Webster; inventor Eli Whitney; U. S. Senators Jeremiah Mason and Simeon Olcott; diplomats Joel Barlow, David Humphreys, and Silas Deane; prominent pastors Lyman Beecher, Horace Bushnell, Manasseh Cutler, and Nathanael Emmons; poet Edward Rowland Sill; and novelist James Fenimore Cooper. With the exceptions of Bushnell and Sill, all of these men attended Yale during the late 18th or early 19th centuries, and likely would have spent a significant amount of time here at the buttery in the corner of the building.

Starting in 1870, the school began shifting toward a new campus plan. Rather than the Old Brick Row, which had been set back from College Street, the new plan called for buildings along the perimeter of the campus, with an open quadrangle in the center. The Old Brick Row stood in the midst of this planned quadrangle, and its comparatively modest Federal-style buildings stood in sharp contrast to the far more ornate Gothic-style buildings that were rising around them. Demolition began in 1893, when South College and the Atheneum – formerly known as the First Chapel – gave way to Vanderbilt Hall. Four more buildings would be demolished between 1896 and 1901, leaving only Connecticut Hall, which was then known as Old South Middle.

Connecticut Hall had been the first of the Old Brick Row to be built, and it ultimately outlasted all of the other buildings that followed it. However, it too was slated for demolition at the turn of the 20th century, but this proposal sparked a significant outcry, particularly among older alumni who lamented the impending loss of the only remaining vestige of the school’s distant past. Professor Henry W. Farnam – who was himself a Yale graduate as well – was quoted in the Kansas City Star in 1903, praising its humble architectural style and remarking that “It is the one building which the wealth of the multi-millionaire cannot duplicate. Not only is South Middle our one example of colonial architecture, but it is the only example of a recognized architectural style owned by the college. I do not disparage the beautiful new and costly modern buildings, but they are not originals. They are necessarily copies.”

In an early example of historic preservation, the building was spared demolition. It was restored to its colonial-era appearance, and it was also renamed Connecticut Hall, after having been named South Middle College for about a century. This work included rebuilding the gambrel roof, and the project was completed in 1905, not long before the first photo was taken. As a result, Connecticut Hall became quite an anomaly here on the Old Campus, as the only Georgian-style building in the midst of an otherwise entirely Gothic quadrangle. However, as Farnham had noted, it was the only original example of a historic architectural style here, since all of the other buildings were imitations of medieval-era Gothic buildings. Ironically, though, Connecticut Hall would inspire a copy of its own in 1925, when the nearly identical Colonial Revival-style McClellan Hall was built just to the west of it, in order to provide some degree of symmetry in the quadrangle.

Connecticut Hall would undergo another major renovation from 1952 to 1954. The interior was completely gutted and rebuilt, and it was converted from a dormitory into academic use. Today, it is used as offices for the Department of Philosophy. However, the exterior has remained essentially unchanged since the 1905 renovations, as these two photos demonstrate. It still stands as the oldest building on the Yale campus, predating the next oldest building by nearly a century, and in 1965 it was designated as a National Historic Landmark.

Old Brick Row, New Haven, Connecticut

The Old Brick Row on the Yale campus, seen from the corner of College and Chapel Streets in New Haven, in 1863. Image from Yale University Views (1894).

The scene in 2018:

Today, much of the Yale campus consists of ornate Gothic-style buildings that were constructed during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, prior to this time the campus consisted of a group of brick Federal-style buildings that ran parallel to College Street from the corner of Chapel Street. Collectively known as the Old Brick Row, these were built between 1752 and 1824, and they formed the heart of Yale University until the late 19th century, when the old buildings were steadily replaced by more modern ones. Only one building, Connecticut Hall, still survives from the Old Brick Row, although it is now surrounded by newer buildings and is hidden from view in the present-day scene.

The site of the Old Brick Row, now known as the Old Campus, was also the site of the first Yale building in New Haven, which was named the College House. It was completed in 1718, two years after the school moved to New Haven, and was located in the foreground at the corner of College and Chapel Streets. During the early years, it was the only building on campus, but it was later joined by other buildings, including Connecticut Hall, a dormitory that was completed in 1752 and was, in later years, known as South Middle College. Then, in 1763, the First Chapel – later known as the Atheneum – was built to the south of Connecticut Hall. College House was demolished in 1782, but the other two buildings were still standing when the first photo was taken in 1863, with the First Chapel second from the right, and Connecticut Hall just to the right of it.

