Austin House in Plymouth demolished

Published on Thursday, 8 September 2022 15:25
Written by BRIAN M. JOHNSON

@brianjohnsonBP

PLYMOUTH – The Austin House on North Main Street, which was built in the 1800s and has sat vacant for the past two decades, has now been demolished as part of a state project.

The demolition of the historical home is nearly complete. As of Thursday, only a portion of one of the foundation walls remained.

Major Joe Kilduff said that the property was purchased by the state. It was demolished at no cost to local taxpayers as part of the project to re-align North Main Street.

“The building has been unoccupied for a majority of my life,” said Kilduff. “I remember going there to eat for breakfast when I was a kid, but nothing has been in there for at least 20 years. It’s unfortunate to see a very historical piece of our town go, but it had gotten to a point where it needed to come down.”

Kilduff said that the town ultimately hopes to find a new purchaser for the parcel of land where the house once stood, which he said is a “linchpin” for the ultimate revitalization of the area.

The Plymouth Historical Society made a post on its Facebook page about the history of the home.

“Every long-term resident remembers the Austin House Café,” the post read. “The Austin House has had a long role as a meeting place for locals, and was once the center of a bustling industrial community.”

According to the Plymouth Historical Society, the building had been recognized as an “eye sore” for the past two decades. Demolition has been progressing throughout the summer. The siding of the building was removed earlier in August.

“The building, which was riddled with asbestos siding, insulation, etc., was slowly dismantled as part of a state project to realign North Main Street and set up a safer traffic flow in the center of town,” the Plymouth Historical Society posted. “The main section of the building was demolished on Sept. 1.”

The Plymouth Historical Society said that while it is “always sad to see historical buildings face demolition”, this one, unfortunately, “could not have been saved.”

“So many buildings in our town, especially historical Main Street buildings have been demolished and left as empty lots,” the post read. “Unfortunately, the Austin House in particular was a 200-year old structure which faced complications due to poor access, severe structural fire damage, vandalism, and abandonment.”

According to the Plymouth Historical Society, the home was built between 1835 and 1840, with the earliest documentation being an 1852 map showing that it belonged to Warren Goodwin, who lived from 1808 to 1860 and was a worker under Eli Terry Jr., the founder of the Eagle Lock Factory.

In 1874, the building would later be owned by Homer Erasmus Cook, who lived from 1825 to 1889. Cook was also an employee at Eagle Lock and was town tax collector for 21 years. He was a state representative for the town in 1884.

The next owner was Wilbert Nelson Austin, who lived from 1859 to 1943, and purchased the building in 1880. The proprietor of Thomaston Plymouth Stage Line, he operated out of a barn behind the building which later became known as the Austin Livery Stables.

A store house building was constructed 10 feet west of the main building in 1890 and was connected to the main structure in the early 1900s.

In the early 20th century, Grant Austin and Winfred Gleason operated the Austin House building as an inn and boarding house for Eagle Lock workers, with a dozen boarding rooms.

The inn was purchased in the 1950s by Fred and Helen Wisneski, who operated it until 1986. Several small businesses including an ice cream shop and a comic book store operated in the basement around this time.

In 1991, there was a fire in the Austin House, which destroyed the attic and damaged much of the second floor. The roof was rebuilt, but the second floor was never repaired.

The Plymouth Historical Society said several owners attempted to operate the building as a bar and restaurant into the early 2000s, by which time the main floor was abandoned. The last business operating out of the basement was a small bait shop.

Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or bjohnson@bristolpress.com.



Posted in The Bristol Press, Plymouth, Terryville on Thursday, 8 September 2022 15:25. Updated: Thursday, 8 September 2022 15:27.