Naubuc Historic District — Thursday Doors

Welcome to Thursday Doors, a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments below, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time).

I used to drive through this district on occasion when I had stopped at Maddie’s for breakfast on my way to work. I’ll spare you the images of pancakes and over-medium eggs, this is all about doors. The history of this district presented below is taken from the National Registry of Historic Places nomination form.

The Naubuc Avenue-Broad Street Historic District encompasses a generally well-preserved village that embodies the agrarian and maritime history of much of East Hartford. It derives particular importance from its nineteenth-century association with tobacco cultivation and the regional silver industry, and its later development as an early suburban residential community. The Naubuc Avenue-Broad Street Historic District is architecturally significant for its large collection of well-preserved vernacular domestic architecture, in which the distinctive imprint of local country builders is found on many types and styles from the early National period through the late nineteenth century. It also contains a number of generally well-preserved early twentieth-century houses.

A few of the houses featured today were individually described in the nomination form. Normally, I’d try to incorporate this information into the captions for my photographs. However, WordPress has been giving my fits over photos and captions, so I’m including the text here and I’ll add a reference in the captain if WordPress allows it. The descriptions below are for four houses of which I have current and historic photos.

The 1797 Captain Jehiel Risley House farther south on Naubuc Avenue was built of brick with integral end chimneys. Its unbalanced five-bay facade has a recessed doorway well to the left of center. Variations in the bond pattern and the type of brick indicate that it evolved from a one-story gambrel-roofed structure. Softer brick on the first-story is laid in a variant of American bond, with header courses at random intervals. The walls above the first-floor windows, which are capped with flared soldier courses, are laid with different brick and a wider spacing between the header courses. The original roof pattern is defined by the pattern of dissimilar brick on the end elevations.

The house built for the Reverend Benjamin C. Phelps, is an Octagon, a type designed and promoted by Orson Squire Fowler at mid-century. Although it generally follows Fowler’s design principals, instead of the usual masonry, it utilized plank-wall construction. Another departure is the placement of the entrance on the south side, away from the road, instead of the middle of the facade.

More houses were built or remodeled in the district through the turn of the twentieth century, mainly in the Queen Anne style. As interpreted by local builders, the basis for the style is an intersecting gable plan, as found in two houses constructed in the 1890s. The cross-gabled main block of the Risley-Fox House is detailed with imbricated shingles and an open facade porch. It is attached to an earlier house, which was moved back on the site and is now the rear ell. A simpler version built for August Noch across the street about 1903 also has retained its original porch, which is highlighted with sawn brackets and a spindle course.

Most of these houses were built in the 1920s on small lots, especially on Broad Street, and many have original garages. Because of the then common perception that automobiles were a fire hazard, these garages are placed to one side at the rear of the lots.

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144 comments

  1. Hi Dan – what a fascinating few properties … I’d love to live there – looks a wonderful place to have a home. So interesting … thanks – Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Hilary. We don’t have many neighborhoods with homes that date back to the 18th century, but the ones we have are all by the river. I’ll have more from this neighborhood next week.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s good to see you here, Robbie and early on a Thursday :-) The first time I took this “shortcut” to work, I was amazed to find these houses. Modern houses have been built closer to the river, but these homes were built when the river was home to an active little shipyard. I’m glad they’ve been maintained.

      Thanks for sharing the wonderful photos and history from your visit. I hope everyone pops over for a look.

      Like

  2. Thank you, Dan, for the journey. The structures are amazing, and like many, I’m drawn to the porches and the stories they could tell. The Octagon house was a surprise — and a delight.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Gwen. The octagon house was a surprise. At first, I thought it was an odd modern addition to this neighborhood. Then I read the history. I’m still surprised that it was a style that was in use. It must be hard to fit furniture in those rooms. But, at least is has a porch.

      Liked by 1 person

    • These are some of the oldest houses you will find in Connecticut. Very few homes remain standing from the 18th century.

      You have a great collection today, I need to raise the “Corner Door” flag for the folks who love to see those.

      Like

  3. I love a good porch too! But I wondered what “vernacular domestic architecture” was, never having seen “vernacular” used in that way. Here’s what I found, in case anyone else is wondering:

    Vernacular architecture is architecture characterised by the use of local materials and knowledge, usually without the supervision of professional architects. Vernacular architecture represents the majority of buildings and settlements created in pre-industrial societies and includes a very wide range of buildings, building traditions, and methods of construction. (Wikipedia)

    I went historic today as well and combined TD with Becky’s “bright” theme: https://sustainabilitea.wordpress.com/2021/04/01/thursday-doors-going-way-back-to-school/.

    Happy April!

    janet

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Captain Risley’s house is one for the books. The placement of the front door boggles my mind. It looks like the builder must have been drunk as a skunk. It’s hard to imagine it was done intentionally!

