Photo: Home and church in the Lakeville Historic District, Salisbury. The District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. Photographed by User:Magicpiano (own work), 2016, [cc-3.0] via Wikimedia Commons, accessed November, 2022.
The Lakeville Historic District  was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.
The Lakeville Historic District is located in the center of the village of Lakeville (Town of Salisbury), Connecticut, approximately 50 miles northwest of Hartford. Formerly known as Salisbury Furnace and Furnace Village, Lakeville developed adjacent to an important waterpower site at the eastern outlet of Lake Wononscopomuc near the intersection of present-day U.S. Route 44/Millerton Road and State Route 4l/Sharon Road. The Lakeville Historic District contains a varied mixture of industrial, commercial, and residential architecture dating from the 1750s through the 1930s. It is surrounded by a much larger area containing many additional historic industrial, commercial, residential, religious, and recreational sites and structures.
The Lakeville Historic District comprises an area of approximately 10 acres generally delineated by Millerton Road, Holley Street, Ethan Allen Street, and Sharon Road. This street grid remains virtually unchanged from the late nineteenth century. The boundary of the Lakeville Historic District was defined so as to include contiguous historic buildings and sites within the village center and generally follows property lines. The Lakeville Historic District incorporates the structures included within the local historic district originally created in 1970, as well as certain additional contiguous sites.
The Lakeville Historic District contains 25 properties — 22 buildings and 3 sites — of which 22 properties contribute to its architectural and historical significance. Of the 22 buildings, 13 are primary buildings — residences, stores, and industrial facilities and 9 are secondary structures, consisting primarily of barns and garages. Most of the Lakeville Historic District's buildings date from 1759 to 1934, with the majority dating from the nineteenth century. Two of the historic sites are parks. The third is an early millpond. The three non-contributing buildings consist of small modern garages constructed at the Holley-Williams House, Farnham Tavern, and John Hubbard House. The Lakeville Historic District is less densely built-up than it was in the late nineteenth century. Several small stores and tenant houses, as well as the Holley Block, have been either moved or razed in the intervening decades.
At the center of the Lakeville Historic District stands the Holley Manufacturing Company mill complex, home of Lakeville's prosperous cutlery industry which flourished between 1844 and the 1930s. Located along Factory Brook just east of the original (and surviving) mill pond is the imposing and virtually unchanged three-and-one-half-story brick mill (1866) with clerestory monitor roof, the central building of a well-preserved assemblage of industrial structures. Standing directly adjacent to the mill complex is the Salisbury Savings Bank (1864), the Raynsford Carpentry Shop (1875-1929), and the Salisbury Hose Company firestation (1934). To the south of the factory is the former Lakeville railroad station (1871) of the Connecticut Western Railroad which ran from Millerton, New York, to Hartford, Connecticut, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Anchoring the district to the north is the Holley-Williams House (1768/1808), an imposing Federal style residence associated with both the blast furnace originally responsible for the development of Lakeville, and the Holley Manufacturing Company, the state's first pocket knife and cutlery factory, which attained prominence after 1844. It is flanked by the 1759/1795 Farnham Tavern and the c.1830 John Hubbard House. Across the street from the Holley-Williams House, just west of the former Salisbury Savings Bank, are three modest late nineteenth-century commercial structures. The Lakeville Historic District also contains two parks, Furnace Park, the former site of the Cornelius Knickerbaker homestead, the first residence constructed in Lakeville, and Bicentennial Park, an area formerly occupied by a variety of commercial buildings, most recently the c.1895 Holley Block, the most important such structure in turn-of-the-century Lakeville.
The land around Factory Pond and the railroad station (and extending southwestward towards Lake Wononscopomuc) is generally level, while the terrain along Factory Brook slopes downward to the east. At the northern edge of the district the land rises rapidly, providing the Holley-Williams House with a commanding location overlooking the remainder of the district and the lake beyond.
