Main Street and Wallingford Road NW corner

The house stands at the northwest corner of the junction of Main Street and Wallingford Road, the latter formerly known as “Quarry Hill Road” and existing since the second
quarter of the eighteenth century, if not earlier. The First Church of Christ was later built on the next lot north.
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  • Record ID: 78
  • Address: Main Street and Wallingford Road NW corner
  • Current Owner: United Churches,
  • Name of Building:
  • Historic Name: Fairchild House/Spelman Hotel
  • Download PDF of Original Record

Notable Features

The original gambrel roof was replaced by a gable roof with Greek Revival style full pediments and entablature. Eyebrow windows mark the latter. The central facade doorway is framed by architrave moulding. A full-length, hip-roofed facade porch is supported by six square columns which rise from chamfered pedestals with recessed panels. The full-size 2/2 sash windows are flanked by louvered shutters. A 1 1/2 story ell has been added to the northeast corner. Also on the rear of the house in a newer, single-story, shed-roof addition.

Historical or Architectural Importance

The five-bay, central-hall plan Fairchild House/Spelman Hotel, on the west side of Main Street, is a Colonial period building (erected ca. 1740) with substantial mid-nineteenth century Greek Revival style alterations. In its present form, the wooden post-and-beam frame of the 2 1/2 story, double chimney house has an asphalt-shingled gable roof, is sheathed in clapboarding, and rests on a sandstone/brick foundation. The Fairchild House/Spelman Hotel has had a colorful history. In 1739, Curtis Fairchild bought a tract of land, bounded easterly by "broade street" and southerly by "highway", from Samuel Norton (DLR 5:456). Five years later, Fairchild conveyed the property, with a dwelling house and a barn, to John Jones. Jones soon died of smallpox. His son, John Jones, Jr., received the house. In 1767, however, the younger Jones fell into irreparable debt. A court in Hartford issued judgments in favor of no less than nine creditors, among whom were Hannah Jones (John's mother) and Phineas Spelman. The local constable was ordered to take "John Jones late of Durham, now absconded into parts unknown .. (and) commit him unto the keeper of the Gaol in New Haven." (DLR 7:356-366). Whatever the eventual fate of John might have been, his property fell into the hands of his creditors, who in turn quit-claimed their shares to the aforementioned Phineas Spelman. Phineas, grandson of Richard Spelman of Middletown, turned the house into an inn. It became known as the "Spelman Hotel." In 1789, Phineas died, and left the famed inn to his wife Elizabeth. But in 1793, the town closed the Spelman Hotel. " ••• licensing of Mrs. Elizabeth Spelman to keep Tavern in Durham ••• will be unnecessary to accomodate Travailers and detrimental to the good order and Morals of the inhabitants." (Barbour, 1910, p. 128). In the early years of the nineteenth century, Daniel Bates owned the house. Later it passed to Parsons Coe, who was responsible for the extensive Greek Revival style alterations. The house remained in the Coe family until 1898. The Harvey family owned the house from 1902 to 1954. It then became the property of the First Church of Christ of Durham. The Fairchild House/Spelman Hotel is noteworthy as one of Durham's early inns along the New··York-Boston Post Road. The extensive Greek Revival style alterations to this Colonial period house demonstrate the popularity of this style, considered to be the first truly American architectural form.