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Hotchkissville Historic District


The Hotchkissville Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. Portions of the text below were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2010, The Gombach Group.

Description

The Hotchkissville Historic District, located in the Weekeepeemee River Valley in the northern part of the Town of Woodbury, encompasses most of the nineteenth-century agrarian-industrial village of the same name. Approximately one mile in length, the Hotchkissville Historic District centers around the intersection of Washington and Weekeepeemee roads. Washington Road (Route 47) enters the village on the south on the east side of the valley, veers off just west of this intersection to cross the river, and then generally follow the course of Sprain Brook, a tributary of the Weekeepeemee River. Weekeepeemee Road (Route 132) originates here and runs in a northerly direction along the east side of the river. Several connecting secondary streets include Westwood Road, which runs generally north and south along the lower slope of ridgeline that rises on the west side of the valley, Ruffin Road, and parts of Quassuk and Paper Mill roads.

The historic appearance of the Hotchkissville Historic District has changed very little over time. From historic maps of 1853 and 1874, it is apparent that most of the historic residential resources have survived. The majority are located on Washington and Weekeepeemee roads, historically more densely settled. Modern residential development is largely confined to side roads where more widely dispersed historic farmsteads have been subdivided. The hills that border the village are now covered with second-growth forest, but much of the rest of the historic landscape in the Hotchkissville Historic District remains, with many unobstructed vistas of watercourses, open floodplain meadows, and pasture. A millpond still exists between Washington and Westwood roads, but there is no evidence of two 1500-foot raceways along the Weekeepeemee River that once provided waterpower for the mills. Also notably absent from the streetscapes are the mills and factories that were built at the roadsides.

The Hotchkissville Historic District contains 202 resources, of which 160 (78%) contribute to its historic character. Of the 94 major buildings, 81 (86%) are contributing, primarily houses associated with mill owners, farmers, or the workforce of the mills. Most of non-contributing 13 houses were built after 1945. Only a few historic houses have been altered to such a degree that they are no longer contributing. Workers' houses include a representative sampling of tenements (historic term for rental properties) and homes of skilled operatives. Among the unusual number of surviving contributing outbuildings (84 out of 111; 76%) are 24 barns, many of which date from the nineteenth-century. Only ten of the non-contributing outbuildings are modern construction.

Much of the Hotchkissville Historic District's early historic architecture is conservative in character, utilizing traditional colonial forms and simple stylistic detail well into the nineteenth century. Interspersed throughout are a few examples of pre- and post-Revolutionary colonial farmhouses, but, since most of village development took place after 1830, the stylistic influence of the Greek Revival predominated through the antebellum period. The Italianate style and a single example of the Gothic Revival appeared about mid-century but relatively plain vernacular dwellings, including several tenements, were more common at and after this time. All but three houses are wood-frame construction; most have clapboard sheathing and granite foundations. The exceptions were built of granite or brick.

Among the few older houses in the Hotchkissville Historic District that predate the establishment of the village is a colonial saltbox located at the foot of Westwood Road, known as the Yarmouth Chatfield House for an early nineteenth-century owner (72 Westwood Road). Except for the added leanto, it is relatively unchanged since it was erected about 1750. One of the few houses in Woodbury that originally had a one-room deep main block, and the only one of this type in the Hotchkissville Historic District, this colonial farmhouse has a rubblestone foundation and a large center brick chimney. Its three-bay facade displays relatively narrow nine-over-six windows.

Two Colonial Capes, the Allen Homestead (214 Quassuk Road) and the Thaddeus Cramer House (14 Weekeepeemee Road), have also survived in the Hotchkissville Historic District. Although in their present form the main blocks of these houses appear to be mid-eighteenth century, parts of the houses may be older. The Allen House, which has a three-bay facade and the high double-plate with overhang typical of this style in Woodbury, is set well back from the road and still surrounded by a number of historic outbuildings and open fields. The Cramer House, now set back behind the building lots that front the street at the beginning of Weekeepeemee Road, has an added leanto, as well as a large rear intersecting ell added about 1800. Its present entrance is in the south gable end. Three other Capes were built much later in the Hotchkissville Historic District, with the two on Westwood Road dating from about 1800 (216 Westwood Road) and 1840 (170 Westwood Road). The other example, also with a gable-end side entrance was located on Rampen Hill, now Easy Street, by 1830 (14 Easy Street).

