173 Washington Street (c. 1850, Eclectic)
Please note, this is a private residence and is not open to the public
It was New England’s textile industry’s great fortune that Leonard Ballou (1794–1880) opted out of a planned career in teaching in favor of developing his skills as a cotton miller. A brilliant technician and businessman, Ballou built his first production empire in Killingly, Connecticut, where a section of town called Ballouville recalls his influential presence there. Ballou earned a name for honesty and fair dealings among his partners and employees.
Norwich’s reputation as a transportation center and Ballou’s close connections with other wealthy mill owners brought him to the Rose City and to this fine house on Washington Street. His success gave his family entrée into desirable social circles: Leonard’s daughter Lydia was married to John Young (1815–59), co-founder (1837) with Charles Lewis Tiffany (1812–1902) of Tiffany & Company. The Tiffany connection to Norwich ran deep. Young’s nephew, Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848–1933), designed stained-glass windows for the c. 1850 United Congregational Church (87 Broadway) and Christ Episcopal Church (78 Washington Street). He married Norwich native Mary Woodbridge Goddard (1850–84) in 1872.
If Ballou was a modern man, his Washington Street residence epitomized a modernizing age, when mechanized technology was allowing for more complicated rooflines, larger panes of glass, and elaborate trimmings like those on this house—all of which were mass produced.