Endee Manor Historic District
The Endee Manor Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2011, The Gombach Group.
Endee Manor was the largest workers' housing development built in Bristol in the mid-1910s. Constructed in 1916-1917, it consists of 102 frame houses of one to two stories, set on small lots on three adjacent streets. Built in the northwest corner of Bristol, the development was close to the New Departure shops and is bounded by West Cemetery, Rockwell Park, the New York and New Haven Railroad line, and Terryville Avenue. Few of the residences have received significant additions, although most have been sheathed in new sidings and free-standing garages were added at the rear of most lots. Most of the garages appear to have been built within ten years of the completion of the development. Because all the houses were built within four months of each other and none of the developable lots were left empty, Endee Manor Historic District presents an extremely cohesive appearance. The neighborhood was constructed in a pocket formed by West Cemetery, Rockwell Park, the railroad line, and Terryville Avenue. These surrounding features were already established by 1916 and have not altered.
The houses in the Endee Manor Historic District include both single and multi-family residences, ranging in size, plan, and style, but with eight different types predominating. At the same time that the houses were built streets, curbs, and sidewalks were constructed, gardens were laid out, and lawns were seeded. Street lamps were provided and trees were planted between the sidewalks and the streets. Originally the entrance to the neighborhood at the intersections of Sherman Street and Terryville Avenue was marked by a pair of short stone pillars surmounted by lights. A streetlight was also installed in a small circular island at the intersection of Sherman and Mills and Sherman and Putnam streets. These pillars and lights have not survived, but the tree-lined streets, original sidewalks, and several cobblestone retaining walls have. The row of trees located in the strip between the street and the sidewalk compliments the character of the Endee Manor Historic District as well as preserving the original landscape plan. The overall effect is picturesque and attractive.
The picturesque quality is enhanced by the hilly terrain, the wooded boundary of the park to the south, and the informal but graceful curving lines of several of the streets in contrast with the straight line of Sherman Avenue, the main entrance to the neighborhood. Although the lot sizes are small, each house has a private yard. The houses are also modest in terms of size and ornamentation, but the use of a number of different house types, varied sidings, including square-cut shingles and clapboard, and cobblestone foundations and some distinctive wood trim give each of the residences a feeling of originality while maintaining overall harmony of design within the neighborhood.
House Types in the Endee Manor Historic District
More than ten different house types are used at Endee Manor. All the houses are of frame construction with cobblestone foundations. The following eleven are the most common:
Type A: 2-family house; 2 stories tall, American Foursquare type; 2 bays wide by 4 bays deep. Hipped roof porches shelter entrances on 2 sides.
Type B: Single-family house; 2 stories tall with hipped roof; 3 bays wide by 2 bays deep.
Type C: 2-family house; 2 stories tall set with gable end facing street; 4 bays wide, with 2-story hipped roof porch sheltering 2 bays.
Type D: Single-family house; 1-1/2 story Bungalow; gable roof with shed dormer facing street. 3 bays wide sheltered by front porch. Small three-sided projecting bay on side elevation.
Type E: Single-family house; 1-1/2 stories tall with gambrel roof set with gable end facing street. Shed dormers on side elevations; front and side porches.
Type F: 2-family house; 2 stories tall with hipped roof; 3 bays wide. 2-story hipped roof porch projects from side elevation.
Type G: 2-family house; 2-stories tall with hipped roof; 2 bays wide by 4 bays deep. 2-story hipped roof porch shelters one bay.
Type H: Single-family house; 1-story Bungalow; gable roof; 2 bays wide by 3 deep. Gable-roof porch shelters 1 bay.
Type I: Single-family house; 2 stories tall with hipped roof; 4 bays wide by 2 bays deep. 1-1/2-story gable roof ell at rear.
Type J: Single-family house, 2 stories tall with gable roof; 2 bays wide by 3 bays deep.
Type K: 2-family house; 2 stories tall with hipped roof; hipped roof hoods over both entries.
