Mary & Eliza Freeman Houses
Of the three dozen or so houses that made up this long-vanished community, only two survive on their original foundations: the homes of the Freeman sisters (354 & 360 Main Street). Surrounded by a storage warehouse complex, a five-story brick apartment house, and expansive parking lot, the houses have somehow come through the last century and a half with relatively few modifications.
Eliza’s residence is a Greek Revival “half house,” three bays in width with a side hallway. It retains a walnut stair rail, almost Shaker-like in its severe yet elegant simplicity. Most of the major rooms contained mantelpieces of simple Grecian styling. Although a storefront was cobbled on in 1906 and a fire caused damage in the 1980s, enough survives so that a full restoration can be effected.
Mary’s house is located just to the north and is an Italianate-styled double house or duplex. It is built over a high brick “English” basement with its main entrances under a second-story piazza. The double-house design provided for rental income—Mary’s usual tenant was the pastor of Bethel Church. The interior is virtually intact with simple mantelpieces, four-panel doors with thumb latches, and tiny rooms that seem to shout of Mary’s frugal nature.
The Freeman Houses constitute a unique survival. They present an opportunity to exhibit a chapter of Connecticut’s history that has for too long been overlooked. They deserve to be restored for the edification of today’s citizens as well as that of future generations.