Pride of Place: Architecture Along State Street, New London, Connecticut

Union Station, 1888

Architect: H.H. Richardson

Union Station (1888), H.H. Richardson

Known as "Richardson's last station," Union Station was completed after his death in 1888. Six railroad companies serving passengers and freight in New London consolidated their activities in this one terminal. The impressive building is hip roofed and powerfully massed. The numerous windows are well proportioned and well arranged, while the brickwork arrangement displays Richardsonís unique ability to employ this common material with aesthetic effect.

Commissioned in 1885 by City officials, the building was planned and designed to bring a sense of union and integration to New London's transportation activities. It's site at the bottom of the historic Parade was meant to funnel traffic to business on State and Bank Street.

Marsh Building, 1916

Architect: Dudley St. Clair Donnelly

Marsh Building (1916), Dudley St. Clair Donnelly

This business block reflects the pride of early 20th century businessmen in the commercial center of their city.

Dudley St. Clair Donnelly was hired as chief draftsman for Cole and Chandler in 1892. Donnelly remained in the city after Coleís death and became a highly respected architect. He was selected to design this building for Marsh in 1916. At that time he was in partnership with Louis Hazeltine and together they designed and built many of the buildings on this tour and fine homes throughout the city.

Cronin Building, 1892

Architect: George Warren Cole

Cronin Building (1892), George Warren Cole

This historic photo shows a strong Richardsonian influence in the intricately detailed brick work and the carefully balanced rows of windows along the faÁade, creating bright, well-lit interior offices. Cole arrived in New London to supervise the building of the public library for Richardsonís successor firm, Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge of Boston. Jeremiah Cronin was one of the promoters of the Post Hill Improvement Company, along with James Hislop and Gov. Thomas Waller.

Morris Bacon's Marble Block, 1868

Architect: James Sweeney

Morris Bacon's Marble Block (1868), James Sweeney

Morris Bacon: yachtsman, horseman, and wealthy businessman, introduced a new sense of grandeur to the growing commercial interests of State Street in the mid 1800s. The Bacon Building's Second Renaissance Style with elegant, tall windows, a front facade of ashlar stonework and rusticated quoins on the corners provided three ground-floor spaces for high-quality retail. The upper floors housed lawyers, dentists and insurance agents along with a luxurious billiard hall frequented by the tycoons reaping profits from the whaling industry. Recently restored, with work still underway, three street-level retail spaces recreate the original faÁade. High-ceilings and the original large windows enhance new apartments on the upper floors.

Municipal Building, 1856

Architect: W.T. Hallett

Municipal Building (1856), W.T. Hallett

A modest, Italianate-styled, brownstone-clad Municipal Building, shows a "less institutional" design that related to the residential neighborhood of upper State Street in the mid 1800s.

Municipal Building, 1912

Architect: James Sweeney

Municipal Building (1912), James Sweeney

As commercial buildings expanded up the street in the early 1900s, the City wanted a more impressive edifice to host City services. James Sweeney won his most notable commission to transform the exterior of the Municipal Building into a Renaissance Revival building with a cut gray granite faÁade, Corinthian columns and pedimented windows. The design is meant to demonstrate a "Civic pride" in the architecture of State Street.

First Congregational Church, 1850

Architect: Leopold Eidlitz

First Congregational Church (1850), Leopold Eidlitz

Bringing European sensibilities to State Street, this Gothic Revival Church was designed by Eidlitz who trained in the offices of Richard Upjohn in New York City while Upjohn was at work on the design of Trinity Church. There he learned construction methods of ecclesiastical structures but went on to work in many styles. In the late 1870s he collaborated with H.H. Richardson and F.L. Olmsted in the redesign of the New York State Capitol in Albany.

Manwaring Building, 1913

Architect: Dudley St. Clair Donnelly

Manwaring Building (1913), Dudley St. Clair Donnelly

Dr. Robert A. Manwaring's home and office was originally on this site. Trustees for the estate of Wolcott B. Manwaring, his son, commissioned this office building in 1913 and, sometime later, profits from the rentals were used to build the childrenís wing of Lawrence & Memorial Hospital.

