Prospect Green Historic District
The Prospect Green Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. 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 Prospect Green Historic District is located at the southeast corner of the town's central intersection of Cheshire Road/State Route 68 and Bethany Road/State Route 69. All of the buildings around the Green and in the district fulfill community functions. The buildings include the historic library and present library; Congregational Church, historic parsonage, and present parsonage; Civil War monument; historic school and present school; Grange; Advent Chapel; Police Station; and Volunteer Fire Department.
The Green itself is sited in the northwest corner of the Prospect Green Historic District, surrounded by buildings. The eastern half of the Prospect Green Historic District is unbuilt land included in the parcels on which stand contributing buildings. The Green an irregular rectangle, approximately 135' x 265', running in a north-south direction at the top of a hill which is the highest habitable elevation in New Haven County. The Tuttle Library (1905) and the Civil War Monument (1907) are on the Green; other buildings face the Green and Center Street, which extends to the south. The Neo-Classical Revival fieldstone mass of the library anchors the Green and the district next to Cheshire Road/State Route 68, while the building's high hipped roof of red tile with flared eaves is a colorful and dramatic introduction to the area. The monument, in the center of the Green, is its visual focus. It consists of a granite pedestal and figure with a bronze rifle, 16-1/2' overall in height.
The church (1945) and parsonage (1941) across Center Street west of the Green complete the cluster of buildings in this part of the Prospect Green Historic District. The former parsonage (1844) adjoins the Green to the east, but faces north toward Cheshire Road/State Route 68, Center School (1867), a Greek Revival style building little altered, and the Grange (1947), a stucco meeting hall, stand at the south border of the Green.
Two 20th-century buildings face each other across Center Street where it begins, south of the Green. To the east is the Community School, a red brick Colonial Revival design (1936), and to the west Prospect Public Library, which is a sweeping statement in contemporary frame architecture (1990).
Next, south of the Community School is a large lot of 5.78 acres owned by the town. It is what is left of a larger parcel of town-owned land that formerly extended from Center Street east to Coer Street. The Center Street frontage of the large lot is occupied by the Stick style Advent Chapel (ca.1886) and the Police Station (1978). The ca.1950s Volunteer Fire Department is the last building in the Prospect Green Historic District.
In 1778 when the highest elevation in the parish was selected for the site of a new church, the decision determined the location of the Prospect Green. Since the Congregational Church was established, both civic and religious functions were performed in the building. The Green today, more than 200 years later, continues to be exclusively dedicated to community activities in a significant demonstration of historic commitment to public purposes. These functions are carried out in buildings which are good examples of the Greek Revival, Stick, Neo-Classical Revival, and Colonial Revival styles, correctly reflecting development and change in architectural preferences over the life of the Green.
In a not uncommon circumstance of the 18th century, the residents of the area surrounding what is now the Prospect Green sought authorization for their own parish to avoid the burdensome weekly journey to churches in Cheshire and Waterbury. Upon the request being granted, the Columbia Company, as the temporal arm of the church was called, went ahead with construction in 1778 at the place identified by the marker in front of the steps to the Tuttle Library.
This first edifice was replaced by a new building in 1841 at the location where the Congregational Church now stands. The land in front which constitutes the Green was owned by the Church until 1905, when it was sold to the Town. After a 1906 fire, a fieldstone replacement church was constructed, only to have it, too, destroyed by fire in 1941, after which the present sanctuary was erected. At the same time that the 1841 sanctuary was constructed, the church built a parsonage, which is the Greek Revival house at 21 Center Street, now the oldest building standing in the Prospect Green Historic District.
Toward the end of the 19th century, several small private library companies emerged in Prospect. Agitation to replace them with a public library took the form of fund raising for the purpose of creating a new public institution. The campaign received support from private sources and from the town, but did not come to fruition until the Tuttle family subscribed their contribution, which enabled the building to be constructed in 1905. Eben Tuttle developed improved methods of manufacturing hoes at his Prospect factory, but in 1851 moved to Naugatuck, the next town to the west, where he and his descendants achieved great success in fabricating metal objects for several generations. It was his Naugatuck descendants who were philanthropists for the library.
The Tuttle family within a year or two followed up their support of the library by landscaping the grounds in front of the building, in effect creating the Green, or at least firmly defining its boundary and improving the planting. The Civil War monument was erected soon thereafter, in 1907, essentially completing development of the visual effect now seen in the Green, all of which occurred in the first decade of the 20th century.
Soldiers' Monument was funded in part by a State of Connecticut appropriation of $1,000 in recognition of the fact that the 75 men Prospect sent to the Civil War were more than half of its 145 voters and one-sixth of its population. $1,000 was also raised within the community. At ceremonies typical of Civil War monument dedications held on May 30, 1907, Wadhams Post, No.49, Grand Army of the Republic, of Waterbury and Isbell Post from Naugatuck, headed by the Naugatuck Fife and Drum Corps, played important roles. The Cheshire Band was on hand and Company C, Boys Brigade, St. Paul's Church, was in the line of march.
