Historic Footnotes: 2 Park Place – part 2 The Vatticus Journal continued:

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William Hoadley was visiting the John Hillyer family at 2 Park Place in 1820. He kept a journal and signed it “Vatticus.” One entry concerned a quilting party he attended. The rather bizarre ceremony he described sounds almost pagan. I told this tale to a large number of quilters and no one ever heard of this. However, a quilting book with newspaper clippings from the early 1800s tells about similar ceremonies — all involving much kissing and dancing. It seems to be a way to have young people socialize, have fun and do some courting.
When a quilt was nearly completed, the family working on it would invite all the young couples in the area. They would all help finish the quilt, even the men, then the festivities began. “The Girls were kissed without reserve — the quilt having been taken from the frame, the ceremony of shaking it over the heads of any two they chose to kiss was performed. Then the quilt was spread on the floor and the company walked on it from corner to corner making a perfect cross. Then they formed a circle around the quilt, a Lady then a Gentleman and so on, held hands and danced around the quilt. Then the quilt was folded as small as possible and laid in the middle of the floor. Wine was passed around to drink a toast. A young lady knelt on the quilt, then arose and snapped to a gent to kneel with her upon the quilt and kiss her. He in turn snapped to a lady till all were kissed. Then another dance.”
Hoadley returned to Granby to celebrate Christmas with the Hillyer family. They went to church on Christmas Eve, which was “decorated with boughs – like a wilderness – except the pulpit.” A family party at the Hillyer home featured a Christmas log.
On Christmas Day, the church service had music by a bass viol. “Miss Hillyer had a boyfriend at Christmas dinner.” Then they visited neighbors and played games. There was a sleigh ride and another party the next day, as well as tea with a Revolutionary War veteran.
Finally, on December 28, the young people drove 12 miles in a sleigh to attend a ball. “We again played Button after the dancing, a game involving judgements, like having to kiss all the ladies.”
William Hoadley returned to Hartford and eventually opened a dry goods store. He was a part of the Hartford literary circle. He married Louisa Hillyer of East Granby in 1824 and they had seven children. His oldest son became the first Connecticut State Librarian and the president of the Connecticut Historical Society. (George S. Godard of Granby was the second State Librarian.) Hoadley also wrote two plays in 1824 for the Granby Thespian Society.
Back to the Hillyer family
John and Hannah Hillyer decided to move to Sheffield, Mass., where Hannah’s family lived. John sold his home back to his father, Pliny, in 1820, but continued to live there for a time.
Pliny Hillyer died in 1826, and the estate of this once wealthy man, was insolvent.
For the next two years, the property was kept in the family, always protecting widow Jane’s dower rights. In 1828, Jane sold her rights to the house and four acres to Calvin Dibble. Calvin was married to Lodamia Hillyer, a niece of Pliny, so, in a way, the house stayed in the Hillyer family.
Calvin Dibble was a farmer born in 1790. He was made a Granby voter in 1811 and through the years held many town offices. At various times he was a fence viewer, surveyor of highways, tithingman and grandjuror. However, from 1823 to 1834, he was the head constable and tax collector. Calvin died in 1842, only 52 years old. His estate was insolvent.
George Dibble, son of Calvin and Lodamia, then moved into 2 Park Place to live with his widowed mother. He was born in 1823 and married Emma Elizabeth Adams in 1845 in Bloomfield. They had four children, but little Martha died at 18 months. George was also a farmer and his name is found on the 1855 and 1869 Granby maps. In 1850 and 1851, George was elected to four town offices: pound keeper, packer, measurer of wood, and like his father, constable and tax collector.
Also like his father, George died at age 52, in 1875. His estate was also insolvent. Between 1875 and 1888, the property went through administrators, conservators, investors, lawyers and a mortgage foreclosure.
The Granby Hotel
Samantha Wales bought the estate in 1889 and converted the house into a hotel. She sold it to William H. Struthers in 1892. He added a large two story addition to the east side of the Hotel for a dining room and additional rooms for summer guests and travelers. Many city people spent their summers in nearby small towns. (In 1920, this addition was moved two houses east on Rt. 20 and made into a private home. It is now apartments.)
William Struthers died in 1900, age 53, and his widow Mary continued to operate the hotel for a few years. It closed in 1909 and Mary sold it to Granby resident Frank Green in 1912. Green completely renovated the hotel interior and exterior. He only planned to take in summer boarders, not “transient patronage.” A local newspaper said, “This will be an attractive place the coming summer for city people who want a quiet home with plenty of fresh air and all of the fresh vegetables and other things that go to make life in the country pleasant.”
Frank died suddenly a year later, age 55, and his wife Celia took over the business. She had the old hotel newly decorated in 1915, for the expected summer residents. Celia sold the Granby Hotel to builder Frank Chittenden in 1918, and the hotel returned to its origin as a private home. He, in turn, sold it in 1925 to Bertha Avery, which started another chapter in the long history of 2 Park Place.
The original hotel register was kept in the home, listing all the names of the many visitors to Granby in the 1890s and early 1900s, and it is still in the Avery family.
2 Park Place when it was a hotel.