Wolcott Historical Society News - November 2015
By Florence Goodman
Bound Line Road has played an important role in the history of our town. It served as the dividing line between the two towns, Farmington and Waterbury, from which our original settlement name, Farmingbury was derived. It was also the location of several historic homes in our town. This month I will share the history of two of these historic homes and their connection to one of our major town offices - the town clerk.
The oldest house in our town is known as the Beach-Minor House, which was built in 1773. This one and one half story post and beam cape is located at 512 Bound Line Road across from the Wolcott Library. Amazingly this 242-year-old house has remained in excellent condition because the families who have lived there have maintained it through the years.
John Beach was the original owner of the Beach-Minor House. In 1773, he had the house and barn built on land that he acquired from Samuel Brackett and Nathaniel Lewis, Jr., but he only lived in the house for a short period of time. The following year on April 14, 1774 he sold the house, barn and land to Joseph Minor of Lyme, Connecticut.
Joseph and his wife, Mary who was the daughter of Captain Samuel Upson lived in the house for forty years. They had seven children who were born in the house. They owned and occupied the house until January 29, 1814, when their oldest son, Archibald and his wife Betsy Tuttle of Plymouth acquired the title. Mary Minor died on August 14, 1840 at age 82 and Joseph Minor died at age 89 on April 8, 1845.
Archibald and Betsy Minor had two children, Henry born in 1809 and Harriet who was born in 1811. Archibald was one of the most respected and honored citizens of Wolcott, having served the town in many offices over the years. He was the first in his family to serve in the honored position of Town Clerk for a total of twenty-four years from 1815-1839. Archibald died on March 10, 1877 at the age of 93.
Archibald and Betsy's son, Henry married Sarah J. Clark of Waterbury and lived in the family house on Bound Line Road. In 1848 Henry became the second person in his family to be elected to the honored position of Town Clerk. He held that office for fifty-four years, until 1902. The family home on Bound Line Road served as the Town Clerk's office for a total of 79 years while father and son held the position. The property remained in the possession of the Minor family until the early 20th century.
At a later date, Wilfred Warner, grandson of Wilfred V. Warner, another of Wolcott's Town Clerks, owned the property. Wilfred V. Warner was Town Clerk from 1905-1930. In the 1950's it was owned by the Pellegrini family and then sold to the Hunt Family. Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Garrigus are the present owners of this home and since they acquired it in 2011, they have made many renovations to the house and the land. One of the most recent and noticeable is a front porch and a beautiful new cedar shingled roof. They also cleared the land to expose some original stonewalls and restored the garage/barn area.
The next house that I want to discuss also had a connection to the Town Clerk's Office; in fact three town clerks have lived in this house for over 100 years. It is the Abijah Fenn House, which is located on the corner of Bound Line Road and Center Street and faces the town green. This structure was built in 1798 by Abijah Fenn to serve as a general store, blacksmith and wheelwright shop. In 1800 Moses Todd bought the store and continued the business there. He later sold the building to the partnership of Benham and Tuttle who ran a business from this building for many years. Finally in the 1880's it was converted into a residence. From 1902 until 1950 it served as a residence and the Town Clerk's Office for two successive Town Clerks, Wilfred V. Warner who served from 1905 to 1930 and Minnie N. Bergen who served from 1930 to 1978. Up until the early 1920s the rear side entrance porch was the doorway to both the Town Clerk's Office and the candy store. In 1923 a new Town Hall was built and town offices were housed there until more space was needed; at that point the Town Clerk's Office was moved to the Center School for many years.
Minnie Bergen's daughter, Elaine King followed in her mother's footsteps and served as Town Clerk after her mother from 1978 until 2006. The family has served in the Town Clerk's office for a total of 101 continuous years from 1905 until 2006. Today, the home is still owned by the same family and still looks great.
These two houses have served as the homes to five of our town clerks and their families off and on from 1815 until 2006. Oh, if those walls could talk, what stories they would tell!!
(Information for this article was taken from, "The 175th Anniversary 1796-1971" by John Washburne, The 1986 Historic Resources Inventory by Paul Loether, and The History of Wolcott, Connecticut from 1731 to 1874 by Reverend Samuel Orcutt)
Henry Minor, Town Clerk.
The Beach Minor House located at 512 Bound Line Road. This is the oldest house in Wolcott, built in 1773. Notice the new cedar shingle roof.
Garage and barn with stone wall along side the barn. Dan and Carrie Garrigus have cleared this area to expose the old stonewall.
Abijah Fenn House (Store) located on the corner of Bound Line Road and Center Street.
Old outhouse on the Abijah Fenn House property.
This barn is located on the property of the Abijah Fenn House (Store).
Front view of the Abijah Fenn House.
To view past installments of the Wolcott Historical Society News, click here.