The architecture of the Lakeville Historic District is greatly varied. The Farnham Tavern evolved into a traditional five-bay, center-entry New England Farmhouse with 12-over-12 sash. The Holley-Williams House is an outstanding example of early nineteenth-century Federal architecture which retains several period outbuildings, while the John Hubbard House typifies the late Federal style in northwestern Connecticut. The Holley Manufacturing Company (and subsidiary buildings) is representative of the mills with a limited degree of Italianate detailing which appeared around mid-century, while the Lakeville railroad station employs an eclectic Victorian idiom. Both the remodelled Salisbury Savings Bank and the Lakeville Hose Company Fire Station utilize the Colonial Revival style popular in the early decades of the twentieth century, as does the modest E. E. Raynsford Carpentry Shop.
Most of the structures in the Lakeville Historic District retain their original form, materials, and detailing. This is especially true in the case of the Holley Manufacturing Company buildings, the Holley-Williams House, the Lakeville railroad station, the John Hubbard House (main block), the Raynsford Carpentry Shop, and the Lakeville Hose Company building. Elsewhere, alterations have included either sympathetic additions, such as the two-story wing appended to the John Hubbard House in 1945, or changes made in the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries, such as the 1920s remodeling of the Salisbury Bank building in the Colonial Revival style.
The Lakeville Historic District illustrates the development and evolution of Connecticut's rural industrial communities from the mid-eighteenth to late nineteenth centuries. Community leaders were all intimately associated with the site and its industrial, financial, transportation, and commercial institutions, including Cornelius Knickerbaker, Colonel Joshua Porter, tavernkeeper/postmaster Peter Farnham, the Holley family, lawyer John Hubbard, and industrialist Samuel Robbins. The Lakeville Historic District possesses industrial significance due to the fine surviving assemblage of mill buildings associated with the Holley Manufacturing Company, the involvement of several significant figures in local, state, and national history with industrial activities at this site, including Ethan Allen, Colonel Joshua Porter, Luther Holley, John Holley, and Alexander Holley, and the pivotal association of both the site and such individuals with important eras of American history, including development of the rural colonial iron industry before 1775, production of armaments during the American Revolution, and the water-powered factory-based Industrial Revolution of the early and mid-nineteenth century. The Lakeville Historic District has transportation significance as the center of a regional transportation network which included early roads, turnpikes, and railroads. The district has commercial significance as the local business center within the larger community through concentration of economic institutions and activity there. The forge and furnace operations not only employed scores of workers, but also provided livelihoods for area miners, teamsters, and charcoal burners, while the Holley Manufacturing Company was the largest employer in mid-nineteenth-century Lakeville. The area's principal stores, recreational venues, financial institutions, and newspaper clustered there. Virtually all area businesses depended on services provided by the Lakeville passenger and freight stations. Finally, the Lakeville Historic District has architectural significance because most of its buildings are well-preserved examples that embody distinctive characteristics of particular architectural periods and styles. These include the Federal era Holley-Williams and Hubbard Houses, the Victorian Lakeville railroad station, the Italianate Holley Manufacturing Company mill and subsidiary buildings, and the Colonial Revival style Salisbury Bank, E.E. Raynsford Carpentry Shop, and Lakeville Hose Company Fire Station.
From the earliest period activities and personalities associated with the Lakeville Historic District played a key role in development of the Lakeville community. The first settler, Cornelius Knickerbaker, erected his home on the site now occupied by Furnace Park. The house and farm were later purchased by Colonel Joshua Porter and included much of the land which now comprises Main Street in Lakeville. Construction of a forge and then blast furnace on Factory Brook near Lake Wononscopomuc attracted large numbers of workers and artisans, causing the site to evolve into a village second only to Salisbury Center within the town. Industrial and mercantile activities concentrated here caused a tavern and post office to open in 1795, while also attracting merchants and lawyers. The Holley family, resident at the Holley-Williams House, quickly emerged as the town's industrial and commercial leaders and played decisive roles in a series of endeavors which underlay community prosperity, including banking, civic, and transportation initiatives.
By the mid-nineteenth century the conjoining of industrial and commercial activity had caused the original Lakeville settlement clustered around the furnace/Holley Manufacturing Company site to extend outward towards Sharon to the south, Salisbury Center to the east, and Millerton, New York, to the west, but the area delineated by the historic district remained its heart. The arrival of the railroad in 1871 and the resort economy it fostered only strengthened the trend, as the "Hub," the historic district and its immediate environs, emerged as a diversified entrepot catering to a variety of clienteles. Construction of the Holley Block on the current site of Bicentennial Park in the 1890s and the reopening of the old Farnham Tavern as the Wayside Inn underscored the area's role in the life of the community, as did the opening of the Hoyt and Bauman plumbing, stove, and bicycle shop and the offices of the Lakeville Journal.
