Lyceum, New Haven, Connecticut

The Lyceum, on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, around 1901. Image taken by William Henry Jackson, courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2018:

The first photo was the work of noted photographer William Henry Jackson. Although best known for his late 19th century views of the American West, Jackson later became the president of the Detroit Publishing Company, a leading postcard company of the turn of the 20th century. During his time with the company, he continued to photograph sites around the country, including a visit to New Haven around 1901, where he took the first photo, showing the Old Campus of Yale University.

The dramatic changes at Yale during the late 19th century have been discussed in earlier blog posts, but perhaps no view better illustrates this transition than the first photo, which contrasts the old, soon-to-be-demolished Lyceum on the right, and the new Phelps Hall on the left. The Lyceum was built in 1803 as part of the Old Brick Row, a group of seven brick buildings that once comprised most of Yale. It was originally designed as a recitation hall, but it also served other functions over the years, including housing the school library from 1804 until 1824. In addition, the building received several distinguished visitors in the early 19th century, including the Marquis de Lafayette in 1824 and President Andrew Jackson in 1833.

In 1870, Yale adopted a new campus plan, which called for new buildings along the perimeter of the Old Campus, and a quadrangle in the center. The Old Brick Row stood in the middle of this proposed quadrangle, so the old buildings were steadily demolished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in order to clear the site. By the time the first photo was taken, many of these buildings were already gone, including North Middle College and the Second Chapel, which had stood in the foreground before being demolished in 1896.

The Lyceum was still standing when the first photo was taken, although the modest Federal-style building looked very out of place in a setting that was otherwise dominated by large, Gothic-style buildings. These included Phelps Hall on the left, which was completed in 1896 with a design that resembled a medieval gatehouse. To the right of Phelps Hall was Welch Hall, a dormitory that was completed in 1891, and in the distance on the far right side was Vanderbilt Hall, another dormitory that was built three years later.

The Lyceum was ultimately demolished in 1901, along with the nearby North College. This left South Middle College, which was located directly south of the Lyceum, as the only remaining building from the Old Brick Row. It too was threatened with demolition in the early 20th century, but it was ultimately preserved, undergoing a major restoration in 1905. Although hidden from view behind the Lyceum in the first photo, it is now visible on the right side of the scene in the 2018 photo. Renamed Connecticut Hall, it now stands as the oldest building on the Yale campus, and it was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1965.

Jonathan Mix House, New Haven, Connecticut

The house at 155 Elm Street in New Haven, around 1935-1942. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library, WPA Architectural Survey Collection.

The scene in 2018:

This section of Elm Street features a row of three historic houses that date back to the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Furthest in the distance, at the corner of Temple Street, is the brick Ralph Ingersoll House, which was built in 1829. To the left of it is the 1767 John Pierpont House, which is one of the oldest houses in New Haven, and closest to the foreground is the 1799 Jonathan Mix House. Together, these three homes are among the few survivors of Quality Row, a term that was once given to the many fine mansions that lined Elm Street along the northern end of the New Haven Green.

Jonathan Mix, the original owner of the house in the foreground, was a New Haven native who was born in 1753. He served in the American Revolution, and spent time as a prisoner of war on the notorious British prison ship Jersey, before returning to New Haven at the end of the war. He and his wife Anna raised a large family, with ten children who were born between 1778 and 1797, at least one of whom died young. Anna died in 1799 at the age of 40, and the following year Jonathan married his second wife, Elizabeth, with whom he had one child.

This house was evidently built around the time of his second marriage, but it does not seem clear how long Jonathan Mix actually lived here. One Mix family genealogy from 1886 indicates that he “lived in the house on Elm street . . . now occupied by Dr. Carmalt” [175 Elm Street], and that he “built the house now owned by Eli W. Blake” [here at 155 Elm Street]. This probably suggests that Mix lived at present-day 175 Elm Street until around 1799, and then moved into this house upon its completion. However, he would not remain in New Haven for much longer, because in 1808 he relocated to New York, where he died in 1817.

As mentioned in the description from the Mix genealogy, this house was later owned by Eli Whitney Blake. He was a nephew of inventor Eli Whitney, but Blake was also a noted inventor in his own right, with innovations such as a mortise lock and a stone-crushing machine. The latter was a particularly important contribution to 19th century America, because it enabled the construction of paved roads. Blake also had connections to the Mix family, which may have been how he acquired this house. His older brother, Elihu Blake, married Jonathan Mix’s youngest child, Adeline, and one of their children was William Phipps Blake, a prominent geologist who also wrote the 1886 Mix genealogy book.

