Historic Structures

Oliver H. Perry House, Southport Connecticut

Date added: March 16, 2011 Categories: Connecticut House Greek Revival

Oliver acquired the land from his brother Gurdon in 1838. In 1838-41 he was enrolled at Yale Law School in New Haven. Since he was admitted to the bar in 1841, returning to Southport, and married in 1846, Oliver probably built his residence during the five-year interim.

Oliver H. Perry was born in Southport on February 21, 1815, the son of Walter Perry. He was educated at the Fairfield Academy and went on to study at Yale College in 1830 at the age of fifteen. Due to ill-health, Oliver did not return the following year. In 1838, however, he did return to study at Yale Law School, and was admitted to the bar in 1841. Though he was a certified attorney, he did not practice law but rather used his legal expertise in business and financial matters.

In his public role, he held many governmental positions at the state level. He was a member of the Connecticut General Assembly in 1847-49, 1853, 1857, 1860 and 1864, and was elected Connecticut's Secretary of State in 1854 and Speaker of the House in 1859-60. On the local level, Oliver was an active member of the committee for the design and construction of the new public school building.

As a private entrepreneur, Perry was principally occupied as a shipping merchant and financier. In 1854, he procured the charter for the Southport Savings Bank and was central to the construction of the new bank building on Main Street in 1864-65. Perry was also one of the original trustees of the Oak Lawn Cemetery Association and was involved in the plan and building of the Congregational Church in 1875- Oliver Perry died in Southport on March 27, 1882, sixty-seven years after his birth in the small village.

This temple-plan structure is two-and-a-half stories. The central section measures 40' (three-bay front) x 40', and each wing is 30' x 30'.

The main block is laid out in a side-hall plan. A stairhall is entered through the main doorway. To the right is a double parlor which extends the full length of the house. A sliding wooden screen separates the space into two rooms. Flanking the main block on both sides are two wing sections originally of equal area. The east wing's original portico has been enclosed, and now functions as a sitting room. Additions to the structure's first level include a small room at the rear of the east wing, an octagonal bay at the west end of the main block, and a three-room rectangular section at the rear of the west wing.

Two bedrooms are above the first-floor double parlor, and there is a bedroom over the stairhall at the front of the house and one at the rear. There are rooms above each of the wings' main rooms.