Wooster Square Historic District

View of Wooster Square Historic District, Court Street; Source- NRIS 71000914.
Historic/Common Name:
Wooster Square National Register Historic District
New Haven »
Year of Establishment:
Historic Designation:
District Authority:
Historic District Commission
Nature of Authority:
District Character:
Urban neighborhood
Eligible for Historic Home tax credits:
General description:

The Wooster Square Historic District is an attractive and unique residential community located a few minutes walk from the center of New Haven. During the middle of the nineteenth century, it was a fashioable residential area which shipcaptains, wholesale grocerers and sucessful entrepreneurs found conveniently close to their places of business.The development of the square occurred primarily between the years 1830 and 1870. Some of the most notable buildings in the area were erected in the 1840s and the are the work of the well known New Haven architect Henry Austin. Critical to the setting of the pleasant houses in Wooster Square is the rectangular park at its center which is bounded by Chapel, Academy, Green Streets and Wooster Square. It is a large park criscrossed by paths, well-planted by trees, and ornamented only with a tall statue of Christopher Columbus in the center of the Chapel Street Side. [NR]

Significance of the district:

Architecture, Commerce, Urban Planning, Neighborhood Renewal and Social History: Wooster Square received its name from Major-General David Wooster who maintained a warehouse on Wooster Street prior to the revolution, and who lost his life in 1777 in Fairfield while leading his troops against the British. Until 1825 when it was purchased by the city and Wooster Place built, the square was a field used for ploughing contests. By the 1840's it was a fashionable residential area which attracted many of the prominent citizens of the town.

Before the turn of the century, the growth of industry around the square made it an increasingly less attractive neighborhood for the socially prominent and home ownership began to come into the hands of the Italian-American families, many of whom were able to make a living by using their homes as stores. Adaptation to commercial uses and the low incomes of the new owners downgraded the neighborhood so that by the 1930's urban renewal plans called for total clearance and later plans for the new Interstate 91 would have routed the highway through the park.

None of these things happened, however, due to a fortunate concatenation of circumstances in the 1950's which permitted the beginnings of neighborhood renewal. The Wooster Square Project emerged in 1950-60 as a major focus of the New Haven urban rehabilitation program at a moment when external events combined to spark a community-wide conviction that the neighborhood was worth saving.

From the point of view of public participation in the project one of its most important aspects was the construction of the Conti Community School – a first of its kind when it was completed in 1965; another was the rehabilitation of Court Street tenements which were the worst housing in the area.The Wooster Square Area project was an effort of national importance and is historically significant in its embodiment of the architectural trends and fashions of the nineteenth century and its social history as well. The social importance of the self-made men of the period is demonstrated by the architectural individuality of the buildings they inhabited. [NR]

District Boundary:

The Wooster Square Historic District has irregular boundaries. In general it includes Wooster Square Park; all structures facing on Wooster Square from Chapel, Academy and Greene Streets and Wooster Place; those which face each other on Court Street between Academy and Olive; those which face south on Chapel Street from Olive to I-91. Those which face north on Chapel froin Olive to Chestnut Street; and a few structures facing south on Wooster Street and north on Columbus Street. [NR]


Buildings, Parks, Others- Statues


Residential, Commercial, Religious, Educational

Architectural Style:

Italianate, Greek Revival, Second Empire, Others

19th century

[1] Assessor information retrieved from the website www.visionappraisal.com.
[2] District information and maps retrieved from the town website http://www.cityofnewhaven.com/.
[3] Additional information retrieved from http://www.nhpt.org/.
[NR] Luyster Constance, Wooster Square Historic District, National Register Nomination Number- 71000914 NRIS, National Park Service, 1971 - http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Text/71000914.pdf; http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Photos/71000914.pdf.


The boundaries of both the local history district and the National Register historic district are coterminous.


Map of the local historic district obtained from the City Hall, New Haven.

View PDF

The list of the designated properties has been obtained from the City Plan Department, City Hall, New Haven. In case of any discrepancies and/or omissions, the user is urged to contact City Hall, New Haven, and the Historic District Commission for verification.

Date of Compilation:
Manjusha Patnaik, CT Trust for Historic Preservation