The construction of Endee Manor was part of a national movement in residential construction which encouraged growing numbers of Americans to relocate to the suburbs. With innovations in transportation technology it became possible for the first time for industrial workers to live some distance from the factories in which they labored.
Endee Manor Historic District is distinguished by both its diversity and its cohesiveness. The development incorporates houses of various types and sizes which are unified by repeated features, compatibility of materials, and a landscape plan which includes many trees and emphasizes the scenic qualities of the site. A model workers' housing development, Endee Manor retains integrity of design and has been little altered since its construction in 1916-17.
Endee Manor Historic District is the largest and best preserved workers' housing development in Bristol. Conceived as a cohesive whole, over one hundred residences were constructed concurrently. No infill construction has occurred in the district.
Endee Manor was designed by Bristol architect Harold A. Hayden (1892-1985). A graduate of the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York, Hayden established a practice in his hometown of Bristol when there were few permanent architectural offices in town. He served in the Engineering Corps during World War I. His practice in Bristol spanned five decades, and he primarily designed commercial buildings, schools, and residences in the Bristol-Hartford area. Endee Manor is his earliest documented commission, but he also designed the World War I Memorial (1920), and the elaborate Fuller Forbes Barnes estate, Copper Ledges (1924), during the same period. Hayden designed at least one other housing development in town, the Cambridge Park project (1942). His other notable commissions include the Page Park pool and recreation building (1949), the Mary A. Callen School (1951), the Connecticut Light and Power Building on Pine Street (1955), an addition to the Bristol Press Building, and the home of Bartlett Barnes. Hayden was also the designer of the Bristol sesquicentennial coin.
Endee Manor's design was progressive for its time; it was probably one of the models for "The Best House for the Small Wage Earner," published shortly after the development's completion. The essay, by architectural critic Richard Henry Dana, a prominent New York City-based architect, was printed in Homes for Workmen; A Presentation of Leading Examples of Industrial Community Development. Dana was the designer of several houses in Bristol as well as the First Congregational Church, so through his work in community he would have been familiar with Endee Manor. In this essay Dana urged developers to find land near enough to the city center for easy extension of utilities, and close to some form of public transportation. He stated that the property need not be centrally located, but far enough out for land to be inexpensive and taxes low. Dana suggested property next to a cemetery or railroad tracks, or land with a steep grade. The plan should provide pleasant surroundings for residences, with sidewalks, curbs, lawns, and shade trees between the sidewalk and curb. Dana discouraged the use of fences (which emphasize the smallness of the lot and are expensive), and urged that land be set aside for vegetable gardens in the rear. He deplored the single-family house as too expensive, and suggested two-family semi-detached houses. His preferred building material from a cost standpoint was frame, and he recommended rooms be designed with low ceilings and numerous windows. Dana might have been describing Endee Manor. But Hayden's design went beyond Dana's guidelines, and the conformity of design and construction common in most developments of the period, where the same house was built over and over again in rows throughout a development without regard to the site. Hayden's effort to vary type, finishes, and size of houses in Endee Manor did much to enrich his design, which incorporates modest, utilitarian residences.
Endee Manor was one of four workers' housing developments constructed in Bristol in the last half of the 1910s. Other projects were the product of the Bristol Realty Company (active 1907-c.1922), Bristol Brass (1916), and National Marine Lamp Company (c.1916). The largest of the four, it was the only one financed solely by the New Departure Manufacturing Company, one of the town's main employers, a subsidiary of General Motors. It was originally intended to provide rental housing for the company's workers. The housing development was designed to "appeal to workmen desirous of providing proper living conditions for themselves and their families at moderate expense."
The need for inexpensive housing in the town had been growing for at least ten years before Endee Manor construction began in 1916. The population of Bristol increased 41% between 1900 and 1910, and by 1920 was nearly double the 1900 figure. An editorial in the Bristol Press dated April 4, 1907, noted that the number of factories was growing but the dearth of rental housing was interfering with the ability of business to retain workers. The weekly conversations of one of the town's leading industrialists, Charles T. Treadway with his foremen were summarized in the article:
"Each week some one or more of the foremen brings up this matter of scarcity of tenements and all say they cannot brace up their departments, cannot secure the men they want, because there is no place in the town where the new employees can live as they want to live. Men who are brought here often return to where they came from after a few weeks. Their wives and families will not live in third or fourth class tenements with no conveniences or improvements, and there is nothing left but to leave town and go back to the old job elsewhere."
