Newington Junction North Historic District
The Newington Junction North 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 © 2011, The Gombach Group.
The Newington Junction North Historic District consists of properties located on either side of Willard Avenue a few hundred feet north of its intersection with West Hill Road. Willard Avenue is a busy thoroughfare connecting Newington and West Hartford. The Newington Junction North Historic District contains approximately ten acres, and 13 of the 16 major buildings within its boundaries contribute to its significance. Contributing buildings include eight residences and five garages. The land slopes gently downward from east to west, and the houses on the east side of the avenue are larger than those on the west side. Because the landscaping on the east side is also less dense and the expanse of lawn greater, one's eye is drawn first to the parklike setting of these east houses (Note: following — review of this nomination by the State Historic Preservation Board, 98 Willard Avenue, a contributing residence, was demolished. Because of its architectural quality, the textual discussion and photograph for this building are retained as a historical record).
The boundaries of the Newington Junction North Historic District reflect the visual and architectural cohesion of these properties. Historically the Newington Junction North Historic District was part of the larger Newington Junction community, but changes over time, in particular modern retail and commercial buildings to the south of the district, have cut off this area from the other parts of the Junction that retain historic integrity. A number of houses to the north date from the early 20th century, but they lack the architectural quality or intact condition of the district properties, and they are also not visually well connected to them.
The houses in the Newington Junction North Historic District date from about 1860 to 1925, and they portray, with a range of sophistication, the architectural styles popular in Newington Junction during that period. The two earliest buildings, at 82 and 98 (now demolished) Willard Avenue, are adjacent Italianate residences that are similar in plan (large, rectangular blocks with subordinate rear pavilions), but they differ in detail and integrity. #82, the older of the two (c.1860), is a more purely Italianate design. Its detailing (projecting eaves with heavy, paired brackets; paired, arched windows; and wrap-around porch featuring molded, chamfered posts and carved braces) illustrates the decorative richness of this style. #98, built c.1875 and now demolished, was a simpler design that mixed Italianate elements with ones more commonly associated with later styles. Its roofline, paired brackets and window enframements were Italianate and related closely to those at #82, while the asymmetry of the porch's cross gable, and the porch's exposed rafters and turned posts, confirmed the later date and stylistic influences of this house.
A Queen Anne house that is as elaborate as its earlier Italianate neighbors is 74 Willard Avenue (c.1905). Its plan and exterior sheathing (clapboards, with wood shingles in the gable peaks) are rather restrained, but the fancy detailing (e.g., pierced gable screen in a sunburst design, and the second-floor porch's carved and turned posts, frieze, fascia and small brackets) provides the complexity that one expects of a fully developed Queen Anne building.
The three houses at the north end of the district are, in contrast, rather plain, and they display less dramatic differences in styles. 56 and 64-66 Willard Avenue are both pitch-roofed, two-story residences with gable ends facing the street. #64-66, however, was built c.1890, and its two-over-two windows, which are narrower than those next door at #56, and the small entrance porch with molded posts, indicate its greater age and earlier stylistic influences. The Tuscan porch columns of #56 are a more typically Colonial Revival element that helps reinforce the c.1905 date of this structure. #55, built in 1914, is another vernacular design, in this case one that combines Queen Anne and Colonial Revival influences in a 1-1/2-story cottage. The wide front porch, for example, has a classically derived balustrade and cross gable with pediment. The pediment features a paneled sunburst that is a typical Queen Anne detail.
The only Shingle style house in the Newington Junction North Historic District is at 108 Willard Avenue (c.1895). Its smooth exterior sheathing in clapboards (first floor) and wood shingles encloses a complex and asymmetrical plan, one part of which (the front corner polygonal porch) almost dominates the building. The detailing, typified by the molded and chamfered porch posts, is strong and simple. The widely projecting roof is a bit exaggerated for this style and may be an early Prairie influence.
The Newington Junction North Historic District is a group of complementary structures that displays a narrower range of styles than found in the other Newington Junction historic districts. Among these buildings, several stand out architecturally and deserve particular mention. #82 Willard Avenue is an excellent example of the Italianate style. Nearby, the asymmetry and elaborate detailing that characterize the Queen Anne style are well portrayed in 74 Willard Avenue. At the south end of the Newington Junction North Historic District, 108 Willard Avenue exhibits in its flat and simply detailed shingle and clapboard exterior walls the strong sense of rhythm and volume that are the mark of the Shingle style. The flare of its roofline, perhaps Prairie style inspired, is dramatic and very effective. While much simpler in design, the other contributing residences are typical mid-19th and early-20th century vernacular buildings that are pleasant in appearance and of the sort found in many small New England communities.
Families that were long-time and prominent residents of Newington Junction are associated with the history of the Newington Junction North Historic District. Members of the Camp and Stoddard families, among the oldest settlers in the area, owned 56 Willard Avenue (Norman Camp) and 103 Willard Avenue (Lewis Stoddard). The related Comstock and Dyer families owned 82 Willard Avenue from 1898 until the mid-1970s. John Comstock, who bought the house, was a printer in Hartford who commuted daily by rail from Newington Junction. Mr. Comstock is also significant because in 1861 Governor William Buckingham of Connecticut commissioned him a second lieutenant in the Connecticut Company of Volunteers, with the authority to enlist a full company for service in the Civil War.
† Gregory E. Andrews, Newington Historical Society and John Herzan, Connecticut Historical Commission, Historic Resources of Newington Junction, Newington, CT, nomination document, 1986, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.