From a small seed…

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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).

The week before Thanksgiving, a former coworker / fellow retiree had lunch. Long story, but it was supposed to end with a hot fudge sundae. The place we had lunch didn’t have any on the menu. We went to a Dairy Queen (US soft serve) – they were open, but only for takeout. My friend is from Wethersfield, CT. He mentioned that there was a small ice cream shop in historic Old Wethersfield. Hey, when you’re retired, and no longer bound by protocol, time isn’t the issue.

Wethersfield has long claimed the status of Connecticut’s first town. If you’ve been following me long enough, you might remember that Windsor, Connecticut (just south of where I live) also claims to be the State’s first town. Let’s leave that debate for another time and talk about a claim to fame that Historic Wethersfield owns without dispute – “The Cradle of American Seed Companies.”

At one point in America’s early history, there were ten seed companies in Wethersfield. They had farms; they grew crops. They gathered, milled and packaged seeds and they sold them throughout New England and beyond as America expanded. There were never actually ten companies in operation. As the chart below illustrates, it all began with Joseph Belden and his brother James. James operated the Wethersfield Seed Gardens in 1820.

chart of seed companies
The chain of ownership of the Wethersfield seed companies

Much of the company was destroyed by fire in 1834. Franklin G. Comstock and his son bought the Seed Gardens in 1838 along with a small inventory of seeds.  Butler Strong joined them and they purchased $1,200 worth of seeds from London. They were the founders of Comstock Ferre – a company that existed until 2010, briefly went out of business but is operated today by a seed retailer. Thomas Griswold formed an independent seed company in 1845 which operated successfully until 1931 when it became part of Comstock Ferre.

Butler Strong started his own company. He sold it to Richard Robbins. Charles C. Hart worked for that company for over a dozen years. If you’re still following, that’s important, it might be on the exam. Meanwhile, in 1877: Egbert Decker began a wholesale seed business on Marsh Street, selling it in 1894 to Charles C. Hart, Welles & Co. In 1897: Hart Welles & Co. became The Charles C. Hart Seed Company which remains in business today.

Today, The Charles C. Hart Seed Company operates out of their office / warehouse in Old Wethersfield. The original Comstock Ferre building as well as the Joseph Belden are still standing, although the town has tried to demolish them. Fortunately, preservationist have fought the town to prevent that action. Those buildings are the subject of my first set of doors from Historic Old Wethersfield.

I hope you enjoy the pictures in the gallery. I also hope you have a chance to follow some of the links in the comments below that will lead you to the doors by the other participants. Note, the reference to ‘protocol’ is so I could also count this post for Linda G. Hill’s JusJoJan challenge. The prompt was supplied by John at The Sound of One Hand Typing. Thanks John!

If you are in a hurry and don’t wish to scroll through the comments, click to Jump to the comment form.

150 comments

    • Thanks Teresa. I couldn’t resist including the waste bad holder. I love it when people make utilitarian objects fit in. I was surprised to learn about all the seed companies in this small area.

      I enjoyed the tour you took us on today, I hope you have a great weekend..

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Hi Dan, that front entrance of the Beldon House has a historic and stately feel – with he picket fence and grand trim. Enjoyed learning about the ten seed companies and the brief history you gave us reminds me how businesses have ebb and flow – much change and many transitions

    Liked by 3 people

    • I thought of you immediately when I found the little area between those buildings, Judy. I knew you would feel at home there. If you come up I-91 on your way home, this is about 10 minutes off the highway. .

      Liked by 2 people

  2. First and foremost, didja ever get the Hot Fudge Sundae? My husband’s parents lived in Wethersfield, MA back in the 60’s.

    Quite a history here. People back then didn’t give up easily, did they? They dusted themselves off and tried it on their own or to go in a slightly different direction.

    Love these well worn buildings. The Belden House must’ve been considered quite “modern” in its time. Nice front entrance. I also like the Comstock Ferre….it wears its years well. Better than me! 🤗

    But the winner is that little poopy bag house. So clever and functional! Lol!

