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The Tale of Yale’s Governor Ingersoll House
A home on Quality Row has known a host of Yale uses.

The last remaining Greek Revival residence of the imposing stretch of Elm Street known as Quality Row faces the New Haven Green at the corner of Elm and Temple streets. Since 1830 the Yale-connected occupants of the Governor Ingersoll House have played significant roles in the fields of law, public service, medicine, publishing, and currently music.


The history of the last remaining Greek Revival residence on Quality Row.

The stately house was built by Ralph Isaacs Ingersoll, Class of 1808, whose Yale roots extended back to Jonathan Ingersoll, Class of 1736. A successful New Haven lawyer, Ingersoll was elected to the U.S. Congress after serving as representative and Speaker of the Connecticut General Assembly from 1819 to 1825. In 1829 he decided to build a new home along Quality Row and chose as his architects Ithiel Town and Alexander Jackson Davis, who had recently established in New York the first professional architectural practice in America. The Ingersoll site was across the street from Town’s buildings on the Green, including Trinity and Center churches, and the then-state capitol.

In Congress Ingersoll was so conspicuous a debater on the Democratic side that his associates and the press called him “Young Hotspur.” While in office he also served as mayor of New Haven from 1830 to 1831. When fellow Democrat President Andrew Jackson visited New Haven in 1833 Ingersoll welcomed him to his new home. (The president must have liked what he saw, for during Jackson’s term in office, the architects' designs were selected for the U. S. Custom House in New York and the U.S. Patent Office.) Ingersoll decided to return to his private law practice in 1833, leaving it only to serve at President Polk’s request as Minister to the Court of St. Petersburg, 1846 to 1848.

His son Charles Roberts Ingersoll graduated from Yale College in 1840 and from the law school in 1844. He became his father’s law partner and also served frequently in the state legislature. A year after his father’s death in 1872 he was elected governor of Connecticut, and from that time his home became known as the Governor Ingersoll house. He was reelected annually until 1877 when he declined nomination; in 1874 Yale awarded Ingersoll an honorary LLD degree. After the Governor’s death in 1903, his house came into the possession of Frank Hamilton Whittemore (whose grandmother was an Ingersoll) and his son Edward Reed Whittemore, Class of 1898, who were both physicians.

World War I led to a new role for the Governor’s House. In May 1917 Lieutenant Earl Trumbull Williams, Class of 1910, of the Field Artillery died in an accident while on a short leave from Camp Devens, Massachusetts. He left substantial bequests to the University and the alumni fund, and in 1918 a memorial gift of $100,000 from his mother was used to purchase and remodel the house for the Yale University Press. The building was renovated by Delano and Aldrich in 1919 and named the Earl Trumbull Williams Memorial. When the Press relocated to York Street in 1960, the house became a Yale office building known simply as 143 Elm that is now the home of the department of music.

For alumni, however, the Governor Ingersoll House’s greatest moment came in June 1919, when at the invitation of Williams’s mother, it served as the Class of 1910 headquarters for the great World War Victory Reunion. Over five days the class slept there, held their Class Dinner, and set a record for hospitality to all the Yale classes who gathered at their open house.

It was, said Williams’s classmate Meade Minnigerode, “The apotheosis of Yale’s old-time reunions, never to be seen again.”  the end


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