Memorial Building, Suffield Connecticut

The Middle Building, later named the Memorial Building, on the campus of Suffield Academy, probably around 1920. Image from Celebration of the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Settlement of Suffield, Connecticut (1921).

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The Memorial Building in 2015:

Suffield Academy was founded in 1833 as the Connecticut Baptist Literary Institute, originally with the objective of training Baptist ministers.  However, the school soon dropped the name “Baptist,” and became the Connecticut Literary Institute.  The school’s original building, later known as the Old South Building, was located where the present-day library is, just to the left of the building seen here.

By the middle of the 19th century, the school had grown and had become co-ed, so more buildings were added to the campus, including the Middle Building, seen here, which opened in 1854.  It was renovated in 1907 and rededicated the following year, to coincide with the school’s 75th anniversary.  A few years later, in 1912, the school renamed itself Suffield School, and in 1937 again changed its name to Suffield Academy.  This historic building also received a new name; in 1950 it was rededicated again as the Memorial Building.  Today, it is used primarily for classrooms and administrative offices, and aside from the removal of the cornices along the roof, it doesn’t look all that different from its appearance nearly 100 years ago.

Kent Memorial Library, Suffield Connecticut

The original Kent Memorial Library building in Suffield, probably taken around 1920. Image from Celebration of the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Settlement of Suffield, Connecticut (1921).

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The building in 2015:

The Kent Memorial Library building was dedicated in 1899, on land previously occupied by the Old South building on the Connecticut Literary Institute campus.  It was the town’s first public library, and was built using funds provided by Suffield native Sidney A. Kent in memory of his parents.  He paid for the construction and for nearly 7,000 books, along with an endowment for the continued operation of the library.  The town used this building until 1972, when a new, larger library was opened across the street.  The new building took the name with it, and the old one was purchased by Suffield Academy, which is the current name for the old Connecticut Literary Institute.  The academy built an addition in the back, and today it serves as the Legare Library.

First Congregational Church, Suffield Connecticut

The First Congregational Church in Suffield, probably taken around 1920. Image from Celebration of the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Settlement of Suffield, Connecticut (1921).

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The church in 2015:

Suffield’s first church building was built around 1680, and went through a series of relatively short-lived buildings before the present-day one was completed on the west side of the town green in 1869.  It has been used by the church ever since, with a few changes.  The most obvious difference is the steeple; like many other churches in New England, the top of it was destroyed in the September 1938 hurricane, and it has not been replaced.  The other major change isn’t obvious from this angle, but in 1956 a new wing was added to the church on the north (right) side, with classrooms, offices, and other spaces.

Phelps-Hatheway House, Suffield Connecticut

The Phelps-Hatheway House on South Main Street in Suffield, around 1920. Image from Celebration of the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Settlement of Suffield, Connecticut (1921).

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The house in 2015:


The present-day view of this historic house is dominated by a massive sycamore tree that is even older than the house itself. The tree is estimated to be about 300 years old, while the house was built sometime in the mid 1700s. Sources seem to indicate either 1736 or 1761, but either way the house predates the American Revolution. It was originally owned by Abraham Burbank, and subsequently by his son, Shem, who was a wealthy Tory businessman during the American Revolution. Following the war, his loyalty to the British cost him a lot of his business, so his subsequent financial issues forced him to sell the house to Oliver Phelps. The new owner did not hold the property for too long, though, before he had his own monetary problems; Phelps sold the house around 1800 after losing money in a failed land investment.

The new owner was Asahel Hatheway, whose family owned the house for the rest of the century.  During this time, an addition was made to the north (right) side, to go along with the previous addition that Phelps had built in 1794. The house has been well-preserved over the years, even down to the rare 1794 French wallpaper that is still on the walls. Today it is owned by Connecticut Landmarks and open to the public as a museum, providing a glimpse into the 18th and 19th century life of the upper class in the Connecticut River Valley.

Armsmear, Hartford Connecticut

Armsmear, the former home of Samuel Colt, on Wethersfield Avenue in Hartford, around 1907. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The house in 2015:


This mansion was the home of Samuel Colt, an industrialist and firearm manufacturer who founded the present-day Colt’s Manufacturing Company.  In 1856, he married Elizabeth Hart Jarvis, and the following year the newlyweds moved into this mansion.  However, he didn’t have much time to enjoy it; Colt died in 1862 at the age of 47, and his wife took over control of the company for the rest of the century.  She sold her share in the company in 1901, and she died in 1905, probably not long before the first photo was taken.  She had no surviving children, and in accordance with her will, the house became a home for widows and orphans of Episcopalian clergymen, which explains the large addition on the right-hand side of the house in the 2015 scene.  Her will also gave much of the property to the city of Hartford, and this land is now Colt Park.

First Church of Christ, Hartford Connecticut

The First Church of Christ in Hartford, around 1907. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The church in 2015:


Hartford’s First Church, also called Center Church today, is one of the oldest active church congregations in the country.  It was established in 1633 with my 9th great grandfather, Thomas Hooker, as the first pastor of the church.  Hooker was also the founder of the colony of Connecticut, and in 1639 the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut were established in the original meeting house; this document was arguably the first written constitution in the world, and gives Connecticut its nickname as “The Constitution State.”  The present-day building is the congregation’s fourth meeting house, and it was dedicated in 1807.  It was built within the boundaries of the Ancient Burying Ground, which was established around 1640 and includes the graves of many prominent figures in the early history of Connecticut, including Thomas Hooker.  Today, neither the church building nor the burying ground have changed much since the first photo was taken.  Like many other churches of its era, it still has its ornate steeple and columned portico, both of which are common elements in Federal architecture.  Similar designs can be seen in early 19th century church buildings across New England, including in New Haven, Springfield, and the very similar South Congregational Church just a few blocks down Main Street from here.