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A Brief History

The Lane-Hubbard House

84 Second St., City Point, New Haven, Connecticut

was built in

1871

by Andrew J. Ramsdell, builder & mason, for Celia Lane, wife of Charles B. Lane, a "packer" (i.e. who packed shucked oysters in barrels for shipment). He undoubtedly was employed by one of the oyster companies on nearby South Water Street, and quite possibly was related to the Charles A. Lane/Frederick Lane/Frank T. Lane oystering families. (This house was one of the earliest to be constructed on that portion of Gerard Hallock's estate bounded by Sea St., Hallock Ave. and Greenwich Ave. This portion was divided into building lots first offered for sale in 1868, accompanied by a push to change the area's name from Oyster Point to City Point.) This house was sold by Mrs. Lane exactly one year later to William E. Hubbard, "organ builder" (likely employed by one of New Haven's "parlor organ" factories. Also know as "reed organs" or "harmoniums" these rivaled the piano in popularity at the time:  if one was to have music in the home, one had to perform it, since there were no phonographs, radios, etc.).

In 1877 the house became one of the many rental properties owned by Nehemiah & Lucias Sperry, prominent New Haven builders. Gas lighting was added by the New Haven Gas Light Co. in 1900. The house was sold by widow Minnie Sperry in 1915 to William Tiernan who added electric lighting. (Some of the original light fixtures are still in use, albeit with new wiring.) The house then was owned briefly by Samuel Polsky and by Samuel Smith.

In 1920 it was purchased by Margaret Oates who added indoor plumbing. Her sons were among the many Irish Catholic rail road workers who, briefly in the early 20th century, were the largest (but by no means only) ethnic group here in City Point. Mrs. Oates continued to rent out the second floor "cold water flat" until 1944. Since that year the house has been used as a single-family residence. Her family occupied the house for over sixty years.

Except for some older (c. 1850s-1860s) houses on or in the vicinity of South Water St. (built during the early years of the oyster industry) and a few c. 1868-1870 houses nearby on Greenwich Ave., this house is among the oldest, relatively unaltered houses in City Point. It is typical of 19th century front-gabled "vernacular" workers' houses. These made more efficient use of narrow urban lots than the side-gabled Colonial & Federal homes of the 18th & early 19th century. The facades usually were ornamented with architectural details borrowed from more expensive homes of a prevailing style, in this case the "Italianate" (or "Tuscan") villa, which first gained popularity in the 1840s. (Compare, for example the 1865 villa at no. 76-78 Howard Ave.) This gave a rather impressive street presence to an otherwise simple dwelling. Typical Italianate features applied to 84 Second St. include square, chamfered porch posts and decorative, bracketed,  masonry-inspired projections over the windows. In this case, the porch is actually a smaller "portico", the steep staircase of which is equally intended to create an impressive entrance. The slightly over-sized front entrance door adds to this effect. This "six light over two panel" door was one of the most common vernacular entrance doors in 19th century New Haven, although surviving examples are becoming increasingly rare.

Interior floor plans of small 19th century 2-family workers' houses typically included a central kitchen with all other rooms opening to it. In this way the coal-burning kitchen stove would provide heat for the apartment in winter.  This was supplemented with a parlor stove, typically placed in front of a decorative "fireplace" mantel.  Although open fireplaces were non-existent in such houses, the cultural and emotional connection with the "family hearth" of previous eras remained strong. Thus the mantel had a significant symbolic presence. 

 By the late 1870s the Italianate style was superseded in City Point primarily by the Queen Ann style.

 

For history of this neighborhood go here: http://www.citypointnewhavenconnecticut.net/

To see artifacts from this house go to http://www.citypointnewhavenconnecticut.net/backyard_finds_and_other_neighborhood_artifacts

References:

Land Records, Hallock Heirs to [investor] Henry St. John, vol. 251, p.40, July, 1869; St. John to [investors] Towsend Savings Bank, vol. 251, p.40, July 26, 1869; Townsend Sving Bnk to Andrew J. Ramsdell, vol. 251, p. 335, June 15, 1871 [deed includes a sketch of the empty lot No. 84 as well as the already-constructed 86 Second St. next door]; Ramsdell to Celia Lane, vol.251,p.363, August 8, 1871[1st deed to describe land plus building thereon--likely indicating that this simple structure was built in less than two months]; Celia Lane (wife of Charles B. Lane) to William E. Hubbard, vol. 269, p. 533, August , 1872; Hubbard to Nehemiah & Lucias Sperry [investors], vol. 324, p. 82 October  ,1877

 


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