CT National Historic Landmark # 6
Jonathan Sturges House a.k.a. “The Cottage”
449 Mill Plain Road, Fairfield (Private Residence)
Allow me to vent for a moment. I ended up doing my Sturges house drive-by because Damian and I had a day off due to his mid-winter break. My plan was to go to a far-away museum only open on weekdays that would hopefully appeal to him. I chose the Audubon Birdcraft Museum in Fairfield which fit all those categories – AND is a National Historic Landmark itself! I checked their website two times to be sure it would be open and it was very clear that it would be.
It wasn’t. They owe me for gas from West Hartford to Fairfield.
Less than a mile away, however, I salvaged something from our trip to Fairfield. A giant pinkish “cottage.”
Built in 1840, this one of the earliest and best preserved architect-designed Gothic Revival cottages in the country. The house is one of the very few completely documented 19th-century structures–its documentation even includes a color rendering of the architect Joseph Collins Wells’ design. Its owner, Jonathan Sturges, played an important role in establishing the validity of an American School of Art, leading broad-based efforts to display, publicize, and garner commissions for the work of American artists.
So who was Jonathan Sturges? In short, he was pretty much everything a white land-owner in the 18th century could be.
Jonathan was born in Fairfield where his father, Samuel was a surveyor. His great-great grandfather, also Jonathan Sturges (1624–1700), had been one of the original settlers of the town. He graduated from Yale, and was admitted to the bar, and practiced in Fairfield. In 1760 he married Deborah Lewis and their son, Lewis Burr Sturges, would follow his father in the U.S. Congress.
Sturges entry into public service came when his neighbors in Fairfield sent him to the Connecticut House of Representatives in 1772. He was returned every year until 1784. He also served Fairfield County as a justice of the peace and of probate court. Connecticut sent him is a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1786.
When the new United States government was formed, the voters elected him to the U.S. House where he served two terms from 1789 until 1793. Returning home, he was appointed an Associate Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court, serving there from 1793 until 1805.
Sturges died at home in Fairfield in 1819 and is buried in the Old Burying Ground there.
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