Duane Barnes House, Middletown, Connecticut:
This Gothic Revival house on High Street, was built in 1848. Edward Duane Barnes commissioned the home to be constructed from finely cut brownstone. Barnes was a successful quarryman, bookseller, poet and intellectual who was said to be a leader of Middletown’s avant-garde. When completed, the house was touted as one of the most artistic residences in United States.
The decorative and opulent design of the home represents a romantic naturalism and transcendentalism of the early 19th century. Elements of the home were also a reflection of Edward Duane Barnes’ individual tastes. He created an impressive exterior laden with ashlar wood trim, iron railings and a steep gabled roof. A stylized acorn and oak leaf motif appear on the bargeboards. The elegant architecture epitomized Middletown’s most prestigious street.
In 1855, Barnes conveyed the property to William Sebor, captain of a New York to London packet ship. The house remained in the Sebor family until 1901, when Louis deKoven Hubbard acquired the property. The Hubbard heirs sold to Wesleyan University in 1934, who turned the residence into an infirmary. Wesleyan still owns and preserves what is now called the Davison Heatlh Center.
Fun fact: On a visit to Middletown in 1867, famed author Charles Dickens was rumored to have said: “High Street is the most beautiful street I have seen in America.”