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Monroe, CT 06468
On May 21, the Monroe Historic Society sponsored a "Trolley Through Time" tour of Monroe, narrated by Monroe Town Historican, Edward N. Coffey. Included here is the text of the tour through historic Monroe Centre.
The Monroe Center Green was officially established in the 1780s. Nehemiah de Forest and Captain Joseph Moss donated the land. Capt. Moss lived in a saltbox house, now gone and replaced with a modern day house on the northeast corner of the Green. The site of the de Forest Tavern Inn was on the present day Town Hall Green. The Green was an important crossroads from Stratford to Newtown from the mid 18th century and naturally created a common "place of parade" for the local militia. This area had been used since at least the 1760s as a gathering place and for the militia to drill. In 1977, the Monroe Center Historic District was established by the town and was enrolled on the National Register of Historic Places.
758 Monroe Turnpike: This house (presently yellow in color) was built in the 1830s on the northeast side of the Green and is known as the Clark-Nichols House for the original owners. It is an example of half house architecture. A large rear wing used to be attached to the back and served as a private school. Blackboards with writing still on them were found when the wing was removed in the 1940s. Next door is -
754 Monroe Turnpike: This handsome brick house facing the Green was built in the early 19th century. For almost ninety years it was the St. Peter's Episcopal Church Parsonage. In the early 20th century, the wife of Reverend Henry Habersham, Mrs. Bessie Habersham created a small public library in the front room. This three quarter house was built by Austin Lum, a noted brick mason for Hall Beardsley who deeded the house to his son, the Honorable Cyrus H. Beardslee, a lawyer and representative from Monroe to the State Legislature for seven years. The house has nine fireplaces and large ovens built into the basement chimney where baking was done for Gray's Academy, a private boys' school operated by Dr. Robert Gray. The boys' school was conducted in this home until 1865 when St. Peter's Church Women raised enough funds to purchase it. Later it was sold to an antiques dealer and eventually it was sold to St. Jude Roman Catholic Church for their Rectory. It once again is a private home.
172 Old Tannery Road (Corner of Rt. 111): Built in the 1780s by the Moss family, it was known as the Clark-Beach Store and Post Office for many years. Once a bustling part of the Monroe Green - where townspeople picked up their mail, purchased or traded for goods, and exchanged bits of news and gossip - the old post office boxes and stamp window are preserved inside. It was once a stagecoach stop. Villagers gathered to buy supplies such as coffee, spices, and penny candy at the store, which was the wing at the right. There was also a Texaco gas station out front through the 1940s as well. Marshall Beach ran the store in the late 19th and early 20th century. In the 1890s, a large veranda was added to the house and store and became a gathering place for townspeople where they could sit, tell stories and reminisce. The Monroe Center Store closed in the late 1940s ending the business era on the Monroe Green which dated to colonial times. The house once had two large chimneys on either end but in the 1890s they were torn out at the request of Mrs. Beach as most were afraid of the danger of a chimney fire.
175 Old Tannery Road: St. Peter's Episcopal Church's construction was begun in 1802 and it was dedicated in 1807. It is the oldest church building in Monroe and the 2nd oldest in Fairfield County. The building is attributed to Connecticut architect, David Hoadley. The stained glass windows date from 1890s to the 1950s. There are original palladium windows. It was raised in the 1920s for an undercroft addition. Originally it stood on just 2/10's of an acre of land. Next door to the west is -
171 Old Tannery Road: St. Peter's Episcopal Church Rectory was built in the early 1800s by Dr. Ezra Curtis. He was a well-known figure in the area and was the master of the George Washington Lodge #19 also known as the Masonic Temple on the Green. Federal style features of this home include original fanlights on the sides as well as glassed front door panels. For several generations it was in the Clark family. St. Peter's purchased this house for their minister's home in the 1950s to gain more land around the church itself so they could expand the church.
630 Moose Hill Road: In the 1940s the gray barn next to St. Peter's Episcopal Church was owned by Real Estate broker, Peggy Mason who encouraged New Yorkers to buy farms in Monroe. She converted the1880s barn with gambrel roof into a house and later turned it into a tea room. It has been owned for over 60 years by the Tramposch family.
1 Fan Hill Road: George Washington Lodge #19 Masonic Temple was built in 1904. It was named for our first President who was also a Mason. It is a handsome example of Greek Revival architecture. It supposedly took its design from the center of the White House. The George Washington Lodge began in 1791 in private homes. By 1796, the first lodge was under construction at the north end of the Green east of the Beardsley Hall.
34 Church Street: The Monroe Congregational Church Complex - The Church itself is of Gothic design. It was raised and dedicated in 1847, just north of the original 1766 Meetinghouse site. At the time, the original church would have been referred to as a meetinghouse and its official name was the New Stratford Society. In 1887, Beardsley Hall, just west of the Church, was constructed as the first parish hall. In 1935, the old Monroe Center schoolhouse, built about 1830, was moved here and annexed to the north end of Beardsley Hall. The schoolhouse, still very evident, is used as part of Gingerbread Nursery School. Rexford House, the parish hall of modern design, was completed in 1968, at the rear of the property. Very fine paintings of the first pastor, Reverend Elisha Rexford and his wife hang in Rexford House. Rev. Rexford served for 43 years and was a Revolutionary War chaplain. One of the first libraries in Monroe was established by Rev. Rexford in the 18th century. It was in his Fan Hill salt box house which no longer stands.
38 Church Street: The Monroe Congregational Church Parsonage is a half house architecture design. It was built by John Peck about 1810. It was used as a parsonage for over 120 years. At one time, a store was operated adjacent to the house. The store keeper sold alcohol on Sunday so the Church purchased the store and house to end the sale of liquor on Sundays. They tore down the store but kept the house which became the parsonage.
159 Old Tannery Road: In the 1780s, Heber Smith built this home west of St. Peter's Parsonage, just off the Monroe Green. It was once the Congregational Church parsonage and was owned by three Congregational ministers over the years. In the 1970s a large wing was added on the East side.