The Greek Revival Center School pre-dates landscaping the Green, having been erected in 1867 at a cost of $900. The building continued to function for educational purposes until the Community School was built in 1936, thereafter being used for various town purposes and recently as quarters for the Prospect Historical Society. In the years from 1919, before the Community School was built, some overflow classes were held at the Stick style Advent Chapel of ca.1886.
In an action parallel to constructing the former parsonage when the 1841 church was built, the present parsonage was erected 100 years later following the 1941 church fire as part of the World War II church building program. One room in the parsonage serves as the minister's study and is the official mailing address for the church.
The Prospect Grange, organized in 1894, constructed its first meeting hall on the present site in 1897. After it burned, it was replaced by the present structure in 1947. The building continues to be used for its original purpose.
After the Prospect Volunteer Fire Department was organized in 1938, it constructed its first building on the present site in 1942, altering and enlarging it in the 1950s. The Police Department headquarters followed in 1978, to be expanded and remodeled in 1991.
The Prospect Public Library replaced the Tuttle Library in 1990, increasing the size of library space by a factor of several times. The 1905 building, now known as the Meeting Place, renovated and with the basement made usable, continues in use for community events.
The continuum of religious and secular community functions carried on in the Prospect Green Historic District, begun in 1788, is demonstrated by the buildings and structures existing today, to the exclusion of other activities. The Prospect Green Historic District records and embraces significant activities in the development of a Connecticut community.
The architecture of buildings on and around the Prospect Green provides good examples of the Greek Revival, Stick, Neo-Classical Revival, and Colonial Revival styles. The Greek Revival style is represented by the former parsonage, which exhibits the temple-front-toward-street orientation, three-bay front elevation, compact mass, and modestly pitched roof associated with the mode. The recessed doorway in the left bay, surrounded by plain but boldly proportioned pilasters and entablature moldings, is well-executed.
Little information has come to light regarding the circumstances surrounding the design of the Stick style Advent Chapel. Choice of the style reflects an awareness of contemporary architectural style trends on the part of the congregation. The board-and-batten gable ends of the main block and the entry and the struts in the gable peaks are characteristics of the style giving the building a different appearance from any others in the Prospect Green Historic District, although its basic mass and form are plain.
The Tuttle Library is the only historic building in the Prospect Green Historic District for which the architect is known, F.E. Walters of Waterbury. Unfortunately, his name is all that is known about him. He skillfully designed the fieldstone building under flared red tile roof, using classically referenced details in its molded stained-glass-window surrounds. Like the Advent Chapel, it is distinctive and one of a kind in the district.
The Soldiers' Monument resembles many Connecticut Civil War monuments because it consists of a soldier on a pedestal. Nevertheless, it is distinctive in several features. The soldier is not standing in the usual Parade Rest position, but instead grasps the muzzle of his rifle with both hands. The rifle is bronze instead of granite, perhaps a unique circumstance in the state. The pedestal exhibits Neo-Classical Revival stylistic features in its proportions, moldings, and broad frieze with triglyphs, in line with the popularity of the Neo-Classical Revival style which spread across the country after the World Colombian Exposition in Chicago of 1893.
Along with the Neo-Classical Revival style of architecture came the Colonial Revival style, which governs almost all other buildings in the Prospect Green Historic District, constructed from the time of World War II. The church's attenuated proportions and fine details put it in the Federal Revival category of the Colonial Revival, while the parsonage demonstrates the widely accepted "Cape" interpretation. The Community School, Police Station, and Volunteer Fire Department are statements of the red-brick-with-white-trim sub-division of the Colonial Revival, with progressively less decorative trim in the later years, for example, in the latest addition to the school.
The exception to the Colonial Revival majority is the Prospect Public Library, which clearly is a contemporary product of a later era.
Guevin, John R. View from the Top, the story [sic] of Prospect, Connecticut. Prospect, Connecticut: Biographical Publishing Company, 1995.
Hinman, the Reverend Howard L., pastor, Prospect Congregational Church. Interview, September 15, 1998.
Kathan, The Reverend Boardman W., Church Historian. Letter, February 1, 2000.
Neustadter, Mary, Prospect Green, Survey of Connecticut Historic Town Greens (Hartford: Connecticut Historical Commission, 1991) Form #84.
Ransom, David F. "Soldiers' Monument, Prospect, CT." Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin 59 (1994) 1-4, pp.161-164.
________ Bronson B. Tuttle House, registration documentation for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C., National Park Service, November 29,1990.
Special Acts of Connecticut State Legislature, vol. XIV, p.991.
Town of Prospect assessor's records.
† David F. Ransom, consultant and John F. A. Herzan, Connecticut Historical Commission, Prospect Green Historic District, Prospect, CT, nomination document, 1998, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.