in Hillside Designed by
Elizur Griggs was born in Waterbury on May 2, 1866, a descendant of a
family that settled in New England in 1635.
He attended the Waterbury English and Classical School and then worked for the Waterbury Clock Company for two years. In 1884, he enrolled at the Sheffield School of Yale University and subsequently went to Columbia University School of Mines where he studied architecture.
He returned to Waterbury in 1891 and worked with Robert Wakeman Hill, the dean of the city's local architects. Robert Wakeman Hill designed the original City Hall, which burned down in 1912 during a restoration, the Trinity Episcopal Church and the Hall Memorial Chapel in Riverside Cemetary.
It was Griggs who created the city center of sophisticated and beautiful architecture. A walk around the Waterbury Green shows the Griggs skill in developing a lively streetscape of varying architectural styles which never compete with one another but present a joyful harmony. The Elton Hotel, the Masonic Temple (now part of the Mattatuck Museum), the Northrup and Hitchcock Apartments next door to the Masonic Temple, the Odd Fellows Building on North Main Street, the Lily Building and the original Mattatuck Museum show off his facility and knowledge of Architectural History.
The Kendrick Avenue Court House, Howland Hughes, and several schools in the city including Kingsbury, Hopeville and Webster are products of his masterful are.
Griggs was also a designer of factories and office buildings. This work included the plans for the Bristol Company, Farrell Foundry, American Brass and the Waterbury Clock Company Offices on Cherry Street.
Mr. Griggs designed homes of classical stateliness and English country coziness. The former is apparent in the Tudor Revival home at 137 Woodlawn Terrace which he created for Truman Lewis, and is currently occupied by Andrea Pape.
The country coziness is apparent in the 1850's Georgian Revival home at 212 Prospect Street which Griggs remodeled extensively in 1904 for Henry Wade, the President of the Waterbury Clock Company. Gail and Michael Moriarty reside in the home now.
Two other notable homes designed by Wilfred Griggs in the Hillside Historic District are 175 Pine Street and 185 Pine Street, both Tudor Revival style with half-timbered second and third stories.
175 Pine was built for David C. Griggs, Secretary of the Waterbury Farrell Foundry. Architect John D'Amico is the current occupant.
History states that 185 Pine Street was built as a show home for Charles Grannis by Wilfred Griggs, though Griggs family members state definitively that Wilfred Griggs built the dwelling for himself and lived there several years upon its completion until his wife was taken ill. 185 Pine Street has served as the family home of Dr. & Mrs. Reynolds since 1946.
Griggs died on June 24, 1918. His legacy is Waterbury's core of civic and commercial architecture. Waterbury has many buildings produced by world-renowned architects, but it was Wilfred Griggs who created the setting which compliments them.
NOTE: This biography is taken from the Waterbury Hall of Fame program, September 16, 1997 and updated only slightly throughout.