Golden Hill Historic District
The Golden Hill Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.  Adaptation copyright © 2010, The Gombach Group.
The Golden Hill Historic District is visually defined to the north by a large open parking lot and post-World War II residential and municipal construction; to the south by a major concentration of commercial architecture dating from the early through late-20th century; to the east by open parking lots and early 20th century hotels, apartment buildings, and commercial structures; and to the west by a post-World War II limited-access highway.
The Golden Hill Historic District encompasses a total of 16 properties, and approximately 10 acres of land located on and around the crest of Golden Hill in the northwestern portion of Bridgeport's central business district. All but two of the Golden Hill Historic District's sixteen major structures contribute to the historical and/or architectural significance of the area as a semi-suburban, residential neighborhood which developed over the course of the latter decades of the 19th and early decades of the 20th centuries. These structures include one garage and eleven modestly sized houses, ten of which were built between the 1890s and the 1930s. Most of these houses are currently utilized for professional office space. A massive, former high-school building designed by renowned early 20th century architect James Gambrel Rogers and currently utilized as Bridgeport City Hall dominates the heart of the district, which also embraces a residentially styled, former Y.W.C.A. building, a modern office building, and a large church/parish house. One notable park-like space is located at the northwestern corner of Harrison Street and Golden Hill Street in the western end of the district; one open parking lot is located at 319 Golden Hill Street.
While brick, cut stone, and wood form the predominant building materials found in the Golden Hill Historic District, the area also includes a few buildings incorporating materials such as rusticated concrete block and stucco/half-timbering. Architectural styles represented in the Golden Hill Historic District include Italianate, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, Gothic Revival, and Neoclassical modes.
The exteriors of virtually all of the buildings located within the Golden Hill Historic District retain a substantial degree of architectural integrity. While portions of the exterior walls of two houses have been resided with aluminum, significant exterior modifications to buildings' exteriors are, for the most part, limited to the removal and replacement of original window sash and/or entry doors.
The Golden Hill Historic District is significant as an area which developed over the course of the latter decades of the 19th century and early decades of the 20th century as a semi-suburban, predominantly residential adjunct of Bridgeport's core late-19th and early-20th century downtown commercial area. The Golden Hill Historic District's principal era of development and significance continues to be effectively illustrated by its remaining historic buildings. These buildings include a massive Neoclassical style former high school building dominating the western side of Lyon Terrace, and flanked to the south and east by a prominent late Gothic Revival/Tudor Revival-style church and parish house dating from 1928/29, as well as eleven modestly scaled houses built in the Italianate, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, or Tudor Revival modes between the mid 1850s and the late 1920s.
The Golden Hill Historic District is also notable for its association with two members of Bridgeport's prominent late-19th and early-20th century Lyon family. It was Frank Lyon and his sister, Alice Lyon Watson, who subdivided their father Hanford's extensive homelot on Golden Hill and fostered much of the development which occurred in the district between the late 1880s and the early 1900s. These two individuals were also responsible for the laying out of Lyon Terrace, one of the district's principal streets, in the early 1900s.
From an architectural standpoint, the Golden Hill Historic District is particularly significant for two reasons. First, most of its eleven extant houses remain good and/or locally unusual or renditions of period residential architectural styles. For example, the Watson-Lyon Tenant Houses at 110 Chapel Street and 293-97 Congress Street, with their steeply pitched multiple gables, asymmetrical massing, decorative exterior brickwork, and (in the case of 293-97 Congress Street) terra-cotta detailing stand as important local examples of the late 19th-century vernacular Queen Anne mode. Of even greater interest are the three well-preserved, highly similar brick and cut-stone cottages located at 267, 273, and 285 Congress Street. Featuring gambrel roofs and projecting stairwell turrets, these cottages stand as relatively unusual variants of local late-19th century Queen Anne style speculative construction. The John Angevin House at 239 Golden Hill Street, a good modest example of the early 20th century residential Colonial Revival style, is the only structure within the Golden Hill Historic District or its immediate environs to feature exterior walls of load-bearing, rusticated concrete block. Despite unsympathetic non-historic alterations to its exterior fabric (many of which appear to be reversible), the Peter M. Thorp House at 307 Golden Hill Street remains significant as the only example of the mid-19th century low-hip roof form of Italianate style residential frame architecture still standing within the confines of Bridgeport's downtown area.
Finally, the Golden Hill Historic District is significant for its inclusion of two non-residential structures sometimes found in neighborhoods of this type and period. One of these structures is the First Methodist Church and Parish House at 333-47 Golden Hill Street. Built as single structure over the course of 1928 and 1929 in the late Gothic Revival (church wing) and Tudor Revival (parish house wing) styles according to a design provided by the architectural consortium of Southey, Allen, and Collens, this structure is the only example of its type, style, and period still standing in downtown Bridgeport. The other non-residential structure in the Golden Hill Historic District is one of Bridgeport's most prominent edifices. Constructed at 45 Lyon Terrace during the years 1914-1916, the massively scaled Neoclassical style Bridgeport High School (now Bridgeport City Hall) stands today as the downtown's only known example of the work of noted early 20th century architect James Gamble Rogers.