In 1804, Charles Culver had a low wooden rope walk in which he successfully produced rope for local sailing vessels. After a devastating fire he sold the narrow piece of land to five enterprising citizens as a real estate development. A narrow street, named after the C. Starr and Company Soap and Candle Factory, was created. The factory was on one end and narrow building lots were sold. The houses were erected right on the street line with little space between them and small back yards. Three more houses were built on the site of the factory after it closed.
In the early 1800s, there were no architects in America, but a good carpenter could copy or adapt a plan from the available French or English architectural books. John Bishop was such a person. He was responsible for building five houses on Starr Street.
Starr Street was a middle class neighborhood. Residents' occupations ranged from minister to merchant, artist to ship rigger. Many houses were used as boarding homes, that being one of the few occupations a single woman or widow could pursue.
As in most inner cities, time brought deterioration. In the 1970s, Starr Street's homes were scheduled for demolition under the Federal Redevelopment Program. The then Savings Bank of New London took the controversial step of buying most of the houses, and began a program of accurately restoring the exteriors, while bringing the buildings up to code, and adapting the interiors for modern use.
New London contributed to the project by placing utilities underground, installing dry wells, brick sidewalks and period street lights.
In 1981 Starr Street became New London's first Historic District, one of 82 such districts in Connecticut.
That same year the Starr Street Association was formed. Its covenants and bylaws, which run with the land regardless of property ownership, legally protect the integrity of the properties and the quality of life for Starr Street residents. The Association serves as a forum in which problems can be addressed and solved, and it sponsors social events for owners and tenants to foster a community feeling.
Would you like to take a walk down Starr Street?
This information was provided courtesy of the New London County Historical Society.