    Nice tour this morning, and we’re at 21 degrees F! Almost a heatwave!
    Ginger

    Liked by 4 people

    • We did get our sundaes. I’ll share that door next week. Ginger.

      I knew that despite all the history and early New England craftsmanship on display, people would like the poop-bag holder – I know I did.

      The way these businesses grew and survived is interesting. I imagine there was a little cutthroat activity amongst them during the first 100 years. I find it remarkable that at least two businesses still survive.

      I’ve been out with Maddie, She checked the temp and gave me the “we can go, right?” look. We’ll be out and about pretty soon.

      Liked by 1 person

    • John participates in a number of challenges and has a few features of his own. I love his posts about music, radio and TV.

      I knew the poop bag holder would steal the show, but I really like it – form and function.

      I enjoyed your doors today. Thanks for joining us.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a wonderful walk through the history! It is nice to see that while it changed hands, it seemed to remain pretty much intact. And I hate to hear of them demolishing old buildings. I hope they will be able to keep it. And I’m afraid my favourite door is the one over the doggie bags. What a wonderful idea. There should be more of them in public. Attractive and practical. Not at all like me.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Haha – I knew the poop bag door would steal the show today, Pam. I couldn’t resist including it in n otherwise serious post. It was fun to read about the ways people left these businesses to strike out on their own and then ended up selling out to the company they left.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s hard to imagine having to buy seeds from Europe when shipments had to take months. These guys cashed in on a rather urgent need, but it was a lot of work. I’m glad the buildings remain and the town embraces that history.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved today’s journey, Dan, especially because I love searching for and buying seeds. It’s amazing to think that in 1820 the Hart Seed Company began. Thank you so much for this walk through history. 😊

    Liked by 3 people

    • I didn’t;t venture into the Heirloom Store, Gwen. I imagine you would love exploring that place, 200 years is a long time for a company to be operating out of the same facility. I’m glad they are. I’ll have more doors from this area over the next few weeks.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s an interesting story about the seeds, Dan. There are a number of companies now that have heritage seeds, which I think is wonderful. I really like Belden house and the Comstock building. If you travel across most of the US, you’ll see that my doors have a very different and distinctly European vibe to them so hop on your virtual plane (no airport hassles, delays, or cancelled flights) for a quick stop in Tuscon, Arizona and Tohono Chul botanical garden.

    Thursday doors…Southwest doors

    janet

    Liked by 3 people

    • I do like traveling this way, Janet. I was able to enjoy your doors and still have my toast. I think selling the heirloom seeds is a nice idea. I like the idea of a tomato that grew without getting its start in a laboratory. These two houses have survived for 200 years, which is a long time, especially when you’re fighting people who want to tear them down and replace them with something unremarkable.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. These buildings remind me of that college you featured some time ago — in Minnesota, maybe? It looked so sturdy and resolute, determined to weather the weather and anything else. Defiant. One looks with respect at such buildings. Plus that Belden house is a gem. What an interesting connection to gardeners!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I think those buildings were part of the long series from the Duluth area. Buildings that have to survive in a harsh winter. I’m guessing that a lot of maintenance has gone into keeping the Belden house on its feet for 200 years. I’m glad it survived the fire that claimed their barn and a couple other houses.

      My wife is already looking at seeds and plants, getting ready for spring, even though planting is months away – it’s how gardeners work.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. But..wait…what about the ice cream? Did you get it? Was it great? What flavor sundae? 🤪Aside from that I love the images you got of the town and what a rich history. Hubby would love to visit there. He’s really a farmer at heart.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Sorry if I ruin your diet, Frank, but it’s hard not to go there. The Belden house is a favorite of mine, too. I love the surviving wooden houses from that era. I shudder to think about all the maintenance that has been required, but I’m glad it was done.