By the end of April 1907, the Bristol Realty Company had been established by a group of manufacturers in order to build more rental housing in town. The group included Treadway, treasurer of the New Departure Manufacturing Company, and Albert F. Rockwell, its founder, as well as W.S. Ingraham of the E. Ingraham Clock Company, J.R. Holly of the American Silver Company and Bristol Brass, A.D. Hawley of the Bristol Manufacturing Company, C.F. Barnes of the Wallace Barnes Company, Miles L. Peck, and William Linstead. The Bristol Realty Company became the first development company in town to focus exclusively on creating workers' housing. In the 1920s the firm built 20 two-family houses in Burlington Heights. Bristol Realty Company's efforts ultimately proved inadequate to the demand. However, the firm's unhealthy balance sheet did not prevent individual manufacturers from pursuing development schemes tailored to their own work forces. Bristol Brass built a number of Aladdin Homes in 1916. King Terrace was "a shaded, well-kept neighborhood of Bungalows, Boxes, and Cottages...on four parallel streets on a hill overlooking the original Civil War-vintage company offices and factory." The National Marine Lamp Company built houses during the same period on Stafford Avenue.
The New Departure Manufacturing Company was faced with much the same problem as the other manufacturers in town. The company repeatedly published the following advertisement: "Wanted — Board wanted for responsible men. We will cooperate with you in securing reliable boarders, with assurance as to payment, etc. ...EMPLOYMENT BUREAU New Departure Manufacturing Company." The company acquired the Gridley House, a downtown hotel, and used it to house its single male employees. It later built the Endee Inn, complete with recreational facilities, for the same purpose.
However, it seems likely that business expansion needs were not the sole reason for the construction of Endee Manor, and the subsequent sale of the houses to New Departure workers by the company. Changing political and social needs, as well as the requirements of expanding businesses, dictated the creation of such a development. Bristol in 1916 was no longer a small New England town. The difference was not entirely a function of increased population. By 1910 two-thirds of the town's population was made up of recent immigrants and their families, and although they made up the majority of the town, they had neither wealth nor power. These resided firmly in the control of the town's Yankee industrialists. In the late nineteenth century, Bristol's industries consolidated, replacing a plethora of small shops with a few large ones. At the same time a series of depressions and recessions plagued the nation, resulting in Bristol in layoffs, temporary shutdowns, and in one instance in 1907 a shortage of cash to meet the payroll. The working conditions and economic situation in town made the atmosphere volatile. The town's established political parties were challenged (the newly formed American Socialist party provided a gubernatorial candidate hailing from Bristol); Bristol's branch of the Progressive Party was founded in 1911 and remained active until about 1915. This new party mounted a challenge to the established order, and when it was discovered that votes had been tampered with by those allied with the old industrial interests during the 1912 mayoral election, many were outraged. During the same period Bristol's first labor unions were formed. A refusal by local employers to allow unions to engage in collective bargaining led to walkouts. Rockwell, New Departure's president, was unwilling to negotiate with local unions and in 1902 a full-scale strike was threatened at the plant. However, the first strike at the company did not occur until February 1914, when new piecework rates would have effectively lowered wages at a time when there was a demand for war supplies and an acute labor shortage. Non-union workers at New Departure met to consider unionizing. In early September 1915, a New Departure workman was fired because of his efforts to form a union. Nearly a third of the workforce walked out in protest and were only persuaded to return when the company offered a reduction in hours and an increase in wages, as well as a promise to continue negotiations. The New Departure strike sparked labor unrest in every large factory in town that month. The situation was so volatile that both the courts and local police became involved in the conflict.
