Historic Structures

Willis Bristol House, New Haven Connecticut

Date added: January 21, 2011 Categories: Connecticut House Italianate

Willis Bristol appears to have been a prosperous citizen. He was senior partner of Bristol and Hall (boots and shoes). Bristol's house at 584 Chapel Street was retained in the family until 1876. The house and lot remain much the same today despite frequent sale and variety of uses as the Mogen David Congregation House; as a school, beauty parlor, and apartment house.

The main block of the house is a perfect square 43'-2" x 43'-2". A one-story wing and porch on the rear measures 10'-0" x 40'-2". Besides the two main floors and attic, there is a basement partially below grade.

Basement rises approximately 50% above ground, is entered under front porch, and has center hall plan. Western half now houses dental offices. There is a sub-basement below basement.

The building has been converted into apartments with one dental office in the basement. A comparison of the existing first floor plan with architect's original drawings indicates that the greatest modifications took place on the western portion of the building. The original two-inter-connecting rooms have now been partitioned into three rooms. The original west wall, formerly blank, now has a fireplace, two bay windows and a double window.

The second floor plan is now modified for apartments, was originally similar to first floor, except that there were three rooms on west side and chamber over front entrance.

There is an impressive stairway at the rear of the central hall ascending in 21 risers toward front of house in a straight run with 43 degree turn near top. The stairwell is open and surrounded by a balustrade at the second floor. Mahogany handrail terminates in a sweeping vertical volute resting on carved and turned newel post of ample proportions. The open string has simple applied ornament. Stairs to basement are below main stairs. Attic stairs are at right angles to main axis of house and are enclosed behind a paneled door in the upstetirs hall.