Starting about the turn of the nineteenth century, two-story center-chimney colonial houses with Federal and Greek Revival detailing were constructed in the Hotchkissville Historic District. One of the earliest was that of Stephen Allen, who built his Federal/Colonial at the head of Westwood Road in 1796 (273 Westwood Road). A very similar house was built by the Judson brothers at 21 Weekeepeemee Road about 1815. Federal influence is shown by fanlights in the gables but the doorway portico appears more Greek Revival. The same form persisted into the 1820s in the Reuben Hotchkiss House at 256 Washington Road. Here, the center doorway has been replaced with a window. Like most others of this type, it has a recessed kitchen wing, also found on the Harvey Morris House north of the village center (334 Washington Road). Combining Greek and Federal features and ornamented with triglyphs in the frieze and over the door, details more often found in Woodbury center, this farmhouse has retained much of its extensive acreage and a fine barn north of the house.

As illustrated by the Reuben Allen House (240 Washington Road), the same basic form was embellished in the Greek Revival period and continued to be built for at least another 20 years. It was the basis for two houses at the beginning of Weekeepeemee Road, the circa 1830 Josiah Minor House (2 Weekeepeemee Road), which displays a Greek portico, and the less-detailed 1844 William Richards House next door (4 Weekeepeemee Road). The doorway surround and rectangular gable windows are the only features of the Greek Revival style on the Eli S. Peet House, built in 1848 at the south end of the district at 152 Washington Road.

Far more numerous were Greek Revival style houses with the more typical temple form, produced by a gable-to-street orientation. Several are clustered on small lots on either side of the Hotchkiss House on the east side of Washington Road, just above the intersection with Quassuk Road. Overlooking the Weekeepeemee River and its floodplain meadows across the street are the 1836 James Judson, Jr. House (250 Washington Road) and the 1845 Henry Minor House, the most fully realized examples of the Greek Revival in the district (262 Washington Road). Instead of clapboard, the Minor House is entirely sheathed with flushboarding, while more typically, this material is confined to the pediment of the Judson House. Both exhibit the Italianate influence in their porch columns but have subtly different facades. The pediment of the Minor House is set just above the second-floor windows without an intervening frieze, and the doorway of the Judson House is slightly recessed. It is apparent that part of the latter's entablature has been removed and a fanlight has replaced its original gable window. Nearby is the Robert Tolles House (258 Washington Road), which has an associated Carpenter Gothic carriage house. The houses built by John Cramer in 1834 (10 Weekeepeemee Road) and John Roberts in 1844 (12 Weekeepeemee Road) near the beginning of Weekeepeemee Road are nearly identical, despite the long interval between their construction dates.

More widely spaced houses of this style are found on lower Washington Street at the south end of the district (153 Washington Road, Petit Galpin House and 163 Washington Road, Thomas-Dawson House). Just up the street is the Sherman Ellsworth House, an unusual example which has an atypical four-bay facade (187 Washington Road).

Other vernacular variations on the Greek Revival style include a number with two-over-three-bay facades with a central doorway. One close to center of the Hotchkissville Historic District, the former home of Mrs Sally Hurd, has retained all its features, including narrow attic windows in the frieze (22 Weekeepeemee Road). Two very similar examples were built by the Allen family on Quassuk Road (226 Quassuk Road, George M. Allen House; 236 Quassuk Road, William H. Allen House). They both have small side-elevation porches, and the George Allen House displays a small entrance portico.

