40 Cherry Street
Today, George F. Lockwood’s home is located at 40 Cherry Street. The house first appears in city records in 1849, when it was purchased by Charles Benedict from Hezron Ayres.
There is no mention of when the house was built or of the first owner. Hezron made shoes in New Canaan at its Brushy Ridge store. In the 1830s, when fellow manufacturers could only afford to pay their workers with drafts from local general stores, Hezron paid its 46 employees in cash. Despite this success, his business eventually failed in 1851.
After Ayres, the next owner of the house, Charles Benedict, was another shoemaker. He was a partner in Benedict, Hall, & Co., located at the corner of Main and Locust streets, where the fire hall now stands. (This building was the subject of a previous “Now & Then” article in February.) Charles was also a founding member of the First National Bank of New Canaan (originally located in the vacant building at next to City Hall), as well as the New Canaan Historical Society. When Charles died in 1899, 40 Cherry Street was given to his son Charles S. Benedict. It does not appear that Charles S. ever lived in the house. Instead, he was occupied by his sister, Emma, and her husband, George F. Lockwood. Charles S. lived across the street at 26 Cherry Street, now the site of William Pitt Sotheby’s International.
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Born in Stamford in 1849, George Lockwood led an incredibly active life. In his twenties, he was part of a survey party that traveled west to St. Cloud, Minnesota, to plot a potential railroad for the Northern Pacific Railway. Later, he toured with George F. Bailey, a relative, for a year as treasurer of Bailey’s Circus. The following year, Bailey combined his circus with that of PT Barnum to form the Barnum and Bailey Circus.
George and Emma were married in 1878 here in New Canaan and the couple moved west. After a few years of absence, they returned to 40 Cherry Street. Photos of the interior of the house are from George Lockwood’s album of photographs he took from 1907 to 1909. Shortly after returning to New Canaan, he became president of the First National Bank which his father-in-law established, serving for fifteen years. earning the nickname “Bankie”. Lockwood also entered into a partnership with his brother and the two established Benedict & Co., the last shoemaker to occupy the Benedict shoe factory. On August 14, 1904, Lockwood became the sixth person in New Canaan to own a car. He bought a Northern from Dewitt Merritt, a local jeweler and agent for the Northern company.
After the deaths of George and Emma, the property was purchased by St. Aloysius in 1938. The house served as a residence for the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur who taught at the school. The house was demolished in 1966 or 1967 when construction of the new St. Aloysius began.
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