Judge John Manning Hall House – Circa 1883
Judge John Manning Hall built this magnificent house in 1883. He was born in Willimantic on October 16, 1841, attended local schools, worked as a clerk in his father’s store, and went on to further his studies at the Williston Seminary, East Hampton, Mass. He graduated in 1862 and entered Yale. He excelled at Yale and went on to graduate in 1868 from Columbia Law School in New York. Hall returned to Willimantic to practice law and also represented Willimantic in the State Senate in 1870 and 1882. From 1888 to 1893 he served as a Judge on the State’s Superior Court.
This house was built in 1883. He was inspired by many country manors he had visited on European trips and borrowed from these styles to create this home. Hall moved to New Haven in 1899 after becoming the President of New York/New Haven/Hartford Railroad Co. He never severed his connections with his home town and maintained this house as a summer residence for several years. Judge Hall married the daughter of one of Willimantic’s leading citizens, Silas F. Loomer, who would eventually build Willimantic’s famous opera house. The couple had three children. Hall died in 1905 at the age of 64.
The second owner of this home was Denis Shea who purchased the house in 1907. The house is now owned by Horizons, a not for profit organization that supports people with intellectual and developmental challenges.
The porch played a major role in people’s lives. It was the Victorian era’s TV, an area where one could watch the world go by, and stay cool in the summer. The copper beech trees have stood since the house was built and have grown into giant sentinels.
Front Foyer: This large entry way was where visitors to the house were greeted and received. The entry hall was as elaborately decorated as other rooms in Victoria homes. Please note the stained glass window and impressive wood work original to the home. The Victorian embossed wall covering is also original and is called Lincrusta. Lincrusta is a heavy, rigid product made of a linseed oil mixture (lin) and a deep relief (crusta). This wall covering was invented in the late 19h century by English inventors Fredrick Walton and Thomas Palmer. In 1863 Fredrick Walton patented linoleum which is also made also of linseed oil from flax mixed with powdered wood and/or cork. Lincrusta is still made today. The wall covering is hung and allowed to dry thoroughly and then primed, painted and glazed.
Bedroom First Floor: The unique feature of this room is the pocket window. This allowed the man of the house to slip from his study to the porch for a quick smoke without entering the foyer.
Front Parlor: This room was usually the room where the guests were entertained. It was decorated to impress. It contains the most elaborate fireplace in the house. Judge Hall’s travels abroad were the inspiration for this European style fireplace.
The Back Parlor is now used as our less formal TV room and gathering place. The curtains separating the front and back parlor provide privacy as well as serve the more practical function of keeping the room warm. The windows opening onto the porch are floor to ceiling. The fireplace, at some point, had been adapted to use coal.
Staircase: The light fixture on the landing of the stairs is one of the original fixtures. The house is now owned by Horizons, a not for profit organization that supports people with intellectual and developmental challenges.