The first real changes in form and roof type in the Hotchkissville Historic District occurred about the middle of the century. Three similarly scaled Italianate houses on Easy Street, which have this style's characteristic cube form and near-flat roof, were built in 1847. Orley Parker built a larger house of this style at the south end of the district at 141 Washington Road in 1850, now featuring a partially enclosed Colonial Revival veranda, and another one is located at 35 Weekeepeemee Road. The Abernathy House, a much more elaborate Gothic Revival structure of ashlar granite, also built in 1847, is set high above lower Washington Road (188 Washington Road). It too utilizes the cube form but its facade exhibits three steep gables with the center one capping a slightly projecting pavilion. The overhanging eaves and the roof of the center belvedere are supported by outsize carved wooden brackets. Brackets were also used on the late example of the Italianate built in 1875 at 32 Weekeepeemee Road (George F. Morris House). Though detailed with typical style features, such as the square chamfered Tuscan posts and round-arched gable window, its cross-gable plan and wraparound veranda are derived from the Queen Anne. One of the last nineteenth-century houses in the district, also utilizing the cross-gable plan, has the more vertical massing of farmhouses of this era in Woodbury. It was built on Ruffin Road about 1890.

The rest of the nineteenth-century houses in the Hotchkissville Historic District are solid examples of vernacular architecture with limited stylistic detail. At least 24 were built (25% of the total number of houses) in the last half of the nineteenth century. Several were tenements (historic term for rental properties) as illustrated by workers' housing built by factory owners on Washington Road. Common characteristics are simple massing with a two-story main block, a form still suited for post-and-beam construction, and clapboard sheathing. They can have the orientation of the earlier Colonial/Federals, as was the case in the circa 1850 Hotchkiss-Dawson Tenement (183 Washington Road) or have gable end towards the street, as in the second 1850 Hotchkiss Tenement (193 Washington Road) and 1870 Union Wool Company Tenement (233 Washington Road). Others were built as rental properties by villagers, such as the Athorne Place at 206 Westwood Road. A few of this latter group were eventually purchased by a later nineteenth-century Hotchkissville company to house their workers, such as the duplex tenement at 20 Ruffin Road and small cottage at the start of the district at 138 Washington Road. Though the Ruffin Road example was built in 1876, it is still essentially a basic center-chimney Colonial adapted as a two-family house, demonstrating the persistence of this type.

Commercial properties were also plain structures, although the Hotchkissville Store at the main intersection suggests the Greek Revival style in its orientation and multi-paned gable window (266 Washington Road). Sited across the road at this strategic location were the shops of a wagonmaker and blacksmith (271 Washington Road). The wagonshop was converted to residential use as early as 1852 but the blacksmith shop, which remained in business for most of the century, is relatively unchanged.

Although a few older houses began to display Colonial Revival porches, most notably the one installed on Orley Parker's Italianate (141 Washington Road), there was little other evidence of this twentieth century style in the district. Among the few new houses built in this period are three originally identical tenements erected on a factory site at the north end of the district (51, 55 and 57 Weekeepeemee Road). It is believed that the Colonial Revival porch at #57 was added in 1920 after the company went out of business. In the 1930s, two examples of suburban Tudor Revivals were added to the streetscapes of Westwood and upper Washington roads, completing the district.

Significance

The Hotchkissville Historic District encompasses an exceptionally cohesive and well-preserved rural industrial village, one that illustrates how a dispersed colonial farming community was transfigured by extensive participation in the market economy of the nineteenth century but retained much of its traditional culture and values. Not only did the eighteenth century agrarian base survive and prosper, entrepreneurial industry perpetuated the colonial family-based economic system. For much of the century colonial architectural traditions prevailed in the Hotchkissville Historic District, producing a highly significant collection of well-preserved vernacular architecture, highlighted by many examples of Colonial, Federal, and Greek Revival, as well as a few individual examples of the Gothic Revival and Italianate styles. Further significance is derived from the exceptional integrity of the district's historic setting, in which period landscapes and outbuildings evoke its nineteenth-century heritage.