      Like

  8. These buildings are beautiful. Why would they want to knock down something so historic?! People puzzle me sometime. You know, the only seed company I remember reading about was Burpee, so these were new ones for me. Ice cream has no season, right? I was making my own over the summer–no-churn ice cream. But I stopped. We were eating way too much!!🍦

    Liked by 3 people

    • There is no season to ice cream, but there is a danger in having it be too convenient. As to why anyone would want to tear these buildings down, Lois, I can only guess it has something to do with money. I have no idea what they were planning to put up in place of these buildings, but there are shops and single family homes in the historic district. I’m just glad they haven’t been able to proceed.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Hmm talking about seed companies in winter. And a gardener is supposed to do what in winter ? I do believe you have opened the door unto summer. Fortunately I happen to have my own seed catalog open. I will be right back… next fall that is. Thanks Dan. Happy Thursday.

    Liked by 3 people

    • The resident gardener is already looking at seeds and plants, John. I know how you guys work. You might be your own supplier, but 200 years ago, you could have decided to supply daylily throughout New England and beyond.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t want to exert undo influence, but you know you’re always welcome here on Thursday. Your doors today were pretty cool, and I’m learning a little about NM.

      I’ll be hanging out in Old Wethersfield for a few weeks.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s my favorite in the area. I wonder how much work has gone into it over 200 years to keep it in such good condition. I like Snickets – it’s a cool word and great photos.

      Like

    • The earliest settlements, not much more than camps in the Mystic area were established in the 1650s and beyond. Formal establishments were well into the 1700s. Windsor and Wethersfield both had established settlements in 1637. They each claim to be the First town, a dispute that will likely never be settled.

      Like

  10. Any meal that ends with a hot fudge sundae is good with me. Lovely old buildings and homes in Historic Wethersfield. I enjoyed learning a bit of the history there and like the photo of the Seed factory. I have to say, I really like white picket fences. Lovely post, Dan!

    Here’s another door post from Alicante, Spain from my trip there in September 2021. https://brendasrandomthoughts.wordpress.com/2022/01/13/thursday-doors-mushroom-street-alicante-spain/

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for joining us today, Rebecca. The Thursday Doors community is sure to welcome your unique observations and your deep understanding of beauty and creativity, I never heard of Emily Carr until today. Thank you for introducing her and her contributions from the wonderful Pacific Northwest.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am delighted that I have joined the “Thursday Doors” community. Thank you for creating a space that welcome us all, Dan.

        Emily Carr was an unusual. Even today, she would be considered eccentric! She was known for her love of animals. She lived with them. She painted them. She took them camping and she famously pushed them around Victoria in an old pram. And she saw the future.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Dan – interesting to see their history and development – while I sincerely hope the two buildings will be retained – they are delightful to look at. Seeds – so important to starting a community and ensuring its continuance.

    I wrote about the Landreth Seed Company in 2011 – Philadelphia here I come. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed learning about the Landreth Seed heirlooms – and their desire to keep the organisation going. Gorgeous seed packets, note cards etc … I ordered some and thoroughly enjoyed using them. No doors – just an open seed packet releasing heirloom seeds … cheers Hilary

    Liked by 2 people

  12. […] Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Dan Antion at No Facility invites us to join in by creating a Thursday Doors post and then sharing the link in his blog anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time). […]

    Like

  13. Super doors post! I enjoyed the history lesson. The Comstock Ferre building must have been brick to protect it from fire. What caused the white on the brick? Was it painted at one time? Of course the houses and doors in Wethersfield, like the Joseph Belden house, are magnificent.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Good turn out this week! Sorry I missed, stomach bug. But that is definitely a destination for an avid gardener to tour. I bet they’d have wonderful gardening advice after all these years too. Might have to check into a website for them. I have learned I can never know too much on the subject.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Please, no tests, I can’t remember the exact words when I’m typing in the exact words from a plaque to my blog. Ouch! Seeds are quite the thing in your area. What is the feeling about genetically modified seeds? My entry will come out tomorrow with my PPAC post.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. […] Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Dan Antion at No Facility invites us to join in by creating a Thursday Doors post and then sharing the link in his blog anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time). […]

    Like

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