CAPTAIN ELIJAH JOHNSON HOUSE
58 Main Street Middle Haddam, Connecticut
The Elijah Johnson House, built between 1780 and 1786, is a 3 bay, central chiminey plan structure.
Probably a 1.5 story gambrel-roofed house originally, its front pitch was apparently raised to the
present two stories in the early 19th century. The original gambrel lines can be seen in the attic
end wall planking; furthermore, the front rafters are milled while the rear retains earlier hewn
rafters. A gambrel roof remains on the rear except where it is intersected by an ell addition
on the northeast corner. A fieldstone foundation undergirds the post-and-beam framing of both the
main block and the projecting rear ell. Built into the side of a slope, the house exhibits full-
story foundation walls on the south and east sides. The property situated on the corner of Keighley
Pond and Moodus Road is bordered to the southeast by Mine Brook. The building is currently sheathed
with asbestos siding which obscures much of the original exterior detailing. The interior, however,
was protected over the years by a layer of sheetrock and has since been restored. The front rooms
feature some of the best-preserved paneling in the area. Fielded paneling frames the fireplace in
the southern parlor, extending across the entire wall with crown molding along the ceiling. The
northern parlor is treated with butt-and-feather paneling and features a fireplace with walls of
convexly curved brick flanked by reeded pilasters. Additional butt-and-feather paneling is found
on all four walls of the entry hall. The early rear ell retains the foundation of a large end
chimney, and a finished basement fireplace issues from the central stack. Flooring and wallpaper
remnants suggest that the basement was used as living space in the 19th century.
Elijah Johnson, the first owner of the house, also owned an adjacent blacksmith shop. Wm. Keighley,
for whom the adjacent road and pond were named, aquired the house and land in the mid-19th century.
Keighley came to this country from England in 1835, and worked as an iron founder, first in Middle-
town and later at J. & E. Stevens Co. in Cromwell. By 1853, he had purchased and enlarged the
existing dam to the North of the Johnson property that had originally been built for a clothier
works. With Samual North, Keighley erected an iron works on this property and rented the house
to workers at his forge. The partnership lasted until 1872, at which time Keighley bought out
North's interest. After his death in 1873, the business was continued by Keighley's heirs, who
also built a small match factory south of the house.
This property, which retains 19th century foundations and a dam, figured prominently in Middle
Haddam's industrial development, a significance which is enhanced by the current architectural
restoration of the house.
The History and Architecture of East Hampton
Lucy G. Potter William A. Ritchie
Home was featured in Yankee Magazine July/August 2012 here
copyright (c) 2000 by James P. Steffman
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