Historical Background and Significance

When it was first established in the late seventeenth century by Stratford families, Woodbury Plantation was the northernmost settlement on the Connecticut's western frontier. Settlers were attracted to the region because of the fertile soil of the Pomperaug River Valley. Fed by its major tributaries, the Weekeepeemee and Nonnewaug rivers on the north, the Pomperaug eventually empties into the Housatonic River to the south. The original settlement in the "First Purchase," was laid out in a linear fashion in the Pomperaug plain and included what is now Woodbury center.[1] Woodbury eventually encompassed 173 square miles and included the present-day towns of Southbury, Roxbury, and parts of Washington and Bethlehem. Roads were laid out to serve outlying farmsteads and a highway ran from the center to the Housatonic River, a major colonial transportation artery which now runs along the southern border of Southbury. By the early 1700s, Woodbury farmers were shipping surplus crops, along with cattle and swine, to coastal markets, and the town was well on its way to becoming a thriving agricultural center and the entrepot for the region.

By 1750 descendants of the original proprietor families had fanned out into the outlying areas of Woodbury, farming the riverine intervals between the wooded ridges that rise to almost 600 feet.[2] Among the early farmers in the Weekeepeemee Valley were the Judsons, who probably built the Yarmouth Chatfield House (72 Westwood Road) and a Cape at 216 Westwood Road. Thaddeus Cramer also had a Cape which stands near the center of present-day Hotchkissville (14 Weekeepeemee Road), as did the Allens, whose homestead is located at 214 Quassuk Road. Little new development occurred in the area until the establishment of the Washington Turnpike in 1803, present-day Washington Road. The tollhouse has not survived but the home of tollkeeper Stephen Allen still stands at 273 Westwood Road. That highway was soon followed by a "shunpike" on the east side of the river, now known as Weekeepeemee Road.

Woodbury's nineteenth-century progress was a microcosm of the rural New England experience. Though the economy was still agrarian-based in 1820, with trade disrupted by European wars in the early 1800s, local capital from merchants and wealthier farmers had been released for investment in the development of new waterpowered industries. Factory villages sprang up all over town, often around former colonial mill sites on the Nonnewaug, Pomperaug, and Weekeepeemee rivers. By the 1850s, unable to weather the fluctuations of the economy or make needed capital improvements in buildings or power systems, most early entrepreneurs had fallen by the wayside; those in Hotchkissville lost not only their mill properties, but their homes as well. New leaders did emerge in Hotchkissville to master the complexities of the industrial marketplace, but in the final analysis, Woodbury industry was fatally handicapped by its lack of direct access to rail transportation.

In Hotchkissville, a succession of industries over the course of the nineteenth century produced a relatively self-sufficient community with its own stores and tradesmen. The largest of Woodbury's industrial villages, it eventually contained more than 120 residential and commercial buildings. Most of these resources have survived, to reveal through their collective historical associations the social and economic life of a rural village in the process of modernization. In some ways, Hotchkissville's development was atypical. Because of its proximity to the town center, only a mile away, the village did not develop many of its own institutions. The population supported two district schools (the one in the district now serves as the fire station: 238 Quassuk Road), but villagers attended church in Woodbury center. Unlike many villages that industrialized, or were created exclusively for this purpose, Hotchkissville still retained an integrated farming economy that persisted in tandem with the development of industry right through the nineteenth century. Because millwork was mainly seasonal, many millhands were also subsistence farmers. Most houses in the district had their own barns and coops where a few animals were raised for domestic consumption, and many workers retired as farmers in later life. Several working farms remained on the periphery of the district, including the one owned by Yarmouth Chatfield, a free black, at the foot of Westwood Road (72 Westwood Road).[3] Other aspects of eighteenth-century colonial culture survived as well, especially traditional endogamous marriages between rural elites, which often produced convoluted inter-familial relationships. In addition, the pattern of residential development, largely established by mid-century, notably lacked the geographical hierarchy found in industrial towns founded in the later 1800s. Millhands in company houses lived side-by-side with farmers, tradespeople, and mill owners, an arrangement that was sustained throughout the century. After 1850, however, there was a noticeable increase in tenement housing, largely due to the growth of the workforce in this period.

