Archive for the ‘Middletown History’ Category

Middletown Republicans Poised to End Democrat Domination in the City

October 21, 2011

P & Z Candidate Molly Salafia with Matt Scarrozzo, MRTC Chairman

The February 2011 special election that brought Len Suzio to the Connecticut Senate was an early sign of dissatisfaction with long term Democrat domination in Connecticut. In the case of the district (Senate District 13) won by Suzio it had endured Democrat control for 36 years according to the Hartford Courant’s calculations. At the time of Suzio’s win I wrote, in another venue:

“One can only hope that Suzio’s election is a harbinger of reform to come. Recent developments in other states suggest that a nationwide retreat from reckless spending, unfunded mandates, and impossible entitlements is in the offing. The turnout for this election was remarkable for a special election and I imagine that taxpayer concerns here and the news from other states spurred voter participation yesterday.”

The hope today among Middletown Republicans is that the movement away from Democrat domination in local politics can continue with the election of a full slate of able candidates on Nov. 8, 2011. The Republican slate for Middletown is headed by incumbent Mayor Seb Giuliano who has been in office for six years during which time he has been faced with a Democrat majority on the Common Council and Board of Education.

Middletown Mayor Sebastian Giuliano

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Prominent Local Conservationist Cited for River Dumping

June 19, 2011

The Hartford Courant reports (June 15) that Richard Sweet, a past president of the Middlesex Land Trust, was cited on May 9 by CT DEP, on a complaint by Boston Road resident Al Maine, for illegal dumping of construction debris into the Coginchaug River here in Middletown. Mr. Sweet owns the Savage Arms factory site at 465 Middlefield St where the alleged dumping occurred, and another site on the same street occupied by an auto body company. He also is the steward of a 20 acre site nearby owned by Middlesex Land Trust along the Coginchaug River off of Forest St.

Also according to Hartford Courant, Richard Sweet describes the charges against him as “absolutely ridiculous”; that the debris stored on his property was swept into the Coginchaug River by the Spring freshet. The source of the debris according to news accounts is another building owned by Mr. Sweet in the city’s North End which collapsed under the weight of snow last winter; the wreckage was subsequently hauled to the Savage Arms site. Mr. Sweet has not responded to the complaint; the 30 day period for doing so expired on June 9. In response to questions Sweet said the lumber was cleaned up and “There’s no story here, It’s over.”

The Jonah Center for Earth and Art, an important watchdog and steward of the Coginchaug River, is monitoring the situation according to Executive Director John Hall.


In the photo map above we see the Coginchaug River as a dark ribbon winding from lower right to upper right. At top (green arrow) is the property at 398 Boston Road where some of the debris washed ashore according to owner Al Maine. The red marker near the bottom is the location of the Savage Arms property on Middlefield Street upriver from the Boston Road property. Directly below that red marker is where the debris must have entered the river as this area is just below the Savage Mill Dam slightly to the right.

Savage Revolving Fire Arms Company (c 1860)

This is the historic building at 465 Middlefield Street owned by Richard Sweet where the river dumping allegedly ocurred.

This close up shows demolition debris sticking out of the river bank at Richard Sweet's property, 465 Middlefield Road. It does not appear that this situation occurred accidentally or overnight. Credit John Hall

Finally there is this view of the Coginchaug River as it cascades over the Savage Mill Dam just behind the property above. The falling water here provided the motive power for the factory in the mid 19th century.

Savage Mill Dam

Middletown Hard Hit by Snow: Roofs and Buildings Collapse

February 6, 2011

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John Brush Photo

Darrell Lucas Video (Feb 2, 2011)

Reposted from Middletown Patch:

“Mike DiPiro clearly seemed to feel he was the luckiest man alive.

DiPiro co-owns an accounting firm, Guilmartin, DiPiro & Sokolowski, at 505 Main St. He was on the second floor when he heard something crack on the floor above. He and an employee, Chris Conley, went up to investigate.

The century-old brick building, a former school, had a gym on the third floor. DiPino and Conley got there just in time to see 2-foot thick ceiling beams bending and cracking. “I said ‘Chris! Run!’ and we grabbed our jackets and ran in front of Luce where we called 911.”

DiPiro and Conley were the only ones in the building. At around 10 a.m., as they watched firefighters string caution tape along the front of the building, they heard another crack. The third floor crumpled into a cloud of brownish dust.

“A fire guy said ‘Run!’ and we ran; we were lucky we didn’t get hit by bricks.” A fireman’s helmet fell off and was crushed in the rubble…”

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The 120 year old structure was solidly built; some details of the construction including the two foot thick ceiling beams can be seen in the above photos.

