Vintage Views & Memories Of The Brass City

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The Green looking north from Exchange Place

A view of the east end of The Green in the late 1940s. The Hotel Elton is on the left, and the Waldorf Cafeteria is at the center of the photo, behind the Carrie Welton horse fountain.

The Waldorf System operated a total of 75 cafeterias spread from Springfield, Massachusetts, where the company was headquartered, to New York, Boston, Providence, and Waterbury. Each Waldorf Lunch restaurant was long and narrow, its axis perpendicular to sidewalk and street. Food supplied from central commissaries was dispensed at counters in the rear of each store and carried by customers on trays to one-armed chairs or small booths.

Musters were held on the Green during the Civil War. The Hotel Elton was built on the site of the William Scovill home on the right at the corner of Prospect St. and the Immaculate Conception Church was built on the site of the William B. Merriman residence on the left in the early 1900s. Larger photo 






The Savings & Loan Association of Waterbury, founded in 1920, was on West Main St. between the Waldorf Cafeteria and the Elton/Roger Smith Hotel. This building was demolished for the American Savings Bank Building in 1968.














The Hotel Elton on the north side of the Waterbury Green in the early 1900s and the 1940s. James Thurber's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty unfolds in the hotel's lobby. President John F. Kennedy made a campaign speech from the balcony on Nov. 6, 1960.








Built in 1905, the Elton was a grand hotel which served as the starting point for the "Ideal Tour." Created by the Elton's first manager, Almon Judd, this tour created a convoy of early automobiles which journeyed to New England resorts. 





A Naugatuck Valley Coach Lines bus in front of the Elton, circa 1920s.








The Elton was considered one of New England's most elegant hotels until the late 1950s, when it became the Roger Smith Hotel. It is now an assisted living facility.

Presidential candidate Senator John F. Kennedy winces in anxiety as a dog narrowly escapes being run over by his motorcade as he was leaving Waterbury on the morning of November 6, 1960.

Sunday morning in downtown Waterbury in the 1950s: The Immaculate Conception Church on West Main Street, between the Hotel Elton and the First Congregational Church.




The Trinity Episcopal Church was on Prospect Street in back of the Immaculate Conception Church. 







A view of the First Congregational Church in the 1950s






The original Waterbury YMCA building in the early 1900s

The Waterbury YMCA (left center) on West Main Street in the 1940s, long before The Village People made it famous. The First Congregational Church is at right center .



A closer view of the YMCA in the 1940s. The cars on the left are parked in the lot of the Downtown Service Station that was where the Mattatuck Museum now stands.








There's a riot goin' on: teenage dances and occasional "disturbances" were held at the YMCA in the '50s.










The Masonic Temple Hall on Park Place was the site for big band dances in the 1940s and early 1950s. By the late 1950s, it was the venue for record hops hosted by local radio DJs like Bob Ruge and Lou Dennis.




Temple Hall was also a venue for non-musical events.




1964 Wedding Embassy ad


A view of the block at the corner of Bank Street and West Main Street across from The Green, circa 1900. Cone's Pharmacy was in the building on the left that will become known later as Bauby's Corner. City Hall is the tall building on the right. Photos of this block in in 1980 and 2003.





The Park Music Store was at 11 West Main St. next door to Cone's Pharmacy.  





City Hall, Bronson Library, and the Colonial Trust Co. in the late 1800s

Large photo of City Hall and Bronson Library in 1889

The old Waterbury City Hall on West Main Street across from the Green was destroyed in a fire on April 22, 1912.



The first rock concerts were held in Waterbury over 120 years ago. The Weed Band was the featured act at the fourth annual Concert and Masquerade Ball at City Hall in 1886, sponsored by the Waterbury Turn Verein, a German gymnastics club. German immigrants, wishing to recreate the gymnastic clubs of their homeland, founded new counterparts in the U.S. to continue and promote their physical education endeavors, while also seeking to preserve traditional German customs, language and celebrations in their new country. There was a Turn Verein Society Hall on North Main Street in the 1940s. 







Oh, we got trouble
Right here in The Brass City
Right here in The Brass City
With a capital 'T' and that rhymes with 'P' and that stands for 'pool'
That stands for pool
We surely got trouble
We surely got trouble
Right here in The Brass City
Right here







Lake's Drug Store at 31 West Main Street in the 1920s.










 The Lincoln Store in the building on the corner of West Main and Leavenworth Streets was a large retailer of radios, televisions, and appliances in the 1950s and 1960s. The building has been demolished and the Rowland Government Center is now on the site. 




The Colonial Trust Co. bank, Hampson Mintie & Abbott furniture store, and Lilley Building on West Main Street across from The Green, circa 1920.

The Mattatuck Museum was located in the Greene Kendrick house on West Main Street next to the Lilley Building from 1912 to 1987. (Photo by Daniel M. Lynch, Mattatuck Consulting, LLC www.greaterwaterbury.com)  

Adjacent to the Kendrick home is the Farrington Building. The original structure, in the rear, was erected in 1890 as the Westerly Apartments. The front, two-story Georgian Revival office building, was constructed in 1930. The First Federal Savings & Loan Association opened in an 11' x 40' space in the  building in 1935. Founder Harold Webster Smith and a clerk were the bank's only employees. Now known as Webster Bank, it has 110 branches and over 2000 employees.