The 1870 census shows Blake living here with his wife Eliza and their son George. His occupation was listed as “Inventor of the Stone Crusher,” but at the time he was also involved with Blake Brothers, a hardware manufacturing company in the New Haven neighborhood of Westville. Among their many products was an early corkscrew, which had been invented by his brother Philos. By this point, Eli was a fairly wealthy man, and the 1870 census values his real estate at $20,000, plus a personal estate of $10,000, for a net worth equivalent to about $600,000 today.

Eliza died in 1876, and Eli continued to live in this house until his death in 1886, at the age of 91. The house was subsequently owned by his daughter Mary, who lived here with her husband George Bushnell, a Congregationalist minister. He died in 1898, but Mary was still here during the 1900 census. She lived until 1916, but in 1901 she sold the property to the Graduate Club, a New Haven social club that had been founded in 1892.

The first photo was taken sometime in the late 1930s or early 1940s, as part of a WPA survey to document historic buildings across Connecticut. Not much has changed since then, and all three of these historic Elm Street homes are still standing. The other two homes are owned by Yale, but the Jonathan Mix House continues to be used as the clubhouse for the Graduate Club, although the organization was renamed the Elm City Club following a 2012 merger with the Quinnipiack Club.

Ralph Ingersoll House, New Haven, Connecticut

The house at 143 Elm Street, at the corner of Temple Street in New Haven, around 1935-1942. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library, WPA Architectural Survey Collection.

The house in 2018:

The north side of the New Haven Green was once known as Quality Row, for the many elegant homes that lined Elm Street. All of the houses along the eastern half of the Green, on the block between Temple and Church Streets, were demolished by the early 20th century, but several survive here on the western half, including this mansion. It was built in 1829 as the home of attorney and politician Ralph I. Ingersoll, and it was designed by Ithiel Town and Alexander Jackson Davis, two prominent architects of the early 20th century.

Ralph Ingersoll came from a prominent family that included his father, Jonathan Ingersoll, who served as lieutenant governor of Connecticut from 1816 to 1823. Ralph would also go on to become a leader in state politics, serving as speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives from 1824 to 1825. He then served four terms in Congress, from 1825 to 1833. At the time, Connecticut did not have separate Congressional districts, so Ingersoll and the other five representatives were elected at-large by the entire state. From 1830 to 1831, he was simultaneously the mayor of New Haven, and he was later appointed U. S. Minister to Russia, serving from 1846 to 1848. During his time as a congressman, Ingersoll also received a prominent visitor to his home in 1833, when President Andrew Jackson came here during a visit to New Haven.

Ralph Ingersoll and his wife Margaret lived here together for over 40 years, and two of their sons would also go on to have successful political careers. The oldest, Colin, was elected to two terms in the U. S. House from 1851 to 1855, and his brother Charles served as governor of Connecticut from 1873 to 1877. The 1870 census, taken two years before Ralph’s death, shows him living here along with Margaret, their daughter Grace, and three servants. His real estate holdings were valued at $57,000, along with a personal estate of $12,000, for a net worth equivalent to nearly $1.4 million today.

Charles Ingersoll inherited this house from his father, and he lived here during his time as governor. The 1900 census shows him widowed and living here with his sister Grace, his children Justine and Francis, daughter-in-law Lucy, three servants, and a nurse. He remained here until his death in 1903, and the house was subsequently owned by Ingersoll family relative Frank H. Whittemore. He was a physician, and this building served as both his house and his office. His son, E. Reed Whittemore, was also a physician, and he also practiced medicine here with his father.

In 1919, Yale University purchased the house, thanks to a gift of $100,000 from Harriet Williams in memory of her son, Earl Trumbull Williams,. He was a 1910 graduate of Yale, and went on to serve as a lieutenant in the army during World War I. However, in 1918 he was killed by a falling tree while on leave from his post at Camp Devens in Massachusetts. This house became the Earl Trumbull Williams Memorial, and it was initially used to house the Yale University Press.

The first photo was taken several decades later, in the late 1930s or early 1940s. By this point it was still occupied by Yale University Press, which would remain here until 1959. Over the years, the exterior of the house has remained well-preserved – even the two trees in front are still standing from the first photo – and it is still owned by Yale. Today, it is used for offices, and it was recently used as the temporary home of Dwight Hall, a community service organization that was located here while its building was undergoing renovations in 2017-2018.

Ives Memorial Library, New Haven, Connecticut (3)

The Ives Memorial Library on Elm Street, seen from the New Haven Green, around 1910. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library, Herbert Randall Survey of New Haven and Environs.

The library in 2018:

This is another view of the Ives Memorial Library, which is the main branch of the New Haven Free Public Library. As discussed in two previous posts here and here, the building was the work of noted architect Cass Gilbert, who designed it to complement the two historic brick churches that stand diagonally across the street from the library. The library was constructed between 1908 and 1911 at the corner of Elm and Temple Streets, and it was named in honor of Mary E. Ives, who gave nearly $400,000 to help pay for the new building.

