Posthumous Sikes House, Suffield Connecticut

The home of Posthumous Sikes, on Mapleton Avenue 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 town of Suffield has an impressive collection of historic houses from the first half of the 18th century, including this one, which was built in 1743 by the curiously-named Posthumous Sikes.  The early Puritan settlers of New England would often give their children seemingly unconventional names, often preferring “Increase,” “Thankful,” and “Deliverance” to more Catholic-sounding names like Mary, James, and Peter.  In the case of “Posthumous,” it was often given to a child born after the death of his father, and for Posthumous Sikes, he was born in 1711, seven months after his father Jonathan died.  Posthumous married Rachel Adams around the same time that he built this house, and they had four children: Amos, Stephen, Shadrack, and Gideon.  Posthumous died in 1756, and his son Shadrack later owned the property.  The house appears to have remained in the Sikes family until at least the mid-1800s, and it was recognized as historic even at the time that the first photo was taken, although the sign on the tree provides the wrong date for the house.

First Baptist Church, Suffield Connecticut

The First Baptist Church 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 church in 2015:

Baptist churches were rare in 18th century New England; churches could only be established with the approval of the colonial legislature, and citizens paid church taxes to support the official colonial church, the Congregational church. However, following the Great Awakening, other denominations began establishing churches, including the Baptists. The first Baptist church in Hartford County was built here in 1769, just across the street from the present-day church, at the intersection of Hill Street and Russell Avenue. This small settlement, some three miles from the main village of Suffield, became the center of Baptist activity in the area.

The original building was replaced in 1793 with a brick one, located on the same spot as the current one.  Because of its remote location, though, it was inconvenient for many people from eastern Suffield to attend, so in 1805, the Second Baptist Church was established in the center of town.  Their present-day meeting house was built in 1840, a large brick structure that contrasts with the small present-day First Baptist Church seen here, which was built in 1846.  The Zion’s Hill Cemetery is located the church, with gravestones dating back to the 1700s, including Joseph Hastings, the founder of the church.

The First Baptist Church continued to meet here until the 1920s, and for nearly a century the building has not been regularly used.  However, it is still occasionally used for special church services, which are limited to the summer because of the building’s lack of heat.  Today, the church is well-preserved, and it forms the centerpiece of the Hastings Hill Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

West Suffield Congregational Church, Suffield Connecticut

The West Suffield Congregational Church, at the corner of Mountain Road and North Grand 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 church in 2015:

The West Suffield Congregational Church was established in 1740 by the Massachusetts General Court (at the time, Suffield and several other northern Connecticut towns were part of Massachusetts), and the congregation was organized three years later. The first pastor, John Graham, served for 50 years, ending his ministry in 1796, around the same time that the original building was replaced. The second building was completed in 1795, and sat on the same spot as the present-day building.

The second pastor of the church, Daniel Waldo, was perhaps the most remarkable in the long history of the congregation.  He was born in 1762 and served in the American Revolution at the age of 16.  Following his graduation from Yale, he became the pastor here, and served from 1792 until about 1810.  After leaving Suffield, he served as a missionary in Pennsylvania and New York, and was the pastor of several other New England churches before being named Chaplain of the House of Representatives in 1855, at the age of 93.  He served as chaplain for two years, but he didn’t really retire afterward; he continued preaching even beyond his 100th birthday, and he died in 1864, a little over a month before he would have turned 102.  He was among the last living veterans of the American Revolution, and was one of the few to have been photographed, seen here shortly before his death:


The third, and current church building was built in 1840, on the foundations of the second building.  There have been several additions behind and to the left of the building, in 1879 and 1958, but the main part of the building hasn’t changed much, aside from a different paint scheme, since the first photo was taken.  The congregation is still active here after over 270 years, and they are part of the United Church of Christ denomination.

Fuller Hall, Suffield Connecticut

The North 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 building, now heavily renovated and renamed Fuller Hall, as seen in 2015:

It took me a while to figure out that this is, in fact, the same building.  The North Building was built in 1873, replacing the 1845 Ladies Building that had burned the previous year.  It is located just to the right of the Memorial Building, and both of these buildings date back to when Suffield Academy was known as the Connecticut Literary Institute.  However, while the Memorial Building still resembles its 19th century appearance, Fuller Hall is essentially unrecognizable from the first photo.  A substantial renovation in the 1950s removed most of the original Second Empire style architectural elements, including the mansard roof (and with it, the entire fourth floor), the three small towers, the front porch, and the window cornices.  A close examination of the 2015 shows the difference between the newer, lighter bricks, and the original, darker-colored bricks.

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.