District Overview Inventory List District Map

Black Rock Harbor Historic District

LHD boundaries as described are approximate and subject to change. Consult the LHD Study Report on file with the relevant local district commission or municipal authority to verify district boundaries and whether a specific property, particularly one in proximity of a boundary line, is within the district. Also note that LHD boundaries may differ from those of State or National Register Districts.

Year of Establishment:
District Authority:
Historic District Commission No. 1
Link to Commission or Municipal Website:
District Character:
Urban neighborhood incorporating earlier village

Building, Park

Architectural Style:

Italianate, Queen Anne, Greek Revival, Colonial Revival, Federal

17th, 18th, 19th, 20th

The Black Rock Harbor Historic District includes the remains of the village of Black Rock, third most important seaport in Connecticut after the Revolutionary War and important ship building center in the years preceding the Civil War. It includes examples of every major American architectural style from the late Medieval of the seventeenth century to the Italianate of the mid-nineteenth, as well as some resort and suburban styles of the later Victorian era. Black Rock was originally a part of Fairfield and was not joined to Bridgeport until 1870. It is situated on what was once the deepest harbor in the state west of New London, protected on the south and east by Fayerweather Island and on the west by Penfield Reef. [NR]

Architecture and Industry: Black Rock was first occupied in 1644 by the Wheeler family as a trading settlement. Major developments began around 1760, when the first shipyard was opened, three commercial wharves built, and residential building lots laid out. There were at least ten houses constructed by the time of the Revolutionary War. Two buildings remain from this period, each of outstanding architectural and historical importance.

The Wolcott Chauncey House at 150 Seabright Avenue is a rare example in Fairfield County of a small 1 1/2 - story worker's cottage from the eighteenth century. It was the birthplace in 1772 of Commodore Isaac Chauncey, commander of American naval forces on the Great Lakes in the War of 1812 and first commandant of the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Black Rock saw a good deal of privateering during the Revolution. It was a key link in the Culper Spy Ring, which relayed information out of New York city to Washington's Headquarters by way of whale-boats across Long Island Sound.

Black Rock was made a Port of Entry for all of Western Connecticut in 1790. A government lighthouse was built at the mouth of the harbor in 1807 and a turnpike laid out to Danbury in 1812. By 1830, however, Bridgeport appears to have usurped Black Rock's place as the center of eastern Fairfield County commerce, and the village turned to ship and carriage building as a means of livelihood. [NR]

[1] District information and maps obtained from the town website www.bridgeportct.gov

[2] Historic buildings survey data base documentation, Bridgeport, Connecticut Historical Commission, 1997.
[3] Assessors information retrieved from the website visionappraisal.com.
[4] GIS information retrieved on from the website http://gis.cdm.com/BridgeportCT/map.htm.
[NR] Brilvitch Charles W. , Black Rock Harbor Historic District, National Register Nomination Number- 79002658 NRIS, National Park Service, 1978 - http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Text/79002658.pdf; http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Photos/79002658.pdf

Historic District Number 1 is geographically comprised of all areas of City except Stratfield Historic District.

Date of Compilation:
Manjusha Patnaik, CT Trust for Historic Preservation