The Ives-Anderson House of Cheshire, Connecticut, USA was built in 1857 for 29-year-old farmer, industrialist, and Cheshire native Titus B. Ives and wife Ann E. Peck. Seven years earlier, Titus and his father Sen. Benajah Ives were two of twenty-four investors who founded The Cheshire Manufacturing Company on the Farmington Canal line (The world-renowned button manufacturer was known as Ball and Socket Mfg. after 1901 and operated continuously until 1993.). Titus' new residence was conveniently situated just up the hill overlooking the factory, as were the homes of other company executives. During the fifty-plus years that followed, the Ives' prosperity was reflected in the substantial changes made to their home. Today, no one would guess that the sprawling Victorian had begun as a relatively diminutive Italianate. Knowledge of this transformation had long since died with those who had witnessed it, until the recent discovery, collection, and careful scrutiny of historic maps, documents, and photographs. Though many items have been found and studied, without the photo above the most startling facts may never have been brought to light. It was only by sheer accident and luck that this glass plate was finally identified and its significance not lost to the ages. Titus, Ann, & baby Frederick can be seen on the porch.
The evidence gathered thus far indicates that the two story, hipped-roof Italianate of approximately two-thousand square feet was first extended seventeen feet to the right, where the original veranda was either extended or relocated. This seems to have been done early on, judging from the linear milling marks on the floor joists and also the continued use of a stone foundation, but could have been as late as the 1890's.
Then at certain intervals between 1890 and 1925 (more dates forthcoming), many more additions and dramatic renovations were made including the following:
- one story ell (library) added to the right rear, giving the house a U shaped footprint - a gabled third floor and dormer built - full second floor added to left rear kitchen ell - same left rear two story ell extended twice and finally attached to an existing single story shed - library ell completely removed and replaced with a wider structure (billiard room) having a brick foundation, a chimney, a bow window, and a redwood paneled interior - a fully windowed sleeping porch added above same - most of original wraparound veranda removed and replaced with a small, gabled front porch with turned columns - last portion of original style veranda removed and replaced by a larger porch with turned columns and round piazza with details matching the small porch - small porch later enclosed for vestibule, then enclosure later redesigned with leaded glass windows and door - interior chimney added to west expansion-
Most unfortunate is the loss of the elaborate wall and ceiling papers, a curved archway, pocket doors and other dark, ornate interior trim that the Ives traded for a simpler, open, painted look, as style must have dictated in the early 20th century. By the end of this era of change, the building had grown to its current size of approximately five-thousand square feet. Only four Ives, at most, are known to have resided there at one time. The number of live-in servants is not known, but there seems to have been at least two or three including a butler, nurse-maids, and gardener/handyman.
A total of seven outbuildings are known to have been erected upon the property including:
- the aforementioned smoke house/shed - a two story, two thousand square foot carriage house/garage/cow shed with heat, water, outhouse, and sliding doors having a total of 196 window panes - a hydronically heated 360 square foot greenhouse - a 260 square foot dirt floored tool shed - a two story, 1400 square foot ice box/fruit house made from mortared fieldstone and insulated with sawdust filled framing - a large open wood shed - a long one story animal shed -
The animal shed, woodshed, toolshed, and the glass portion of the greenhouse are gone, but fortunately, the others remain. Additionally, a twenty-five foot high water tower and windmill once stood immediately behind the house. The two towers along with extensive piping, several underground masonry structures, and connections to gutters on all of the buildings, made up some type of water collection/cistern system which is not yet fully understood by this author.
Titus died in 1901 leaving the house and his share of the factory in the capable hands of his son Frederick who served Ball & Socket for a total of 54 years, the last eleven as president. As he had no offspring, upon Fred's death in 1935 the house passed to his sister Mary Ives Baldwin of Saranac Lake, New York, where she resided with husband Doctor Edward R. Baldwin. (Also of Cheshire originally, Dr. Baldwin was prominent for his early medical research towards a treatment for tuberculosis.) The Baldwins rented out the Ives property for a few years as a rest home operated by the Brown family, but then in 1943 the house finally left the Ives family when sold to Irving B. Anderson, a local building contractor and Cheshire's first large scale residential developer. Irving and his family lived in the house until 1949 when he had the building divided into four apartment units and sold to his brother Oland Anderson of The Arrow Print Shop, Waterbury. Amazingly, this renovation caused relatively little irreversible damage to the historic character of the house. A side porch was replaced and part of the front veranda was enclosed in an insensitive manner, yet happily, many of the missing columns and railings were carefully removed and stored. In an effort to insulate and preserve, the house was then encased in tar paper and cement shingles during the mid 1950's. Sadly, just like today's popular vinyl siding, the material not only obscured beautiful architectural details, but far worse, it served to hide from view many moisture and insect problems that would've otherwise been seen and addressed BEFORE the onset of serious decay.
During the 1960's and 70's, the property fell into severe disrepair as Oland and wife Ethel grew elderly and had difficulty keeping up maintenance on the large structures. Worst of all, they were unaware of the insidious termite attack underway even after a serious structural failure had occurred. From the late 1970's throughout the 80's, the Anderson's stretched an extremely limited budget to cover crucial repairs and improvements, but without access to high-quality workmanship, most were only temporary measures. Today, the struggle to preserve and/or restore all aspects of the site, both structurally and aesthetically, continues primarily by the extremely slow process in which the homeowners must master skills and do the restoration work themselves. Failures in finding time, resources and skilled craftspeople have become increasingly disheartening, but the Anderson's are determined and still hope to someday persevere.
Many, many heartfelt thanks go to Titus Ives' great-grandchildren who have kindly loaned an enormous number of invaluable photos and documents to this ongoing project.
IMPORTANT NOTE!!Because of the extraordinary contributions made to the history of Cheshire and Connecticut by the Ball & Socket Mfg. Co., the State of Connecticut Historical Commission and private historical consultants have all strongly recommended in written reports that the factory and many other related buildings along West Main Street be placed on the State & National Historic Registries. If you're wondering whether your own home falls into this district, or if you'd like to join us in any Cheshire preservation efforts, please send along an e-mail! Many thanks!!
If you have comments or suggestions, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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