New Haven's Historical Buildings Tour, New Haven

New Haven's Historical Buildings Tour (Self Guided), New Haven

The first ever planned city in the United States, New Haven, Connecticut, is famous for a wealth of prominent homes that have stood the test of time.

Some of these buildings, like the Caroline Nicoll House, showcase the elegant symmetry and refined detailing befitting Federal style. Others, like the John Cook House, represent a prime example of the Greek Revival architecture, characterized by ionic columns and pediments.

In the heart of New Haven's downtown area, you'll find the Imperial Granum-Joseph Parker and Elisha Blackman Buildings, remarkable for their late 19th-century commercial appearance.

Meanwhile, the William Pinto House offers a glimpse into the Federal-style post-and-beam construction with a typical façade and steeply pitched roof.

The Lafayette B. Mendel and the James Dwight Dana Houses stand out as fine specimens of Italianate architecture, while the Lincoln Theatre represents the so-called Modern Movement devoid of ornate details and a rather modest entrance.

The Russell Henry Chittenden House is an elegant Queen Anne-style residence, characterized by its projecting gabled sections and asymmetrical design.

History enthusiasts will surely appreciate the iconic, colonial-era Connecticut Hall, one of the oldest buildings in New Haven, dating back to the 1750s.

As stewards of the city's history, these old buildings deserve celebration as architectural treasures. Consider exploring them now and learn the story of the remarkable structures that have shaped the character of New Haven as we know it.
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New Haven's Historical Buildings Tour Map

Guide Name: New Haven's Historical Buildings Tour
Guide Location: USA » New Haven (See other walking tours in New Haven)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles
Author: AudreyB
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Caroline Nicoll House
  • John Cook House
  • Imperial Granum-Joseph Parker Buildings
  • William Pinto House
  • Lafayette B. Mendel House
  • Lincoln Theatre
  • Russell Henry Chittenden House
  • James Dwight Dana House
  • Elisha Blackman Building
  • Connecticut Hall
Caroline Nicoll House

1) Caroline Nicoll House

The Caroline Nicoll House is a historic house in New Haven. Built in 1828, it is a rare surviving example of an urban townhouse from that period, and a well-preserved example of transitional Federal-Greek Revival architecture. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

It is a 2 1⁄2-story brick structure, five bays wide, with stepped gable ends that include paired chimneys. The main entrance is sheltered by a portico supported by paired Egyptian-style columns. The interior retains many original features, including fireplace surrounds and trim, despite numerous alterations to adapt it for commercial use.

It was built in 1828 by Abraham Bishop as a gift for his daughter Caroline, on the occasion of her marriage to Charles Nicoll. Bishop was a prominent local statesman, and Nicoll a businessman. It remained in the Nicoll family until 1894. At which time it was purchased by a doctor, who added one of the ells to serve as his practice office. By the 1930s the building had been completely converted to use as professional offices. The house is also notable for surviving in an area that has seen significant changes due to urban renewal practices.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
John Cook House

2) John Cook House

The John Cook House, built around 1807, is one of the city's oldest surviving stone buildings, further notable for a parade of locally or statewide prominent residents. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

The John Cook House is located two blocks east of the New Haven Green in downtown New Haven. It is 2-1/2 stories in height, built out of ashlar cut red sandstone that is stuccoed except for the corner quoining blocks, and covered by a gabled roof. The roof face of the roof is pierced by three low hip-roof dormers. Windows are rectangular sash, arranged symmetrically around a center entrance in openings with stone sills and lintels. The entrance is flanked by sidelight windows and sheltered by a projecting portico with Ionic columns.

John Cook, a local tailor and merchant, purchased land for the house in 1805 and 1806, and built it soon afterward. It is one of the oldest stone buildings in New Haven. Cook sold the house in 1814 to Captain James Goodrich, a privateer in the War of 1812. In 1858 the house was purchased by Charles Atwater, another prominent businessman and politician who served in the state legislature and was a candidate for Governor of Connecticut. Its next owner, Dr. Charles Lindsley, was a leading figure in the development of public health in the city and state and founder of the Department of Health of Connecticut.