Today, more than a century after the first photo was taken, much of the surrounding area has changed. The house that is partially visible on the right side has long since been demolished, and the New Haven County Courthouse now stands adjacent to the library. The library itself underwent a major renovation and expansion from 1987 to 1990, including a large brick addition that is partially visible on the far left in the rear of the building. However, the exterior of the original part of the library has been well-preserved over the years, with few noticeable differences between these two photos.

Ives Memorial Library, New Haven, Connecticut (2)

The Ives Memorial Library on Elm Street, seen from the New Haven Green, around 1910-1920. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library, Herbert Randall Survey of New Haven and Environs.

The library in 2018:

As discussed in a previous post, the Ives Memorial Library was completed in 1911, at the northeast corner of Elm and Temple Streets. The library had previously been located in the former Third Congregational Church building, but the old church was inadequate as a library. As a result, Mary E. Ives donated $300,000 to the city in 1906, which was soon followed by another $90,000 bequest after her death, and in 1908 construction began on the library building that would be named in her honor. It featured a Colonial Revival-style exterior that was meant to harmonize with the early 19th century churches nearby on the New Haven Green, and it was the work of prominent architect Cass Gilbert, who later went on to design the U. S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D. C.

The first photo was probably taken soon after the building’s completion. At the time, the library had a capacity of about 95,000 books, but it was designed with future expansion in mind, including an undeveloped back lot along Temple Street. The library nearly relocated in the 1970s, but the historic building was ultimately renovated instead. Starting in 1987, the library moved to temporary quarters, and the building underwent and extensive renovation, which included the addition of a large wing in the back. It reopened in 1990, and today it remains in use as the main branch of the New Haven Free Public Library, with hardly any noticeable differences between the two photos.

Church Street Houses, New Haven, Connecticut

A group of houses and other buildings on Church Street, looking north toward the corner of Elm Street in New Haven, probably around 1904. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library, Herbert Randall Survey of New Haven and Environs.

The scene in 2018:

The first photo shows a group of mid-19th century buildings that once lined the east side of Church Street, directly opposite the New Haven Green. Starting on the far right, at 179 Church Street, is a three-story building that was known as the Law Chambers. Located directly adjacent to the county courthouse, which stood just out of view to the right, this building housed offices for a number of lawyers. Their names were listed on placards on either side of the front door, and some are legible in the photo, including Frederick L. Averill, William L. Bennett, John A. Doolittle, Hobart L. Hotchkiss, and Charles F. Mitchell. These names help to provide the likely date of the first photo; according to city directories, 1904 appears to be the only year that all five of these men had offices here.

To the left of the Law Chambers, in the center of the photo, is an elegant Italianate-style home at 185 Church Street. By the turn of the 20th century, New Haven was undergoing rapid population growth, and most of the old mansions along the Green were giving way to new commercial and governmental buildings. However, this house was still standing when the first photo was taken. Based on its architecture, it was probably built sometime around the 1850s, as it features many Italianate details that were common during this era, including brackets under the eaves, quoins on the corners, and a tower with tall, narrow windows on the top floor. By the time the first photo was taken, it was the home of James English, a businessman who served for many years as president of the United Illuminating Company. The 1900 census shows him living here with his wife Clementina, along with a lodger and three servants.

Further to the left is a group of attached rowhouses. Only two are visible in the photo, but there were a total of four, which extended as far as the corner of Elm Street. The one closer to the camera was 187 Church Street, and during the 1900 census it was the home of Dr. Henry W. Ring, a physician who lived here with his wife Maud and two servants. To the left of his house was another physician, Dr. William G. Daggett, who lived in 189 Church Street and also had his medical practice there. Curiously, this house is missing the exterior wall of the top two floors in the first photo. This may have been renovation work, as later photographs suggest that the building’s facade was rebuilt at some point in the early 20th century.

Daggett, Ring, and English were all still living here on Church Street during the 1910 census, but this would soon change. Daggett died later in the year, and by 1911 his widow was living on Orange Street. English also moved out of his house by 1911, and was living in a house on St. Ronan Street. His house was demolished soon after, because by 1913 the 10-story Chamber of Commerce building had been constructed on the site. Ring was the last to relocate; the 1913 city directory shows him living here and practicing medicine out of the house, but by 1914 he had moved to the Hotel Taft, although he continued to have his office here in his former house.

Today, all of the buildings from the first photo have since been demolished, along with the Chamber of Commerce building that had replaced the English house. Much of the scene is now occupied by the northern part of City Hall, which was constructed in the 1980s. Its alternating pattern of light and dark bands was designed to match the exterior of the old City Hall building, which had been mostly demolished except for its brownstone facade. On the left side of the present-day scene is an 18-story office building that had originally been constructed in the mid-1970s, as the home of the New Haven Savings Bank.