John Brush Photos

Amatos Toy and Hobby – 70 Years in Middletown: A Look at a Man’s Hobbies and Some History of Railroading in CT

August 1, 2010

The photos in this post were made July 25, 2010 in Middletown CT at Amatos Toy and Hobby store on Main Street. (click to enlarge any photo) The event is described in an article in The Middletown Press:

“MIDDLETOWN — More than 150 members of the National Lionel Operating Train Society attended a private showing of a 3,000-square-foot train exhibit at the 70th Anniversary celebration of Amato’s Toy and Hobby Store Wednesday evening.

The train exhibit includes seven operating model train layouts and local railroad memorabilia along with the never-before displayed, extensive pre-war Lionel train collection of Amato’s owner and founder, Vincent Amato.

“The visual of what everyone has put together is really neat,” said Diane Amato, Vincent’s daughter and coordinator of the event. “When you see this room, you will be amazed….”
www.middletownpress.com/articles/2010/07/14/business/doc4…

Amatos Toy and Hobby is located at 395 Main Street; Middletown CT 06457

In addition to the wonderful layouts of operating model trains of various gauges there were showcases of Mr. Amato’s collections of trains and other toys. Also, much memorabilia and information about early railroading in Middletown. So, I have included some historical photos and information later in this post.

Vincent Amato, Prop. and Train Collector Extraordinaire

O'Rourke's Diner - Main Street, Middletown

One of the seven model train layouts

Model Train Layout with Winter Motif


Mr. Amato's Personal Collection of Lionel Standard Gauge Trains

Shipyard Scene in Miniature

A few words and photographs about early railroading in Middletown and central Connecticut: From the late 19th century and well into the 20th Middletown was a busy railroad center with several North/South and East/West lines passing through the city. In 1888, for example, 29 passenger trains passed through here on a daily basis. Even though all passenger service was discontinued by the middle of the 20th century there is still active freight service in the city. The most interesting reminder of the glory days of railroading in Connecticut Valley is the iron swing bridge connecting Middletown with Porland. This bridge was constructed in 1884 to carry the so called “White Train” of the New York and Boston Airline RR across the Connecticut River, and thence through the rolling hills of eastern Connecticut to Massachusetts and on to Boston. (see photo below)

The White Train commenced operations in 1891. Popularly known as the Ghost Train. It was made up of gleaming white coaches trimmed with gold. The parlor cars’ interiors were finished in mahogany and furnished with velvet rugs, silk curtains and upholstered plush chairs. The train’s schedule was so well advertised that people came from miles around to wait at stations or crossing to see it go by. The fast express was replaced in 1895 by the Air Line Limited.(see 2nd photo below) The Airline Railroad fell into decline because of the need for heavier equipment and longer trains which could not navigate the steep grades and numerous curves. Although the name Airline Route gives one the impression of a straight and level roadbed, this was not the case here.

Airline Railroad Swing Bridge Connecticut River-Middletown to Portland

The White Train or Ghost Train

Four of the early Middletown Train Stations (none remain)

Railroad Man and His Dog - Middletown Depot

Samuel Wadsworth Russell House (1828)

May 9, 2010


Samuel Wadsworth Russell House (1828)

Originally uploaded by Steadyjohn

Samuel Wadsworth Russell House (1828)

High Street, corner Washington Street; Middletown, Connecticut. May 7, 2010.

This Greek Revival masterpiece was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2001. This house is frequently cited as one of the premier examples of Greek Revival Architecture in the Northeast. The house remained in the Russell family for five generations and was finally deeded to Wesleyan University in 1937.

Samuel Russell (1789-1862) became fabulously wealthy in the China trade in the early 19th century. He smuggled Turkish and Bengal opium into Canton and brought back fine porcelain, silk, and tea to Europe and the United States. In 1828 when his house was built Russell was in Canton, and his friend Samuel D. Hubbard worked with Mrs. Russell to supervise the building of the house. In 1831 Russell returned to Middletown and his new home where he resided until his death in 1862.

Source 1: Historic Buildings of Connecticut

Source 2: Wikipedia

Additional Photos from the site:

Iron Gate and Shadows

Samuel Russell House (1828)

Recent Middletown CT Photographs

February 23, 2009

Seen lately around the city:

(mouse over for titles, click for full size and description)

Middletown Alms House (sign) R

Middletown Alms House (1814) R

Middletown Alms House (1814) R

Middletown CT Alms House (1814)
Indian Hill Cemetery Chapel, Middletown CT

Laurel Grove Rd, Middletown CT

Coginchaug River  (Winter)

The Arrigoni Bridge in Paint and Photo

January 25, 2009

The Charles J. Arrigoni Bridge crosses the Connecticut River connecting Middletown and Portland Connecticut.