Today the John Cook House serves as a professional office.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Imperial Granum-Joseph Parker Buildings

3) Imperial Granum-Joseph Parker Buildings

The Imperial Granum-Joseph Parker Buildings are a pair of conjoined historic commercial buildings in downtown New Haven. Built in 1875 and 1877, the two buildings are among the finest examples of the architecture of that period in the city, with one sporting one of the city's only surviving cast iron facades. The buildings were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

The Imperial Granum-Joseph Parker Buildings are four stories in height, and of masonry construction, with heavily bracketed projecting cornices at the roof line. The Parker Building, which stands at the corner, is built out of red brick. Its ground floor facade is a modern stylistic copy of the Imperial Granum Building. The Imperial Granum building is slightly narrower, sharing a full party wall with the Parker Building.

The Parker Building was built in 1875, and the Imperial Granum in 1877. The Parker Building was built for a paper manufacturer, who used the upper floors as a warehouse. The Imperial Granum gets is name from a patent medicine marketed by its owner, Edward Heaton, and for many years sported an advertisement of that product on its exposed southeastern wall. The buildings came under one owner in 1945, and were joined in their upper floors by breaking through the party wall, and also building a shared, interior staircase.

For many years, a hat shop named Del Monico's occupied the ground floor, so the buildings are also known historically as the Del Monico Building.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
William Pinto House

4) William Pinto House

The William Pinto House, also known as William Pinto-Eli Whitney House, is a Federal-style building of post-and-beam construction, and was built in 1810 for John Cook, a merchant. It is rare and unusual for its design, which places the gable end facing the street, rather than to the side as was more typical in the Federal period. It is historically notable for its second owner, William Pinto, a member of one of New Haven's leading Jewish families, and for its third occupant, Eli Whitney, who leased the house from Pinto in the later years of his life. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

When this house was built in 1810, Orange Street was a fashionable upper-class residential area; it has since been transformed into a largely commercial district of the city's downtown. It was built for John Cook, a prominent local merchant, who sold it in 1812 to William Pinto, a member of one of the first Jewish families to settled in New Haven. Pinto served in the state militia during the American Revolutionary War, and was one of its most successful West Indies merchants.

Pinto rented the house to inventor Eli Whitney in 1819. Eli Whitney was an American inventor, widely known for inventing the cotton gin, one of the key inventions of the Industrial Revolution and shaped the economy of the Antebellum South. Eli Whitney lived in the house until his death in 1825. Architecturally, the house is a rare surviving example of a Federal style house with a front-facing gable.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Lafayette B. Mendel House

5) Lafayette B. Mendel House

The Lafayette B. Mendel House is an historic Italianate house in New Haven. This building, designed by New Haven architect Henry Austin, was the home of Yale University physiology professor, Lafayette Benedict Mendel (1872–1935) from 1900–1924. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976 for its association with Mendel, who discovered vitamins A and B, and greatly expanded knowledge of nutrition and food-related biochemistry.

The Mendel House is a two-story brick building, three bays wide, with a hip roof that has a square cupola at its center, and wide eaves. The main entrance is sheltered by a portico supported by Doric columns. The house was purchased by Lafayette Mendel in 1900, and was his home until 1924.

Mendel was born in New York City in 1873 to German immigrants, and entered Yale University in 1887 as the youngest member of his class. After receiving a Ph.D focused on classical liberal arts, he became an assistant at Yale's Sheffield Scientific School, in the biochemistry lab of Russell Henry Chittenden.

During a long and distinguished career there, he made significant advances in the understanding of nutrition and digestion, identifying the chemical compositions of some foods, and isolating and identifying substances in milk critical for the maintenance of life that we now call vitamins. In collaboration with Thomas B. Osborne, Mendel substantially advanced knowledge of amino acids, and quantified the nutritive differences between different types of proteins.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Lincoln Theatre

6) Lincoln Theatre

The Lincoln Theatre, also known as Little Theatre, was built in 1924 and is the only known survivor in the state of the Little Theatre Movement of 1911-1933. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

The theater was built in 1924, and was the only purpose built theater constructed in the state by one of a dozen or so Little Theatre Movement organizations in the state. It was in active use by that organization until 1935, mainly under the creative auspices of Jack Crawford, an English professor at Yale University. In 1935 it was taken over by the Federal Theater Project, a Works Progress Administration program supporting the creative arts, which ended in 1939. It was used for commercial theatrical productions until 1945, when it was converted into a film theater, showing foreign and art films.

