Pines Bridge Historic District
The Pines Bridge Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. 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 Pines Bridge Historic District is a residential and commercial area located in the northwest quadrant of North Haven just west of the town center. The older section of the Pines Bridge Historic District, dating from the 18th century, runs north-south along State Street, west of the Quinnipiac River. The newer section, at the southeast corner of the district and dating from the 19th century, lies between the river and the railroad to the east. The modern town center of North Haven is east of the railroad and the district.
The Pines Bridge Historic District comprises approximately 40 acres and 76 resources. There are 40 primary buildings that contribute to the historical and architectural significance and 10 contributing outbuildings. Altogether, contributing resources comprise 66% of the Pines Bridge Historic District's total resources.
Of the 40 primary contributing buildings, 3 date from the 18th century, 33 from the 19th century, and 4 from the 20th century. Their breakdown by style is 2 Georgian Colonial, 1 Federal, 6 Greek Revival, 4 Italianate, 3 Stick style, 9 Queen Anne, 7 Colonial Revival, and 8 19th-century vernacular.
The activity center of the Pines Bridge Historic District is the intersection of State Street and Broadway. Buildings within the Pines Bridge Historic District are pleasantly spaced from one another, and modern intrusions are few, consisting primarily of four homes built in the late 1930s through 1950s and two modern commercial buildings on State Street and Old Broadway.
Several of the Pines Bridge Historic District's houses built prior to 1900 have been covered with asbestos or aluminum siding. Still, the majority retain their original form and much of their detailing, and their stylistic influences are clearly evident.
The three oldest houses in the Pines Bridge Historic District are the David Bassett House at 20 State Street, the Pierpont House at 29 State Street, and the Joshua Simmons House, 39 State Street. All three date from the last quarter of the 18th century. The form of the David Bassett House is that of the traditional New England Colonial house, with two stories, 5-bay facade, and central chimney. The Pierpont House has a more formal center hall plan with two interior chimneys and a Federal tripartite window over the front entrance.
The Joshua Simmons House, a twin-chimney center-hall plan house, is one room in depth. Its narrower profile and gable end returns suggest the Federal style, while its rear ell and south bay window were added in the 19th century.
Other early houses include a one-room wing of the J. Boardman Smith House at 30 State Street, believed to be 18th century, and the house at 2 Philip Place, a small one-story building of post-and-beam construction with a projecting roof line supported by posts.
The Pines Bridge Historic District has good representation in the Greek Revival style, reflecting growing industrial and commercial activity during the period of this style's popularity. Two of the best-preserved examples are the J. Boardman Smith House, recently rehabilitated, at 30 State Street, and the H.M. Blakeslee House at 97 Old Broadway. Two other houses in the style have been re-sided but still retain most of their original detailing, the Sherlock Mansfield House at 46 State Street and the H. Bradley House at 22 State Street. The Bradley House is particularly noteworthy for the full-height Doric columns gracing its facade.
The Pines Bridge Historic District displays three late-Victorian styles which were popular in the last quarter of the 19th century, a period of gradual growth in the area. The Italianate style is visible in two modest houses, 52 State Street and 17 Bishop Street, and in two brick buildings: the train station and the Stiles store at 70 Old Broadway. The Stick style was used on three houses, the most spectacular example being the Merton Gillette House at 32 State Street with its decorative shingling, steeply pitched roof, gable-end trusses, and fanciful porch.
The Queen Anne style is represented in the greatest number of houses, 9. Most are modest 2-story single-family dwellings. The greatest concentration is in the Old Broadway/Philip Place area.
Several of the houses (85 and 89 Old Broadway, 3 and 4 Philip Place, 9 Bishop Street, and 54 and 56 State Street) share similar characteristics, and at least five of these houses are known to have been designed by the same builder, Solomon Linsley.
The Pines Bridge Historic District includes eight vernacular late Victorian buildings as well. Typical among these is 35 State Street, a small rectangular one-story house with gable roof and Eastlake porch. The Pines Bridge Historic District also has several barns, remnants of its agrarian past.
During the 20th century, most construction in the Pines Bridge Historic District has been in a variation of the Colonial Revival style. The William Dickerman House at 99 Old Broadway is an early example.
The Pines Bridge Historic District has one industrial building, the former Smith Brothers carriage factory at 9 State Street, which has been converted to a residence.
The non-contributing structure in the district is the bridge spanning the Quinnipiac River on Broadway. It is a replacement for an earlier bridge built in the 1920s. This bridge is the latest in a succession of bridges spanning the river at or near this location since 1680.
