A piece of the history of Trumbull, Connecticut, is being destroyed. This piece of history is a house built in 1756.
Quoting from a Christmas card sent by my grandfather in 1956, titled “Two Hundred Christmases in Trumbull”:
“This house was built during the French and Indian War. It was 17 years old at the time of the Boston Tea Party, and 21 Christmases had passed when the American Army found itself encamped at Valley Forge.
It was 32 when Washington was inaugurated, and 41 when Trumbull held its first town meeting. The national capital was burned and rated during the 58th year of existence and 109 winters had passed at the time of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.
When the first ship passed through the Panama Canal, this house had been giving shelter for 158 years.
In 1922, when these walls had been standing for 166 years, the Guion clan gathered around the Hearthstone for their first Christmas in Trumbull.”
It was built by the Hawley family, prominent businessmen who played a major role in establishing Trumbull. They owned a gristmill, a cider mill, a sawmill, a clay pit and a store. All of these were necessary to create a town and provide the services that were needed by others in the area to survive.
The house was given to Daniel Hawley on his marriage to Phoebe Mallett, who came from another prominent early settler. Phoebe was given a slave, Nero, as a wedding present.
Kitchen fireplace with Warming Oven to the right.
Dining Room fireplace
Living Room fireplace. This was the Music Room in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
Master Bedroom fireplace
The Bedroom fireplace, Biss and Dick’s room as young children.
The beams in the original Dining Room
At the clay pit Nero Hawley developed skills in brick making and at the Saw Mill he learned how to handle lumber, two very important skills needed to build a town. He served during the Revolutionary war and earned his freedom and was given the clay pit where he had made bricks. I believe he played a part in building the original house and constructing it’s massive chimney, which served 5 fireplaces. He went on to build his own house and run a business as a brick maker.
In 1922 my grandfather, Alfred Duryee Guion, and his wife, Arla Mary (Peabody) Guion, purchased the house.
They moved from Mount Vernon, New York, with their five young children, including Lad, my father, who was eight and the oldest, with his younger siblings.
During the 99 years that our family lived there, 5 generations have been sheltered by those sturdy walls. My grandfather served as First Selectman and during his tenure, a Volunteer Fire Department was established in Trumbull Center (he was a Charter Member) and an old mine was converted to a swimming area and park. He also served as Justice of the Peace for many, many years, marrying countless couples throughout the area.
He sent 5 sons with special skills to help Uncle Sam during World War II.
All 6 of the children married and those families also contributed to the well-being of Trumbull. My mother, Marian Irwin Guion, established a kindergarten at our church, which grew to include 8 teachers and about 80 students, before Trumbull offered public kindergartens in their schools 10 years later.
This house, so much a part of the history of Trumbull, has been purchased and is being converted into nine studio or one bedroom units. The artist rendering of the proposed building shows no chimneys which tells me that the massive chimney and 5 fireplaces from the original house will be demolished. It will no longer be recognizable as a home built in 1756 and will absolutely destroy this integral part of the history of the Town of Trumbull.
I will always think of the Trumbull House as it looks in this picture.
Tomorrow, I will begin posting Christmas greetings from the Trumbull House written at the end of 1944.
What an absolute shame.
Icefogger – Thank you for your comment. I will post updates as I learn more.
I think change often brings a loss of heritage for some, a promise of profit for others.
T. W. – Ain’t that the truth. It seems there are quite a few people who don’t know or don’t care about their heritage. Their focus is on numero uno. I know I can’t change things but I do not have to like it. This house sheltered my family for 99 years. My hope is to inspire people to cherish their history through my Blog. Thank you for your comment.
Reblogged this on Janet's Thread 2 and commented:
Judy – what a wonderful account of the history of your family and the Trumbull house. There are a number of similarities to the old house and farm owned by my sister and her husband in Milforrd New Hampshire.
Janet – Thank you for you thoughtful words. I regret that there is so little regard or respect for our history, our old buildings, monuments and the stories behind them. History will forever repeat itself if we do not learn from the past.
I can not believe they want to destroy such a beautiful home.
GP – I do not know what they are going to do and have not seen any drawings or plans, but I tend to fear the worst. He might keep most of the inside intact, but I find it difficult to imagine how 9 units can be created. The back yard will be a huge parking lot – just figure spaces for 18 or 20 cars. One side of the driveway enters the road on a dangerous curve. I would probably prefer that driveway eliminated just for the safety of all involved. Trumbull is certainly not the small town I grew up in. It is a suburb of Bridgeport with a population of about 36,000. It continues to grow. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to vest. I need that sometimes. Take care of yourself.
Sorry the integrity of this historical home is being destroyed. It is too bad a historical designation so that alterations had to be approved.
Pure Glory – Thank you. I keep hoping that the finished product will still look like an old house but I also have my concerns. Only time will tell.