Gaius Fenn Warner, Iron Magnate

“It was not until about the year 1847 that Gaius Fenn Warner found his business life-work, when at his entertainment at his house as hotel, he met a man who was in the manufacturing business of malleable iron castings and who so urged him to also enter this work that at last he decided to return with him to Straitsville and investigate for himself. He soon moved his family there, where he so well succeeded, that when the buildings were burned to the ground, he removed the works to New Haven, many of the principal workmen going with him.

At that time, Straitsville, a very small village, had no regular church services which Mr. Warner so deplored, that very soon after his removal there he made arrangements whereby theological students from New Haven should preach in the small chapel each Sunday for the sum of ten dollars and their board. His house was freely opened for their accommodation and very often the compensation was also largely given from his own pocket.

In this iron business he had the monopoly and made it the largest concern of its kind in the country. As he grew in prosperity, he was ever ready to respond to the numerous calls for benevolence, both public and private notably of them was that of Home and Foreign Missions, that of Home Missions growing stronger each year of his life.

He was a man of few words – while ever friendly – to those who were so fortunate as to possess his love and confidence, he showed a true and loyal heart, to be relied upon in any extremity. In his family he was the faithful husband, the kindest of fathers, and his house was ever open to all his friends.

In the year 1880 he decided to build a house for himself, and chose a lot of one and one half acres in the center of the city opposite Yale College, where he erected the substantial house now occupied as the Republican League building, in the rear of which is now the Hyperion Theatre, and on the western side of the lot Warner Hall and the apartment building for students erected and managed by his son Henry A. Warner.

[The above paragraph stated an inaccurate year for when the house was built: the Gaius Fenn Warner house was built in 1860, by architect Henry Austin.]

It was characteristic of him when questioned quite anxiously by a member of the college faculty as to his venture, to so carefully lay out this acre and more of ground, stocking it with fruit trees, graperies, and ornamental shrubs, lest he should suffer from the invasion of the mischievous boys of the college, he replied, ‘I shall not molest them and I don t think they will trouble me,’ and they never did.”
-excerpt (including image) courtesy of the, “History of the Town of Plymouth, Connecticut,” by Francis Atwater, 1895

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