The architecture of the Pines Bridge Historic District is significant because it is the largest concentration of 18th and 19th-century buildings remaining in North Haven and represents three important periods in the history of the community during the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Notable within the Pines Bridge Historic District are several fine examples of Georgian Colonial, Federal, Greek Revival, Stick style, Italianate, Queen Anne, and Colonial Revival residences, including several late 19th-century houses designed by prominent local builder Solomon Fowler Linsley. The Pines Bridge Historic District also includes original buildings associated with the railroad and local commerce arid industry during the 19th century.
Three stages in the growth and development of North Haven are represented by the Pines Bridge Historic District's architecture: agricultural settlement and the beginnings of commerce centered around the Quinnipiac River, 1770-1840; the advent of the railroad and the growth of industry, 1840-1900; and the town's early development as a suburb, 1920-38.
Settlers first ventured into the North Haven area in the 1670s, traveling up the Quinnipiac River from New Haven and establishing farms along its banks. One of the first groups of settlers sailed up the river to the area of "the Pines," the farthest point navigable by deep-water ships and the first place north of where it was possible to ford the Quinnipiac River at low tide.
Along the west side of the river ran a rutted road now called State Street, which served as a main thoroughfare between Hartford and New Haven. To ease travel, a group of speculators built a bridge at the Pines by 1680. This bridge was located slightly north of the present Broadway Bridge. The bridge eventually became the responsibility of the town and was repaired and replaced several times over its history.
Given the advantages of the bridge and the Quinnipiac River, the Pines Bridge area gradually grew as a center of commerce in the otherwise rural community. In 1762, a tidal dam was constructed just south of the present-day Broadway Bridge to provide power for a grist mill and a sawmill on opposite banks of the river. A shipyard was established just south of the dam on the west bank of the river. This shipyard became the center of a hardwood lumber trade and commission business at the Pines which prospered from 1770-1800. The Pierpont House, 29 State Street, was built at the approximate entrance to the bridge during this period, while the Joshua Simmons House, 39 State Street, faced the shipyard.
In the late 18th century it was discovered that the rich clay along the Quinnipiac River was useful in making bricks, and many farmers in the Pines Bridge area developed a sideline in brickmaking. By the time of the Revolution, there were at least a dozen small brickyards in North Haven, most of them along the Quinnipiac River south of Pines Bridge.
Just prior to 1840, the tracks for the New Haven and Hartford railroad were laid, passing through the town center between Pines Bridge and the town green. By the mid-1850s, the railroad had become an essential part of the economic life of the town. In the 1860s, a railroad station, still extant, was built on the west side of the tracks at Broadway.
With the railroad's advantages for shipping goods, brickmaking became North Haven's leading industry. The North Haven Brick Company had its headquarters on State Street, near the approximate location of 40 State Street, and one of the largest brickmakers, I.L. Stiles and Son, located just south of the train station. Several brickyard owners, such as Erus Bishop (14 Bishop Street), Frederick Brockett (6 Bishop Street) and Henry Blakeslee (97 Old Broadway), built their homes in the Pines Bridge area.
The Pines Bridge area became the commercial center for North Haven center. By 1859, North Haven boasted 22 stores and manufactories, up from 7 in 1830. Most were small family-run businesses, and maps of the 1850s and 60s show the Pines Bridge area dotted with small shops run by grocers, shoemakers, blacksmiths, and wheelwrights. Among these were carriage-related industries, such as the Smith Brothers factory at 9 State Street.
Across the street from the train station, Isaac and Henry Stiles built a store, located at 70 Old Broadway, which housed the town's post office for the next 70+ years. The longest surviving store was Pierpont's, a general store built by Rufus Pierpont in 1850 at 31 State Street, next door to his home. The store supplied brickyard workers and farmers with an array of household and farming items, and remained in operation by the Pierpont family until World War II.
By the 1920s, the automobile and trolley were the primary means of transportation, and State Street became a main auto thoroughfare on the route from New Haven to Boston. During the 1920s, North Haven's population jumped, and the number of houses increased by 50%.
The Pines Bridge area was largely cut off from the government center of the town to its east in the 1950s when Interstate 91 was built between the two areas. Since that time, Pines Bridge has been recognized as a distinct area separate from the town center.
