Historic District

There are 24 historic districts in Bridgeport and the first one created was Black Rock’s. The nucleus of the historic district, Main street, is named after  George Washington’s spy, Caleb Brewster. The street could also have been named “path to freedom.” That’s because America defeated the British not through military strength but only through superior intelligence. Secret spy letters were delivered by Brewster to Washington and altered the course of events in favor of the American patriots.  Brewster lived in Black Rock after fleeing from the British military invasion in 1776. He was originally from Setauket in Long Island, New York. Both towns served as home to the Culper Spy Ring which was not discovered until the 1930s.

The Black Rock Harbor Historic District is listed with the United States Department of the Interior National Park Service and the National Register of Historic Places. It has formal recognition as an area with historical, architectural and cultural significance. It was the first of 24 historic districts in Bridgeport and was created by former city historian Charles Brilvitch in 1979.

It consists of 35 historic houses within the following addresses:

181-344 Brewster Street; 3-65 Oalderwood Court; 15-274 Ellsworth Street; 33-75 Hackley Street; 15-20 Harbor Avenue; 10-39 Penfield Place; 230 and 396-8 Grovers Avenue; 2-178 Seabright Avenue (even number side); 119-171 Seabright Avenue (odd number side), 60 Seaview Terrace. The second historic district is called the Black Rock Garden. Combined, both historic districts contain 302 acres and 109 buildings.

Shipbuilder William Hall's house.

Shipbuilder William Hall’s house.

Architectural styles include two pre-Revolutionary houses, Federal Greek Revival housing and manufacturing development, and an early Victorian, shipbuilding community interspersed with compatible late nineteenth and twentieth century structures constructed after the village had become incorporated into the larger urban center.

Black Rock’s historic district is governed by the Historic Commission #1, has eight members, is supposed to include the city historian, serve five-year terms appointed by the mayor. City zoning also governs any changes such as new construction, demolition, or alterations in the district and comments by the Historic Commission are reviewed prior to any action taken by the P&Z and ZBA.  When the Historic Commission approves such structural changes in the district, they provide zoning a ‘Certificate of Appropriateness’.

The following are the houses are from the originalBlack Rock Harbor Historic District official nomination form:

House Name Date Address
WILLIAM NICHOLS GENERAL STORE 1885 191 Brewster Street
CAPTAIN THOMAS RANSOM HOUSE 1839 237 Brewster Street
DAVID SMITH HOUSE 1843 259-61 Brewster Street
GEORGE PALMER HOUSE 1840 283 Brewster Street
FIRST ARTHUR SMITH HOUSE 1855 260 Brewster Street
JOHN WHEELER HOUSE 266-8 Brewster Street
BLACK ROCK SCHOOLHOUSE 1841 272 Brewster Street
DAVID SMITH BARN 1843 3 Calderwood Court
WILLIAM BOUTON HOUSE 1838 4 Calderwood Court
RANSOM CARRIAGE FACTORY 1839 5-7 Calderwood Court
AARON SMITH HOUSE
WILLIAM SHERWOOD HOUSE 1840 9 Calderwood Court
CAPTAIN WILLIAM HALL HOUSE 1858 87-9 Ellsworth Street
JOSEPH SMITH HOUSE 1904 100 Ellsworth Street
GEORGE GQULD HOUSE 1896
SECOND ARTHUR SMITH HOUSE 1893 118 Ellsworth Street
CAPTAIN JOHN BRITTIN HOUSE 1836 140 Ellsworth Street
OLIVER BURR HOUSE 1853 228 Ellsworth Street
ELIPHALET WALKER HOUSE 1855 250 Ellsworth Street
DAVID LOCKWOOD HOUSE 1837 191 Ellsworth Street
CAPTAIN CHARLES ALLEN HOUSE 1854 213 Ellsworth Street
ISAAC JONES HOUSE 1854 227 Ellsworth Street
CURTIS RAYMOND HOUSE 1856 245 Ellsworth Street
STURGES SEELEY HOUSE 1851 259 Ellsworth Street
JAMES CARR HOUSE 1865 82 Beacon Street
GERSHOM STURGES – BENJAMIN PENFIELD HOUSE 1803 – 1836 105 Beacon Street
WILLIAM BRANDEGEE PRINTING SHOP 1906 4 Seabright Avenue
WILLIAM AND GEORGE GOULD HOUSE 1875 119-21 Seabright Avenue
CAPTAIN WILLIAM HOWES COAL COMPANY 1853 128 Seabright Avenue
WOLCOTT CHAUNCEY HOUSE 1769 150 Seabright Avenue
WILLIAM NICHOLS TENEMENT HOUSES 1894 176-8 Seabright Avenue and 181 Brewster Street
CAPTAIN JOHN BRITTIN HOUSE KITCHEN WING 1890 33 Hackley Street
HENRY BUNCE HOUSE 1893 34 Hackley Street
CALEB HACKLEY CARRIAGE BARN 1884 70 Hackley Street
WILLIAM WHEELER JR. HOUSE 1840 20 Harbor Avenue