Who Knew? Nevins Tenant Cottage

A cottage next to the Waterford Public Library is one of a handful of buildings remaining from the farm of one of New London County’s most famous families.

The Nevins Tenant Cottage, located at 57 Rope Ferry Road, was once part of the roughly 350-acre Shaw Farm and belonged to descendants of 18th century New London merchant Nathaniel Shaw II. Waterford municipal historian Robert Nye said Thomas Shaw Perkins built the Nevins Mansion on the south side of Rope Ferry Road in 1820, and the cottage was built on the north side around 1890, though it could have been as early as the 1870s.

Shaw Perkins’ granddaughter Anna Nevins parceled out the Shaw Farm property starting in the 1950s, and the cottage became town property in 1961.

Nye said the cottage is assumed to be a tenant cottage for people working on the farm, but there is no documentation left for who lived there. He said the last occupant was a town employee three or four years ago.

Despite the lack of official documentation, the cottage is part of the Jordan Village Historical District, recognized on the National Register of Historic Places. Nye said the cottage is architecturally unique; aside from another tenant cottage on Jordan Green, there are no other houses in town with a similar style.

“There’s some craftsmanship,” he said, pointing out small wooden awnings over the upstairs window and the door. “[It’s] a relatively simple little cottage, then you see those kinds of details or even the casing around the door.”

The interior of the cottage isn’t open to the public, but a new roof was added in 2009, and a structural assessment was conducted in 2011 thanks to a grant from the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation.

Nye said the building has a long association with the famous local family and the town’s agricultural past, and he hopes the building can be saved and eventually used as an archive center for the town’s historical records.

a.hutchinson@theday.com

Those of us who live in southeastern Connecticut drive the local roads day in and day out, passing by landmarks but not really seeing them. So, we've gathered a few spots in our towns that we think you might want to know more about.

What: Nevins Tenant Cottage

Where: 57 Rope Ferry Road, Waterford

Why: The cottage was part of the former 350-acre Shaw farm property, which was passed down to descendants of 18th century New London merchant Nathaniel Shaw II.

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