In 1986, the building was acquired by Area Cooperative Educational Services (ACES), a local educational organization. It was used mainly for its events (private and occasionally public) until 2012, when it underwent a major rehabilitation and upgrade to preserve elements of its Art Deco interior. It has since reopened and is now known as the ACES Little Theatre.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Russell Henry Chittenden House

7) Russell Henry Chittenden House

The Russell Henry Chittenden House is another historic house in New Haven named after a former professor at Yale University. Built in the 1880s, it was the longtime home of Russell Henry Chittenden, who lived there from 1887 to his death in 1943. Chittenden, known as the "father of American biochemistry", was a professor at Yale University, and the house was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1975 in recognition of his importance. It is also a contributing building in New Haven's Hillhouse Avenue Historic District.

The Chittenden House is an irregularly shaped three-story brick structure with Queen Anne elements. It has projecting gabled sections, including a shingled projecting square turret at one corner. It has tall chimneys with corbelling and molded caps at the top. Although its interior has been remodeled to accommodate multiple units, the alterations retained much of the original interior decorative elements.

The house was purchased by Russell Henry Chittenden in 1887, probably from its builder, and was to remain his home until his death in 1943. Chittenden was born in New Haven in 1856, and studied chemistry at Yale. On a trip to Germany in 1878 to study with leading German chemists he became interested in the chemistry of digestion, which would become a lifelong study. He became a professor at Yale in 1882, and headed a laboratory in which the study of physiology and chemistry were combined.

His principal innovations revolved around developing techniques and an understanding of the digestive process, in particular the role enzymes played in the breakdown of complex protein molecules. He also made early strides in the field of nutrition, setting the stage for later developments in that area. His influence also extended to the school itself, building one of the finest biochemistry departments in the nation.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
James Dwight Dana House

8) James Dwight Dana House

The James Dwight Dana House, also known as the Dana House, is a historic 19th-century Italianate house in New Haven. This building, designed by New Haven architect Henry Austin, was the home of Yale University geology professor James Dwight Dana (1813–95). It was declared a National Historic Landmark for its association with Dana, who produced the first published works emphasizing that the study of geology was a much broader discipline than the examination of individual rocks.

The Dana House consists of three roughly rectangular painted brick sections, 2-1/2 stories in height, with a low-pitch hip roof. The main block, apparently adapted from a stock pattern by New Haven architect Henry Austin, has a three-bay front facade, with a single-story porch extending across its width, supported by turned posts. The building's roof has typical Italianate wide eaves, with a wooden soffit and corbelled brickwork arches underneath. A square cupola rises above the main block.

The house was built in 1848-49 for James Dwight Dana and his bride Henrietta Silliman by her father, Benjamin Silliman, one of Yale's first professors of science. The house was purchased by Yale in 1962, and is currently home to its Department of Statistics. The house was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. It is a contributing building in the Hillhouse Avenue Historic District.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Elisha Blackman Building

9) Elisha Blackman Building

The Elisha Blackman Building, also known as the York-Chapel Building, is a historic mixed commercial-residential building in the Downtown New Haven. Built in 1883, it is a finely crafted example of 19th-century commercial architecture, and is one of the few such buildings to survive in the city. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

The Elisha Blackman Building is a four-story masonry structure, built out of red brick with stone trim. The building is trapezoidal rather than rectangular, due to the shape of the lot it occupies. The building has stores on the first floor and apartments on the upper floors.

The building was built in 1883, on land that had previously been occupied by three houses. Its designer is unknown, but the craftsmanship and material quality is high. The building was an investment by Elisha Blackman, a carriage maker. In the 1920s, the second floor was adapted for professional offices instead of apartments, and the building facade was pushed out to the sidewalk, supported by lally columns and steel supports.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Connecticut Hall

10) Connecticut Hall

Connecticut Hall, formerly South Middle College, is a Georgian building on the Old Campus of Yale University. Completed in 1752, Connecticut Hall is the third-oldest of only seven surviving American colonial-era college buildings, and the second-oldest structure built for Yale College in New Haven.

Connecticut Hall is also one of the oldest buildings in Connecticut and the only remaining example of colonial-era architecture built at Yale University. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965.

It was originally a student dormitory, a function it retained for 200 years. Part of the first floor became home to the Yale College Dean's Office after 1905, and the full building was converted to departmental offices in the mid-twentieth century. It is currently used by the Department of Philosophy, and its third story contains a room for meetings of the Yale Faculty of Arts & Sciences, the academic faculty of Yale College and the Graduate School.

Connecticut Hall's notable residents include:

- Nathan Hale, American Revolutionary War spy
- David Humphries, aide-de-camp to George Washington
- Noah Porter, president of Yale College
- Theodore Woolsey, president of Yale College
- Noah Webster, author of the first American dictionary
- Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

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