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.

St. Elmo Hall, New Haven, Connecticut

St. Elmo Hall, at the corner of Temple and Grove Streets in New Haven, around 1918. Image from A Modern History of New Haven and Eastern New Haven County (1918).

The scene in 2018:

This building was constructed in 1912 for the St. Elmo Society, one of several secret societies at the Yale-affiliated Sheffield Scientific School. At the time, the Sheffield societies, which also included the Berzelius and the Book and Snake, maintained their own residence halls, and this building housed the members of St. Elmo. It was the work of architect Kenneth Murchison, and it features an Elizabethan-style design that was similar to many of the other Yale buildings of this period.

By the early 1930s, most of the privately-run residential halls were phased out, as Yale instituted its new residential college system. However, St. Elmo Hall lasted longer than most, although the society began leasing space in the building to the school starting in 1945. Yale finally purchased the property in 1962, but St. Elmo continued to use part of the building for its meeting space until 1985. The building was subsequently renamed Rosenfeld Hall, and it is currently houses both classrooms and dormitory rooms. Its exterior appearance has changed little since the first photo was taken, aside from the addition of dormer windows on the top floor.

The Cloister, New Haven, Connecticut

The Cloister, the residence hall of the Book and Snake society, at the corner of Hillhouse Avenue and Grove Street in New Haven, around 1900-1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2018:

The Book and Snake is one of the many secret societies at Yale, and it was established in 1863 for students at the Yale-affiliated Sheffield Scientific School. In addition to having a meeting hall, the Book and Snake was one of several societies that also built its own residence hall, which was named the Cloister. This highly-ornate brownstone building was the work of architect H. Edwards Ficken, and it was completed in 1888. It was subsequently expanded in 1915, shortly after the first photo was taken, with a matching addition to the rear.

With the advent of Yale’s residential college system in the first half of the 20th century, privately-run dormitories such as the Cloister and the nearby Colony of the Berzelius society, were phased out, and the property was eventually sold to the college. The Colony was later demolished, but the Cloister is still standing, with few exterior changes aside from the 1915 addition. Today, the building is known as Warner House, and it is used for administrative offices, including the Yale College Dean’s Office.

The Colony, New Haven, Connecticut

The Colony, the residence hall of the Berzelius society, on Hillhouse Avenue in New Haven, around 1900. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2018:

The Berzelius was established in 1848 as a secret society at the Sheffield Scientific School. Although the school would later be absorbed into Yale University, it was originally only loosely-affiliated with Yale, and the Berzelius was the first such society to be established at Sheffield. Like the secret societies at Yale, it had a meeting hall, but in 1898 the society added a residence hall, which was known as the Colony. It stood at 17 Hillhouse Avenue, and it is shown in the first photo only a few years after its completion. The design was the work of noted architects Henry Bacon and James Brite, both of whom had previously worked for the prominent firm of McKim, Mead and White. The two men formed a brief partnership from 1897 to 1902 before going their separate ways, with Bacon eventually gaining fame as the architect of the Lincoln Memorial.

This building remained in use by the Berzelius as a residence hall until the early 1930s, when the society sold the property to Yale. However, they retained their meeting hall, and the Berzelius remains an active secret society on the Yale campus. In the meantime, though, this building was used by the school as a dormitory, and then as offices, before being demolished in 1969. The present-day building was subsequently constructed on the site, and today it is one of several nearby buildings that comprise Yale’s School of Engineering and Applied Science.