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Registration Sheet April, 1993
The old Stamford House hotel on Main Street was originally named the Stage House in the days of the stagecoach. It was built at the end of the eighteenth century as a private residence, and it opened as a hotel in the early 1800's. The Stamford House was one of the leading hotels during the 1800's.
The Stamford House was located on East Main Street at the corner of Stage Street on the block between the canal (later Canal Street) and Pacific Street. Main Street near Atlantic Square was the hub of downtown Stamford in the 19th century. Main Street was also known as the Connecticut Turnpike and was part of the Boston Post Road which connected the major ports of the northeast.
The Stamford House was a favorite stop for travelers between New York and New England. All the necessities were readily available to the traveler. The Stage Yard behind the Stamford House housed fully-equipped livery stables, a carriage works and a blacksmith's shop. An advertisement in the Stamford Advocate on Friday, May 7, 1869 read:
STAMFORD HOUSE LIVERY STABLES
Samuel C. Brown, Proprietor. A most complete and thoroughly equipped Livery establishment. The proprietor begs leave to return thanks to the public of Stamford for their liberal patronage bestowed upon him, and to enjoin them that he has lately added to his stock a number of beautiful turnouts, horses, carriages, etc., and would most respectfully solicit a continuance of the liberal patronage heretofore received. Stable in rear of Stamford House. Carriages for funerals, saddle horses, pleasure vehicles, etc., supplied at short notice.
Samuel C. Brown
In the east wing of the Stamford House was Scott's Harness Shop. The basement of the Stamford House contained a cobbler shop, a barber shop, a tailor and a hat shop. On the same block there were shops offering tobacco, groceries, millinery, fancy goods, furniture, shoes, market, "segars", "gents furnishings", drugs, dry goods and variety.
During stagecoach days, inns and taverns served as post offices and news and gossip headquarters. The inns provided bed and board where travelers ate, drank and slept. Inside the inns were public parlor rooms with large fireplaces, bar and tap rooms (some complete with brass spittoons), and dining rooms dedicated to Americans' "sheer joy of eating".
The Stamford House was described in an article in the Stamford Advocate on Friday, May 7, 1869:
“The Stamford House is a well-known and popular hostelrie. It may well claim to be unsurpassed in any respect by any country hotel in Connecticut. The best evidence of its merits is seen in the extensive patronage it receives from the best class of transient and regular boarders. Our town possesses advantages which is attracting to it a large and constantly increasing number of summer residents, and the convenience and comforts enjoyed by guests at the Stamford House have not a little to do with building up this interest which adds so largely to the prosperity of the whole community.”
According to Stamford and Greenwich and Their Points of Interest published in 1894:
“The Stamford House is literally first class in every respect, in its location, its size, its arrangements, its furnishings, its service, its cuisine, and its management. It contains thirty sleeping rooms. It is fairly entitled to a place in the front ranks of our hotels in this section of the State. The house is an old and well-known one, having been conducted as a hotel for many years. The table is supplied with an abundant variety of the best the market affords, and the cooking is such as to satisfy the most fastidious. There is a good billiard and bar room attached to the house, and in the neat and comfortable dining room will be found a corps of obliging waiters.”
The old Stamford House register, covering the period immediately after the Civil War, is about 2 1/2 " thick and contains the names of the hotel registrants of that time. The guests signed in with remarkable displays of calligraphy, using quills and ink. Many of the signatures are flamboyant and make John Hancock's look dull by comparison.
In those years Stamford was a convenient stopping place for travelers between New York and Boston, some of whom arrived by stagecoach or on horseback. Among the registrants at the hotel were Buffalo Bill Cody, and P.T.Barnum (who spoke at a temperance fair at Seely's Hall, temperance being one of his most important "progressive" causes of the 19th century), Charles Ripley, Cornelius Vanderbilt and his coaching party, and Diamond Jim Brady and his entourage. There were many other famous, and infamous, guests rumored to have stayed at the old Stamford House as well, including several Presidents.
Many of the registrants were entertainers such as minstrels, dancers, circus troupes, brass bands, and other performers. The register showed that they were to perform at the adjacent Seely's Hall which was then the community theater. (Seely's Hall was next door to the east of the Stamford House. It was built in 1861 by Albert Seely, one of the first proprietors of the Stamford House and the owner of the entire block at that time.) Among the entertainers were the Duprez and Benedict Minstrels, the European Circus, the Alleghenians Swiss Bell Ringers and the Ahwanchunk's Indian Troupe.
Most of the registrants were men but occasionally are interspersed some registrants as follows:
- M. Merritt and Lady, Lewisboro, New York
- E. S. Washburn and two horses
- B. I. Belden and Lady, New York
- Col. Bumpkin, U. S. Army, wife and servant
The Stamford House register is a fascinating reflection of its time and era when the population of Stamford was less than 10,000 and New York City was accessible by railroad (after 1848), stagecoach, and by boat via Long Island Sound and the canal which extended from the harbor to the center of town (until 1848).
The register of the old Stamford House for the years 1865-1869, along with a photograph of the old hotel, was donated to the Stamford Historical Society in November 1990 by Carolyn Berges Morrison and Ruth Berges Schiaroli (the daughters of Elizabeth Adams Berges), the granddaughters of Robert Francis Adams, who in the early 1900's (1906-1915) owned and operated the Stamford House, the town's stagecoach inn. In 1915 Mr. Adams and his partner, J. Hawley Ingalls, built the first modern hotel in Stamford which was known as the Davenport Hotel and in later years renamed the Stamford House, after the original. (When the Davenport Hotel was first opened, the guests of the old Stamford House moved right into the new hotel.)
