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The House at Nichols' Corner (c. 1900)

Welcome back, Monroe history lovers. This week’s history takes us to Lower Stepney, specifically to the house that currently stands at 22 Judd Road, just west of Main Street. How many of us pass by this unique house in our travels and never give it a second thought. Quite a few I’d imagine. Like so much of Stepney’s history, there’s more to the story than meets the eye. Want to learn more? Hop in the car. We’re headed over to Judd Road.

The house was built (c. 1858) by Sylvanus Hawley (1799 – 1880), but it wasn’t built on Judd Road originally. It was built on Purdy Hill Road, at its intersection with Main Street, where Chuck’s Corner Shopping Center is located today. You know, just across the road to the north from the old Stepney one-room schoolhouse. In 1900, Jerome Nichols, a widowed blacksmith from Brushy Hill Road in Newtown, married into the Joyce family of Judd Road. He purchased the old Sylvanus Hawley house and relocated from Newtown to Monroe, inspiring the location to be named, Nichols’ Corner. He lived out his years in the house with his wife Minnie until his death in 1925. The property stayed within the Nichols family for many years afterward.

In the 1940s, Main Street was widened and improved. The Nichols’ house was so close to the edge of the road that its very existence was threatened by progress. The solution came from Jerome’s son, Charles F. Nichols, who physically moved the house to its current location at 22 Judd Road, the land for its destination having been purchased by his father Jerome decades earlier. I’ve provided a surveyor’s map from 1924 that shows the house in its original location and where it was moved to on Judd Road. Note the highlighted area showing Jerome’s land. The Smithy restaurant also stands on that land today. Ever wonder who the blacksmith was who inspired the restaurant’s name? Now you know!

In the 1960s, the house was modernized and expanded by then owner James Caranica. James was an extremely gifted woodcarver, who immigrated to America from Greece. His skillful touches can still be appreciated throughout the house. The property stayed within the Caranica and Tanacea families’ ownership for near 60 years, until just recently when it was sold to a new owner in 2022. Hopefully the new owner reads this post and can appreciate the house’s history and the early photos I’ve provided from its original location on Purdy Hill Road.

I hope you enjoy this week’s historic spotlight on the house at Nichols’ Corner. You’d be surprised how many buildings were moved throughout Monroe over the generations. Please share this post with your family and friends, and as always, thank you for your continued support and interest in Monroe’s rich history. Until next time. Be mindful when driving on Main Street. You may just have to brake suddenly for a crossing house! Yassou, Kendra.


Kevin Daly
Historian, Monroe Historical Society
Our Past is Always Present

1 - Sylvanus - 1867.jpg
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