Following the demolition of the College House, Yale decided upon a campus plan that would involve new buildings to the south of the First Chapel and to the north of Connecticut Hall. This is regarded as the first such campus plan at any college in the country, and it consisted of a single row of buildings that alternated between long dormitories and smaller buildings that were topped with steeples. As part of this plan, Union Hall – later called South College – was built near where the College House had stood, on the far left side of the first photo. This was followed at the turn of the 19th century by the Lyceum, which stood immediately to the right of Connecticut Hall, and Berkeley Hall – later North Middle College – further to the right of it. The last two additions to the Old Brick Row came in the early 1820s, with the construction of North College on the extreme northern end of the row around 1821, and the Second Chapel, which was built between North Middle and North in 1824.

By the time the first photo was taken in 1863, the campus had also come to include buildings such as a library, laboratory, art gallery, and Alumni Hall, which was used as a lecture hall. The Old Brick Row continued to play a central role on the Yale campus throughout this time, but this would soon begin to change. In 1870, the school adopted a new campus plan, which called for the gradual replacement of the old buildings and the creation of a quadrangle that was surrounded by new Gothic-style buildings. This began at the northwestern corner of the block with the construction of Farnam Hall, Durfee Hall, and the Battell Chapel in the 1870s, although this did not immediately affect the Old Brick Row, which stood here for several more decades.

The first to go were South College and the Atheneum, both of which were demolished in 1893 to make way for Vanderbilt Hall, which was completed a year later. By this time, the rest of the Old Brick Row had found itself essentially surrounded by new buildings, hidden from view from the street and in the midst of a newly-formed quadrangle. These old, plain brick buildings looked increasingly out of place in the midst of the new, ornate Gothic-style brownstone buildings, and most were removed over the next few years. Both North Middle College and the Second Chapel were demolished around 1896, followed by the Lyceum and North College in 1901. South Middle College was also slated for demolition as part of the new campus plan, but it was ultimately saved, and was restored to its original Georgian-style design in 1905.

The present-day photo shows a few of the late 19th and early 20th century buildings of the Old Campus, most of which are now older than much of the Old Brick Row had been when it was demolished. In the distance on the extreme left is Vanderbilt Hall, with Bingham Hall (1928) at the corner, Welch Hall (1891) to the right of it, and Phelps Hall (1896) barely visible beyond the trees on the far right. South Middle College, which is once again known by its historic name of Connecticut Hall, is still standing in the quadrangle behind Bingham Hall, no longer visible from this angle. It is the only surviving remnant from the Old Brick Row, but in 1925 it was joined by McClellan Hall, which stands next to it on the quadrangle with a Colonial Revival design that matches Connecticut Hall and pays tribute to the long-demolished buildings of the Old Brick Row.

Old Town Hall, Enfield, Connecticut

The old town hall on Enfield Street in Enfield, around 1896. Image from The Connecticut Quarterly (1896).

The scene in 2018:

This building was completed in 1775 as the third meeting house of the Enfield Congregational Church. It was originally located on the opposite side of the street from here, and was built with a steeple, but without the Greek Revival-style portico that was later added to the front of the building. It was used by the church for more than 70 years, but by 1848 it had become too small. A new church building, which still stands across the street, was completed the following year, and the old church was preserved and moved to its current location, thanks to funding provided by local carpet manufacturer Orrin Thompson.

Following the move, the building became Enfield’s town hall. Reflecting architectural tastes of the mid-19th century, the building was renovated to include a portico at the front entrance, and the original steeple was presumably removed during the same time. The interior was also renovated, including converting the balcony into a second floor. The building was used as a town hall for much of the 19th century, until a new town hall opened in 1892.

The first photo was taken a few years later, around 1896. Following its use as the town hall, the building deteriorated for many years, but was restored in the 1920s and used as a community center for many years. However, by the 1960s it had again fallen into disrepair, and was in serious danger of demolition. It was ultimately restored again in the 1970s, by the Enfield Historical Society, and in 1981 it was opened as the Old Town Hall Museum. Today, the building still serves as a museum, along with being the headquarters of the Historical Society. It is one of the oldest surviving public buildings in the area, and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.