While never a Newport, early 20th century Middletown boasted its own elite families. The DeKovens, Russells, and others built large homes, established an active social scene and supported the city's cultural life. At one point, the city even had a mansion row. While they may have worked - and occasionally lived - elsewhere, they called Middletown home.
Sadly, many of those homes no longer exist. Most were vacated as Middletown's status declined. Run down, they were then destroyed in attempts at urban renewal. Mansion row is now a shopping district. Only photographs attest to its former glory. To my knowledge, only two of the city's mansions still stand, although there may be more.
One of these homes exists only because of the hard work of Middletown's residents. The Wadsworth Mansion at Long Hill Estate was purchased by the City of Middletown at the urging of its residents in 1994. Abandoned and badly run down, it survived numerous fires only because its creator used the latest technology of concrete. The City invested $5.8 million to restore the building in a historically accurate manner. Used as an event space, the Wadsworth Mansion has become a self-supporting monument to Middletown's past.
The building is also an important monument to the Wadsworth family. Some of the history is held in the building itself. Built for Katherine Fearing Hubbard, a daughter of an elite Middletown family, and her husband Clarence Wadsworth, the home was of several the family owned. It saw many family events, including the wedding of a Wadsworth son. Thanks to the work of the Friends of Long Hill Estate, the Mansion is also home to many artifacts of the Wadsworth history, including Clarence Wadsworth's ceremonial sword (he was a Colonel in the Foot Guard).
If you have Hubbard or Wadsworth in your past or if you're interest in Middletown's millionaire history, the Wadsworth Mansion is well worth a visit. Located at 421 Wadsworth St., Middletown, the Wadsworth Mansion is open for tours every Wednesday from 2-4 pm.