Victorian Days bring back bygone era
By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Willimantic - posted Tue., Jun. 7, 2011
According to Will O’Hare, Benjamin Brown was a janitor for the railroad depot in downtown Willimantic for a number of years. O’Hare is the current owner of 215 High St., one of the homes on display as part of this year’s Victorian Days in Willimantic, hosted on June 2, 3, 4 and 5. The 19th century Benjamin Brown house was built after Brown, a Civil War veteran, became the first mounted carrier for the city of Willimantic, for a time delivering local mail via pony.
“This is a starter house, if you will, of the 19th century,” said O’Hare, standing in the home’s modest sitting room.
“The sole vintage features are the gingerbread balusters on the Lewiston Avenue porch and some paneled trim, and a stained glass decorative window at the High Street entrance,” according to the Victorian Days pamphlet.
O'Hare has owned the house for just over a year, and has done some work to the outside of the property. His plans for the interior include “renovation, not restoration,” said O’Hare, who plans to go for a home with modern details that allow the vintage ambience to shine through.
Down the street at 201 Lewiston, the exterior landscape was the focus of a Victorian Tea hosted by Becky McEnery at the 1908 Queen Anne-style home that she shares with her husband, Bill. The home features 10-foot concrete steps leading to a wrap-around porch that connects in the back to a deck, accessed from the dining room by French doors. While awaiting seating at various locations throughout the exterior and first floor of the home, tea guests were encouraged to enjoy the gardens. Features of the exterior include a newly-expanded paved parking/patio area and a pond with waterfall. The surrounding gardens were in full bloom for the event, adding the colors of foxglove, rhododendron and other flora to the scene.
This year's Willimantic Victorian Home Tour, sponsored by the Willimantic Victorian Neighborhood Association, featured a total of 15 vintage homes. Rounding out the 13th annual Victorian Days celebration were a number of events, including a Windham Mills tour, a tour of historic Windham Town Hall, and Garden on the Bridge horticultural tours. For more information, visit www.victorianwillimantic.org.