Timothy V. Meigs House

574 Boston Post Road

c. 1828

Federal

This handsome house, on the corner of Island Avenue adjacent to the southeastern corner of the green, has been described as the home of Timothy Vincent Meigs, but the house seen here today is not the structure that Timothy—either the first or the second Timothy Vincent Meigs—shared with his family. Earlier houses undoubtedly stood on this site in the eighteenth century, as deed research reveals. Among the appealing features of the current structure are its classic-style windows with pediments of simple design. Also notable is the cornice on the gable end, which wraps around to create a pediment that incorporates a fine fan light with swagged mullions and a keystone motif in the casing.

The first Timothy Vincent Meigs, born in 1713, was a deacon at the First Congregational Church who took an active role in the life of the community. Timothy was educated at Yale University and received his master’s degree in 1732. Both a merchant and a farmer, he also began his service as a deacon in his native town of East Guilford in 1745, a service he continued until his death in 1751. He helped to form the Union Wharf Company, which operated a shipbuilding business out of West Wharf. A son of Janna Meigs, he was also a direct descendant of Vincent Meigs, who was the first in the family to emigrate from England—and, in 1658, was the first person to be buried at Hammonasset Cemetery.

This first Timothy married Mary Hoyt French, the granddaughter of the first rector at Yale College, who was also one of the first planters in Guilford. Timothy and Mary had seven children, one of whom was another Timothy. Our first Timothy suffered an untimely death at the age of 38 from dysentery, which reportedly “seized him at church.” He was described as a “good and useful” man who offered kind attention to the sick and the poor. Upon his death, a local—and unknown—bard penned a 50-verse poem in his honor. It ended with these words: “How deep the wound, how sad the sound, / The lovely Meigs is gone!”

The second Timothy V. Meigs received the property in 1828 from his father, John French Meigs, and his cousin, Bezaleel Meigs. The will of that Timothy Vincent Meigs gave dower use of this property to his wife Catherine, mentioning two acres of land with an “original homestead” with outbuildings and a barn. Timothy and Catherine’s son, Deacon John French Meigs, is the first Meigs most likely to have lived in the structure here today. A Justice of the Peace, he had his office here, and the post office was also located here for a time. His grave lies in West Cemetery. On the stone is inscribed the following verse:

 

Behold, see as you pass by, 
As you are now, so once was I, 
As I am now so you must be,
Prepare for Death & follow me.

 

According to local legend, a passerby with a flair for humor once chalked a few lines below those:

 

To follow you I’m not content,

until I know which way you went.

 

From 1909 through January 1929, the house was owned by the First Congregational Church and used as its parsonage. From 1929 to 1936, the Tally Ho Tavern Corporation owned the house, and Lelah F. Blinn, a widow, and Frances H. Hatch, her partner, ran the Tally-Ho Tavern tearoom here during that time. Hatch and her two young daughters, Marion and Barbara, also lived here.

Before the current owners bought the house, it had been updated and was being used as an insurance office. Further restorations and renovations during the early twenty-first century have left this lovely home in the handsome condition we can enjoy today.

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