 Church Street offered a vision of Waterbury in the 1860s when a diverse group of merchants, craftsmen, and bankers sought to live near the community's center. This short street still retains the charm of the Victorian era in Waterbury.


Two views of North Main Street across from The Green in the early 1900s. The Odd Fellows Building is on the left in both photos.

The Nosahogan Lodge No. 21 of the International Order of Odd Fellows was formed in Waterbury in 1840. The Odd Fellows Building on North Main Street near Exchange Place was the site of the Grieve, Bissett, & Holland Department Store for more than fifty years.

This glass negative shows the Waterbury Green from the Odd Fellows Building to the Lewis Building in 1922

The east end of the Green in 1943. Stores on North Main Street that can be seen in the background include Jennes Cigar Shop, Grieve, Bisset, & Holland Department Store, Kresel & Wolf Furriers, and the Federal Bakery behind the tree.

Waiting for a west-bound bus on the south side of The Green in?. The Mohican Market and Liggett's Rexall Drug Store on North Main Street can be seen in the background.

Click on this panoramic photo of the east end of The Green in 1943 to enlarge it.




The Mohican Market was on North Main Street across from the Carrie Welton horse fountain on The Green.


Frank Munsey, head of Munsey publications and owner of the New York Sun, opened the first Mohican Market in New London CT in 1894. It was quite different from the service counter grocery stores of the era in that it had a wide variety of goods, departmentalized and price-marked, provided some self-service and free delivery, although stressing the cash and carry aspect. Early on, Mohican patrons would arrive at the market in horse and buggy. The Mohican served as a grocery store, selling soy beans, pickles and peanut butter in wooden barrels. Bread sold for a nickel a loaf. Tubs of lard and butter were strategically placed in the market. The inviting smells from the bakery in the back of the building would draw plenty of customers inside. Its advertising was of the sensational variety; however it did not prosper for another third of a century, as one-stop shopping was not yet appreciated.  





The Federal Bakery ("Hot From The Ovens") next to the Mohican Market was one of hundreds of bakeries owned and operated by the Federal System of Bakeries, which had no affiliation whatsoever with the Federal government. 








A view of St. John's Episcopal Church on the west end of The Green in the 1950s.





A postcard view of the Soldiers' Monument and the YMCA in the early 1940s. 


The Soldiers’ Monument on the west end of the Green is significant historically because it represents the culmination of long-term effort on the part of citizens to honor Waterbury men who served in the Civil War. First public mention of the need for a monument appeared in the Waterbury American on November 26, 1870, but no action was taken until the matter was addressed in the summer of 1880 by Wadhams Post, No. 49, of the Grand Army of the Republic. A fountain, hospital, school, and memorial hall were considered as alternatives to a monument, but in due course a monument was decided upon. Erection of the monument was accomplished at the last minute. Against the scheduled dedication date of October 23, 1885 not a stone had been laid by October 9. Work went forward by night as well as by day. Night work was made possible by use of electric lights, a novelty that drew crowds of spectators. The dedication deadline was substantially met, although the bas-reliefs were not put in place until the following year, and the inscription on the north face was lettered in April 1886. More recent color view of monument.  




Waterbury police patrol The Green near the Soldiers' Monument, circa 1910.










Views of West Main Street and the west end of The Green in the late 1940s.



A contemporary view of the unique Hitchcock apartment building on West Main St.

The captains of the brass industry wined and dined at the Waterbury Club on the corner of Central Avenue and West Main Street near the Green in the Roaring Twenties. 



Ancestral Home: My grandparents raised my father, aunts, and uncles in this house on Mitchell Avenue near the Green in the early 1900s.




A view of West Main Street looking toward the Soldiers' Monument on the Green in the 1920s. The Second Congregational Church is on the left.






The Second Congregational Church was built in 1852 and destroyed by a fire in September 1960.





The Waterbury Elks Lodge was chartered on June 21, 1893 and Michael J. Colloty was installed as its first Exalted Ruler. The ceremonies were held at the Concordia Hall on Bank St. The Lodge rented a suite of rooms at 108 Bank St. where it held its meetings and affairs until the Great Fire of 1902 completely destroyed its effects. For three years it had rooms in the Waterbury Trust Building on Grand St. In 1909 the Waterbury Lodge raised funds and purchased the Curtis Home at 283 West Main St.

In 1910, it built a beautiful home in back of the old residence. In 1914, Truman Lewis offered the club $16,000 to completely renovate the building and grounds. The final cost was $26,000 and Mr.Lewis insisted on making this amount, the amount of his donation. With this renovation, the Waterbury Lodge was considered the most modern and complete lodge in the state. The Lodge provided Tennis Courts, Bowling Alleys, Card Rooms, a Rathskeller, Social Hall, Parlors, Showers, Lockers and a Library.


In 1970 the Lodge was again extensively destroyed by fire. It was deemed expedient to replace the wood residence and to erect a new building in front. In 1972 the new building was completed and was dedicated.


The Mulville Funeral Home on West Main St. was originally The Ellison Inn
The funeral procession of Governor George Lilley, who was a Waterbury businessman prior to taking office (the Lilley Building is named after him), files down West Main Street past the Second Congregational Church and residences on April 24, 1909.
A view of the same area without the crowd a few years earlier.

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