By this time New Departure had become the town's largest employer. Established by Rockwell in the late 1880s, the company had manufactured a variety of different products, and under Rockwell's leadership it had become particularly adept at exploiting changing market demands. By 1915 it devoted most of its production capability to the manufacture of ball bearings, critical to the new automobile industry.
The operation attracted the attention of leading American industrialist Pierre S. Dupont. At this time, over half of Dupont's portfolio outside his holdings in his family companies was invested in General Motors. As chairman of General Motors, Dupont was determined to expand GM. The first step in his plan was to acquire parts and accessories plants under the umbrella of a holding company, United Motors. In May 1916, New Departure became a part of United Motors. Locally it was feared that the Bristol shops would be closed and that operations would be transferred to Detroit.
It is clear that the development's construction was more than an effort to reassure locals that New Departure intended to stay in Bristol. It was, in effect, an attempt to suppress labor unrest at the plant. The company's gesture in creating affordable housing for its workers went beyond good will; it made workers who lived in company housing less likely to support or participate in union activities. Some specific features of the neighborhood suggest that the company's goals were aimed at controlling the work force rather than merely supporting community development. Endee Manor's gardens pre-dated the popularity of Victory gardens, and the establishment of gardens as a means of social control has been well documented by modern scholars. The tension between New Departure and its workers is also suggested in the street names chosen for the neighborhood. The company's authority was embodied by naming them after Civil War heroes from the Union camp, creating a metaphor where the company represented the victorious forces of the Union, while the labor union was relegated to the part of the defeated South.
To allay immediate fears that New Departure might desert Bristol, the company announced on May 16 the acquisition of a tract of land on Terryville Avenue, and its intention to build housing for its employees there. By early June men were already at work clearing brush and laying out roads; by the middle of the month Bristol architect Harold Hayden had accepted the job of designing the development, and the building contract had been given to the Miner Building Company of Worcester, Massachusetts. Once launched, construction proceeded with amazing rapidity, especially considering the shortage of labor. A veritable army of laborers and skilled craftsmen were at work by the end of August; by the 24th of that month over 40 houses were either framed or at a more advanced stage. About 500 skilled workers were expected to help the process along and the anticipated cost to the company ranged from $350,000 to $400,000. This investment was in addition to the large new wing being added to the ball bearing plant and another new industrial building under construction at the same time.
But more unusual than the swiftness of the construction, the invasion of workmen, or the company's large investment was the design of the new neighborhood. It was intended to be "a beauty spot," and not a mill village. The Bristol Press trumpeted:
"The streets will be laid out on the park plan of landscape effect and will follow curved or rectangular courses, rather than a straight roadway. Cement sidewalks and gutters will be provided and at the intersection of important streets park plots will be happy features. No two houses on any one street will be alike either in exterior design, painting or finish, or interiorly. The builders hardware, finish of the woodwork, and even the electroliers will be different."
Endee Manor was to have sidewalks and curbs, sewers, gas, running water, electricity, and postal service. Twenty-nine of the houses would be single-family residences of five or six rooms with a bathroom. The apartments would range in size from four to six rooms. The average lot size was 50 x 150 feet, allowing for "a garden, children's play space, neat lawns, etc." On the interior the space was found to be well-planned, the bedrooms "commodious," the stairways "broad," the bathrooms "superior," and the closet space generous. The apartments and houses included dining rooms, an amenity often omitted in workers' housing. Although only houses would be in the development, already new stores were planned on Terryville Avenue near the intersection of Sherman Street, the main entrance into the neighborhood.