Constructed from 1936 to 1938, when it opened in 1938 the Arrigoni Bridge was the most expensive bridge, costing $3.5 million. With two 600 feet (180 m) steel arches, the bridge is still the longest in the state. In 1938 it won the American Institute of Steel Construction’s first prize “Most Beautiful Steel Bridge” in the large bridge category.The bridge is somewhat of an icon and landmark in the area and is also a marker of where the water begins to freeze in the river (as south of this point the tides are able to bring enough salt water north to keep the water from freezing over.) It was named after the state legislator who promoted the project, Charles J. Arrigoni, and was designed by William G. Grove of the American Bridge Company and Leslie G. Sumner of the State Highway Department.

Source: Wikipedia

Bridge by Peter Waite (Acrylic on Panels)

Bridge by Peter Waite (Acrylic on Panels-2006)

New Britain (CT) Museum of American Art
h/t Ed McKeon, Middletown Eye

Steadyjohn Photos

PostcardMiddletownCTPortlandPassengerBridge1907.jpg
This is a postcard view of the Portland Passenger Bridge (1895) which was replaced by the Arrigoni Bridge.

Arrigoni Bridge from landfill summit (Middletown CT)

Arrigoni Bridge from landfill summit Middletown CT-(Steadyjohn Photo)

See Connecticut’s Historic Steel Truss Bridges

See Connecticut Roads

Middletown Photos Added

January 4, 2009

Sufferin' Cats

“Sufferin’ Cats”

We have added lots of Middletown photographs to these pages; read more….

Serenity Returns to Wes Campus….

May 18, 2008

Wesleyan U (CT

In the few days following the tumultuous events of last week (the police student confrontation*), peace has returned to the campus just in time for next weekend’s reunion and commencement celebrations. Following is a portion of the university’s announcement about the 176th Commencement. Senator Ted Kennedy was scheduled to be the speaker but his appearance remains doubtful because of recent health issues.

The 176th Commencement Ceremony (11 AM May 25)
The Commencement Ceremony will be available live by Webcast. Please go to http://wescast.wesleyan.edu for details about how you can view the ceremony.
A live broadcast of the Commencement ceremony will be available in the Memorial Chapel, Patricelli ’92 Theater, Crowell Concert Hall, and Tishler Lecture Hall (Room 150), Exley Sciene Center, rain or shine. The ceremony may also be viewed online. Please check this site for details the week of May 18, 2008.
In case of inclement weather, you may also call the main University number at 860/685-2000 to determine whether or not the University will institute the rain plan for the Commencement Ceremony.

*The student-police clash created great controversy and charges and counter charges are in the air and on the blogosphere. We reported on it on Right of Middle; Wesleying blog has been all over it; Ed McKeon at Cauterwaled weighed in; the student run Wesleyan Argus published a special edition, also see Hartford Courant and Middletown Press.

On April 6 last we reported on an incident involving several students and one Middletown police officer.

Finally, an historical note regarding Wesleyan town/gown, police/student relations: On May Day 1954 following a veterans parade on Washington Street there occurred a near riot on campus. Right of Middle reported (April 30, 2007):

….events of the previous Sunday (Loyalty Day) when some Wesleyan students clashed with police and VFW members during a parade through town and onto the campus. The disturbance garnered nationwide attention, with charges of subversion on campus….An informal band of students with musical instruments began to perform in front of the Delta Kappa Epsilon house. Other students with their instruments joined the band and they all marched on High St to Washington St where they turned around only to find themselves leading the VFW parade which had just come up Washington and turned onto High…..From this point forward confusion reigned. Police, in attempting to clear the streets for the marchers, were accused of undue roughness although it was evident that a number of students provoked the officers. At least one student, Terry Hatter, was taken into custody; other students refused to doff their hats when the flag passed and were rebuked by police.

The commotion continued onto Andrus Field, The Argus reported::

The police then began to disperse the students. the marchers who had been standing on the other side of the stret started to cross the steet, saying something about “un-peace” apparently in reference to the sign. By the time they had reached the other side the students had been herded into the house by the police. The bulk of the paraders had reached Andrus field by this time and were awaiting the start of the speeches. Several inquisitive students had gathered behind Denison Terrace to view the proceedings. It was this time that the German Swastika flag, a trophy brought to Wesleyan by a veteran paratrooper after the war, was seen hanging from a dormitory window. The flag had been brought to the dormitory from the Alpha Delta Phi house, where it had been hanging for about twenty minutes. The Alpha Delta had gotten the flag from students who had been dissuaded from hanging it at the Beta Theta Pi house. (The Argus from the period-pdf)

Ahh youth….Happy Spring and Best Wishes to all new grads,,,We return to serenity below….

College Row-Wesleyan CT

Steadyjohn photos

A One Float Parade….

