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Bridgeport

Salem H. Wales House

By February 5, 2022March 6th, 2022No Comments

Salem H. Wales House, Bridgeport, Connecticut:

The house at 528 Clinton Avenue in Bridgeport is an Italianate villa, built in 1848 and remodeled and enlarged in 1864. Originally the residence of Salem H. Wales, the house is now used as the offices of a law firm. In 1849, Salem Howe Wales (1825-1902) bought an interest in the Scientific American magazine and became one of its editors. In 1871, he retired from the magazine to focus on politics in New York City. He was appointed a Commissioner of Public Parks and was chosen as its president. In 1874, he ran for Mayor of New York on the Republican ticket, but was defeated. Wales was also the father-in-law of Elihu Root, a lawyer and statesman who in 1905 replaced John Hay as Secretary of State in the administration of Theodore Roosevelt.

The poet Joel Benton, in his 1905 memoir Persons and Places, relates an anecdote of P.T. Barnum: “On a certain Fourth of July celebration, held in the Court House Park, in Bridgeport, the late Salem H. Wales presided, and Mr. Barnum and others made speeches for the occasion. When Mr. Wales introduced Barnum, he, of course, was studiously facetious, as the situation would naturally compel him to be, so little was an introduction necessary in this case. But Barnum was not confused nor. upset by the happy badinage. His repartee was ready when the moment for speaking arrived; and something like this was the way he prefaced his remarks: ‘I don’t know, fellow citizens and neighbors, why I am asked to speak here today. I have really nothing important to offer; and my business should have kept me in New York. While Wales is here showing me up, I ought to be at the Museum showing up whales.’ And much more he added, with that genial twinkle of the eye which was an unvarying accompaniment to his playful words.”

– Source: Historic Buildings of Connecticut