District Overview Inventory List District Map

Starr Street 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.

New London
Year of Establishment:
District Authority:
Historic District Commission
Link to Commission or Municipal Website:
District Character:
Urban Neighborhood


Architectural Style:

Greek Revival, Queen Anne, Italianate, Romanesque Revival

18th Century, 19th Century, 20th Century

The one block long Starr Street, with the parallel Tilley Street, forms the south arm of the U-shaped Downtown New London National Register Historic District. Primarily residential, their development occurred concurrently with the 19th century commercial development of Bank Street. The structures on Starr Street have a remarkable uniformity of shape, style, and mass, with the exception of a church at the east end and a house with an elaborate Greek Revival entrance at the west end. The church, at 157 Green Street, is located on the northwest corner of Green and Starr Streets. Built in 1881-1882 as a Universalist Church, it became the Brainard Masonic Temple in 1896 and continues in that function. The house at the west end of the block, the other structure that is exceptional for the street, is 36 Starr Street (50 Washington Street) at the southeastern corner of Washington Street. The other twenty houses on the street have a high degree of homogeneity, are built of wood except for one brick house, and all but one have their long axis perpendicular to the street. The majority were built in the mid-19th century not long after the street was laid out in 1835. Typically, the gable ends facing the street are treated as pediments and contain decorative fanlights. The facades are three bays wide with the doorway in one bay at right or left. Doorway and window surrounds of plain moldings and a plain frieze under the cornice complete the simple Greek Revival detailing. Italianate door hoods were added to many of the houses later in the 19th century. In the 20th century inappropriate asbestos siding, and in one case stucco, were applied over the original clapboard siding that covered vertical boarding.

The street and its sidewalks are narrow and the houses are built close together. This spacing, the similarity of the houses, and the lack of any major alterations combine to give the street an air of urbanity and intimacy. The mid-19th century ambience is intact. The physical condition of the houses ranges from poor to fair. Several are vacant. Several are in the process of being rehabilitated. [NR]

Architecture, Community Planning: Houses on the south side of Starr Street were constructed in the 1830's and 1840's by several different builders. The houses generally are similar in style to the five built by John Bishop. One brick Queen Anne style house was built in 1862 at 20 Starr Street, and when the soap factory on the north side of the street was replaced in 1895 by four houses, two of them were built of wood in the Queen Anne style, then still in fashion. In 1869 the marble yard was replaced with the Universalist Church, built by John Bishop 30 years after he put up the adjoining five-house row.

This compact block has a well-defined history. The chain of title on each property has been traced through the land records. The occupations of the owners and residents give depth to the history of these modest homes. A whaling agent, whaling captain, doctor, tavern keeper, marble polisher, soap factory worker, plumber, blacksmith and, later in the century, a railroad clerk and engineer lived there. A neighborhood grocery store existed for many years in the house at the southeast corner of Starr and Washington Streets. Other residents conducted businesses from their homes, adding an element of diversification to a primarily residential street. Starr Street is an example of a modest 19th century neighborhood that owed its existence to and functioned in support of the maritime prosperity of Bank Street. The Starr Street buildings fortunately remain free of major alterations.

As the century progressed, residents of Starr Street and of all New London depended less on whaling for economic well-being and more on the burgeoning railroad. A stop on the main line from Boston to New York, New London also was a transfer point for freight and passengers from rail to steamboat. The city's importance in these respects is memorialized by H.H. Richardson's famous railroad station. The steamboat dock reached out into the river in front of the station, conveniently located for railroad and steamboat connections. Stretching to the west behind the station was State Street, now Captain's Walk, on which were located banks, offices, department stores, and other needed services for city life during the late 19th century and 20th century.

[1] District information retrieved from the town website http://www.ci.new-london.ct.us/.
[2] Starr Street Historic District, Historic District Ordinance, 1980, SHPO Library, Hartford.
[3] Starr Street Restoration Handbook, SHPO Library, Hartford.
[4] Assessors information and Parcel IDs retrieved from the website www.visionappraisal.com.

[NR1] Ransom David F., Downtown New London National Register Historic District, National Register Nomination Number- 79002665 NRIS, National Park Service, 1979 - http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Text/79002665.pdf; http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Photos/79002665.pdf.

[NR2] Churchill Sharon P., Downtown New London National Register Historic District (Boundary Increase), National Register Nomination Number- 88000070 NRIS, National Park Service, 1988 - http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Text/88000070.pdf; http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Photos/88000070.pdf.

The local historic district is contained within the much larger Downtown New London National Register historic district.

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