(Though not part of the present historic district, the immediately adjacent neighborhood included the village elementary school and academy, two churches, a convent, two large commercial blocks, blacksmith shops and later garages, doctors' and dentists' offices, feed store, livery stable, resort hotels, lumber yard, and the freight station.)
Early twentieth-century remodeling and expansion of the Salisbury Bank building, and construction of the Lakeville Hose Company Fire Station and the E.E. Raynsford Carpentry Shop further documented the central role played by this area in local life throughout the period.
Both the volunteer fire company and Public Health Nursing Association headquartered in the old railroad station remain among the most important community organizations to the present day.
The Lakeville Historic District possesses industrial significance of both a local and state nature. Easily exploited waterpower and nearby ore deposits led to construction of a forge in 1748, and Connecticut's first blast furnace in 1762. Ethan Allen was a principal partner in this venture. (Several other furnaces soon commenced operations in nearby New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, as the region emerged as one of the United States' major iron-producing centers.) The blast furnace by the shores of Lake Wononscopomuc caused the settlement which grew up around it to be known successively as Salisbury Furnace and then Furnace Village. During the American Revolution the Salisbury furnace provided enormous quantities of cannon and ammunition, as well as pots, kettles, and utensils for the Continental forces. Work there was directed by Colonel Joshua Porter, who also commanded a regiment during the pivotal Saratoga Campaign of 1777. Under the direction of the Holley family, which assumed control of the works in the 1790s, the site became the center of a far-flung industrial network which included several local mines and forges, as well as other furnaces. By 1830, 215 workers turned out 2,000 tons of iron, consumed 10,000 cords of wood, and employed 200 draft animals, in 1844 Alexander H. Holley opened Connecticut's first cutlery factory on the site of the earlier Lakeville furnace. In the 1850s Holley served as lieutenant governor (1854) and then governor (1858) of Connecticut. The company he founded operated for nearly 100 years and by the late nineteenth century had erected a complex of substantial brick mill buildings which remain the heart of the historic district to this day. Alexander L. Holley, the son of Alexander H., who was raised in a house (no longer standing) on the edge of the historic district and became an important nineteenth century metallurgical engineer, played a crucial role in establishing America's first Bessemer steel works in Troy, New York, in 1863.
The area comprising the Lakeville Historic District has been an important regional transportation hub since the mid-eighteenth century. The earliest colonial roads to New York, Sharon and Salisbury, Connecticut, local iron mines, and the forge at Lime Rock converged here. A mail route was established through this point in 1795, and in 1801 the Salisbury and Canaan Turnpike opened, offering an improved route from the Housatonic River to the New York state line. The turnpike bisected the present district, passing near the Farnham Tavern and between the Holley-Williams House and the furnace. In 1832 local residents John M. Holley, Lot Norton, Elisha Sterling, Samuel Church, and others chartered the Salisbury and Sharon Railroad, an abortive scheme to bring the railroad to Lakeville. Nearby service was provided by construction of the Housatonic Railroad, which reached Canaan in 1841, and the Harlem Division, which entered Millerton, New York, in 1851. At about the same time (1849) telegraph service became available in Lakeville. Finally, in 1871, the Connecticut Western Railroad opened a through route from Millerton, New York, to Hartford, with Lakeville an important stop. The arrival of the railroad powered the emergence of Lakeville as an important summer resort community while also providing the Holley Manufacturing Company with efficient and cost-effective access to a national market for its products. Over a period of four decades local industrialist Alexander H. Holley played an important role in all three area rail projects. The surviving railroad station was erected at that time and remained an active facility until the end of the 1920s. Freight service ended in 1938.