Industrialization was initiated by the establishment of commercial grist- and sawmills. By 1785 David Stoddard had a gristmill north of the district on Weekeepeemee Road. Established with a majority of shares held by local investors, the Stoddard mill remained in use for more than a century.[4] Up river Horace Isbell built a sawmill and lived across the street in a house of the latest Greek Revival style. Another water privilege near the home of the Judson brothers supported their sawmill and carding shop. When the brothers left town for Erie County, Pennsylvania about 1814, they sold out to Josiah Hotchkiss, who not only bought their mill and its equipment but their house as well.

Josiah Hotchkiss (b.1787) and his brother, Reuben (b.1794), the sons of Reuben Hotchkiss, Sr., entered the textile field at an inopportune time. The American woolen market was in disarray in 1814. While earlier enterprises had temporarily profited as wool prices soared during the Embargo and War of 1812, the dumping of British woolens after the war depressed prices, forcing many out of business. The Hotchkisses forged ahead, however, borrowing from local investors over a three-year period, and began an extensive building program. After converting the Judson sawmill to a textile mill, they constructed new factories, housing for millworkers, an office building, and a new house for Reuben (256 Washington Road). Josiah continued to live in the Judson House, and a younger brother, Gervaise (b.1801), who had joined the business, later built an Italianate style house nearby (35 Weekeepeemee Road). After a temporary suspension of business in the depression of 1836-1837, the Hotchkisses reopened to specialize in making cashmere shawls.[5] Profits from this successful enterprise were invested in local real estate and an Illinois land company. In 1843 the Hotchkisses bought out the water privilege and site of John Abernathy's burned-out satinet mill and established a broad-cloth weaving mill at the south end of the district, which was owned and managed by William B. Hotchkiss. The son of Josiah, he married in 1843 and soon moved into the Chatfield House, conveniently located across the Weekeepeemee River from his mill. While the name of the village was evidence enough of the Hotchkisses' wealth and local status, their influence was townwide, with both Reuben and his nephew, William B., representing Woodbury in the state legislature. Despite these achievements, the over-extended Hotchkiss empire collapsed in the depression of 1856-57. When bankruptcy was declared, over $100,000 was owed to creditors and shareholders.

Hotchkissville's textile industry was soon rejuvenated by five brothers who came here from Greenville, New York, and it prospered for at least another 40 years. They were the sons of Hugh Dawson, a tinmaker in Greenville, and grandsons of John, an Englishman who had emigrated to Philadelphia during the War of 1812. All the brothers married in Hotchkissville and further cemented village relationships through business partnerships. John and Lewis Dawson, the first to arrive, married the daughters of Ira Thomas, a prosperous farmer (163 Washington Road), in a double wedding. In a nineteenth-century version of "Monopoly," the Dawsons took over most of the village's industrial sites (as owners or major stockholders), and bought up associated workers' houses, as well as the homes of several previous mill owners. In partnership with John Judson and John T. Ward, they formed Dawson, Ward, & Company, later known as Union Woolen. In 1874 Francis Dawson bought out two more mills, including the paper mill founded by Anson Knox near Paper Mill Bridge and became the new owner of the Josiah Hotchkiss House, former home of the Judson brothers (21 Weekeepeemee Road). In the meantime, John and Henry Dawson were the proud owners of Granite Castle (188 Washington Road) and Lewis had purchased the brick Francis Hall House next door (194 Washington Road). While serving his apprenticeship in the business as a weaver, William had lived in the old Thomas House, but in 1886 he took title to the Reuben Hotchkiss House (256 Washington Road).

