Middletown CT Historic Houses. Home of Samuel Wadsworth Russell

Samuel Wadsworth Russell House, located in Middletown, Connecticut, Connecticut, was one of the first houses built in the form of a Greek temple that was central to the Greek Renaissance style in the mid-19th century, which profoundly influenced American architecture. It was built between 1828 and 1830 by a man who was rich in ski trade in China and wanted to build a monument to his success.

It was America's first luxury home on a mass scale, using the correct proportions of the Greek temple, with six Corinthian pillars, on the front. Over the next forty years it will be widely responded to and spread in New England, the Middle West, and will come to define the south.

The Samuel Wadsworth Russell House is a major turning point in American architecture in several important ways. Never before in America has such a home design been so widely circulated in the daily magazines and as a result has had an impact on residential architecture. It was also a major catalyst for the emergence of a professional architect in America as a distinctive occupation of the conventions of the day in which the master craftsman was also a designer and builder.

Samuel Russell was born in 1789 in Middletown, Connecticut, a colonial family with a long history of ordinary ancestors. At the age of 12, he was an orphan, but received no college education or inheritance, and served as an early apprentice in a maritime company in Middletown, Clinton, where he studied commerce. After completing his studies, he began traveling aboard ships as a super car, owned by a shipowner.

Russell arrived in Canton in 1819 at the age of 29. In 1824 he founded Russell & Company, which specializes in the profitable trade of fine silk, tea, porcelain, and opium.

China produced many things that the rest of the world wanted in terms of trade, but most of the western trade had little market in China. Traditional Confucian values ​​do not pay much attention to traders, and unlike other trading countries, trade with China was severely restricted and was exercised by the supreme authority of the Chinese Imperial Throne on the basis of the ascendancy of the Son of Heaven.

In 19th-century China, trade was done instead of paying tribute, not free trade, and only silver or gold was accepted for payment. Opium was the point of sale where Western merchants could maintain a balance of payments, as the West produced little that had a market in China.

While the Opium Wars forced China to open its ports, Canton was one of the few ports that allowed China to trade with the West, trying to isolate what it thought were the corrupt influence of foreign traders on the Chinese population. Although opium was illegal in China, and western trade in China was largely controlled by the British when they acquired Bengal, Russell challenged their predominance in the Far East, smuggling them into the Gulf and smuggling them to Turkey.

He was evidently in the majority of the foreign traders of his day who saw nothing wrong with the ethics of opium trading, since there was only one foreign trading company in Canton at that time, refusing to trade ethically. Russell & Company eventually became China's largest and most profitable trading house in China until the 19th century.

While Russell was in China, America found a new aesthetic based on classical Greek elements. This is evidenced by the number of children founded in America in the early 19th century by Greek names and by Greek legends in the name of heroes.

Russell commissioned Itil Town, described as the "Father of Greek Renaissance," to design his "City villa." When the house was built in 1828, Russell was in China and his friend Samuel Hubbard worked with his wife, Mary Cotton Osborne, who headed the house.

Upon his return from Canton in the summer of 1831, Russell first looked down upon his new home, the Connecticut River Watershed. Before seeing it, the house had already been widely circulated by the American public in January 1831 from Hinton's "Topographical Engraving" in the United States, and later in 1835 by Minard Laffever & # 39; s "The beauties of modern architecture".

His wife, Mariam, with whom he had two sons, died while in China. The children were taking care of Mary and 39-year-old sister Frances. When Samuel returned in 1831, he married Francis, and they had one son, Samuel Wadsworth Russell, from whom the house gets its middle name because Samuel had no eldest.

From 1831 to 1836, Russell oversaw the completion of his new home, furnishing it with magnificent treasures to the east and leaving the active management of Russell & Company in 1836. Russell's property was then occupied by the High, the whole district adjacent to the court. The streets of Perl and Washington. Russell planted large tracts of land perched on Pearl Street, which had official gardens, which included plants imported from England and brought with him from China.

He reintegrated his huge profits from Chinese trading into a number of successful American businesses, including banking, industrial, and western railroad stocks, which allowed him to live a very prosperous life until his death in 1862.

The home has been replicated all over the country and inspired by Middletown & # 39; Other rich houses on the high street of the rich on the other side of the "Greek Renaissance" are said to have named Charles Dickens the most beautiful street in America. The house remained in Russell's family for five generations, until it was finally transferred to Wesleyan University in 1937 by Thomas Macdonough Russell Jr.

The home is now home to the University's Department of Philosophy and has been home to authors, poets and scholars. During the summer it was used for special events, weddings and gatherings.

The Samuel Wadsworth Russell House is often cited as a prime example of Greek Renaissance architecture in America. In 1970 it was included in the National Register of Historic Places and in 2001 declared a National Historical Monument. In 2001. Located at 350 High Street Middletown, Connecticut, on the southeast corner of High and Washington Streets, The Samuel Wadsworth Russell House is one of America. 39th most important historical houses.