This attractive, three-story classical revival building reflects the growing business interests on the street. Its brick and concrete faÁade is enhanced with Doric pilasters and stylized relief work along the graceful row of six arched windows.

This was one of Donnellyís first commercial blocks in downtown. Dudley St. Clair Donnelly and his partner Louis Hazeltine were responsible for many commercial buildings and homes throughout the city. Their neo-classic style is a reaction to the heavy Richardsonian Romanesque popular at the end of the 19th century. The simplicity and elegance of the neo-classic movement, pioneered by English-born Benjamin Henry Latrobe, was a return to the purity and elegance of Classical Greece.

Lyric Hall, 1898

Architect: James Sweeney

Lyric Hall (1898), James Sweeney

The upper floors of Lyric Hall hold a lovely small theatre space once used for dance performances, lectures and musical performances, popular events in the late 1800s. As social patterns changed, audiences for these small musical events declined. In the mid-20th century dance classes were held in the theatre space.

Abandoned for many years, this building is a prime opportunity for the right developer!

Architect James Sweeney was a New London native who studied architecture at the Academy of Design in New York. He practiced his craft in the architectural offices of Cole and Chandler along with another young architect, Dudley St. Clair Donnelly. After Coleís untimely death at the age of 26 from Typhoid Fever, Sweeney opened his own office in the Cronin Building and completed much of Cole's work.

Thames Club, 1904

Architects: Ewing and Chappell

Thames Club (1904), Ewing and Chappell

In 1869 a number of local gentlemen formally organized the Thames Club, " association for social purposes." This elegant building, constructed in an Italian Palazzo style, was the club for 19th and 20th century gentlemen, However, 20th century life created great change on State Street and beginning in 1993 women were accepted as members.

Mohican Hotel, 1896

Architect: William B. Tuthill

Mohican Hotel (1896), William B. Tuthill

Magazine publisher and multimillionaire, Frank Munsey had this building constructed to house his printing pressesómeanwhile avoiding problems with New York printing unions. The ploy didnít work and in 1898 he turned it into a hotel. In its heyday the Mohican was one of the finest hotels in Connecticut and when the Crocker House closed, it was the only hotel in downtown.

William Tuthill worked in association with Louis H. Sullivan in the design and construction of New Yorkís Carnegie Hall in 1891. He used the same steel-skeleton framing for Munseyís building to create ìNew Londonís Skyscraper.î The technique allowed for more flexible window arrangements and much taller buildings. While using the most up-to-date construction, he designed the exterior to maintain traditional New London facades, balancing with existing State Street buildings. The window arches with pilasters are neo-classical as are the Corinthian columns and arched windows of the penthouse floor.

Crocker House, 1872

Crocker House (1872)

The "most modern" hotel in town when it opened on New Yearís Eve, 1873, introduced a monumental scale to the street. A.N. Ramsdell, president of the New London Northern Railroad and New London City National Bank, inspired the project. Built by the New London Hotel Company it hosted glamorous balls and parties during the heyday of New London in the late 19th and early 20th century. The building was named for Henry Scudder Crocker, the hotelís first proprietor. who was also the influential manager of The Pequot House, New London's elite summer resort near the mouth of the Thames River.

Plant Building, 1914

Architect: Dudley St. Clair Donnelly

Plant Building (1914), Dudley St. Clair Donnelly

First known as The Plant Building, Dudley St. Clair Connelly designed the building for Morton S. Plant a railroad tycoon and major investor in New London in the early 20th century. The building was a final commercial intrusion on once-residential State Street, but its Ionic pilasters, cartouches, carved swans and intricate brickwork maintained the quality of the street. Donnelly opened his own offices in the building.

The Garde Theatre, 1926

Architect: Arland W. Johnson

The Garde Theatre (1926), Arland W. Johnson

The Williams mansion, filling the entire city block, held its place here until 1923 when this Art Deco "photoplay house" was built for Arthur S. Friend. Johnson built several other theaters in the New England area and the associated office building was planned to help make the theatre profitable. Moving pictures were the big draw but live performances were also offered and major stars, including Lillian Gish and Al Jolson played the Garde.

