Hotchkiss Block (Irving Block), Waterbury Connecticut

Date added: February 08, 2011 Categories: Connecticut Commercial Italianate

The Hotchkiss Block was the first major office block built in Waterbury. It is central to the commercial district, and the halls on the upper floors served as meeting places for many local fraternal organizations. The building is attributed to Henry Austin, a prominent New Haven architect.

Julius Hotchkiss built the structure in 1852-1853. In I876, the structure became known as the Irving Block, presumably after a new owner. In 1892, the structure was purchased by the Platt family, who also owned the two adjacent buildings known as the Platt block.

The building was altered between 1893 and 1930, although the exact dates of major changes are unknown. A mezzanine was added to the third story. A large Palladian window in the central bay of the west (North Main Street) elevation was removed and replaced with smaller rectangular windows. A fourth bay was added to the west (North Main Street) elevation. The roof was raised, a wooden parapet was attached, and the original chimneys were removed during these years. The first story was completely remodeled in the mid-twentieth century. Many of the former store fronts were sealed off with new brick walls, and the fenestration was altered.

Julius Hotchkiss, who built the structure, was the first mayor of Waterbury. The building housed various commercial establishments including drug stores, dry goods stores, a bakery, and law offices. The large halls on the third floor were used for entertainment and meetings. On October 1, 1885 the large hall on the top floor (known as Irving Hall) was dedicated as Odd Fellows Hall. It was used by the Odd Fellows and various other fraternal organizations and clubs at different times. The large hall also served as a school of dance and drama.

The building measures 100' (nine-bays) by 40' (four-bays). It is three stories with a mezzanine.

Floor plans: The first floor consists of shops and offices. The upper floors contain offices and two meeting halls.

The third floor halls have plaster walls and wooden paneled wainscots. The large hall has a small stage at the west end and a projecting balcony on the east end. The small hall has an arched partition at the east end and a wooden balcony on the north side.