Whether you notice it or not, Ridgefield’s history is illuminated by the very buildings that comprise the town. This tour seeks to explore prominent architectural styles in their historical context, as well as to highlight the colorful individuals who built and inhabited these living relics. Download the free ConnTours app today!
This program is supported by CT Humanities.
- Stop #1: Lounsbury House
Ahead of Its Time
Ridgefield’s iconic Lounsbury House was built in 1896 and is an example of the Classical Revival style, which reflects an early 20th century interest in an 18th century architectural past.
Built by Phineas Chapman Lounsbury, a native Ridgefielder who, with his brother George, born in Pound Ridge, NY, established a shoe manufacturing business in New Haven, which grew and became Lounsbury, Mathewson & Co. The Lounsbury House was ahead of its time as it was modeled after the Connecticut State Building at the 1893 Chicago Columbia Exposition, which drew inspiration from the grander houses occupied by the state’s founding families.
Lounsbury boasts many of the hallmarks of a traditional Georgian: a symmetrical façade, ornate detailing, an elaborate doorway, and neo-classical portico.
As a Classical Revival these features are emphasized with a more modern touch. The interior floor plan of the Lounsbury House is not symmetrical as it would have been in a classic Georgian, though all the rooms are still anchored around the entrance and grand stair hall at the center of the home. Other 20th Century changes include the extended center gable, exaggerated dentil moldings, and fitted wrap-around porch. Afraid of losing the mansion to time and neglect, the Town of Ridgefield bought the property in order to build Veterans Park Elementary School. The house was then leased to be run as the Town Community Center, reviving the house to its former glory.
- Stop #3: 304 Main Street, Colonial Revival, Hurlbutt House
While this building may embody the Colonial style today, the house has gone through a few different looks over the years, and even more owners!
The core of this house is thought to have been completed early in the town’s settlement circa 1802, but was later expanded into an extravagant Greek Revival around the height of the style’s popularity in the early 19th Century. During this time, the home was occupied by David Hurlbutt, who ran a small meat market after which Market Street is named. Unfortunately, David met his end on the job in 1858 when a cow he was to butcher got the better of him.
After David’s son, Sereno, died in 1904, the home was acquired by Dr. William Hanford Allee and his wife, Laura Curie Allee. William was an amateur architect, and made a number of modifications in the early 20th Century that changed the house to resemble a Colonial rather than a Greek Revival. Laura was an active suffragist, who played a key role in getting the support of Tennessee, the last vote needed to make the 19th Amendment into law.
Outliving William, who died in 1927, Laura commissioned the building’s final major remodel in 1941, cementing the building as a Colonial Revival. While it is unclear when each specific feature was added to the house, the external shutters and low foundation are two major identifying characteristics of the style as is the asymmetrical and expansive floor plan.