New London Public Library, 1892

Architects: Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge

New London Public Library (1892), Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge

In 1876, whaling merchant Henry Haven left a bequest in trust to be used for ìcharitable and benevolent purposesî in the city he loved. His trustees elected to build a library for the citizens and hired the most influential architect of the time to design the building.

Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge, successors to H.H. Richardson, had contracts for three major New London buildings in the 1890s. The New London library draws heavily on Richardsonís other libraries with its Romanesque architecture, gables, towers and arches. They sent George Warren Cole, age 22, to the city as project supervisor for the Public Library, the Williams Memorial Institute and the Nathan Hale School. Cole opened his own architectural firm in the Cronin Building and his influence on New London architecture has been lasting.

New London County Courthouse

Architecture: 1784, Attributed to Isaac Fitch
1909 addition, Dudley St. Clair Donnelly

New London County Courthouse (1784), Attributed to Isaac Fitch, 1909 addition, Dudley St. Clair Donnelly

From its prime location at the top of State Street, this wood-framed, gambrel-roofed, Georgian building has been a commanding presence for over 200 years. With two major additions, most recently in 1982, it is one of the oldest courthouses still in use in the United States.

Take a Walk Along Whale Oil Row:

Whale Oil Row is named for four Greek Revival homes of whaling captains and is the last remnant of a neighborhood demolished by urban renewal in the 1960s.

Greek Revival buildings with corner pilasters, low-pitched hipped roofs and cornices were a very popular style in New London in the 1850s. The grand Whale Oil Row homes have two story porticos with fluted Ionic columns.

Harris Place, 1885

Architect: Leopold Eidlitz

Harris Place (1885), Leopold Eidlitz

This Romanesque Revival style building introduced large apartments for upper-class New Londoners. Jonathan Newton Harris, businessman and philanthropist, hired Leopold Eidlitz, who had trained in building construction at the Viennese Polytechnic, to design this multi-use building, a unique feature for its day. Hislop, Porteous & Mitchell, a fancy department store was the major tenant until 1931. Thirty offices and eight apartments filled the upper stories.

St. James Church, 1850

Architect: Richard Upjohn

St. James Church (1850), Richard Upjohn

Richard Upjohn was commissioned to rebuild Trinity Church in New York City in 1839. Upjohnís Trinity Church inaugurated a new phase in the Gothic revival style of church design. In the 1850s he was instrumental in founding the American Institute of Architects and was its president until 1876.

St. James Church was consecrated in 1850. The architecture demonstrates Upjohnís belief that his Gothic styling expressed essential ethical and spiritual values. The prominent spire rises one hundred and sixty feet and the exterior is New Jersey red freestone. Beautiful stained glass windows by Louis Comfort Tiffany grace the gothic interior.

The Custom House, 1834
150 Bank Street

Architect: Robert Mills

The Custom House (1834), 150 Bank Street, Robert Mills

The United States Custom House in New London is the oldest operating Custom House in the United States. Designed by Robert Mills, the nationís first appointed federal architect, he was undoubtedly influenced by Thomas Jefferson. With Jefferson and others a distinctive federal style design was created to impress with simplicity, and the monumentality of the Greek Revival style. Mills designed the Washington Monument and the Treasury Building.

The use of solid material such as the great blocks of local granite, the distinctive cornice and pilasters on the front corners, and the heavily vaulted interior spaces, tell all visitors that the young government had authority to oversee all maritime activity. The oak doors were fashioned from the planking of the frigate Constitution, known as ìOld Ironsides.

Still operating as a Custom House, the building is also the Custom House Maritime Museum, filled with artifacts of New Londonís maritime history. The building is a testament to the role the city has played in the nationís history.

St. James Church at the corner of Huntington & Federal Street will be open with guides to show their beautiful gothic interior and Tiffany windows. The Custom House Museum, at 150 Bank Street is also open and welcoming visitors today.

First Baptist Church, 1856

Corner State & Washington Streets

First Baptist Church (1856), Corner State & Washington Streets

The church was dedicated on March 13, 1856 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The stained glass windows, representative of the Victorian period, were donated by various families within the church. The architect is unknown, but the style is a typical example of a Victorian period city church.