alms house

Middletown Alms House

The Middletown Alms House is a historic building located at 53 Warwick Street in Middletown, Connecticut. It was constructed in 1814 and originally used as a poorhouse.

Description

The building is constructed in the Federal style and made of brick with Flemish bond and a brownstone foundation with an asphalt shingle roof. It has a structural system of load-bearing masonry with a gable roof. The architect and builder are unknown.

Location

This three-and-a-half-story brick structure faces north from the south side of residential Warwick Street. It is set back from the road behind two late-nineteenth-century houses. A large oak tree to the west shades this structure.

Significance

In the early 1800s the city of Middletown made provisions to provide for its less fortunate citizens. This structure, known as the Alms House, was erected in 1814 as a facility for caring for indigent of the town. It served its benevolent purpose until 1853, when the Town Farm was built on Silver Street and its operations moved there.

Shortly after, the Hubbard and Curtis Hardware Company occupied the building. This company, which manufactured tools, hardware, and wood-burning stoves, had their principal place of commerce on Main Street (359 Main Street, previously Bacon Brothers, currently Pedal Power) and manufactured their goods in this building. In the early 1900s, Fred Hodge manufactured valve wheels there. Other occupants included the Middletown Fire Arms and Specialty Company, and the Middletown Rifle Club. C.B. Stone Inc., dealers in oil, have occupied the building since the early 1930s.

The Alms House is one of the largest structures of the Federal period in Middletown. Its central, slightly projecting, pavilion is still discernible. A graphic depiction on an 1825 map indicates that the building was embellished by a segmental arch over the entrance door and a classical cupola.

Located to the north on the premises, facing Warwick Street, is a late-Victorian brick residence. This substantial structure, once owned by Mayor Leo B. Santangelo, displays intricate stickwork on the veranda, and decorative brickwork, and is in relatively original condition. The southeast section of this structure is supported by large brownstone blocks. These blocks are the remains of the jail which was built on the Alms House grounds in 1846. It was a small facility, containing only twelve cells, with the principal jail being in Haddam, Connecticut.

This structure and its site are significant, but little-known, remnants of Middletown's history and reflect the tradition of a city that readily and appropriately cared for its less fortunate citizens.

Current Use and Condition

The building is currently being used for offices.

References

Middletown, Connecticut Historical and Architectural Resources. Volume IV, Card Number 276. Elizabeth Loomis. September, 1978.

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