Martha Culver House

(excerpted and modified from the application for inclusion in the Connecticut State Register of Historic Places. The Martha Culver House was placed on the Register in September 2016. We have Sue Iverson to thank for outstanding research and writing.)

The Martha Culver House was built in 1858 by Ammi Culver, a successful brickyard owner, as a dwelling house for his family.  The property is located on Quinnipiac Avenue in the Montowese section of North Haven, a mix of single-family residences and commercial properties, and known historically for its farming and brick yards.

The Martha Culver House is a two-story late Greek Revival structure with an attached one and a half story wing. The main structure has a full width wood porch on the front and a one-bay porch and door on the wing.  The Martha Culver House has a gabled roof. The walls are made of local brick and stone, with interior wood-frame construction.  There are three chimneys, two located in the interior original to 1858, and one exterior chimney  built in the mid twentieth century.  Both porches have wood ornamental trim and concrete slab floors.  Window openings have brownstone lintels and sills with some granite or bluestone used at the rear and south sides.  Windows are predominantly double hung six over six sash.

The interior of the building retains the characteristics of a Greek Revival residence.  The front door opens onto a side hall which in turn opens into two principal rooms, a front parlor and a rear parlor, connected by pocket doors.  The first floor of the wing to the south of the main block consists of a parlor with a staircase on the north wall.

Notable features of the first floor include matching entry doors with upper glass lights over two flat panels, Both are historic components.  There are pocket doors between the front and rear parlors in the main part of the house, wood-strip floors, plaster walls, and windows with wide molded trim and deep sills characteristic of the mid-nineteenth century.  Ceilings include some tin surfaces in some areas.  The stair to the second floor of the main block has a turned newel and baluster rail also characteristic of the period.

The second floor of the main part  of the Martha Culver House consists of two rooms.  The staircase opens to a small upper hall space. Doorways from the hall open to each of the two rooms..  The two rooms are no longer divided by a wall.

Notable features of the second floor include window trim matching the first floor, plaster walls, and wood flooring.  In the main part of the house, ceiling marks suggest that there was formerly a partition dividing the two room spaces there.

The fact that the Martha Culver House remained in the possession of a single family before being bequeathed to the Town of North Haven explains why a great deal of its original features remain intact.  Changes made to the interior of the building are directly related to its use as a public library, supporting the other role that the Martha Culver House played in North Haven’s history.  However, the most notable characteristic of the building is that it was constructed of brick made within a mile of the building’s location, at a brickyard that contributed much to the economic and cultural development of the town.  The Martha Culver House truly represents North Haven during the second half of the nineteenth century – a small town thriving as a result of its industries and developing culturally as immigrants needed to power those industries arrived and stayed.


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