In 1853 the Isbell sawmill and carpet tack factory were purchased by David Cowles of Bethlehem, who founded American Shear & Knife Company on the site. It was run by his son, Edward Cowles, who lived further south in the former Gervaise Hotchkiss House (35 Weekeepeemee Road). Following the lead of blade manufacturers in the Housatonic Valley, Cowles imported many skilled workers from Sheffield, England, then acknowledged as the world leader in forged steel blades, and also upgraded the power system with steam turbines in 1878. Eventually employing almost 150 people, more than the combined workforce of all the textile mills here, the company remained in business until 1914, when the factory and its nearby forge were destroyed by fire. Among the remaining associated resources in the Hotchkissville Historic District are a stone office building, now a residence, and three worker's houses built by the company just down the street. The unusual low shed-roofed outbuildings on the office site may once have been part of the factory complex.

The district's workforce was housed in various ways. Many villagers had boarders, a common nineteenth-century practice.[6] Mrs Sally Hurd ran a boarding house in her small Greek Revival cottage (22 Weekeepeemee Road). Two Hotchkiss Company tenements were on Washington Road (183 and 193 Washington Road) and a third tenement there was owned by Union Woolen (233 Washington Road). Before it built workers' housing, several places were purchased by American Shear to use as tenements, including a cottage at 138 Washington Road in 1870 and a two-family tenement at 20 Ruffin Road in 1889. Skilled workers often owned their own homes. Among those in the textile industry were John Mindar, a dyer, who first leased and then sold his house to Frederick Boulton, a wool sorter, when he left Hotchkissville about 1850 (156 Washington Road) , and Sherman Ellsworth, a weaver on Weekeepeemee Road included the home of John Roberts, a weaver and finisher (12 Weekeepeemee Road). English employees at the American Shear Company generally lived on the several side roads in the district, where properties changed hands many times but always remained associated with the company during the approximately 60 years that it remained in business. For example, knifemaker William Braithwaite lived at 40 Ruffin Road, a house successively owned later in the century by two widows whose sons worked at the firm: knifemaker Frank Schaffe and Jac [sic] Pearson, a cutler. Some of the later historic owners of 29 Paper Mill Road were the Lambs, an English immigrant family, in which the father and all four sons were skilled workers. The home of machinist Nathaniel Briggs, one of the few local men employed by the company in a skilled position, at 170 Westwood Road, later housed two workers from England, Ambrose Wiley and Arthur Parker. Other Englishmen included Joseph Norton, a master forger, who came to this country about 1860 and bought the house built by Orley Parker at 141 Washington Road.

Outlying farmers found a ready market for their products in the district and the Hotchkissville gristmill ground their crops of corn, wheat, and alfalfa. Locally raised cattle processed in a slaughterhouse west of town supplied meat dealers and a cadre of local shoemakers. It was owned by Gideon Drakely, who bought the Harvey Morris House at 334 Washington Road. Among the several upwardly mobile shoemakers was William White, who lived in the home of his bride, Sarah Way, at 6 Easy Street before he built his own Greek Revival in 1852 at 28 Weekeepeemee Road. Three other shoemakers, Eli Peet, Joseph Squires, and Truman Hunt, were in business at their homes at 152, 138 and 228 Washington Road.

Other necessary tradesmen included tailor Robert Tolles, who lived in his fine Greek Revival at 258 Washington Road but had a shop closer to the center of the district in front of 2 Weekeepeemee Road. William Abernathy ran a wagon shop at 271 Washington Road, where shoemaker Lucius Hard lived on the second floor and had his shop. It was converted to a house about 1852 by the then president of American Shear Company, Monroe C. Sherman. Joseph Allen's blacksmith shop on the property continued in business through the rest of the century (271 Washington Road). A saloonkeeper (name unknown) had his establishment in a house at 24 Weekeepeemee Road until the property was bought out in 1878 by the Band of Hope, a local branch of the Women's Christian Temperance Union. The country store at 266 Washington Street in the village center was built by Grandison Beardsley. After a succession of proprietors, the store was taken over by George Morris and Reuben Allen. During their tenure, it housed the village post office, as well as a milliner's shop and a druggist on the second floor. Morris built his new Italianate house in 1875 32 Weekeepeemee Road. While most of rest of the Allen family lived on Quassuk Road, Reuben bought a Colonial/Greek Revival style house formerly owned by Petit Galpin near the store at 240 Washington Road.

