Phineas Chapman Lounsbury was born in the Farmingville section of
Ridgefield in 1841. He left town at the age of 16 to, as he put it, seek his
fortune, which he set at $10,000, so he could marry his sweetheart, Jenny
Wright. At his death in 1925, he was worth many times his youthful goal: close
to $1 million in 1925 dollars.
For a while he worked in his brother George's shoe factory in Norwalk, but
Phineas was more interested in politics. In 1874, he was elected to the State
Legislature from Ridgefield. He then got a job as head of a New York City bank.
By the 1880s, he was back in politics, and in 1887 was elected to a two-year
term as governor of Connecticut. (Older brother George was governor from 1899
When at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, Phineas Lounsbury was
taken by the design of the Connecticut Building. He had his existing house on
Main Street moved to Governor Street (it's in this Governor
Street view) and built Grovelawn, modeled after the Connecticut Exposition
Building, in its stead.
Grovelawn remained in his family until shortly after World War II when the
house, and most of the land in the block between Main Street and East Ridge, was
purchased by the town as the Ridgefield Veterans Memorial Community Center. Part
of the land today is used for Veterans Park School and for athletic fields. Two
other houses on the property are rented.
Note that the card shows that the building was not originally all white as
it is today. We are not certain of the original colors, but this and other post
cards, as well as black-and-white photos of the era show that it was clearly
painted in colors. Color would show off some of the fine moldings and other
designs, mostly "hidden" today by the all-white paint job.