January 13, 2008

The moving of buildings, large and small, is a tradition here in New England. Years ago thrifty Yankees would recycle their buildings in many ways. Post and beam houses were disassembled and erected elsewhere. Entire buildings were jacked off their foundations, lowered onto log rollers, hitched to large teams of oxen or horse and taken to their new location. When lumber was cheap and iron nails dear, old houses would be burned for their nail content! Today, methods have changed but the tradition of moving buildings continues. The building moved yesterday, a former Methodist church built in 1853, was moved 2 blocks from #9 Liberty St. to #47 Rapallo Av. here in the city. Further North on Main St, the building next to O’Rourke’s Diner, also a church, was moved to that spot many years ago. Much more recent is the dismantling of the 18th century mill on Washington St. near West. St., and just several weeks ago, the dismantling of an 18th century house on West St, just above the Gulf station. These buildings have been preserved and will be erected elsewhere.

This particular move required much planning and co-ordination among the consulting overseer, the moving contractor, various utilities, and the CT DOT. Traffic lights street lamps, and utility lines had to be temporarily taken down or protected from the huge building which would take over most of Main Street for its passage. This preliminary work was done early Saturday evening and traffic was rerouted to enable the crews to work unimpeded. All was ready around 1:30 AM Sunday morning and the building was then seen to inch its way off the corner lot, over the curb, and onto Main Street. Once there and heading North one could measure its progress in inches per hour! It was a fascinating spectacle, one that attracted quite a few observers despite the late hour. All in all, a slow motion parade with only a single float; not something you see everyday! Oh, and this building will be converted into four low income housing units on Liberty St as part of the revitalization of the city’s North End, and will make way for commercial development of its former site at Liberty and Main.


Middletown North End Action Team (N.E.A.T.) Community Organizer Lydia Brewster

The North End Action Team is a grassroots advocacy group that began in the spring of 1997.
Purpose of N.E.A.T.as a non-profit community organization, shall, through its members and the Advisory Board, organize and mobilize the residents in the neighborhood, empowering them through a process of democratic decision-making and direct action, to address particular issues affecting the neighborhood. This corporation will propose neighborhood initiatives, design and produce communal events and fulfill the function of watchdog at City Hall and in the state government. N.E.A.T. shall not endorse political candidates or parties.

Our Mission:
The North End Action Team is a neighborhood advocacy group consisting of residents and stakeholders of the North End neighborhood of Middletown, Connecticut. It’s mission is to enrich and advocate for neighborhood interest.


N.E.A.T.’s storefront headquarters at Main St. and Rapallo Ave Middletown


Sign announcing the project featuring the major tenant It’s Only Natural Market


Developer Peter Harding (r) and Nehemiah Housing Corp.’s Michael Taylor (c)

In 1986, Middletown community members formed Nehemiah Housing Corporation to develop and operate a range of housing options for families and individuals who are unable to find quality affordable housing. Nehemiah builds communities by developing affordable housing for families and individuals with resident services and quality property management, as appropriate, with a focus on Middlesex County.


The happy new tenants: Don and Ann Marie Sataline owners of It’s Only Natural Market


Brian Cigal of TimberFrame Barn Conversions enjoys coffee and snacks provided for workers and spectators at N.E.A.T. headquarters by Lydia Brewster (r)


N.E.A.T. hospitality!


Workers dwarfed by the huge building and its carriage! John deNicholas (l) , Nicholas Bros., supervising.


Hydraulically powered aircraft type wheels and tires inch the building forward


Halfway into Main Street, starting to turn and head North


Moving North on Main Street; estimated speed an inch a minute!


Paul Cigal (r), overseer of project with Joe deNicholas, of Nicholas Bros.,the moving contractor,

I spoke with Paul Cigal today about his professional experiences and his involvement in this moving project:

Over the last 20+ years in the building trade and historic preservation field, I’ve had experience coordinating projects that involve moving buildings on wheels; with cranes; and by taking apart, moving by flatbed truck, and reassembling at a new location. My friend and former partner, David Berto, is involved in this Middletown project with N.E.A.T., and he contacted me to ask if I would participate in this one. These types of challanging projects are just what I like to accomplish and I jumped at the chance. Working for Peter Harding as project coordinator, I solicitated bids from the trades, applied for and secured the many permits required for the move, and completed tons of paperwork. I’d guess I talked with more than 100 people over the course of two months in order to move this house.

Contact Paul Cigal at paul@convertabarn.com

Go to the Nicholas Bros. website to see some of the amazing array of other buildings they have moved.

(all photos and video credit ConservaCity)

Hartford Courant articles yesterday, and earlier.

Also see Caterwauled blog for 7/3/07 ,8/9/07, and 10/1/07. for discussion of some of the controversy regarding this project.