Architectural Significance

Despite the modern world created by the Industrial Revolution, Hotchkissville, like most rural villages in Connecticut, was essentially conservative and traditional in its outlook, a world view that is embodied in the district's fine collection of vernacular architecture. Except for the Greek Revival, a style that was universally popular in both rural and urban areas in the antebellum period, there was little evidence in the district of the rapidly changing architectural fashion that characterized the nineteenth century. The few new styles that were embraced were often minimally expressed, often as embellishment of traditional colonial forms. Clearly economics were a factor. People built what they could afford, but social constraints were also operative. When early entrepreneurs, such as Reuben Hotchkiss and Petit Galpin, had opportunities to build new houses, they chose the colonial type of dwelling that had housed their forebearers. Historic residential patterns were equally traditional and non-hierarchical. The seemingly democratic arrangement of the houses clearly transmits the Hotchkissville Historic District's early nineteenth-century origins, a period when the status of rural elite was still proclaimed only by a muted level of architectural style, much as it had been in the eighteenth century. Even during the period of industrial prosperity that followed the Civil War, mill owners continued to live in the village with their employees and surprisingly, none built new houses comparable with their station.

Other significant aspects of the Hotchkissville Historic District are its remarkable cohesiveness and the integrity of its historic rural setting, which conveys a remarkable sense of time and place. Because there has been so little modern intrusion, and some of that hidden behind uninterrupted historic streetscapes, the historic interrelationship of the built environment with its pastoral landscape is virtually unchanged in much of the district. Although hill pastures have reverted to woodland, open vistas of the Weekeepeemee River meadows appear today much as they did in the nineteenth century, an effect heightened by cows still grazing in the several fields there. This agrarian tradition is further conveyed by the truly exceptional number of historic outbuildings that have survived in the district, which include many well-preserved nineteenth-century barns.

Successive historic periods are exemplified by some of the well-preserved more stylish vernacular houses. Among the most distinguished from the eighteenth century is the fine colonial saltbox at 72 Westwood Road and the classic Cape built by the Allens at 214 Quassuk Road. Both are enhanced by their open setting and in the case of the Allen Cape, a large collection of historic outbuildings. By the end of the century a period of modest embellishment was introduced by the Stephen Allen House at 273 Westwood Road, one the best examples of a Federal style farmhouse in the district. In typical fashion, its only concession to style is the doorway, notably not expressed in the attenuated, almost effete manner that this style achieved in more urban areas. With the addition of gable fanlights and doorway sidelights, the later Harvey Morris House at 334 Washington Road and Judson-Hotchkiss House at 21 Weekeepeemee Road illustrate the full development of this style in the district.

The Greek Revival that followed in all its manifestations produced an exceptionally fine group of houses. Early examples of this style, such as the first Galpin House at 240 Washington Road, and even some of the later ones, such as the Eli Peet House at 152 Washington Road, were essentially colonial forms with Greek Revival porticos or doorways. When the more typical gable-to-street temple form was employed, it was probably dictated less by fashion than expediency. Such an orientation is better suited to the small narrower lots then available in the district, giving at least one stretch of Washington Road, which is lined with these houses, a more urban appearance. There, some of the finest examples of the style in the district were built for Henry Minor at 262 Washington Road and James Judson, Jr. at 250 Washington Road. They are distinguished not only by level of style but an exceptional state of preservation, qualities most evident in the Minor House, a rare example of a completely flushboarded Greek Revival. In a similar fashion, the temple form of this style first appeared on lower Weekeepeemee Road when large farm properties there were subdivided. Among the best examples there are the John Cramer House at 10 Weekeepeemee Road, one of the few others in the district to display a portico, and the much later Sally Hurd House at 22 Weekeepeemee Road, a well-preserved and typical adaptation of the smaller cottage to this style.

