Main street in historic Black Rock was 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 by 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.
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.
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 maps show below the historic district as of 1867.
In the historic Black Rock Map below, you can see that Caleb Brewster’s family lived in what is today Ellsworth Park in Black Rock. There is a marker there today.