The Sloper-Wesoly Mansion
Mr. Andrew Jackson Sloper moved into his new residence on Grove Hill on February 1, 1887. With monies bequeathed to him by his mentor, Cornelius Erwin. Mr. Sloper commissioned George Dutton Rand of Boston, to design a splendid new home. This home, of Queen Anne Style architecture, is now know as the Sloper-Wesoly House, current home of the Polish American Foundation of Connecticut.
The Sloper-Wesoly house, a wood-shingled and brick Queen Anne House, has survived with minimal changes to its interior and exterior architecture. The house is unusual for its predominant use of brick. The exterior features include a round brick turret with conical roof, a gabled front entry porch, large gabled dormers with paired three part windows and a massive corbelled chimney. Exterior details include fish scale or imbricated shingles in the gables, Terra cotta medallions and cared woodwork in the porch entry pediment.
The House has a large central hall and centrally focused circulation plan. The hall has paneled and varnished oak wainscoting and lincrusta-clad walls, wood floors and a naturally finished beamed ceiling as well as large fully exposed brick chimney. The entrance to the hall is framed by spool work. The wood finished are natural through most of the house. Built-in cabinetry can be found throughout the house. Hardware fixtures are original and include locally made “Russwin” door hardware manufactured by Russell & Erwin.
Mr. Andrew Jackson Sloper was born in 1849 and died in 1933. He began working at New Britain National Bank in 1867 at seventeen years of age as a discount clerk. During his tenure as a foreign exchange and steamship ticket agent, Mr. Sloper assisted many immigrants in finding local employment. He was the president of the New Britain National Bank, and on the board of directors for many of New Britain’s largest manufacturers including Russell & Erwin, North & Judd, Landers, Frary & Clark, New Britain Machine and Corbin Motor Vehicle Company.
After Mr. Sloper’s death, Mrs. Sloper wished for the house to be used to help the citizenry of New Britain. The house changed hands in 1946 with the purchase of the house by Dr. Andrew S. Wesoly and his wife, Cecelia Kremski-Wesoly. Dr. Wesoly and his wife used the second floor as living quarters and the first floor as an office for his medical practice in general medicine. His patients were first, second and third generation immigrants from Poland. Dr. Wesoly was from New Britain and attended local schools. In 1978 he was named “Man of the Year” by the New Britain Medical Society and in 1980 he was recognized as the “Man of the Year” by the Polish American Business and Professionals Association for his dedication to the New Britain Community. He died March 13, 1994.
In 2000 , Dr Susan W. Pitman Lowenthal and Dr. Cecelia Lenoci, the daughters of the late Dr. Wesoly donated the house to the Polish American Foundation. After essential renovations made possible by the Community Block Development Grant funds from the City of New Britain and by other donated funds and in-kind services, the mansion opened as the Sloper-Wesoly Immigrant Heritage Center. Aside from housing the offices of the PAF and the Connecticut Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, it serves as a venue for numerous activities including: art, photography, and historical exhibits, piano recitals, art and music classes, and Paderewski young artists concerto competition, theater performances, lectures, and numerous community organization meetings, and social events. The Sloper-Wesoly House is listed in the National Registrar of Historic Places.
Sources used for this article may be found in the Local History Room of the New Britain Public Library Patricia C. Watson, Asst. Head Adult Services, New Britain Public Library.