The first dozen houses were ready for occupancy by mid-October, and already there was a waiting list for rental property in the development. Although cold weather ended construction in the late fall, by March 1917, eighty-two houses were occupied, and the finishing touches were scheduled to be completed. That spring, lawns were seeded, trees planted, and street lights installed. The soil quality was praised and "very fine gardens" were anticipated. New Departure remained the development's primary publicist; its employee newsletter, New Departure News, ran aerial photos of the development, a column focused on Endee Manor inhabitants' doings, and articles with headlines like, "Spring Days at Endee Manor. Residential suburb will soon be bright with green lawns, flower beds and other improvements..." In early April the company announced a plan making home ownership at Endee Manor a possibility for its employees. The company claimed that although it had been its intention to use the houses as rental property, it had been overwhelmed by requests from its employees to purchase them. A down payment was required, and the company agreed to finance the purchase at only a little more per month than the rental price. The package included life insurance for the workman, and a provision for an extension of the mortgage in case of illness. In the event of a home buyer leaving the employ of New Departure, the company reserved first right of refusal on the repurchase of the house. Landscape improvements to be provided by New Departure were additional incentives. Interior and exterior photographs of several houses in Endee Manor were published in the issue of New Departure News announcing the home ownership program.
Early in the construction process, the Bristol Press anticipated the future of Endee Manor in this way: "The quality of the houses, character of the city layout and other features that will characterize Endee Manor insure a class of residents that will undoubtedly create a community social life that will be very pleasing." Indeed, this planned community became notable for its stability and livability. As well as articles in local publications, a description of the development, accompanied by photographs and a plot plan, was published in Homes for Workmen; A Presentation of Leading Examples of Industrial Community Development (New Orleans, 1919), a collection of essays by prominent architects and planners. When preeminent city planner John Nolen prepared a town plan for Bristol in 1919, he praised Endee Manor and characterized it as a model for future efforts. For more than 80 years Endee Manor has been a self-contained cohesive neighborhood. Reunions of the residents were held in the 1960s, and as late as 1966 the development's architect and a "Manorite" representing New Departure were among the guests, along with such other guests as the neighborhood postman and a woman who had travelled from Florida to attend.
The company that established the neighborhood continued to expand through the next several years, and DeWitt Page, the company president, was named to the board of General Motors. The years between 1916 and 1919 that initiated Endee Manor as a desirable neighborhood also marked the emergence of the modern General Motors Corporation, the parent company, which came to dominate the automobile industry in the second quarter of the twentieth century.
Hayden's design for Endee Manor remains remarkable for its variety of house types, the retention of its original landscape plan with its tree-lined streets, the beauty of its landscape, and the degree to which it has remained unchanged for nearly eighty years. Endee Manor presents an unusual opportunity to study a model workers' housing project of the early twentieth century in its original setting.
The Architectural Forum.
Bristol, Connecticut in World War II. Bristol, Connecticut: World War II Historical Committee, 1947.
The Bristol Press.
Chandler, Alfred Dupont, and Salsbury, Stephen. Pierre S. DuPont and the Making of the Modern Corporation. New York: Harper & Row, .
Clouette, Bruce and Roth, Matthew. Bristol Connecticut: a Bicentennial History 1785-1985. Canaan, New Hampshire: Phoenix Publishing, 1984.
The Hartford Courant.
The Hartford Daily Times.
Homes for Workmen: A Presentation of Leading Examples of Industrial Community Development. New Orleans: Southern Pine Association, 1919.
Hull, George C. "The Housing Problem." Unpublished paper, c.1935, in the possession of Ms. Dorothy Manchester, Bristol City Historian.
New Departure News (Bristol, CT).
Nolen, John. Bristol Connecticut: Local Survey and City Planning Proposals. N.p., 1920.
Peck, Epaphronditus. A History of Bristol, Connecticut. Hartford: The Lewis Street Bookshop, 1932.
Reisner, David and Ohno, Kate, nominations to the National Register of Historic Places for the Townsend G. Treadway House and Marlborough House, both located in Bristol.
Report of the City of Bristol. Bristol, Charles Willard Eaton, Printer, 1916, 1919, 1920.
Weisberger, Bernard A. The Dream Maker; William C. Durant, Founder of General Motors. Boston: Little, Brown, c.1979.
† David Reisner and Kate Ohno, Bristol Preservation Trust, Endee Manor Historic Distric, Bristol, CT, nomination document, 1995, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.