Edgerton, New Haven CT
The Frederick Foster Brewster Estate

Many New Haveners have been to Edgerton Park, well, this amazing English Manor is the reason we have that beautiful park. I've been meaning to post this for quite a while...around the time that New Haven inherited this property, the Hamden Chronicle printed a special section which contained this story and these pictures:

The Hamden Chronicle
Sept. 3, 1964

The late Frederick Foster Brewster, who had his majestic 25-acre “Edgerton” estate built on the Hamden-New Haven line in 1908 as a wedding present to his wife, was a member of an old and prominent New England family dating back to the founding of Plymouth Colony by the Mayflower pilgrims.

The Brewster name appears frequently in volumes on the history of New England. One such history book states, “Frederick Foster Brewster’s position in the community is one of importance and influence…for many years he has been one of the leading capitalists in New Haven.”

The Brewster family was founded in this country by William Brewster, who was born in Scrooby, England, in 1566. He landed at Plymouth, Mass. with the Mayflower Pilgrims on Dec. 16, 1620 with his wife and two children, Love and Wrestling Brewster.

Love Brewster served in the Pequot War and was a member of Miles Standish’s company in the military enrollment of 1643. He married Sarah Collier of Duxbury.

From them the line of descent to Frederick Brewster is traced through their son, William, and his wife, Lydia Partridge Brewster; their son, Benjamin, and his wife, Elizabeth Whitter Brewster; their son, Simon, and his wife, Anne Andrus Brewster, the latter of Norwich and the former of Griswold, where he died in 1801 at the age of 81; through their son, Joseph, and his wife, Hannah Tucker Brewster; and through their son, Patrick, the paternal grandfather of Frederick Foster Brewster.

Patrick Brewster was born in Norwich in 1793 and died there in 1873. He married Catherine Fannie Roath Preston. Benjamin Brewster, son of Patrick and Catherine Fannie Roath mother of Frederick Foster Brewster, was born in Norwich in 1828 and died at “Scrooby” in Cazenovia, N.Y. in 1897.

In 1849 Benjamin Brewster went to California where he engaged in mercantile and other western enterprises for 25 years and amassed a fortune. In 1874 he returned east to reside permanently in New York City.

Some of the greatest financial movements of that period were more or less the result of his genius. He was prominently identified with the building of the elevated railways in New York City and was also a leader in many large railroad transactions, one of the most important being the reorganization of the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railroad.

At the time of his death, Benjamin Brewster was vice president of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad Company, and a heavy stockholder and director in the Chicago & Eastern Illinois Railway Company, the Delaware & Hudson Canal Company and other large enterprises. He was also a director in the International Navigation Company, owner of the American line of steamers.

History books assert that Benjamin Brewster “inherited many of the noble traits of his ancestors, and he illustrated by percept and example the best of New England race, integrity, perseverance, benevolence, deep religious feeling, courage of conviction and love of letters, art and nature.”

In 1891 Benjamin Brewster erected a handsome summer residence at Cazenovia, N.Y. which he named “Scrooby” in honor of the ancestral English Manor House of Elder William Brewster. He married Elmina Hersey Dow at San Francisco, Calif., in 1863.

Frederick Foster Brewster was born at Irvington-on-the-Hudson on Aug. 13, 1872 and was educated at St. Paul’s School. He came to New Haven in 1890 and at that time became connected with the W. & E.F. Fitch Company, manufacturers of malleable iron goods.

His first position was that of clerk but soon after Mr. Brewster was appointed secretary and later also vice president of the company. The concern was sold in August of 1919 and at that time Mr. Brewster retired from active business.

Mr. Brewster maintained offices at 129 Church St., New Haven, from which he directed his large and important business and financial interests. He was a director of the Second National Bank of New Haven, the New Haven Gas Company, the United Illuminating Company, and the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad. He also was a trustee of the New Haven Savings Bank.

On Aug. 11, 1908, Mr. Brewster married Margaret Brewster Fitch, a daughter of his cousin, John Brewster Fitch, and Anna Heaton Fitch. Their marriage at Trinity Church on New Haven’s historic green followed by a gala reception at the Hillhouse Avenue home of the bride’s parents, was the social event of their generation in New Haven.

As a wedding present to his bride, Mr. Brewster embarked on the construction of “Edgerton” on what then was known as the Ivy Nook section of Whitney Avenue. Mr. Brewster’s mother, as a wedding gift, furnished the entire mansion when it was finished.

For over 50 years, the Brewsters maintained rigid privacy at their estate, erecting a 12-foot high gray stone wall around its entire 25 acres. The couple had four children. For years, the Brewster New Year’s Eve party at the huge English Manor House in the center of “Edgerton” was New Haven’s annual social highlight.

The mansion has well over 50 rooms and during most of its history, the estate required the services of some 30 servants, domestics and gardeners. The family automobiles were painted in so-called “Brewster Green.”

One expert in recent years called the Brewster mansion “one of the last great examples of the English Manor House in America.” One history book said of the Edgerton estate: “It is one of the show places of New Haven and, indeed, is one of the most beautiful private residences in this part of the country.”

Mr. Brewster died in 1959 and in his will, decreed that Edgerton be left to the City of New Haven as a public park. He also ordered that the family mansion be demolished after the death of his wife. Mr. Brewster once told friends that it cost some $100,000 a year to maintain the estate. He felt that no private family, not any institution, could afford the costs of maintenance which he felt his cherished estate commanded. And so he ordered that his mansion be razed before the property becomes a public park.

Mrs. Brewster survived her husband by five years, passing away late last year. The Brewster summer home, “Morelands” in Dublin, N.H., was sold to an investment group two weeks ago. An auction of furnishings within “Edgerton” is to be held in Hamden Sept. 17-19.
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