One Giant Step for Monroe (1889)
Welcome back, Monroe history lovers. Many of you out there who follow Monroe history have most certainly heard of Marshall Beach and his quaint general store on the east side of the green at Monroe Center. For those of who may be new to Monroe and its history, I have provided both period and contemporary photos of the store for you to get your bearings. These should be of assistance.
What most folks are unaware of is that Marshall Beach and his wife Theodocia came to own the store and the attached house by purchasing it from the estate of Theodocia’s late uncle, Francis Burrett Hubbell. Francis was a native of the Upper White Hills of Shelton and had a celebrated career as a well-travelled and accomplished stone mason. I’ve attached his biography from the 1881 book, History of the Hubbell Family, written by Walter Hubbell. It’s a very interesting read.
As you will learn from his biography, among Francis’ many impressive accomplishments, he was most famous for quarrying the stone flooring for the gun room of Fort Sumter in South Carolina. That very stone flooring was mined from a quarry here in Monroe, located along the southern face of Barn Hill. This history is how Quarry Ridge Road got its name. The history I’m presenting here today is from the era when the quarry was owned by Monroe resident Samuel Shelton Hurd.
In the late 1880s, Francis B. Hubbell began purchasing properties at Monroe Center and eventually moved here. Aside from his store and the large adjoining house, he also purchased the house of George W. Clark, which today is the parsonage for Saint Peter’s Grace Episcopal Church. Francis immediately set about beautifying and improving his properties by adding curb appeal. One of his more notable improvements took place in 1889, when he set a massive stone block step at the entrance to his store. It was quarried by Mr. Hubbell himself from Hurd’s Quarry.
Compare the supporting photos with a keen eye and be sure to take a closer look the next time you drive by the property. It sure looks like the same stone step to me. Would you every think that this massive stone block was set just 28 years after the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter by Confederate forces, and it was set there by the same man who quarried the flooring for the fort? It’s really quite amazing, and even more so that Mr. Hubbell’s stone step is still here at Monroe Center 134 years after he set it. No one can deny that it’s ONE GIANT STEP FOR MONROE!
I hope you enjoy this week’s historic spotlight on Francis B. Hubbell and his giant stone step; further proof that Our Past is Always Present here in Monroe. Why not share this unique story with your family and friends, and even the current homeowner if you’re an acquaintance. As always, thank you for your continued support and interest in Monroe history. Until next time, watch your step!
Historian, Monroe Historical Society
Our Past is Always Present