Robert Adams owned and developed a great deal of real estate in Stamford and Norwalk. At one time he owned hotels in both of these cities as well as Buffalo, New York. His success in the real estate field was matched by his colorful career in his earlier days when he was financial consultant and sometime manager to the heavyweight champion of the world, John L. Sullivan.
Robert Adams specialized in developing and selling large tracts of land not only in Stamford but in other cities and other states. From the Stamford Advocate, March 30, 1915:
“Since coming to Stamford, some ten years ago, Messrs. Adams and Ingalls have done much in promoting real estate. Norwalk, New Jersey, and Philadelphia have been reached in the extension of their business. They have made a name for themselves as leaders in the field. Mr. Adams has become known as one of the best land) auctioneers in the country.
The Stamford House, which has been conducted by Adams and Ingalls for ten years, will soon disappear, so far as its use for hotel purposes is concerned. The building flourished since the days of the stagecoach, and some of the structure is considerably more than 150 years old. Their conduct of the old hotel was successful but they were constantly impressed with the idea that a larger structure, with modern equipment, was needed to supply the town's needs.”
The old Stamford House hotel was razed in 1916.
The old Stamford House register for the years 1865-1869 was discovered in 1965 in an antique shop in New York City by the then manager of the new Stamford House, Bob Chatfield. Mr. Chatfield presented the register to Carrie Adams Ryle and Emma Francis Adams, two of the daughters of Robert Francis Adams, the last proprietor of the old Stamford House at 433 Main Street and the builder and owner of the new one on 84 Park Place.
Emma Francis Adams, who lived and worked at both of the hotels, recalled to her grandniece how as a young girl she used to look out from her bedroom window on the top floor of the old Stamford House and across into Seely's hall and see the performers on the stage. She also told of seeing Buffalo Bill Cody with his Wild West Show on Main Street when he came to Stamford and stayed at the old Stamford House.
City of Stamford Directories 1879 through 1916.
Dorsey, Leslie and Devine, Janice. Fare Thee Well: A Backward Look at Two Centuries of Historic American Hostelries, Fashionable Spas and Seaside Resorts. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc. 1964.
Feinstein, Estelle F. and Pendery, Joyce S. Stamford: An Illustrated History. Woodland Hills, CA: Windsor Publications, Inc. 1984.
General Index of the Land Records of the Town - City of Stamford, Conn., 1641-1900. Grantor/Grantee, Series I. Boston, MA: The Remington Rand, Inc. 1949.
Gillespie, Edward T. W. Picturesque Stamford 1641-1892. Stamford, CT: Gillespie Brothers. 1892.
Huntington, E. B. History of Stamford 1641-1868. Reprint Harrison, NY: Harbor Hill Books. Orig. 1868; Reprint 1979
Lobozza, Carl. Stamford, Conn.: Pictures from the Past. Stamford, CT: Stamford Historical Society. 1970.
Official Souvenir Program of the 275th Anniversary of the Town of Stamford, Conn. 1641-1916.
Pershing, George Orr. Old Stamford Town. Stamford, CT: 1958-1962.
Ridley, Joseph. Directory of the Town of Stamford for 1872. New Haven, CT: J. C. Benham. 1872.
Saxon, A. H. P. T. Barnum: The Legend and the Man. New York: Columbia University Press. 1989.
Saxon, A. H. Selected letters of P. T. Barnum. New York: Columbia University Press. 1983.
Seely, Albert (Papers of). Stamford Historical Society Collections.
Sherwood, Herbert P. The Story of Stamford. New York: The States History Company. 1930.
Stamford Advocate. Tercentenary Edition: Town of Stamford, Conn. Stamford, CT. Stamford Advocate. June 7, 1941.
Stamford Advocate. (April 30, 1869; May 7, 1869; March 30, 1915; April 1, 1918) Stamford, CT: Stamford Advocate.
Stamford Advocate. The Advocate Remembers: A Special 150th Anniversary Edition. Stamford, CT: Stamford Advocate. April 7, 1979.
Stamford and Greenwich and Their Points of Interest. New York: Mercantile Illustrating Company. 1894.
Stamford Past and Present 1641-1976. Commemorative Publication of the Stamford Bicentennial Committee. 1976. Walton, Alfred Grant. Stamford Historical Sketches. Stamford, CT: Cunningham Press. 1922.
Atlases and Maps
Beers, F. W. Atlas of New York and Vicinity. New York: F. W. Beers. 1867.
Holly, William H., Map of Stamford - 1837. Stamford Historical Society Collections.
Hopkins, C. M. Atlas of Stamford. Philadelphia, PA: C . W. Hopkins. 1879.
Insurance Maps of Stamford, Conn. Sanborn Map Co. of New York, 1906.
List of Records
Register of the old Stamford House for the years 1865-1869.
Photograph of the old hotel.
Stamford House Register – Selections
The Register of the Stamford House contains some interesting guests who stayed there, including the following, selected at random.
||Names of Guests
|May 3, 1865
||Charlie Shays, Dance filexal, Seeley Hall, Thursday nights only--admission 30c, reserved seats 50c.
|June 5, 1865
||Peale family, with twelve individual names written under it and indicating they would perform at Seeley Hall Monday evening, June 5.
|July 19, 1865
||One guest from Cuba
Four guests signed "Yale"
William A. Ray and wife and Professor William Guion
|August 4, 1865
on board sloop "Elle" from New York City
|August 9, 1865
||Alleghenians-Swiss bell ringers
E. A. Morse - "Morse and Cos. - stove polish Cantor"
Benjamin Scofield - two horses
William McGinley - U.S. Consul, Quebec
James Monroe, U.S. Consul, Rio deJaniero
||New York Champs D'Elysse circus, 38 gentlemen and a lady
"Rump & Pape"
"Plantz & Ruggles"
Charles A. Campbell - Albany, New York
Postcards: Hotels in Stamford