    I do like the octagon house. The porches are to die for. All in all, this is a unique collection of homes, all of which have passed the test of time with flying colors.
    Ginger

    Liked by 1 person

    • The location of that door was the first think I noticed when I drove by the house, Ginger. He might have been drunk, or maybe he had a dog like ours. When I built our back porch, our dog didn’t like where I put the stairs. We had six openings, five for windows and one for a door. She kept jumping out one of the window openings. Eventually, I moved the stairs to that opening, and she started using them. Still, the house has been there for over 200 years, so I guess lots of people have gotten used to it. I do love the porches. The octagon house seems a little weird to me, but it is interesting.

      I hope you’re having a nice (cold/wet) day.

      Like

    • I’m glad the octagon house has its fans. The Notch house might be my favorite this week. My favorite from the district will be shared next week.

      Your doors are great, Marian – I love barns, whatever their condition.

      Liked by 1 person

    • That was my question about the octagon house. I also wonder how the rooms are divided inside. The porches are wonderful on these houses. With the deep setbacks, I can see enjoying myself out there.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dan I use the Classic Editor and I think WP has decided to do away with it and boy am I having trouble writing my posts! I HATE the other editor and all that drama to every bit on the side of my HOME space! I forget to link to you the on the site! Sorry! Cady

        Liked by 1 person

        • The block editor doesn’t seem to have many fans. I’ve been using it. I hope to start a little series of tips and tricks on Monday. I added the link, in case you don’t, just to make sure you’re in the recap.

          Like

          • Dan I am leaving on Monday to try to replenish my Doorscursions! Ha Ha! But when I get back I will look for this post because any help I can get with the block editor will be much appreciated…One blogger told me WP gave us the option to keep the Classic Editor if you paid for it…..I didn’t get that memo or the change memo either! I will be without my computer this week, I NEVER travel with it, so I can focus on only photos…..so my TD post will be pre-scheduled, but I won’t be able to link it the day of posting……will you be on the lookout for it? I will catch up on all posts when I return. I don’t want to miss anything! Cady

            Liked by 1 person

  5. I could very happily live in any one of these houses. Is there a special name for the peaked roof with the 1-2 windows? I think that would be my favorite room in the entire house.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think there’s a special word for the windows, but the homes are referred to as Queen Anne with an “intersecting gable plan.” It’s hard to see from these photos, but there’s another gable 90-degrees to the left of the one with the windows. I think that would make that attic space even more interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Such pretty houses, Dan. I love the bricks of the first, the way the garage doors are almost invisible, the shape of the octagonal house and the colour of that blue one.

    Today starts my poetry month and I begin by scoffing at jazz. The Torre Alfina door tour continues by descending from the castle as if we were some car. There is also a church with a lovely door, or is there?

    https://mexcessive.photo.blog/2021/04/01/day-one-thursday-doors-1-4-21-torre-alfina-3/

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I love the houses built in the 1800s. Around here, the oldest was built in 1960 and is not in as good a shape as the one built in 1840.. Super doors today. I was wondering about furniture placement in the Octagon house as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jesh. I was impressed by the fact that some of the garages and some of the porches are original. Your doors could use a little TLC, but I like them.

      Happy Easter.

      Like

      • One of the things I had to get used to on the country side, mess and rust did not seem to be a thing to be avoided.It’s understandable for the ones who have a farm – never enough time to keep everything in tiptop shape:).Jesh

        Liked by 1 person

    • It was a pleasure to drive up and down the street. I’m glad the neighborhood has survived in tact given the modern trend to tear down and rebuild bigger.

      St. Andrew’s Church is amazing!

      Like

  8. The difference in the older photos and the newer ones is significant. Especially the clearing out of the extra trees and shrubs, although with your harsh winters, maybe they just succumbed to the elements and weren’t replaced?? Enjoy seeing the comparisons though.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dan, it warms my heart greatly that some have the sense not to tear down and rebuild but to preserve. These homes are exquisite!! I really enjoyed looking at the before and after pictures of some of these homes. Well done, you!! You gave me the opportunity to enjoy a part of history when I wasn’t around to enjoy it. Thank you!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Amy. It is a little surprising that some of these haven’t been torn down or merged into some awful expansion project. It’s also amazing to finr garages and porches that are from the original homes. That tells me great care has been taken over time.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. The octagon house and the 1797 brick house are my faves. We have a brick octagon house in a neighboring town. Brick is uncommon here, of course. So is an octagon shaped house. Loved the doors, Dan!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not sure I had seen an octagon house around here. A brick one must be quite the sight. Brick was uncommon here until the mid-1800s when they started making bricks in Windsor (about 15 miles north of these houses. But, this area was in the shipping lane, so I guess it was possible to bring them in.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, both the shape and using bricks are rare here. If I get a chance to take a picture I will send it to you. I see what you mean about a better likelihood of brick houses being built in a shipping lane. Happy Easter, Dan!

        Liked by 1 person

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