Although the introduction of Italianate and Gothic Revival styles added variety to the streetscapes of the district by the late 1840s, a period of evident prosperity, these last stylistic innovations in the district also were minimally detailed. Seemingly such a radical change in form was enough of a departure from tradition; none of the Italianates built at this time display the ornate carved bracketing that characterized the style elsewhere. Essentially the same form was the basis of Granite Castle, a historic sobriquet that indicates how this house was perceived at the time (188 Washington Road). Though well-preserved and easily the most stylish in the Hotchkissville Historic District, it was a mansion only by village standards. Well-crafted of ashlar granite and featuring carved eave brackets and a suggestion of an entrance pavilion, its most radical feature was the purely decorative belvedere.

End Notes

  1. A large tract of land, encompassing most of Woodbury, had been granted to Stratford men as early as 1659 by the Paugusetts, a Native American group centered in the area that became Derby. Since the General Court of Connecticut did not authorize any purchase of land at Pomperaug, as the town was first called, until 1670 and Paugusett ownership was questionable, between 1673 and 1706 Woodbury proprietors negotiated with the local resident tribe of Pootatucks for essentially the same land in a series of six purchases.
  2. Though they represented only 30 percent of the total population of 2,880 in 1751, descendants of proprietor families had become a landed gentry, owning a disproportionate share of Woodbury's vast acreage. In customary fashion their higher rank had entitled them to a greater share of each successive land division. In fact, so much of the land along the Weekeepeemee River had been allotted to the Stoddard family, all descendants of the second minister, that this area was first known as "Stoddard Farms."
  3. Chatfield was one of several former slaves living in Woodbury in the early nineteenth century, but the only one to own property at that time, according to the architectural survey of 1992. He bought the house in 1808 and remained here until his death in 1846. In 1900 the Noyes House just up the street in the district (97 Westwood Road) was purchased by Fannie Freeman, a descendant of another local free-black family, and it passed to her daughter, Julia, in 1922.
  4. The mill changed hands 17 times before it burned down in 1920. Czar Winton, one of its last owners, lived at 10 Weekeepeemee Road after he married the daughter of John Cramer, the original owner of this Greek Revival house.
  5. Cloth woven in Hotchkissville was hand dyed in their print and dye works in New York City, producing a cheaper and marketable substitute for the popular French product, in which the multicolored pattern was woven. The dye works took all the local output (8,000 shawls per week) and that of their mill in New York state.
  6. In 1850 there was at least one unrelated adult or child over the age of 12 in most village households, according to the federal census that year.

References

Atlas of Litchfield County: The Town of Woodbury. New York: F.W. Beers & Co., 1874.

Biographical Review: Containing Biographical Sketches of the Leading Citizens of Litchfield County, Connecticut. Boston: Biographical Review Publishing Co., 1896.

Cothren, William F. History of Ancient Woodbury from The First Indian Deed in 1659 to 1871. Vol. I, II, III. Waterbury, Bronson Brothers, 1854, 1872; Woodbury: William Cothren, 1879.

Cunningham, Janice P. "A Historic and Architectural Resource Survey in the Town of Woodbury, Connecticut." Woodbury, 1992.

History of Litchfield County, Connecticut with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of it Prominent Men and Pioneers. Philadelphia: J.W. Lewis & Co, 1881.

Fagan, L. The Town of Woodbury From Actual Surveys. Philadelphia: Richard Clark, 1853.

Federal Census of the United States, 1850, 1870.

† Jan Cunningham, consultant, Cunningham Associates, Ltd. and John Herzan, Connecticut Historical Commisssion, Hotchkissville Historic District, Litchfield, CT, nomination document, 1996, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Hotchkissville Historic District Map

Street Names
Easy Street • Paper Mill Road • Quassuk Road • Route 132 • Route 47 • Ruffin Road • Washington Road • Weekeepeemee Road • Westwood Road

**Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. You should independently verify any information you use for decision making.
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