The Lakeville Historic District occupied a pre-eminent place in the commercial development of Lakeville. For 150 years its forge, furnace, and cutlery factory provided the engine that made the village economy go. The town's most important business family, the Holleys, established their residence on the hill overlooking the furnace and lake and at one time owned most of the surrounding land. Their money and influence helped create the Salisbury Bank, the Holley Company store, and all three regional railroads. The freight depot located just south of Factory Pond (no longer standing) remained active until 1938. Also situated within the historic district were the popular Farnham Tavern (later Wardell's Hotel, then Wayside Inn), Moore Chittenden store, and law offices of influential attorney John Hubbard. In the 1870s the newly established Robbins and Burrall Trust Company (which merged with the Salisbury Bank in 1909) also opened offices within the district. In the 1890s the important Holley Block arose on the site of the earlier Holley Company Store. Other stores, hotels, and shops clustered nearby, such as the Hoyt and Bauman plumbing, stove, and bicycle shop and the Miller Brothers Saloon and Billiard Hall, as well as the offices of the town newspaper, the Lakeville Journal. The emergence of Lakeville as a major tourist and business center in the late nineteenth century only reinforced the trend. So important was this area to local commerce that it earned the nickname "the Hub." By that time Lakeville had emerged as the town's preeminent commercial center, far outstripping its rival, Salisbury Center, site of the town hall and the Congregational Church. This relative balance between the two villages has remained unchanged to the present day, with Lakeville the site of the main post office, consolidated elementary school, funeral home, real estate and insurance offices, gas station, fire station, telephone company substation, pizza parlor and Chinese restaurant, and principal banking offices.
Several buildings within the Lakeville Historic District embody the distinguishing characteristics of particular periods, styles, and types of architecture. These include notable examples of Federal architecture, mid-nineteenth century industrial and transportation facilities, and early twentieth century examples of the Colonial Revival style.
The Federal style, popular between 1790 and 1830, emphasized gable-end structures embellished with classically inspired details such as columns, modillions, dentil courses, and pedimented gables. Additional features included semi-elliptical transoms and demi-lune gable lights or louvered ventilators. The Holley-Williams House, erected in 1808, is a significant example of Federal architecture, one of the finest in northwestern Connecticut. This gable-end temple-fronted classical revival home with monumental two-story portico contains elaborate interior woodwork and moldings modeled on Asher Benjamin's 1806 edition of The American Builder's Companion. The c.1830 John Hubbard House is another good example of the rural Federal style which exhibits gable-end orientation, pedimented gable, corner pilasters, molded/keyed demi-lune window in the gable peak, and an impressive entry with pilasters, fanlights, and gabled entablature.
The Lakeville Historic District contains several significant industrial buildings. The three-and-one-half-story Holley Manufacturing Company mill, erected in 1866 on the site of earlier wooden structures (1844), the state's first blast furnace (1762), and an important early forge (1748), is an excellent example of mid-nineteenth-century industrial architecture. Its long narrow orientation, clerestory monitor roof, brick construction on rockfaced ashlar foundation, and iron tie rods and wall anchors are typical of contemporary mills. Its segmental arched and round-arched windows and the use of a cross-gabled cupola show the influence of the Italianate style, which enjoyed its greatest popularity in the period 1850-1875. Other significant industrial structures directly adjacent to the mill include the 1887 "Finishing Building," with molded cornice returns and segmental arched windows, the c.1870 "Forge Building" erected on a rockfaced ashlar foundation and exhibiting a round-arched gable window, and the 1871 Lakeville Railroad Station with its broad flared canopy supported by elaborately detailed spindlework brackets.
In the early decades of the twentieth century the Colonial Revival style attracted many adherents. Architects employed the stylistic vocabulary of the Georgian and Federal eras to recreate the look and feel of earlier structures. Typical details included pedimented gables, quoins, double-hung sash windows, cupolas, columned porches, and classically inspired door surrounds. Several good examples of this style can be found in the Lakeville Historic District, including the Lakeville Hose Company Fire Station erected in 1934, the c.1929 William Raynsford Carpentry Shop, the Salisbury Savings Bank, first constructed as an eclectic Gothic/Italianate structure in 1864 and then remodeled in the prevailing Colonial Revival style c.1925, and the c.1890 Hoyt & Bauman Store with its outstanding Palladian window in the street gable.
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Ethan Allen Street • Holley Street • Millerton Road • Route 41 • Route 44 • Sharon Road