The Pines Bridge Historic District represents North Haven's largest concentration of historic buildings and is significant as one of the finest collections of architectural styles from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries remaining in the town. While several individual buildings in the Pines Bridge Historic District are of exceptional quality, the district's architecture is most notable for its breadth and variety of styles, and for its collection of buildings designed by Solomon Fowler Linsley, a prolific local builder and architect whose practice encompassed the most important public and residential structures in the town during the last quarter of the 19th century.
The David Bassett House, the Pierpont House, and the Joshua Simmons House, at 20, 29, and 31 State Street, respectively, are representative of the Colonial, Georgian, and Federal styles built during North Haven's period of early settlement and commerce (1770-1840). The Bassett House is a common example of the Colonial style in North Haven because of its large central chimney, while the Pierpont House has a more formal Georgian center-hall plan. Both houses are well-preserved examples of their type.
The Greek Revival style was popular at the time of the railroad's arrival, and several owners of new businesses in the area adopted the style for their homes. One of the finest of these is the Henry Bradley House at 22 State Street with its full-height Doric columns, which are unusual for North Haven. Other more modest but equally well-preserved examples of the style are the J. Boardman Smith House, 30 State Street, and the Sherlock Mansfield House, 46 State Street. Erus Blakeslee Bishop, after whom Bishop Street was named, also built his house in the style.
In the Pines Bridge Historic District, as elsewhere, houses tended to change over time, with the alterations sometimes taking on architectural significance in their own right. Two examples of buildings displaying a variety of 19th-century styles are the Henry M. Blakeslee House, 97 Old Broadway, which combines a classic Greek Revival form with a full-width Italianate porch and Queen Anne-style additions designed by Solomon Linsley; and the Pierpont Store at 31 State Street, which displays an original Italianate storefront and side porch on an otherwise Greek Revival building, and a Queen Anne addition also designed by Linsley.
Two good examples of houses built in the Italianate style are the Charles B. Smith House, 17 Bishop Street, and the Herbert Bassett House, 52 State Street, both with characteristic arched gable windows and decorative porches. The style is employed in a more simplified form in the design of the train station and the Stiles Store.
The Stick style gained limited popularity in the area during the 1860s and 70s. One of the finest examples of the style is the Merton Gillette House at 32 State Street. The house displays a variety of shapes and textures, including board and batten siding, imbricated shingles, and lacy jig-cut T-braces decorating the ends of the steeply pitched gables.
Around 1870, Henry Blakeslee, who owned much of the land between the river and the railroad tracks south of Broadway, installed a private road, Blakeslee Avenue, now called Philip Place, on his land and sold parcels for single family homes. Several of the new homes built along this new road and throughout North Haven bore the stamp of Solomon Fowler Linsley (1830-1901), a local builder who designed at least 32 late Victorian houses and public buildings in North Haven between 1865 and 1901.
Linsley was trained as a carpenter and builder, and advertised as such throughout his career. His designs display a unique personal style characterized by his consistent use of certain decorative details. One of his more elaborate Queen Anne designs was the Amanda Todd House at 89 Old Broadway, which originally was graced by a wrap-around porch. Linsley also developed a smaller Queen Anne house type of simple plan in response to local building needs. Examples are the Henry Thorpe House, 3 Philip Place and the J.S. Thomlinson House, 9 Bishop Street. Common to virtually all of his houses are decorative verge boards, scroll brackets at the gable ends, and porches with turned posts. Linsley also designed vernacular structures such as the Joseph Beauchamp House at 6 Philip Place, as well as compatible additions to existing buildings (H.M. Blakeslee House and the Pierpont Store).
The Smith Brothers carriage parts factory at 9 State Street, a late 19th-century vernacular brick building, is the only industrial structure remaining in the Pines Bridge Historic District. Now a residence, the building has had several alterations over the years, but its basic form and fenestration remain intact.
The Pines Bridge Historic District also reflects the popularity of the Colonial Revival style at the turn of the century. The William Dickerman House, 99 Old Broadway, and the Marcus Marks House, 14 State Street, are transitional examples combining both Colonial Revival and Queen Anne elements.
A smaller version of the Colonial Revival style was prevalent in the Pines Bridge Historic District during the early suburban period (1920-38). Well-preserved examples include 22 State Street, and 4 and 10 Bishop Street.
The Pines Bridge Historic District has survived North Haven's unprecedented growth over the past two decades with relatively few modern intrusions. It remains as one of the few surviving concentrations of 18th, 19th, and early 20th-century buildings in the town.
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†Janice Elliott and David Ransom, consultants, and John Herzan, Connecticut Historical Commission, Pines Bridge Historic District, North Haven, CT, nomination document, 1987, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.