10 Knowles

A 19th century vernacular cottage with gabled roof, 10 Knowles Avenue was built circa 1865. The lot for this house was first purchased by Orrice Smith from Amster Dingle, who lived in 170 Cross Street at the time. According to census reports, George Smith, husband of Orrice Smith, seems to have lived in 10 Knowles until the late 1890s. However, by 1900, the house is occupied by the Warmsley family. The Warmsley family has a long history of Middletown occupancy, which goes back to the 1700s. 10 Knowles portrays the exchange of home ownership amongst the closely knit neighborhood, and underscores the community of Beman Triangle as stable and safe, with residents conscious of the contemporary political and racial issues.

To read the Interview on David Warmsley and the Beman Triangle Project on Hartford Courant click here.

photo credit to Liz Warner and her report “Experiment on Community”


21 Vine

Built around 1850, the house was owned by Mennominee L. Miami from 1862, whose occupation was listed as a “quack doctor.” Along with 19 Vine, 21 Vine is one of the excavation sites for the Beman Triangle Project. During the past excavation, we have found glass tubes that we at first thought might relate back to Mennominee’s profession. Date ranges place these in the late nineteenth century, however, suggest that the glass tubes and medicine bottles were likely linked with later residents (information on these can be found in the Cunningham and Warner report on the Beman Triangle). More research is needed on the residential history and the artifacts before we can understand the pharmaceutical glassware from this site.

19 Vine

The Bartholomew J. Murphy House (constructed c. 1870) is a one-story gabled cottage with a brick foundation. According to the 1874 rental map, Murphy was the owner of this rental property. Abigail Stanton, who owned other real estate, was a possible tenant however Albert and Lottie Olson acquired the house by the early 1900s.

Along with the trash pit behind 21 Vine, a small area directly behind 19 Vine Street has also been a primary location of excavation for the 2012 and 2013 Beman Project. Initial analysis seems to show a range of nineteenth century material, including ceramics, oyster shell, clay pipes, and other debris. Through artifact analysis and further research, we hope to piece together and further discover the interesting historical narratives embedded within the Beman Triangle.

9 Vine

This 19th century vernacular cottage with a brick foundation was first built around 1840, and, for a long time, was owned by the Cambridge family. The house was first purchased by John Cambridge in 1855, who lived with his family and James and Orrice Brooks, the children of a couple who moved to Middletown from Lyme before 1830. John’s daughter, Jeanette Cambridge married James Brooks, who grew up to be a seaman. Orrice Brooks also married her neighbor, George O. Smith from 10 Knowles Avenue.

By record, the house seems to have been shared amongst many unrelated individuals. This calls for further research on what the exact relationships between the residents were like. Nonetheless, the very nature of sharing personal space portrays a sense of stable community and neighborhood that is intimate and tight.

168 Cross Street

Built in 1951, the current building of 168 Cross Street is built on or near the site of the 1889 parsonage of the A.M.E. Zion Church. The land was initially donated to the Church by Miss E.A. Worthington, a domestic servant at the time. The church immediately began to make plans to replace the old house with a new parsonage. However, they experienced a severe financial crisis and requested help from the public to support the project. With the support and donations from community members, the parsonage was completed in 1889; consisting of a two story structure with its gable end facing the street. Like many other houses on the Beman Triangle, the lot of 168 Cross Street highlights a tight neighborhood of the Beman Triangle and the community’s extensive support for the church.

130 Cross Street

Currently the location of Neon Deli, which used to be called Cross Street market until the 1950s. Although constructed in 1921, the Cross Street Market was originally the house of Leverett Beman. With the settlement of Leverett Beman in 1843, many of the members of the A.M.E. Zion Church began to populate other houses on the land. Leverett also commissioned a survey in 1847 of what we now call the “Beman Triangle”; the land between Vine, Cross, and Knowles Streets.

11 Vine

Built on a brownstone foundation, 11 Vine was constructed in 1848. In the late 1840s and 1850s, the house was owned by Ebenezer Deforest, who also used to own 9 Vine. At one point, he mortgaged the house to John Cambridge, a resident of 9 Vine. In 1860, Deforest sold the house to John’s son, Edwin Cambridge, who was a seaman.

According to the 1864 state record, 11 Vine was sold to Isaac B. Truitt, a seaman from Delaware. Although Isaac started his career as a seaman, by 1870 he was listed in the census as a laborer. Isaac worked for Wesleyan University as the school’s chimney sweep, cleaning the stove pipes in student rooms until his death in 1877. He seems to have become a prominent figure among the students, for he frequently appeared in various 1870s student yearbooks with a photograph of him sitting on a table with a shovel and a broom.

Looking closely at the house ownership, exchange and various house occupants, allows us to focus further on the sense of stable community within the Beman Triangle. Furthermore, the case of Isaac Truitt also illustrates the beginning of the close relationship between the larger Middletown community and Wesleyan University.